Hi all. I apologize in advance for the long post, but wanted to give enough information to get advice and tips. For those who don't know me, I am April, and I have:
a 1 year 8 month old husky named Bandit
a 11 year old cocker Spaniel named Emma
and have recently added a pup to my family who is 12 weeks old, and I am unsure if he is pure husky or not, but he is half, his name is Hunter.
I thought Bandit had decent socialization when he was a pup, but I guess I was wrong, because he is aggressive towards other dogs. The behaviors I think are signs of aggression include:
He won't take no as an answer from other dogs that don't want to play, and will bother them until they get angry and then attack once the other dogs issue a warning.
He will attack another dog for food or toys, or anything he wants
He doesn't stop play when the other dog wants to stop
I realize now, much too late, that I did a lot of things wrong with Bandit as he was growing up. I spoiled him, and must have not socialized him enough. I've failed him, and am truly sad, because I know he can be a good dog. I've been working dilligently to undo my mistakes and I have very slowly made some progress with him. For example:
I taught him how to sit and wait for his food when he used to just knock the bowl out of my hands before
I've taught him the drop it command (it's not perfect yet, but we are working on it)
I've taught him to stop mouthing me and my parents and ripping our clothes
I've taught him to stop jumping on me and my mom, but I still am trying to get him to stop jumping on strangers (he is a sweet dog with people and gets overly excited when he meets someone new)
The biggest issue for me right now is the aggression (even though I still need to teach him to walk on the leash with out the prong collar, and need to work on better recall). I know the best thing would be to get a professional to help me, and I am not against that, but the problems I am presented with are:
I live in a small town that does not have access to a trainer.
I would have to drive 3 hours to a trainer.
Bandit is bad with being in cars. He has ripped my backseat apart before and my small car won't fit a kennel.
I'm not sure if taking him to session out of town could help with his behavior with my other dogs at home, or if a trainer would have to see all of my dogs together, and I couldn't take all 3 on a 3 hour drive
If a trainer would come to me, I am pretty sure I couldn't afford their rate for accommodating me by traveling, at least not at this time in my life.
I am a graduate student and have a tight budget. My parents help with the dogs, but won't be willing to do the work with a trainer, or pay for a trainer, so any hope for that won't be possible until a year or two, and definitely wouldn't be an option financially until I have a more stable job than teaching a few classes at my University.
Until then, I was hoping I could get help from others who have dealt with similar problems. Right now Bandit is:
Kept separate from Hunter and Emma which has made life tough. It means that the dogs have to be kept in separate rooms inside
Outside they have to be tied.
My dream is that someday they can all enjoy our acre of land freely, but for now Bandit is extremely untrustworthy.
It's strange, but when Bandit and the puppy are tied they play nicely. Bandit will even lay down on his back while the puppy climbs all over him, but off leash Bandit is too aggressive with any dog, and the puppy will smartly stay far away from him. When they are tied, the puppy gets to choose when play gets too intense, and Bandit has no choice but to end play, because he is tied and can't reach the puppy outside of a certain area. If Bandit wasn't tied he'd just keep trying to force play by blocking the puppy's path and knocking him over. I always supervise them during tied play and when I am not supervising, they have no access to one another.
Right now, for exercise I take Bandit on long bike rides every afternoon, and then when we return I've been walking Bandit on the leash while Hunter and Emma get yard time loose. The leash walking was going decent. Bandit at times would try to lunge at the puppy or Emma, but I've been able to maintain control, and have praised him when he acts more calm. I even made all three dogs do a sit and wait for a treat at the same time.
Unfortunately, Bandit attacked Hunter the other day over the spoon I use to give the dogs peanut butter. I am usually diligent about not leaving anything out for them to fight over, but somehow Hunter got the spoon, and before I realized it Bandit jumped him, but I pulled him away quickly, and thankfully no skin was broken or there was no major injury, and the puppy doesn't seem too traumatized as he still plays with Bandit when they are tied.
Things I've noticed when Bandit was on leash with the other dogs is that when Hunter drinks water from the bowl Bandit will push his way to drink water too, and vice versa, or if Hunter smells a spot Bandit will smell the same spot, or if Hunter plays with a weed Bandit will also get the same weed.
Would anyone know if this is normal, or is Bandit being dominant?
Are they competing?
Since the day Bandit attacked Hunter over the spoon, so yesterday and today, I've been afraid to have Bandit on leash, so I tie him after we go biking when the other dogs have loose time, but I can't bear it, because he just cries bloody murder, and I don't want him to be upset or to contribute to his aggression. Tomorrow, I will resume walking him on the leash and just keep more alert and more distance.
I know I have to be brave and keep trying to move forward, but I truthfully am terrified. Before the incident I was able to stay calm and make sure the leash was never tense when Bandit was walking around with the other dogs, and I know I have to keep on trying to do the same, or they will sense my fear, so I am really hoping for some advice and tips.
Should I try a head Halti?
I once tried a gentle leader with Bandit, but it must have been cheaply made, because I didn't tighten it enough, and before I could adjust it Bandit bit it in half. I'm constantly doing research and from what I understand a gentle leader and the Halti differ, but none of the articles gives advice on what kinds are best to use.
Does anyone have a recommendation for a durable brand of halti and tips on use?
Or does anyone just have advice for anything I need to do different or add to the routines and training I am trying to implement?
Thank you to everyone who replies and to everyone who took the time to read this very long post whether they had advice or not.