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Q & A — Pack Hierarchy

Can anybody help me please? I had two Chihuahuas, a boy and a girl who got on reasonably well, although my girl who I had first did pick on my boy a bit. Now I have a puppy too, called Iris. Hera picks on her all the time and that is making Iris very timid. Any ideas what to do? As I don’t want my beautiful dog to be scared.

Do you take them on walks regularly? Also, what’s the age of the new female? Girls can be kind of bitchy toward one another, especially newcomers to the pack, until they sort out their hierarchy. Best thing to do would be to get them out on walks together several times a week, and work on basic obedience training with all of them to reinforce that you are the alpha of the pack, not one of the dogs.

So teach them sit, shake / give paw, roll over, lay down, stay, etc. Also, if you don’t already do this, start training them so that you can put their food down and step back from it but they don’t touch it until you give the okay. When you control their food, it shows you have good command of them and that they respect you as the pack leader. I’ve got two right now and I can put their favorite treats on the floor, tell them no, step back, and they’ll wait and wait and wait until I tell them okay, go ahead.

Also, practice shunning the older female when she misbehaves toward the new one. So issue her a correction like ‘no, stop’ and/or break up the fight if they’re fighting, then ignore the older girl for 5 – 10 minutes—long enough for her to calm down and behave again. After 5 – 10 minutes, when she’s calm, you can acknowledge her again and resume normal attention—but if she acts up again, straight back to issuing a correction and ignoring her. That’s how an alpha will correct the behavior of others in a pack—they’ll growl / nip to correct unwanted behavior, and then ignore the misbehaving pack member until they chill out and settle down.