I have 2 dogs and I need some kind advice on how to help them. One of them is the problem child, that is I believe she requires far more focus than the "good girl." I understand both will need work to address the issues, but one will be significantly easier to work with. I will describe them both for those who think it may provide insight.
SHORT VERSION: Banshee does not respond to praise or punishment. It seems human contact is so awesome, there is no need to obey commands because the human is already in the same room. She is not motivated by anything, food, toys, praise...She doesn't listen to my crippled, elderly, but young at heart, GSD when she tells her to leave her alone or stop jumping on her. Lupa has been driven to biting, shaking, and pinning Banshee to the ground with no results. While this is, strictly speaking, aggressive behavior, Lupa is not being mean or trying to cause serious harm, but trying to make a point and get some respect for her personal space. Banshee has developed possessive aggression when she is in her crate. Banshee will growl as she eats her food in her crate and, if in her crate, will growl as Lupa chews a toy. Lupa is not crated for health reasons. Outside the crate, there are no aggression issues. Banshee is careless and barrels through everything in her way, including Lupa, even after very long walks. How does one teach a dog personal space?
The "good girl"
Lupa is a 10 year old working line GSD with only 3 legs, which has caused arthritis in her spine and hips. She has high rank drive toward other animals. This is normally not an issue since most dogs are OK with giving in to her and she thinks cats are puppies. Her personality is fairly stereotypical of her breed....high energy, aloof to strangers, protective, high prey drive, low fear drive, etc. I'm not saying she's going to win an obedience competition, but she is obedient and knows come, sit, down, heel, stay, and play dead. She also knew "over" when she had 4 legs and I was teaching her "shake" and to weave between my legs. We've had our issues and she used to be a very hard dog and stubborn, but I was always able to get through to her with some innovation and listening to her (ex- would NOT work for food, even meat, as a puppy, but loved a tennis ball so I used a ball to teach her everything and now-a-days this has reversed)
The Problem Child
Banshee is a year old terrier/boxer mix (per vet). I'll be looking into these breeds for some insight, too. While half Lupa's size, she is the same weight as Lupa and obviously much stronger. She's highly energetic and adores people and dogs. She is a VERY hard dog with a high pain tolerance. I wonder if she even has nerve endings in her skin. (More on this later).
Banshee cannot be rewarded.
My husband and I are having a hard time training Banshee, as she does not respond at all to anything. She has stopped responding to food. Her prey drive is low so she doesn't work for toys either. It seems as though our presence in the room is enough of a reward and she has that already, so why work for something she already has? She is ALL pack drive. The only things we've been able to teach her are word associations to her natural behavior. For example, she paws EVERYTHING so we taught her to shake by saying "shake" when she pawed us. She jumps on people so we taught her to jump and not to jump. I taught her "sit" "stay" and "come" when she was still influenced by food, but for the life of me I could not figure out to teach her "down." Nothing worked. I thought maybe it would become easier as her attention span matured, but it has not. I think she may be slow to fully mature. I feel like part of the problem is not only me, but my history with Lupa, who was so easy to figure out. Banshee and I just aren't connecting the way Lupa and I did.
Banshee cannot be punished.
Lupa has very strong maternal instincts and I thought Banshee, who we got at 6 weeks, would surely learn canine rules and boundaries and language from her. Lupa doesn't like to be jumped on, so she has tried to punish Banshee for this. Despite Lupa's best efforts, Banshee ignores her and Lupa has gradually resorted to stronger and stronger punishment. A few months ago, Lupa got so fed up with it, she grabbed Banshee by the neck and pinned her to the ground. When Lupa let Banshee up, Banshee ran around behind Lupa and tugged on her tail and ran away like a little school boy pulling a girl's ponytail. It's obvious Banshee isn't getting the message and Lupa isn't really going hurt her. I am thrilled Lupa is still strong enough to throw a dog her weight on the ground, but this clearly isn't working. My husband accidentally shot Banshee with an air soft gun and it did not phase her one little bit. Personally, I think they hurt.
This week, Banshee started displaying food and toy guarding toward Lupa. It makes no sense to me, because this only happens when Banshee is in her crate. Because she chews, we crate her at night and we feed her in the crate because Lupa has shown food aggression toward other dogs in the past. The arrangement has worked and Lupa has not instigated anything. But now, Banshee lowers her head over her food and growls at Lupa, who is paying her no mind. Tonight, though both dogs had a toy, Banshee started growling when Lupa was chewing her toy. Lupa does not, nor will she ever, sleep in a crate. I wonder if this arrangement is a problem...like a leashed dog being aggressive toward an unleashed one.
The other issue is Banshee will push Lupa out of the way if a person is petting Lupa. I am not sure if this is a dominance thing or a result of her high pack drive. Banshee is, in general, a very careless dog and doesn't watch where she's going and just sort of barrels through obstacles, including Lupa. It's ridiculous. I don't know how to address this, but it needs to stop. How does one teach personal space to a dog?
I hope someone will provide some kind help. We are doing what we can to alleviate the situation such as separating them for a few hours and one on one play time. Outside of Banshee's not listening to Lupa and the new possessiveness in the crate, they get along. I don't want this to escalate. Lupa has a high rank drive and I fear she will never stop trying to be the top dog, even though she is outmatched, physically. I'm hoping it's just a phase where Banshee is testing limits or something. I am OK with keeping the separated for a short time if that will help, but they really do like each other and I would hate to do that as a permanent solution. They will look for each other if the other is missing.