Sorry in advance...this is going to be long! DH and I moved into our new house several months ago. When we moved in, we decided to take one of my mom's dogs, a two year old female lab/pitt mix ("Dory") that needed more time and affection. She has a lot of bad habits - can't properly walk on a leash, gets over-excited and will get mouthy, doesn't know her commands, etc. We have worked with her a lot on these things and she has gotten much better. We also adopted a year old female beagle/pitt mix, "Remy". Both dogs have been great together with no issues for the past 3 months or so. HOWEVER, Remy, the pitt/beagle mix has come up with some pretty nasty cuts on her head. This dog is very submissive but doesn't necessarily know when to stop - she will be on her back, exposing her belly, yet still antagonizing/playing/etc. with the other dog. Since I never saw it, I don't know how it happened - she could have bumped her head on her dog house, fence, or it could have been the other dog.
My mom came over today and gave both dogs their own bone. We've watched them and they have been fine with this for the past several months. Today, though, Dory was on top of Remy, attacking her, and drew blood. This was all over a bone.
I'm not sure what to do. My mom just called me and told me that we should switch dogs - she takes Dory and we get her older and more laid-back dog. I'm a little skeptical about that situation since my mother's first reaction was to put Dory down and I honestly would not put it past her to take the dog back and put her down herself without telling me (she has done this before with another semi-aggressive dog we had as kids). I also don't really see how that would benefit Dory - would she actually get training with my mom? Probably not.
These 2 dogs live in a 1/2 acre fenced in area and are pretty active. One thing that does concern me is that every single toy, bone, stick, etc. is 100% all Dory's. She is very over protective of things that are "hers".
Sooo...what do I do? Chalk it up to dogs being dogs? Remy isn't the brightest crayon in the box but I obviously don't want her to get beat to a pulp before she actually learns to back off. I also don't want an unpredictable dog, either. I'm just looking for advice - any thoughts, ideas, experiences???
I think you're in a stage where everything got put together in one new mix and the honeymoon stage is over and they are hammering out the status quo. But a beagle/pit could take a long time to learn and it might be just too much drama. If Dog #3 is a nice calm breed I think you should switch. I'm guessing that Dory won't be a problem if she doesn't have another dog to compete with. She's coming up on the majikal age of 2 where most dogs get their brain installed. Can Mom keep up on the training that you've given her or will you be around for refresher courses so that she works with Mom?
I don't think you have anything unusual going on but I do think someone could get hurt (probably minor) and at the very least it will be a hassle for a while.
Thanks, cowboymom! Dog #3 is a lab, about 4 or 5 years old (can't remember). I'm not sure if my mom can continue training or even spending time with Dory; she is a nurse and works different hours each week.
I haven't been too overly concerned with the dogs duking it out since I know they're still young. I just don't want either dog to suffer for whatever decision we need to make.
I think you do have a bunch of problems. I don't think it's going to be a good idea to let them "work it out". I think you have an issue with possession aggression (One thing that does concern me is that every single toy, bone, stick, etc. is 100% all Dory's.) and that it will eventually escalate.
from here....training training trianing and learning to see behavior as it develops, deciding where YOU will draw the line and how.
I've got 2 bitches at my house that hate each other. I will never do this again. It requires constant vigilance on my part and if one of the other dogs were not so well trained I think we'd have either a dead dog by now or possibly an injured person.
truly, if this were me, I'd probably go to the easy solution and only have one dog.
I have four bitches and one male Great Pyrenees. We've had our share of squabbles here with no real injuries but nobody is a pit. I think if the two pits are separate that would be best for all concerned. Just help your mom manage Dory.
Immediately remove ALL treats, bones and toys completely. Put them in a bag and lock them in a closet. Feed the dogs in separate rooms, gated off, and remove the food dishes as soon as they are finished. Do not let them in a room where people are eating. DO NOT give them any sort of treat when they are near each other. Just don't.
Spend time with each dog individually working on things like leash walking, recall, sit/stay, etc. This may require treats so work with each dog separately.
I am going through this adjustment period with my 9-year-old corgi and our new, 5-year-old rehomed hound/sled dog. They have drawn blood from each other, and every single time it has been food or territorial-related (both of them too close to a person.) We're now going on 7 weeks with our new dog and through diligent food removal and separation have ended the bloodshed. You have to be hyper-aware of where each dog is in relation to you, food, and toys at all times. We never made our corgi sit or do anything special for treats; we now require some sort of good behavior from both of them before even the tiniest scrap.
There has been a definite adjustment period but they have reached an understanding.
The thing to remember is, YOU are in control of the stressors. Remove the stressors and the problem goes away. Think of the dogs as little kids. A two year old and a three year old both want the same ball and start screaming. Just take the ball away. Remove the object and the stress evaporates. Don't expect the dogs to each take a bone and go play nicely with it somewhere else. Won't happen so don't expect it to.
I realize that I'm generalizing here, but as is often the case when I generalize, I don't care. ~ Dave Barry
I've got 2 bitches at my house that hate each other. I will never do this again.
clarification: I will never live with warring dogs or bitches again. If the dogs can't get along, one will be placed.
and it is not just girls that declare war. I recently had an intact male dog who had NO idea how to back off dogs. My male dog hated him and if he had even a possible opportunity would start a roar'n'jump war with him. Foster dog never learned to avoid him. It was stressful and hard to live with. Foster finally got placed just after the first of the year.
It is a nightmare-mine were very young when they started to fight so we worked through it. Though now that I think about it, I did rehome one dog b/c the GP was always gunning for her. She annoyed all of us-he just acted on his annoyances!
As it is I feed every dog in a separate room and nobody gets a chew toy unless I'm there to watch them and this dog sleeps upstairs b/c the other one will pester her...
I've gotten used to what a PITA it is I think. I remember one huge family reunion type get-together and the GP and one Blackmouth Cur got into it and rolled under a picnic table and my parents were freaking out and children and grandparents were screaming and yelling and running for cover and my husband full-body tackled the GP (who was winning) and threw him in the horse trailer and then everyone took sides on which dog I should take to the pound tomorrow morning and OMG.
Thanks, Guin. We immediately cleaned out the yard of toys when the attack happened. We will definitely be more structured during feed time. I always require the dogs to do something (sit, lay down, shake) before feeding or treating but I'm not sure that my husband does!
And cowboymom, dog #3 is a female so not the best scenario. I don't think I'm going to trade dogs; I have no idea what issues might happen with dog #3 and Remy so I'd rather not risk it.
threedog, what's the trigger that causes your 2 females to fight? Just curious.
It's clear that Dory (lab/pit mix, so probably a bit larger) has a resource guarding problem, and that the bone triggered the latest bad interaction. It's also clear that the two dogs have gotten into it, unseen, prior to this. Dogs are pretty clever with their teeth, so if one draws blood it's usually because they meant for it to happen. And that doesn't usually happen with the very first serious argument. This has been ongoing.
I think it's tricky, because if the dogs have free access to a large outdoor space and one guards ANYTHING, the owners can't 100% control the situation - you might not throw a tennis ball into that field, but they'll probably find a stick. And if both dogs have pit bull in them, the odds are there will be a horrific fight/attack eventually. I wouldn't leave them alone together. And I would seriously consider rehoming one. If not that, then a trainer to work on the resource guarding. And make sure to work on that - a lot of people think obedience training will do double-duty to address aggression, but it doesn't work that way. Very obedient, responsive, intelligent dogs can also be extremely aggressive.
Sooo...what do I do? Chalk it up to dogs being dogs? Remy isn't the brightest crayon in the box but I obviously don't want her to get beat to a pulp before she actually learns to back off.
It's a little troubling to me that even though you've obviously had some experience with dogs and are smart enough to worry about the resource guarding, you're focusing on the wrong dog. Remy's behavior might fail to appease Dory, but it's not the primary issue. Dory's right around the age many dogs who seemed 110% sweet start to show some aggression, she's vigorously taking possession of and guarding objects, and has drawn blood. It's behavior that needs to be nipped in the bud, even if Remy is rehomed, as Dory is likely to start the behavior with other dogs and with people.
In many years in dogs, I have seen time and again friends try to make do with dogs that have serious aggression issues.
It is heartbreaking for all, the humans living with them and the dogs living under stress.
I would say, you may make it work, until you don't and something happens, or you can be proactive now and re-home one or another dog.
Those problems rarely improve once they show up.
A friend from the dog club had several such problems and the last time, after two years of trying with these two, decided enough is enough and this time didn't keep trying to make it work but found one a home.
As heartbreaking as that is, it is only fair to the dogs, that can't get away from such stressful situations.
Then, we don't really know what is going on there, you only know if that is a passing thing and they will settle, or is getting more serious and won't improve.
If they are ever out unattended would you be willing to look into putting in a median fence in the backyard? It isn't the supervised fights you need to worry about as much as the ones that occur when you aren't there to step in. With a 1/2 acre fence in yard a split yard is still a lot of space for each dog to roam alone. You could always leave the separating gate open when you are with them but then separate them if you want to leave them out for a while. I know that it might not be feasible with how your backyard is set up but it can be done for next to nothing with some T posts, welded wire, and labor. It won't keep a motivated dog from going over/through but since it seems to be triggered by resource guarding it might be enough.
threedog, what's the trigger that causes your 2 females to fight? Just curious.
I acquired the older dog at 5 months (ACD). She has an instant recall and is ridiculously devoted to me.
The older dog was about 18 months when I acquired the younger dog who was 5 months as well (Corgi).
At the time, I had a German Shepherd bitch that was probably the best babysitter/teacher in the entire universe. This dog KNEW how to raise puppies. When I got the heeler, she had been raised with dogs who knew how to be dogs so the GSD never had to teach her.
When I got the younger Corgi, it took the GSD 3 lessons to teach her to back off a dog when warned. I've never had a dog before or after that took more than one lesson to figure that out. From a very young age (had I known then, what I know now, this dog would never have come to my house), she had a pugnacious attitude with other dogs. She was observed sitting in the middle of the puppy food daring the other puppies to push her out.
As the Corgi got older, she became more pronounced in her "gonna do it no matter what" behavior. But it was only with dogs, the thought of aggressing to humans has never crossed her mind. At about a year old she decided the ACD (who was about 2) was going to be her target. It started on the porch where for some unknown reason, the Corgi lit into the ACD. The ACD grabbed her, dragged her to me and dropped the squirming/screaming/furious Corgi at my feet. As the heeler turned to leave, the Corgi went after her again, and once again the heeler dropped her at my feet. This time however, she was stiff, her tail was up and her whole body language said, "do it again and I'll show you what I'm made of". Off and on over the next 5 years, the Corgi would screw her courage to the sticking point and pick a fight.
She always lost. Every time, but that has never stopped her.
The interesting thing is that the Corgi can live peacefully with any other dog in my house and is a marvelous civilizer to fosters. She's brave to the point of foolish, and just ignores the other Corgis. She was appropriat with the Puggle foster I had, loves the cats....it's just the ACD she hates. The ACD loves all the other dogs in the house, often washing their faces and ears, playing hard with the intact male dog, very appropriate with my Old Lady Dog and doesn't bother the cats at all. But she is clearly done with this Corgi.
The DD went to college and took the Corgi with her. When she graduated, she brought her dog back with her and things were at least 10000x worse because now the hatred is mutual. The last fight I handled was about a month ago and had I not been there, had the heeler not had the vast amount of training she does and had things been juuuusssst a little different, there is NO doubt the heeler would have killed the Corgi. The Corgi launched at her from across the room, but the ACD was clear in her intent to remove her nemsis from the earth.
Because of that, these two are never allowed out unless one of us is there and we always have an ear pinned. If I hear the ACD patrolling anywhere, she gets put in a crate. I feel like she's just waiting for the right opportunity.
DD will probably be moving in July. We discussed the dogs and I told her that if she removed her dog from the house, DD was welcome back but the Corgi couldn't come back because once the pressure is gone, I'm not living that way again. She agreed.
I have 2 male dogs - one pit and one pit mix. They hate each other. Long story short, but neither had anywhere to go, so we are living in a 'gated' community. One dog lives in the kitchen, and the other (senior) dog has run of the house. We rotate them outside, as well as in the house. It is not the best scenario, but it works for us. Both dogs are loving to humans, but just don't get along. We have done massive training, both are very well-behaved, but there is just something between them that can't be worked out. And we cannot trust them together at all.
Remy needs to learn to back off? By lying on her back and exposing her belly Remy is doing exactly what she is supposed to be doing and it's obviously not working. You want her to learn some other behavior to make Dory back off. That's very unfair to Remy to expect her to be a psychologist and have to learn some non-natural behavior that works. Remy's like WTF, Dory? Don't you get the International Dog Submission Sign?
You admit that everything is all Dory's all the time. Don't care if the yard is half an acre. They cannot be together with treats. Never. Agree with the poster who brought up that 2 females who have decided to hate one another can be lethal. Or even one female who has decided she hates the other submissive one can be a death sentence for the submissive.
Thanks, everyone! I know this is wishful thinking, but I am hoping that this was a one-time occurrence over the bone. They are actually really good together and have been attached at the hip since we brought both of them together. We've already changed the way that they interact so hopefully this will work out. If not, we will definitely re-home one of them. Thanks again.
you have two young females in the same household. That's never a good idea.
Today, though, Dory was on top of Remy, attacking her, and drew blood. This was all over a bone.
drawing blood is VERY BAD sign. Dog squabbling very rarely leads to actual injuries because dogs usually have excellent bite inhibition and they quickly agree that one dog won, and that's it.
I suspect you are going to have more and more squabbles/outright fights over the next few months- the younger dog is moving towards the magic age of two, and this period of time is when dogs move from "puppy status" towards adulthood, and have to establish themselves as adults in the eyes of the other dogs. This is the time when people who get two bitch littermates usually find out why it's considered a bad idea, when they change from "happy puppies" to bitter enemies.
Anyway, if you keep all of the food, toys, etc. picked up and put away, and only feed/bone the dogs in crates or separate rooms, maybe it won't happen again and all will be well.
If two bitches decide to kill each other, your only options are rehome or keep them separated at all times. You can't make them like each other.
OP- get and learn how to use a break stick. And safely break up a fight between two dogs without getting bit yourself. Use doors, gates, whatever you can. Be prepared before it happens, because the next fight might well be the deadly one. And decide which/either dog you're spending up to several thousand to save.
I don't mean to be all negative, but I've seem this go so bad so many times. No excuses that she didn't mean to draw blood, I've seen full blooded putties that still have plenty of inhibition to get the point across and never break skin. One of which is used to teach puppies how to be a dog.
Remy on her back but "engaging" the other dog is actually defensive behavior, not just because she's unaware of backing off. In dog she has backed down as much as she can.
just a note. I've seen adult dogs who are pseudo submissive use the rolling on their back too, and I've see other adult dogs NOT break it off because it wasn't a puppy. I was good friends with a Golden owner whose dog sent out mixed signals til she was 6 or 7. She'd flop over into a exposed belly position and at first my dogs would run to sniff her (who knows why), but after the second or third time, they'd ignore her.