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how do keep dog play from escalating into fights

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  • how do keep dog play from escalating into fights

    So I let the dogs out this morning to potty (2 spayed females) a few mins later I hear all this growling out in the front yard. The girls were attacking each other. The (usually) dominate dog was penned on the ground. I hollar and the Daisy (the usually submissive) dog lets go and looks at me. Before I can get down the steps to bring them in the house. Lilly has gotten up and started attacking Daisy again. By the time I get to them Daisy is able to get away. I take Lilly in the house and go to find Daisy. Her face and back soaking wet with slobber. She has some wounds, mostly looks like the skin was scaped off, not really puncture wounds. I put Daisy in my bedroom to calm down, she's very skittish. Lilly has some scrape marks on one leg and is limping (but she has growing pains and limps fairly regularly) and her electric collar is broken.

    These girls have grown up together. They are both just over a year old. Both weigh around 50 lbs. Lilly is a lab/shepard mix and plays pretty rough. The other thing I'm worried about with her, is she can get excited licking people and nip. This can happen when I'm leaned over tying my shoes and she nips my nose. With new people she can jump high enough to nip you in the nose. This is the first jump that's this high so strangers really don't have any warning. She is enclosed in an electric fence, so people can walk into her territory. I don't think she is being mean just doesn't know what to do. She does not jump on me like that, although she will take me by surprise if I am down on the ground.

    Daisy is a Lab/pitt mix and has always been timid. She is scared of squeeky toys, strangers, ect. Every once in a while Lilly will push her too far though and then the fights happen.

    I also just got a new 7 week old puppy. Lilly has really taken to her and plays with her a lot. I am nervous she is going to play too rough with her though. Daisy is scared of her and wants nothing to do with her. If the puppy's on the couch Daisy will get down, if the puppy tries to eat out of Daisy's bowl, Daisy will leave. She really doesn't want to be in the same room with the puppy.

    How do I stop this and keep it from happening with the new puppy too?
    www.abernathyfarm.com

  • #2
    You need a professional dog trainer immediately. And even that may not help. It sounds like dominance issues. With my two Shepherds, I ended up keeping them separate for the rest of their lives. After Becky broke Leah's leg and Leah almost took out Becky's eye, I quit trying. Throwing a new puppy into the mix didn't help.

    As far as the nose nipping, it was my understanding that it is a dominance signal and should not be taken lightly or allowed. (Face licking is a submissive signal). Your dog is basically telling humans that she is in charge. It could easily escalate to biting.

    Comment


    • #3
      Two puppies growing together, if siblings or not, is known for the worst dog fights when they are adults, to the point that one has to be rehomed.

      If you are there, remember, we don't even ask humans to live with other adult humans they don't like at all.
      We should not ask our pets do either.

      Any dog needs to learn to get along with other dogs when they interact with them, in walks, parks, dog class and shows.
      No dog should be asked to live 24/7 knowing there is an enemy living with them.

      Get professional help, but the prognosis is bad, generally, even if you try to keep them separated in your home for the rest of their lives, sometime, someone may make a mistake, leave a door open and they will fight and maybe injure someone seriously.

      That is the way dogs are.
      We sadly keep getting those to try to train, when the fault is in someone that didn't know any better raising two dogs together that happen to be close to the same level of dominance and set the stage for serious problems once they become adults.

      Some get by and all works out, if not, the problems will only escalate as they get older, ask any vet that gets to sew them back together.
      Here is more, google and you will find tons of examples and very few solutions when they are where you are now with them.
      That is sadly the nature of dogs:

      http://carpek9.com/A_TwoNotFun.html

      Comment


      • #4
        Several years ago I added a young male Golden Retriever to our home with an older female Labrador. The older female was initially dominant but as the Golden got a bit older the play got a little rougher and then got a little serious.

        I had been taking Golden to obedience classes and mentioned it to the instructor. She told me to do the following. Next time it gets a little serious grab each one by the neck, pin them onto the ground by the neck at the same time and basically yell and scream as though you are going to kill them. She told me to act as though I was the supreme bitch of the pack (not that much of a stretch, really ).

        I did it exactly once and had never had a problem again.

        I am sure this will be highly controversial and I will be flamed and the obedience trainer declared a whackjob (she was a bit ...different...) but I all I can say is I am not a dog trainer, a trainer told me to do it and I did it and it worked and these dogs went on to live happily ever after.

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        • #5
          Regretfully I don't have suggestions for you other than don't leave them home alone together.
          I have a 9 year old Eskimo Spitz and a 2 year old lab. Both are males. The lab does not seem to understand when other dogs tell him enough. The two boys will be playing tug, growling and having fun. The spitz will decide he has had enough and drop the tug. Instead of leaving he then bites at the labs face. Who keeps sticking the tug toy in the spitz's face. Until it escalates. The spitz got stitches in his face from such an episode since the lab will eventually defend himself.
          Hubby was in the shower so couldn't tell the play growling had moved over to real growling. The lab outweighs the spitz by almost 50 pounds. Since that was the only mark on the spitz I think that was one quick retalitory bite that was just hard and in a bad place.

          I have had to pull them apart a couple of times. Mostly over play that got out of hand, once over dropped food.

          When DH and I are not in the house or right by the house the boys are not left together. I generally lock the lab by himself and the spitz with the old lady flat coated retreiver mix. She plays some with the lab but he can get a bit much for her.
          I NEVER leave more than two dog alone together anyway. I have seen one too many times where two will get in a squabble and the third will jump in.
          Obedience training seems to help some.
          With my two I do let them play but am quick to break it up if the play gets a little wild and intense. I have an "Enough" command that means tone it down.
          It is unclear from your original post if your situation is like Bluey thinks and that they don't like each other or if it is like mine where the boys like each other but play gets a bit rough and out of hand sometimes.

          Also in my case the old lady is tenaciously holding onto top dog status. I am helping her somewhat in that she get fed first, treated first etc.. I am pretty sure the lab will be the dominate one once the old girl is gone or reliquishes her crown.

          I would think the solution would be slightly different in the case of a pair of dogs that don't like each other versus a pair that are friends most of the time but occasionally have tiffs.
          Oh, well, clearly you're not thoroughly indoctrinated to COTH yet, because finger pointing and drawing conclusions are the cornerstones of this great online community. (Tidy Rabbit)

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          • #6
            Certainly not flaming you! Whatever works! I tried putting basket muzzles on my shepherds and letting them fight it out to try to resolve the issues. (A wonderful dog trainer said Ian Dunbar suggested it). It did help a bit but Becky figured out she could bite through the muzzle by grabbing the skin with her incisors pushed against the muzzle. (Becky was a genius). They would behave in the house, but never unsupervised outside. It was just too stressful to always keep an eye on the dogs and never be able to relax, so I just rotated dogs for several years. I was the only one living in the house, so it was a pain, but doable. Unfortunatley, rehoming either dog wasn't an option. Leah was too bonded to me and Becky was an escape artist who knew how to open the fridge, doors and any dog crate.

            Comment


            • #7
              It sounds like a stressful situation for everyone involved. What Bluey said makes sense - just because they are the same species doesn't mean they're going to be compatible.

              Definitely time to bring in a professional. You may need to be open to the possibility of having to re-home one or more of the dogs, just for peace of mind. I'm sorry it's not working out so well at the moment!

              Comment


              • #8
                These girls have grown up together. They are both just over a year old.
                that's your problem right there. Littermates should never be left in the same home, especially bitches. They have hit the age where, in nature, they would naturally part ways. So they are fighting to try to force one of them to leave. Male-male fights often resolve themselves, but bitches often don't until one dog either dies or leaves.
                I don't think a dog trainer will help. Keep them separated at all times.
                The most peaceful doggy households don't have dogs that are even close to the same age- at least three years separation. And only have one bitch at a time. Often it works out fine if you don't follow this basic rule, but when it doesn't work out it can be a disaster.

                Comment

                • Original Poster

                  #9
                  Don't know if this makes a difference, but they are from different litters. They are just the same age.

                  They do get along most of the time. There have been 3 fights I know of. 2 were from playing that got out of hand. The other was over food scraps a neighbor gave them when I was out of town.

                  The 3rd puppy is a girl too. They do fine in the house with me, this only happens when I am not right with them.
                  www.abernathyfarm.com

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Alas, the worst dog fights I have ever seen have been between two bitches. (I mean N-A-S-T-Y.) I second finding a dog trainer (preferably one who is a certified behaviorist.)
                    If wishes were horses then beggars would ride...
                    DLA: Draft Lovers Anonymous
                    Originally posted by talkofthetown
                    As in, the majikal butterfly-fahting gypsy vanners.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Lmabernathy View Post
                      Don't know if this makes a difference, but they are from different litters. They are just the same age.

                      They do get along most of the time. There have been 3 fights I know of. 2 were from playing that got out of hand. The other was over food scraps a neighbor gave them when I was out of town.

                      The 3rd puppy is a girl too. They do fine in the house with me, this only happens when I am not right with them.
                      No, doesn't matter they were not littermates.
                      What matters is the level of dominance between them, if they are close to the same.
                      That may determine if they can live in the same pack without trouble, once mature adults, which your dogs are not yet, but will be getting there in a few more months.

                      When breeders raise more than one puppy at the time, they generally are very careful to let them play together, but have them live separately, in kennels and in different groups of dogs, so they don't later have problems as you may be starting to have.

                      No one here knows where you are with your two, or where it may go.
                      Knowing that is a possible serious problem, why not ask your vet if they know of a good trainer for those kinds of problems?

                      Once a trainer can assess the situation, maybe you can modify your management and avoid escalation and all out, real fights later.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        I agree with what everyone else has said. The worst fights are between bitches. They never forget and NEVER forgive!

                        Now you say you just got a 7 WEEK old puppy??? Do not leave that puppy alone with EITHER bitch! This is an accident waiting to happen!!!
                        We do not have an overpopulation of dogs, we have an under population of responsible dog owners!!!

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Arizona DQ View Post
                          I agree with what everyone else has said. The worst fights are between bitches. They never forget and NEVER forgive!

                          Now you say you just got a 7 WEEK old puppy??? Do not leave that puppy alone with EITHER bitch! This is an accident waiting to happen!!!
                          ^^^This!

                          I've had several jack russell bitches who disliked each other, but I had one bitch who absolutely HATED another. To the point that if Cheer ever got out of her crate, run, yard she would actively hunt for Kirin and engage full force. The last time they tangled Cheer tried to kill Kirin through the gate of Kirin's run. I was only seconds behind her but that was enough for Kirin to grab Cheer's head and basically strangle her in the gap between the gate and the frame. With me pulling her back, Kirin trying to pull her in. When I got them apart Cheer was limp and I thought her throat had been ripped out. As I'm screaming "you killed her" at Kirin, Cheer regains conciousness and with blood streaming staggers over growling to try to continue the fight! That was enough for me. When Cheer was healed, I gave her to a friend. Where she's been an angel. Go figure.

                          You can try alpha rolling your girls, but I'd read up and watch videos before you try with dogs that big. If they're not spayed, do that immediately, but only because it will help when you rehome one. What on earth possessed you to get a 7 week old puppy? In Virginia it's illegal to sell them before they're 8 weeks old. Bringing a puppy in has only complicated your problem as now there's even more 'pack' for one of your adult girls to try to dominate.

                          YOu can manage the heck out of the situation, but my gut tells me this will not end well. But good luck!
                          ~Kryswyn~ Always look on the bright side of life, de doo, de doo de doo de doo
                          Check out my Kryswyn JRTs on Facebook

                          "Life is merrier with a terrier!"

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            The worst dominance struggle I ever saw was between a bitch and her daughter. As soon as that pup started growing up she took her mom on big time. Mom beat the holy snot out her time and time again. The pup wouldn't give up, she wanted to be queen and that was it. The pup was re-homed.

                            I keep all bitches in my house but they have a couple of years between them. The shyest bitch is the queen in our house. She was challenged a couple of times by the younger bitches but she held her ground and told them what for. Now all is well.

                            Bitches never forget ever! I have a Gordon that was nipped by my brother in laws GSD youngster. Every time she sees him now she goes for his throat! We can't let her anywhere near him. She hates his guts.

                            My mom's scotty bit an older Gordon bitch of mine and for the rest of their lives we could never put them together in a room. She wanted to make a scotty rug out of him.

                            Pups raised together that are the same sex will eventually vie for the leader of the pack position. If the other pup is also an alpha you will have nothing but trouble.

                            I think you have too many young dogs in your house to supervise properly. You may end up with having to re-home at least one of them. That 7 week old puppy could be in serious trouble if these two go at it while it is around them. You may have to keep the two older bitches completely apart. Not a good way for them or you to live.
                            Lions and Tigers and Bears, oh my!!

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              I will third the part about bitches being, well... bitches. I would never, ever, ever have two female dogs in my household for any length of time. I have met a few situations where it has worked, but those were situations in which the owner/handler was well-educated, aware of the signs of potential conflict, and very much in control of the situation. When I added a second dog to my home, we were told to stack our deck by getting a female (already had a male). All of the dog professionals that I spoke to said opposite gender is best, and with 3, 2 males is best.

                              It sounds like you need a good dog trainer for YOU and for your dogs, particularly considering you've just introduced a young puppy into an unstable household. That is pretty terrifying considering all the cues this 7 week old pup is going to take from two bitches vying for position in your home. I really, really hope the pup is a male...
                              Here today, gone tomorrow...

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                Originally posted by jherold View Post

                                As far as the nose nipping, it was my understanding that it is a dominance signal and should not be taken lightly or allowed. (Face licking is a submissive signal). Your dog is basically telling humans that she is in charge. It could easily escalate to biting.
                                I have a question about the licking.

                                I always thought that when the dog licked you (owner) in the face/hand that the dog was telling you that he/she recognized the human has leader.

                                So are you saying that my 1 yr old who licks me in the face is telling me that HE is in charge?
                                www.facebook.com/doggonegoodgoodies
                                http://doggonebakedgoods.com/

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                                • #17
                                  Originally posted by MunchingonHay View Post
                                  I have a question about the licking.

                                  I always thought that when the dog licked you (owner) in the face/hand that the dog was telling you that he/she recognized the human has leader.

                                  So are you saying that my 1 yr old who licks me in the face is telling me that HE is in charge?
                                  We can't be sure, but inferring from the way dogs interact, licking around the face is generally what puppies do to ask a pack member to give it some food, that providing adults regurgitate for them, or they are asking to be permitted a bit of play attention.
                                  When an older dog does it, it is seen a holdover from the juvenile behavior and something a more dominant dog would generally not do once it is an adult.
                                  Dogs are considered mature about two to three years old.

                                  Without seeing the situation any behaviour happens and knowing the individuals involved, there are not many rules of thumb to decide what exactly is going on, especially between species.

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    licking is different than nipping!

                                    And yes, I have never known two females to "get over it" once they start fighting for real...until one of them ends up near dead or dead.
                                    "You can't really debate with someone who has a prescient invisible friend"
                                    carolprudm

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      Originally posted by mroades View Post
                                      licking is different than nipping!

                                      And yes, I have never known two females to "get over it" once they start fighting for real...until one of them ends up near dead or dead.
                                      That is true, licking and biting of any kind are very different behaviors.

                                      For those interested in dog language between dogs and dogs and humans, one interesting dog trainer from Sweden, Turid Ruugas, wrote a booklet called "Calming Signals", trying to explain some of those behaviors, including licking in different situations, some as a way to appease a dog they may have overstepped their bounds with, like playing too wildly, or interacting with a grumpy, bossy dog.

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        My oldest bitch has raised many pups of her own and helped with every other litter I ever had. She has always been outside the pack dynamic. Her mother was my alpha until she was hit by a car and died. Pinchy should've taken over, but she deferred to an unrelated younger bitch (who'd been vying for alpha status since the age of 8 weeks (NO LIE)). That bitch promptly brought herself into heat to seal the deal and the succession of power was smooth if unexpected. Chapin ruled with an iron paw, and in time her daughter Siren moved from Princess of Quitealot to Queen of Everything. In the meantime, Pinch just kept cleaning eyes and ears of everydog in my large pack, and everyone deferred to her, or left her alone. She's the only dog who can walk up to a dish Siren is eating from and dive right in, totally ignoring Siren's angry growls. When she's done, Pinch will lick Siren's ears and eyes, reminding her gently of her special status.

                                        Now if you watch the younger dogs (7,5 &1) interact with the alpha male, Dare and Siren & Pinch, they all wiggle and try to lick the muzzles of their elders. When Dare doesn't want to play he'll growl and quickly capture the muzzle of the annoying one in his mouth.

                                        Which is why nipping your nose is dominant behavior and face/mouth licking is submissive.
                                        ~Kryswyn~ Always look on the bright side of life, de doo, de doo de doo de doo
                                        Check out my Kryswyn JRTs on Facebook

                                        "Life is merrier with a terrier!"

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