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Thread: Dog Fight - When & How to Intervene

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
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    Default Dog Fight - When & How to Intervene

    A few weeks ago we adopted a Staffy from the RSPCA. Everything went absolutely beautifully at first. Within the last week there have been a few fights.

    The dogs:
    Jethro - Red Heeler, 11 months old, de-sexed male
    Abby - Mastiff x Ridgeback x Great Dane, 11 months old, de-sexed female
    Kenzie - Staffy, roughly 6-9 months old, de-sexed female

    Kenzie was the rescue from the RSPCA and we've had her for a few weeks now. We've had Abby & Jethro since they were 12 weeks old. Abby & Jethro have gone through obedience training and are continuing with training. We do have some issues to iron out still, Jethro jumps & barks more than we'd like him to and Abby is more responsive to me than my partner. Nothing major though. I've worked with Kenzie at home but she has not had formal training yet (pregnancy issues and the weather have thus far interfered with our dog training schedule).

    Abby & Kenzie accept Jethro as the top dog. It seems that Kenzie has begun challenging Abby. There have been 3 fights, one of which was really more of a spat (growling, bitey faces, and lots of noise but no blood). The 2nd time Kenzie had two small patches of ripped fur around her cheeks with a little blood (the vet commented that this is common for how puppies play). The 3rd time, Kenzie's wounds from the 2nd fights were re-opened, she had a cut under one eye, and a puncture wound on her cheek from a bite and Abby had a tiny amount of blood as well. The 1st and 2nd fights were easy to split up and I separated the dogs. But in the 3rd fight both Abby & Kenzie completely ignored my voice (they're both usually responsive to me), I had to grab their collars and yank them apart. On all 3 occasions I've found Abby pinning Kenzie down on her back.

    Here's what seems to be going on ....
    Kenzie wants to play constantly, and she's playfully bitey. I think she pushes Abby to far and Abby tells her to back off but Kenzie doesn't listen. So then Abby has a go at Kenzie and Kenzie is frightened (Abby is 2-3 times the size of Kenzie) and fights back. Abby is also naturally more dominant than Kenzie.

    What I've done about it:
    1. I do everything (i.e. affection, food, letting outside) in the same order all the time: Jethro, Abby, Kenzie. I've talked to the vet about it and he said that it sounds like I'm doing everything right and he reinforced the importance of maintaining the pack hierarchy and not to unintentionally show favor to a dog lower in the pack.

    2. Abby & Jethro are fine together un-supervised, Jethro & Kenzie are fine together unsupervised, but I'm nervous about leaving the 3 of them or Abby & Kenzie together unsupervised until this gets worked out. Right now I'm crating Abby & Kenzie next to each other to try to get them more comfortable together. I'm only letting the 3 of them or Abby & Kenzie out together when I'm in the backyard, and for less than an hour at a time (all 3 fights occurred when they were left outside together for more than an hour so I wonder if Abby just got too annoyed by Kenzie).

    3. When all 3 dogs are outside I've been keeping Kenzie on a leash for most of the time and when she tries to do the bitey play with Abby or Jethro I give her a correction.

    I've never had dogs fight before. I don't want to see any of our dogs hurt. I'm committed to working this out. Abby is not an aggressive dog at all and I really feel like Kenzie is provoking these fights. What's the best way to get the fighting to end so that all 3 dogs co-exist happily and harmoniously?

  2. #2
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    Not sure why this posted here too ... I only intended to post it under the behavior category.

  3. #3
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    I dunno about number 1 to be honest.

    I find that people are often focused on what they think is the pack order, and this might not actually be what the hierarchy is.

    Personally I give food, affection etc in whatever order I feel like. Usually its a first come first served basis. I have never had a major fight in my house, though this probably has more to do with the dogs themselves than it does the order of attention etc.

    I think Kenzie may be at the age where she is probably starting to challenge. I can't really help much as I have never had fighting issues (the odd snap which is soon stopped with a "cut it out" - luckily given the size diffeence in my current dogs) but hopefully you get it sorted.

    Just really wanted to comment on number 1. Also, remember that while oyur vet probably means well and knows a bit about dog behaviour, they are really a medical person not a behaviourist

  4. #4
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    Sorry wanted to add, I am not sure about the "correction" when Kenzie wants to play....

    Afterall, dogs do generally play with their mouths

  5. #5
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    Oh sorry, this is in that proper training bit where that pro answers I think

    Ignore my comments and wait for theirs probably LOL

  6. #6

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    I also realise this is for the Pros. But will give you my 2 cents.

    Dogs don't live in packs they live in "families" the subtle difference is that outside of Mum and Dad the children do not have "dominance" and are not "higher in the pack" over each other. Try working with this in mind instead of pack order. They are not wolves.

    So you and your OH(if you have one) should be in charge and then the dogs come after you but in no particular order. Certain dogs may show respect to other dogs but it is not necessarily because the dog is higher up.

    I think this is why Lala is successful because she is in charge along with the rest of her family and then the dogs get attention how Lala sees fit not in any sort of pack order.

    You wouldn't pay your older child more attention then your younger or feed the older before the younger etc etc. Think of dogs the same way.

    Be careful when breaking up fights, yanking the dogs apart can actually create more damage to the dogs (tearing of the tissue) especially when there is a Staffy involved as they bite and latch on rather than bite/let go/bite etc. If you can grab the attacking/latched on dogs back legs and lift them up as high as you can, general this will get the dog to let go and then you can move backwards with it to move it away from the other dog. Also you are putting your own fingers/hands/arm at risk of getting bitten as dogs (even though they don't mean to) will often swing around during a fight (or aggressive display) if they are surprised and could accidentally bite you.

    I think in all honestly you should get a behaviouralist to come to your house and make a plan for you. This is your best option as they can assess your particular situation and give you a plan that will work for YOUR situation. Until then continue the routine you are currently using as this is safest.
    Last edited by Keira & Phoenix; 07-18-2011 at 03:02 PM.

  7. #7
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    As with the above, I am not a trainer and there are many on here with a lot of expertise in this area. But, for what its worth, I also do not pander to the 'pack order' concept. I give affection whenever I feel and to whomever I feel and I actually feed my lowest on the pack rung first as he has specific health needs that I cater to. He also tends to receive more attention more often because of his special needs.

    Dogs can take up to 3 months to determine their pecking order. You also have a house of young adults, late pubescents so you may also be experiencing some boundary testing as someone mentioned above.

    I hope you can sort it out, but keep in mind that if you have two or more dominant personalities and none are willing to conceed in most situations, you may never end up with three BFFs.
    A pessimist sees the glass as half empty;
    An optimist sees the glass as half full;
    A realist just finishes the damn thing and refills it.

  8. #8
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    I once had a situation with 2 male entire dogs hating each other to the point of ripping, tearing and one blind eye. Unfortunately that came to a quick close when one of the dogs went accidentally under the ute in mud when chasing cattle.

    In the 20 years since then yes I have had jostling for their own pack order.
    I leave it to them to sort it. A full on fight you will KNOW what it is. Spats are different again.

    Sometimes we must manage situations as we can.
    I have just been away from Friday till now.

    2 dogs are in one big pen and their mother in the rest of the closed in back yard.
    She tends to leave bleeding bite marks at times in her desexed "daughter's" snout as she disciplines too hard.

    I have introduced many cats/dogs into the mix over many years. Supervision is needed till it either sorts itself or you take action with a behaviourist etc.

    I am afraid that unlike most here I am a great advocate of the quick fix if it suits all concerned.

    Any posts made under the name of Di_dee1 one can be used by anyone as I do not give a rats.

  9. #9

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    LOL I might be being daft right now Di so forgive me if I am asking an obvious question but what do you mean when you say
    I am afraid that unlike most here I am a great advocate of the quick fix if it suits all concerned.
    What is the quick fix?

  10. #10
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    Ruby has had a few spats here and there with other dogs and I generally stay out of it. If it goes on for more then say a minute I will yell at her to cut it out which generally works.

    Alot of the time is just mouthing and noise so I am not too botherered about it. Sometimes there is a scratch or two but if an injury was bad enough to require vet treatment at all I would say its gone too far.

    In your situation you have one dog that is physically more powerful then the other. The fact that it is getting worse and worse it what would have me worried.

    Situation - Little x breed male and a staffy, both desexed. They would have tiffs every now and again, mainly just noise and carrying on. after about a week of living together we noticed there was little marks on the little ones face like tiny scratches and a couple on his back legs. He also started becoming a bit withdrawn. After about three weeks of living together I noticed a puncture wound on the little dog's lip with a little blood, with the scratches I had already noticed we started to get concerned. About a week after that during the night the staffy attacked the little dog very badly, she had basically ripped open his whole back half. He was in hospital for nearly two weeks and cost alooot of money and along time to heal.

    I have learnt from that situation to listen to what is going on with your pack and know when to step in and sometimes, like people, dogs just cannot live in harmony together.
    Rubylisious


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