Puppy Forum and Dog Forums banner

1 - 11 of 11 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
20 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
Back in February I posted about my new dog Curie fighting with my old dog Kepler (post here). A behaviorist came out and gave me some tips, and since then the dogs have had only one other fight which had a clear cause and was easily broken up.

Until tonight.

I don't know what started it, the dogs were in the backyard to take care of business, I opened the door to let them back in, they started walking back together, and then they were fighting. I didn't see what triggered it, it was fairly dark. In the past my new dog, Curie, has been the aggressor but I don't know if that was the case.

What worries me is that tonight, every time I got the two dogs separated they immediately lunged at each other to start fighting again. In the past, all I had to do to break them up was get them apart and they stopped, tonight they went until they were too exhausted to fight me. They weight 80 and 55lbs, I'm a small woman who lives alone.

I don't even know what to ask. I'm exhausted myself, I have to take Kepler to the vet tomorrow to get his leg wounds checked out, and I still haven't gotten Curie's head fully clean. Should I get their thyroids checked? Is it time to say that it won't work with the two? They seem to get along so well, Curie's even stopped guarding her food. She's also made huge strides in socialization with dogs and people.

So, I guess my question is, what next?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,193 Posts
Crate and Rotate.

It's not that bad. But do it sooner rather than later. Do it before they are dedicated, fight-on-sight enemies. If you do it early, you can probably still walk them together and there's some room for error if you make a mistake and let them both out at once. You may be able to put a couple of play-pens together and have a large space sectioned off in your living room, so that while you are home, no one is truly "crated." Then just rotate them from side to side.

I have three dogs. One is mental. She LOVES other dogs except for the 3 or 4 times a year when she tries to kill them. So, she is on crate and rotate. My other two can be out together, so they get a little more time out. Often, I will put up a gate in the hallway so my psycho dog can chose to lay near the gate or sleep in my bedroom. Unless she is exhausted, she usually choses to lay by the gate and be as close to the action as possible. I still allow her to play with the other dogs, one on one, when I can closely supervise and everyone is wearing collars. I can still walk all three on leash. I keep two crates in my van so only one dog is out and it's always her. I have two crates in my bedroom.

At first, it's a pain in the butt with three, but two is a snap. You get used to it and good at it.

Please don't trust them alone unsupervised. Your fights are just going to keep escalating. A cattle dog and a Chessie aren't going to work this out safely. I am all for training, but any trainer who tells me that they can train the aggression out of my female is a liar. Left to her own devices, she fought about 30 seconds A YEAR. That means she is almost always good, but when she does flip, it's really bad. There is no way to predict her triggers so no trainer could ever convince me that they cured her because she is almost always good. It's just not worth the horror show when it goes wrong.

Make sure these dogs are seperated when you aren't home. When I am gone, all three are crated. That way, two crates have to fail for me to be at risk and the loose dog can't pester the crated ones.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
9,307 Posts
It's too late now but I wonder what the behaviorists instructions were because anybody with just a kindergarten education in dog safety should have told you to not ever trust dogs that have mixed it up. It may not happen today, tomorrow or next year but it's a game of Russian Roulette.

Think about it we people wake up with body aches or mental aches or both at the same time. When this happens we sometimes have a tendency to snap/growl so to speak at fellow humans. Hopefully we are more civilized than our dogs (we should be)

Enough said as you have already found out something that any competent behaviorist or dog trainer should have told you.

trainingjunkie's advice is way to go. When you decided to get 2 dogs you entered the twilight zone where sometimes scary things can happen.

Through the years people have asked me about going from a one dog family to a two dog family. I have only had one blunt answer "One dog good, two dogs can be 2 steps the other side of insanity" By no means is this good advice, it's just the answer/advice I gave for owners and dog's safety. Many dogs end up at shelters etc and many owners end up getting bit.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
10,186 Posts
This is what holds me back on getting a second dog. It's always a possibility. Do you get along with every other human, always? Dogs aren't any different in that.

I third crate and rotate. You can still walk them together at this point and dogs need individual time with their owners anyway. Lots of people do this, it's just like any routine, you get used to it.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
9,307 Posts
This is what holds me back on getting a second dog. It's always a possibility. Do you get along with every other human, always? Dogs aren't any different in that.
Truth be told many owners have had multiple dogs with no problems. But I pretty much always think of Murphy's Law. I think what disturbs me is the, My dog needs another dog for company and I always thought that was the owner's job.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
20 Posts
Discussion Starter #6
Curie came to me with very poor socialization so the idea was never to "train" the aggression away but to help her learn how to play nicely, deal with the food aggression, things like that, and it seemed to have worked. She has made a huge improvement in how she meets new dogs and people, and has even done well at daycare/boarding.

I have to admit, I don't know if I can do the complete separation thing long term. I'm doing it now because of the fight as well as Kepler's injury, but to do it for years? My car's too small to fit even one assembled crate, so I wouldn't be able to take them anywhere together. I do play fetch with them individually, and sometimes walk them one at a time, but to have to double trips to the dog park? My living room is too small for even one play pen so one dog would have to be in the hallway while the other is in the room with me, which will only work if the dogs don't decide to jump the gate, which Kepler has in the past. I have no doubt Curie will be able to jump it as well. The alternative would be to keep one dog outside and rotate in and out but the weather doesn't always allow that, plus Kepler only likes to be outside if I'm there or if Curie's there to play with, otherwise he just sits on the step by the door. On top of that, I've already restricted my cat to my bedroom until I figure out a way to stop her from swiping at Curie whenever the dog gets close, so there's a third pet that needs individual time.

I've started thinking about rehoming Curie. It's not a happy thought, it's not something I want to do, but I live alone, work full time, and am sometimes gone for couple hours in the evening. Is it fair to give her and Kepler even less time? Even if I'm busy working on something both dogs are content to just hang out with me and get the occasional scritch, but if they can't be in the same room together they won't always get even that much. And what happens if I let my guard down, if the dogs keep whimpering because they're kept apart by a gate/door and I get a weak moment and let them play? They're already begging to be together.

I'm not making a decision just yet, I'll probably call the behaviorist again first, but if these dogs can't live together, I have to wonder if they should live together.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
20 Posts
Discussion Starter #7
UPDATE:

I successfully kept the dogs apart for over two weeks while Kepler's leg healed. During that time the dogs would great each other through the crate/door/baby gate with tales wagging and heads high. Curie even play bowed in front of Kepler's crate a few times and she's generally very careful about which dogs she plays with. His leg is now fully healed so I have been letting both dogs together on a strictly supervised basis for the past few days and they have done very well.

Last weekend Kepler was diagnosed with hypothyroidism and the vet does believe that it might have been the cause of the fight. I had the test done because his separation anxiety had been acting up for a couple of weeks before the fight and when I took him camping for a few days his lower energy was obvious.

Am I hopelessly naive for thinking that getting Kepler's medical issues sorted out will make a significant impact on preventing future fights? Enough that they can ride in the car together, and go on walks together, etc?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
11,145 Posts
I would go into treatment thinking of treating the thyroid more like a dimmer switch than an off switch and would still be cautious.

We have to do some separating and rotating here with Pip. We've identified some specific triggers and done tons of behavioral work with them all and they can be outside together, but he is almost always separated from the others inside and probably always will be. Maybe it's overkill, but after consulting with some colleagues and behaviorists we just don't want to push things or take a chance. He isn't in a crate, we have our first floor divided roughly in half with hardware mounted baby gates (fortunately for us this is easy to do due to the layout of our home). Honestly it just becomes part of the routine. As long as everyone is getting enough attention and interaction, it's truly not a big deal. It sounds daunting, but it's doable.

I just wanted to mention that if I need to take him in the car with the others he just wears a basket muzzle (aka the magical peanut butter dispenser) and rides in the front seat, with the others in the back, and I haven't had problems. It's extremely rare that I need to take all three dogs in the car at the same time, though.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
20 Posts
Discussion Starter #9
Another update:

Kepler's improved tremendously on his meds. He's always been a mellow dog, but I'd forgotten how bouncy he can be at times! He's also lost a lot of clinginess.

Even better, he and Curie are doing great together, they seem to get along better than before the fight. They're communicating well, playing well, sharing well, etc. I'm still keeping them separated when I'm not home, of course, and I play fetch with only one in the yard at a time, closely supervise meal time, etc, all things that will probably continue indefinitely. I even took them both to a friend's house to play with her 3 dogs (yes, the friend knew about the fight) and all 5 dogs had fun. Curie still has a some bad manners to lose but she continues to improve.

My main concern now is finding the right level of vigilance. I don't want to constantly stress over the dogs having another fight but I don't want to drop my guard down too low either - and they way they've been behaving it'll be easy to drop my guard.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
9,307 Posts
OK, you're the brains of the crew and it's not a question of stress It's a question of habit.

Just keep up with what you're doing now and the scary tale which is now a fairy tale will stay in fairy tale land. NO trust, keep guard up where it is now. Just think how you felt when the last fight happened and act accordingly.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
508 Posts
Crate and rotate is a great suggestion.

Separation gets easier the more you work at it. It just takes some getting used to. That being said, if they are doing better and their previous fights have been more scraps than bloody rampages, you might be fine to keep them together under close supervision and only if you're comfortable reading their signals and stepping in before things escalate.

Just a note--heads high and wagging tails are NOT necessarily a sign of a happy dog. That's excitement. And the high head can be a posture of intimidation.
 
1 - 11 of 11 Posts
Top