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Discussion Starter #1
My great pyr mix and my shepherd mix (both males, neutered and under a year old) do not get along. I have kept them separated, letting the pyr have the backyard then by careful maneuvering, bringing him in and letting my shepherd have his turn. My female dog gets along with both, so she has free run. Today though, I was going out to play with my pyr (Beethoven) and my shepherd (Toki) slipped out. Immediately, Beethoven attacked Toki. They latched on to each other and shook each other and nothing I did would separate them. After about 10 minutes, they separated long enough for me to grab Beethoven and I told Toki to go to the door (which thankfully, he did). I have had Toki since he was 8 weeks and he is usually very good minding me, but I rescued Beethoven and he has only been with us a month. I have been trying to work with him, but it obviously hasn't gotten very far.

My fiance works very long days (12+ hours) and I am usually home alone. I don't know what to do. I absolutely do not want to have to re-home him, but the situation is becoming very stressful on all of us. Toki is a very sweet dog and he gets along with other dogs very well, but he and Beethoven just cannot stand each other. I have contacted a Great Pyrenees Rescue to see if perhaps they can help me find him a new home. I am also putting the word out among my friends. I feel awful for taking this route, but I am at my wits end.

I had made the decision that I was going to keep Beethoven and we would just crate and rotate, but after today I just don't know if I can do it. If this happens again and they fight, there is no way I can break them up and I don't want to risk either one of them becoming seriously injured. I guess the point of my post is, is there any hope at all in this situation? Should I give it another chance to work? I dearly love both dogs and I am just sick at the thought of having to give one up.

Any advice would be appreciated.
 

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I had the same problem with my dog Scout (male chihuahua) and my grandmother's dog (male french poodle toy) to a smaller degree of course since your dogs are quite bigger and can damage themselves if they go in an all out fight.

I first placed both dogs between a transparent or some sort of mesh door so they can look at each other. I wanted to see what was the problem, although I suspected that either one of them was dominant over another. It seems actually both of them were dominant towards each other. The signs to look for dominance are a raised tail, trying to put a paw over the other or trying to hump, even when they're both male. I worked with my dog Scout to avoid dominant dogs by having him on a leash and whenever it escalated to a bark, growl or other aggressive gesture I would pull the leash to the SIDE (it has to be fast and strong enough to move the dog's head and not pull back) to snap him out of that state. It's important to pull to the side because if you pull back you will create tension and the dog will react even more excited/aggressively.

I worked with him for 1 week straight and now the only troublesome dog is my grandmother's (which she won't let me train) because she sees him as his baby. Since you have access to both dogs try to make them avoid confrontation and make them know that you (and your fiancée but specially you since you're at the house most of the time) are the pack leaders and that behavior is not tolerated.

I never hit or harm any of my dogs with the above techniques and they worked in 1 week. Just be patient and always stay calm and firm.
 

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Sounds like we have the new Millan here. I'm sorry, but I'm not a CM fan.

Sarahsaurus, if I were you I'd choose Toki over Beethoven, as cruel as that sounds. Toki has been with you for way longer than Beethoven, and personally I'd choose him over the new dog. I'm sure you're already attached to Beethoven, but I think it would be best if you rehomed him to a place where he is only dog, or where there is no tension with the other dogs. Then again, I don't know when their fights started, but I'd never choose to adopt a dog that didn't appear to be getting along with any current dog of mine. Again, I don't know how it all started or how you got Beethoven.

So if I were you, I'd rehome Beethoven, it's in his best interest. But that's just my two cents. :) I wish you all the luck in the world with your decisions.
 

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Nice advice Avie, let someone else deal with a troubled dog. I shared a real experience that worked with me and my dogs, and helped my dog become a happier dog that can be around any dog. If your first option is rehousing, then you offer no real advice.

"I guess the point of my post is, is there any hope at all in this situation? Should I give it another chance to work? I dearly love both dogs and I am just sick at the thought of having to give one up."

If you actually read the comment she is asking for help in keeping both dogs that she cares for. Call me a Millan fan, at least I can make a commitment and not just quit when things don't go your way. For a senior member you have much to learn about dogs and humans apparently.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Avie, I believe that is the route that I am going to have to take. Toki has never shown aggression to male dogs, in fact I babysat my mom's male dog for a week and they loved each other. Toki and Beethoven got along for several days before the first fight occurred and that is when we chose to separate them and try to work with them each, separately. I am not a fan of CM either. I have read the training articles here and I was going to start working with them using some of the methods. When I adopted Beethoven, I was assured that he was fine with other dogs, he and his two siblings were both surrendered at the same time and I was told they got along fine. Honestly I was not expecting any aggression whatsoever (bad on my part). I was probably being very naive. And I do love Beethoven, but Toki is definitely my baby. Seeing him being slung around like that was the most terrifying thing I have ever experienced and I can't help but resent Beethoven over it. I know I shouldn't be like that, but I can't help it. I am going to keep him until I can find a good, loving home (sans male dogs). But I am definitely going to re-home him.

I would love to be able to work with them and teach him to overcome it, but I am not going to risk them getting into a fight again. I'm so sad about the way things turned out. I was so happy to rescue Beethoven and I thought for sure they would get along. :(
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Nestor, I don't want to give him up and I do want to work with him, but they are both large dogs and I just don't want to take the chance that this could happen again. And I will definitely be the first to admit that I am not the most experienced in the training department. I have probably made a lot of mistakes with Toki and as for Beethoven, I have no idea what his previous life was like. I am really torn about this, but I do believe the best possible answer is to find Beethoven another home. Great Pyrenees are known for being very stubborn and dislike "strange dogs" in their territory, so I believe that he will only see Toki as a threat, no matter how much I work with him. I just cannot physically handle them if this type of situation arises again. My fiancee is also very worried that if it does happen again, one of them will seriously hurt me (not that I would get in the middle of it, but things happen). I'm not quitting, I just don't know what else to do. Toki is curled up on my couch, shaking from a fight that happened several hours ago and it is breaking my heart. The situation is stressing me out because I don't want to be "that Person" who gives a dog up. He is a good dog and I love him and I think he is wonderful, but I just don't see him ever changing. And the separate and rotate thing hasn't worked for me.
 

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I'm sorry things turned out this way Sarahsaurus. I have a rescue myself and the info I got from the shelter wasn't correct either. :p Supposed to be good with other dogs, well... nah, turned out not so much. It's not so much naivety imo, I mean, you have to go with the info you've been given from wherever you got him from. Unfortunately it didn't turn out as you hoped it would, but I think you're making a good decision. If Toki is your baby and you start to resent Beethoven for the troubles he has caused, it can't be very beneficial for him to stay when the situation may not get any better at all.
You have my sympathy and again, I wish you good luck with dealing with this situation. I hope the Great Pyrenees rescue can help out some, and I hope Beethoven can get a better place for him soon. :)

Nestor, I'm happy for you that you solved your own issue with your dog. Personally, I wouldn't let anyone else touch my dog with CM techniques either so I don't blame your grandma. Not because he is my baby, but because I recognize his whole world doesn't revolve around dominance issues. :) Also, the 'alpha theory' is outdated. I suggest you take a good look around on this forum, especially the recent 'Cesar Millan debate' thread. As for the rest... well, believe what you may, whatever floats your boat and makes you happy.
 

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Nestor, I tried that technique with my dog when I first adopted him. I was a first time dog owner and very naive, so I copied what I saw on the Dog Whisperer. You've only been using that technique for a week so you haven't seen the long term damage that can be done. I spent months and months trying to undo the damage I created in my dog, who went from just poorly mannered around other dogs to completely flying of the handle and snarling at every dog he saw.

Sarahsaurus, I'm really sorry you are in this situation. If you want to give training him a try, at least until you find a better home for him, I recommend reading the book Control Unleashed by Leslie McDevitt. It has helped me so much with Basil's reactivity, and helped me understand his body language so much more. It couldn't hurt to start training him in that way, in fact it might be beneficial for his new owners, too.

Also, out of curiosity, what did you try to do to break up their fight? Was your shepherd really getting into the fight or do you think that if you could get your pyr off of him he would stop fighting? The first thing you should do to try to stop a dog fight is to grab the aggressor's back legs by the hocks and "wheelbarrow" him away from the other dog. This way they completely lose their ability to push forward and the other dog can get away. If for some reason this technique doesn't work and you can't stop them fighting, as a last ditch effort you can stick a finger in your dog's butt, I know it sounds gross but it will definitely distract them! Maybe at least if you understand some techniques for breaking up a dog fight it will give you some piece of mind. And remember never try to break up a dog fight by pulling on their collars, it's a good way to get bit and the dog still has a lot of power and can pull you right over trying to get to the other dog.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Nargle, I tried the wheelbarrow technique first on Beethoven (pyr) and then I tried it on Toki (shepherd) they were both so intent and latched on to each other that it didn't work. Just to see if I could distract them, I took the bucket that has their water and tossed it on them. That worked to separate them for like, two seconds then they were back at it. I didn't try anything else, I called my mom to see if she could come over and help me wheelbarrow them again. I know it works with two people, my fiance and I broke up their last fight that way. By the time I was off the phone with her, they had separated on their own and I took that opportunity to get Toki inside (while blocking Beethoven with my body). I will look into this book, because I am going to have him until I find a wonderful home for him. I won't give him to just anyone and he will definitely not go back to the shelter.

By the way, Skittles is adorable. I have a little yellow-sided green cheek named Emmie. Are you on a parrot forum?
 

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If you are unable to handle a crate and rotate regimen then you are doing right by your dog to find him a safe and responsible new owner. Do not allow people to make you feel bad for it because many people in your shoes have done the same. You do what you can handle, and always know when to throw in the towel :)
 

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I think the fact that Beethoven has only been with you for a month makes the situation a lot more different then if he had been with you longer. A month is just long enough for his real personality to start showing. You didn't realize that he was dog aggressive so it isn't your fault. Also to Nestor, training a chihuahua and a toy poodle with those techniques is completely different from training a GSD and Great Pry. There is a much larger level of difficulty at even getting them anywhere near each other to try the techniques you mention.

P.S. I don't think it is is wrong for you to rehome Beethoven. Better to be with a family all the time and be an only dog then be with a family half the time. I think he will be happier, and hey, maybe you'll be able to give him to someone who will let you visit.
 

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Beethoven is an unknown dog from an unknown history and he's HUGE! Sometimes rescue dogs don't work out, don't feel bad, but due to the fact that it's this bad already and you've had him such a short time, I would return him. Full stop.
 

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I stated in my first post the great differences between my experience and her situation. You could also get a dog expert to help you with your particular problem, you should always seek guidance from a professional (not only forums) for any behavior issues your pets get and might harm them.

Nestor, I'm happy for you that you solved your own issue with your dog. Personally, I wouldn't let anyone else touch my dog with CM techniques either so I don't blame your grandma. Not because he is my baby, but because I recognize his whole world doesn't revolve around dominance issues. :) Also, the 'alpha theory' is outdated.
The whole positive reinforcement theory is man-made and an attempt to domesticate an animal, any animal really not just a dog. But dogs are animals, pack animals, they will always seek a leader not an "owner". Positive reinforcement will get you far and will help with a stable dog, midly unstable. But they will never substitute nature's ways.

But back to your issue Sara, no dog is bad, or wants to be bad. If you really want to help your dog, either try getting professional help or work with your fiancée in safe environments (again no dog has to be exposed to harm if you have a glass door or a mesh door). If you are not up for it then find him a new home.
 

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I agree, there's no shame in finding him a home that will be a better fit for him. You're doing what's best for your dogs, and I applaud you for making the right decision for everyone. There is a chance that Beethoven really just doesn't get along with Toki only. Sometimes two dogs just don't get along, and that doesn't make either dog a bad dog. Good luck and I hope it all works out. :)
 

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One thing to realize about Pyrenees, is that they are bred to guard flocks of sheep from other intruders, like other dogs. So if they don't look at your dog as belonging there, and he was thinking that space was his, he will do what is necessary to protect his space from "the intruder".

You may be able to change it or maybe not. But the risks if you are wrong, are very high. I think finding him a home as the only dog, or with a friendly female dog, might be for the best.

If you were to keep him, I'd say you'd need to figure out a way to tire them out with walks, then walk them together for about 30 min at a time a couple times a day, to help them bond. And keep them leashed and under control in the same room, at opposite ends, with a person for each dog, to help them learn to accept each other. But that is more work than most people can do, due to work schedules, etc.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
I really appreciate everyone's advice and we are definitely going to find him a new home. I hate that it has to be like this, but it is definitely in his best interests, as well as ours. If I had the time to work with them both and if I had another person here to help me, I would consider keeping him. But being alone with two big powerful dogs is not something I want to deal with. And in my area, there really aren't behaviorists or trainers. I am in touch with a couple of Great Pyr rescues and my mom's neighbor expressed an interest in him. I will let everyone know what happens. Again, thank you all so much for your support and advice!
 

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The whole positive reinforcement theory is man-made and an attempt to domesticate an animal, any animal really not just a dog. But dogs are animals, pack animals, they will always seek a leader not an "owner". Positive reinforcement will get you far and will help with a stable dog, midly unstable. But they will never substitute nature's ways.

But back to your issue Sara, no dog is bad, or wants to be bad. If you really want to help your dog, either try getting professional help or work with your fiancée in safe environments (again no dog has to be exposed to harm if you have a glass door or a mesh door). If you are not up for it then find him a new home.
Dogs are man-made essentially.... the many years of selective breeding has created something far different than a dog's wild ancestor. They are domesticated already, positive training is not an "attempt" to domesticate them. Other domestic animals like horses also respond very well to positive training.

A mesh door will do jack shit against a large dog like a Pyr or any other LGD. They could stroll through it with no effort. Even a glass door might not be enough for a seriously determined large dog. They might go through it or knock it off the hinges/frame.

At this point Sara, if you cannot handle them I see nothing wrong with working with a rescue to rehome the Pyr. He would need an experienced owner who could deal with a LGD with dog aggression (or maybe selective dog aggression) but unless he is human aggressive also, the other stuff can be dealt with in the right situation. You have primary responsibility to your original dog and secondly to the Pyr, who probably isn't happy with his current situation either.

Crate and rotate with 2 forms of secure barriers (as in, a crate AND a wooden door; a leash is NOT a secure barrier in this case) between them at all times until you can find a new home for the Pyr.

I don't have experience dealing with truly aggressive dogs but I do have experience dealing with large and powerful dogs and some with resource guarding and other "minor" aggression issues.
 

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Discussion Starter #19 (Edited)
Thanks shell, I will definitely be more cautious when rotating them. It was sheer negligence on my part that Toki got out. I feel so bad that I got him into this situation. And Beethoven does fine with people, he is definitely cautious around strangers, but warms up fast. I think it is only other males that he has an issue with. Hopefully I can find him a home with someone that will be patient and has some experience in the matter.
 

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The whole positive reinforcement theory is man-made and an attempt to domesticate an animal, any animal really not just a dog. But dogs are animals, pack animals, they will always seek a leader not an "owner". Positive reinforcement will get you far and will help with a stable dog, midly unstable. But they will never substitute nature's ways.
I don't think this thread is the appropriate place to start a discussion with you about some of the ideas you have about dogs, but you seem like an intelligent person, so I wanted to recommend a few books to you. Some of my favorite books for introducing "man-made positive reinforcement theory" and learning to interpret and communicate with dogs are:

The Other End of the Leash -- Patricia McConnell
Excel-erated Learning (Explaining in Plain English How Dogs Learn and How Best to Teach Them) -- Pamela Reid
Culture Clash -- Jean Donaldson

I have never met anyone who has read all three (or even one) of these books who still insists on clinging so strongly to dominance theory, pack theory, and the concept of a "stable" dog. Maybe you could prove me wrong? I recommend reading them in the order they're listed. I think they're all available online as ebooks.

I agree, there's no shame in finding him a home that will be a better fit for him. You're doing what's best for your dogs, and I applaud you for making the right decision for everyone. There is a chance that Beethoven really just doesn't get along with Toki only. Sometimes two dogs just don't get along, and that doesn't make either dog a bad dog. Good luck and I hope it all works out. :)
I absolutely agree with this. Crate and rotate schedules are hard on dogs anyways. While they are necessary in some situations, and while some people can execute them in ways that don't deprive the dog of important things like exercise and quality time with people, I am definitely not one of them! It's extremely stressful for you, which is probably also stressful for your dogs.
 
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