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Dog-Dog Aggression

Discussion in 'Livestock Guardians' started by LMK17, May 26, 2017.

  1. May 26, 2017
    LMK17

    LMK17 Loving the herd life

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    We recently adopted 2 puppies to grow up as farm dogs. They're about 11 weeks old at this point, German Shepherd mixes. We also have a 9+ year old chow-chow mix named Sam.

    Sam has a long history of aggression toward other dogs. I imagine it's the chow in her. She's attacked a neighbor's dog in our yard, a friend's dog in that dog's house, and also the two rescue dogs that we temporarily took in. And now she attacked one of the puppies, Ruby, and split the bottom 1/4 of Ruby's ear in two. We've tried on and off to better socialize Sam, trips to the dog park, and public places and such, but she was always obviously stressed in those places, and it was easy enough to keep her at home where she was the only dog. But now we NEED farm/outside dogs and it's necessarily the end of our one-dog days.

    Mostly, Sam seems to be guarding "resources," but it's hard to tell what she might consider valuable. One of her dog fights seemed to be over the kids' sand/water table, which Sam likes to drink from. The other fights made more sense to me-- two were over food and the other was when the other dog got too close to Sam's crate and toys. The attack on Ruby happened over an ice cube on the deck, which I had carelessly brushed off the picnic table.

    Until I figure out a better solution, Sam is muzzled and wearing a shock collar around the puppies. (The training collar is not new. We use it frequently when she chases the kids' cats. The muzzle is something that we've only occasionally used.) Even muzzled, she's been chasing and snarling at the puppies, and I have no doubt she would've sunken her teeth into them had she had the chance. I think the muzzle is stressing her and making the aggression worse. And the puppies are clearly stressed, too. They cower in the corner or immediately roll over and show their bellies when she gives them the "look." I think we're all pretty miserable right now.

    I have two books on dog-dog aggression on the way. In the meanwhile, any suggestions? I'd really like to get this under control and go happily on our way, but at the same time, I'm not going to keep an aggressive dog. And with her as stressed as she seems to be, I worry that she might try taking her frustration out on a person, even though she's never been aggressive toward humans before. Help?
     
  2. May 26, 2017
    Hens and Roos

    Hens and Roos Herd Master

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    sorry to hear this and hope others can provide you some suggestions.

    @Southern by choice and others?
     
    LMK17 likes this.
  3. May 26, 2017
    Latestarter

    Latestarter Novice; "Practicing" Animal Husbandry Moderator

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    Ummm the fact that the dog has already attacked multiple other animals under a variety of circumstances should provide a clue... You need to either get professional help with it or get rid of it. I'm no dog whisperer, and I sure wouldn't stand for that kind of behavior from a dog of mine. I personally wouldn't put that on anyone else either... I'd put the dog down. Sorry if that sounds harsh. :duc:hide
     
  4. May 26, 2017
    Baymule

    Baymule Herd Master

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    Sam needs her own separate yard. Since she can't "play nice" with other animals, she needs her own space. I have a female Great Pyrenees that does not play nice with others. Her saving grace is that she is a wonderful sheep guard and chicken guard and she kills snakes.....possums....cats.....anything and everything she deems an intruder. She finally accepted our male Great Pyrenees and the two of them are fast friends.

    Sam sounds to me like a psychotic dog with serious issues. like my female GP
    I would put her in her own space where she cannot cause problems. If that only makes her worse, then I would have her put down.
     
    Devonviolet, LMK17 and dejavoodoo114 like this.
  5. May 26, 2017
    Southern by choice

    Southern by choice Herd Master

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    How long have you owned Sam?
     
  6. May 26, 2017
    LMK17

    LMK17 Loving the herd life

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    Might be harsh, but I agree with you. At this point, I'm determined to either get this figured out so we can all coexist peacefully, or I will take Sam myself and have her put down. I really don't want it to come to that, of course, but I don't see any other reasonable options. Certainly, I wouldn't try and adopt her out unless the folks knew EXACTLY what they were getting into, but it's moot regardless. Sam is so easily stressed out that I truly think it would be kinder to euthanize her than try and force her to acclimate to a new home.

    Yes, she's pretty much a nutso dog. Her saving grace is that she's always been wonderful with the kids, gentle with them and protective. She's also an excellent watch dog and is intimidating enough that strangers on the doorstep think twice before moving closer. BUT she has the aggression issue; she freaks over moderately loud noises (think bubble wrap popping); she gets extremely stressed in new situations (not eating for days, uncontrollable diarrhea); she pees all.over.the.house when it thunders; she once got so upset by a simple at-home nail trim that she dislocated her hip in a wild attempt to get away; and she has broken multiple of her teeth by trying to chew her way out of her crate and (after I decided to stop crating her) on the doorknob of a room she was confined in; she also neurotically fixates on things such as shadows and reflections of light; if there's an open door, she darts out and runs away from the house as fast as she can, in no particular direction... She's a basketcase.

    I like the idea of giving her a space of her own. Actually, I was hoping that the puppies wouldn't be an issue for her, partly because they're outside dogs and she gets run of the house. No dice, although they have spent a few days all playing in the yard together with no real issues. (Sam did appear a bit stressed by the pups, but she also seemed to enjoy herself at times, so I just kept an eye and let them be.) Ideally, the puppies would be outside, and Sam would be inside and/or muzzled whenever she goes out. However, that will be logistically challenging since a dog could easily sneak past someone (one of the kids, a houseguest) and get either outside or inside when they're not supposed to be. So Sam would maybe even need to be muzzled indoors?!? Potentially a well placed baby gate would help, although it wouldn't address the issue of Sam's aggression, so I would probably consider that a stopgap until we figured out something else.

    9 years. We adopted her as a 5 month old puppy. Her first dog fight was when she was about 18 mo old. The last one (other than Ruby) was about 5 years ago. I was hoping that she would get along with the puppies because they're so young. I had also been hoping she had mellowed a bit as she aged. For the record, she was spayed young by the shelter. And her dogfights have been with dogs of both sexes and of varying ages and sizes.

    For now, I'm going back to basic obedience with her. In addition to the muzzle/collar, Sam is either tethered to me or to an immovable object with me nearby. (Unless the puppies are in their crate, such as overnight or when I'm away from the house. Then Sam has run of the house.) I took away her toys and picked up her food ball and only give them to her on my terms and when she's doing what I ask. I've been making her sit/stay before going outside, coming inside, or getting food/treats/toys. I've also been trying to offer all the dogs treats at the same time, on opposite sides of a tall baby gate.
     
    Last edited: May 27, 2017
  7. May 27, 2017
    dejavoodoo114

    dejavoodoo114 Loving the herd life

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    Can you fence in a backyard for her? As the puppies grow you said they are going to be general farm dogs. That way Sam would have her own space and be allowed in the house when the farm dogs are outside of the house.
     
  8. May 27, 2017
    LMK17

    LMK17 Loving the herd life

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    Yes, we can totally give her a yard of her own. However, we could not necessarily make it contiguous with the house, so she would need to be walked from the house to her yard, and there would still be issues with the dogs "mingling" around the doors of the house and on the way to and from her yard.
     
  9. May 30, 2017
    LMK17

    LMK17 Loving the herd life

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    Boo. Feel like I'm really going to strike out on this one. :(

    I contacted a chow chow rescue out of Houston (that was the nearest one I could find) to ask for suggestions for trainers or just general advice. They replied quickly, but only to say, "Sorry. We're not trainers, and we don't know anyone in San Antonio." Ugh, really? In my experience, rescues tend to communicate with one another and they're happy to help with training suggestions--potentially fewer animals coming into their rescue organizations if the owners can get a handle on problems. And Houston is not far away. I feel like they ought to know *someone* around here. But it is what it is.

    Next, I started reading through a book on handling problems in multi-dog households. Page 56: "If dog-on-dog fighting has resulted in separate instances requiring veterinary care... It is next to impossible to teach dog-dog bite inhibition to adult dogs..."

    Next, I'm going to try emailing a trainer here in town and give her the background, just to see if she thinks Sam is at all amenable to training. I'm not confident, though...

    I feel like I can't keep Sam separate from the other animals at.all.times. We've got 3 dogs and 2 cats. Sam can't behave herself with any of them. So I bring the puppies inside when Sam is outside (unless she's muzzled and I'm right there). Then when the puppies are outside, Sam comes inside BUT then I have to rotate Sam and the cats. Either Sam is tethered or the cats are in their kitty condo. It's enough to make me scream; I feel like all I'm doing all day is moving animals around. When Sam was muzzled the other day, I let her off leash to see if she had mellowed at all with the cats. She chased one of them into a corner, snarling and attempting to bite through the muzzle, and I had to pull her off. :(

    DH is at his wits end. He says he'll "handle" Sam himself if she causes any more problems. I can't really blame him.

    As for Ruby, she's got a vet appointment in the morning. Her ear could have used vet care, but the bleeding stopped quickly, and she was already on antibiotics, so we've been trying home care. We tried gluing it, but that lasted all of 24 hours before it opened up again. And we've been keeping her mostly indoors because she's been getting all sorts of debris stuck in it outside. She's not happy to be cooped up inside, and her sister doesn't want to play outside without Ruby. :/ Anyway, the ear isn't as healed at this point as I'd like it to be, so going to have the vet take a look tomorrow. Hopefully he'll opt to just leave it. Ruby's not going to care a bit if it heals in two pieces or comes together crookedly, and I really hope we don't need to deal with sedating her, closing the wound, keeping her from messing up the sutures, $$$, etc, etc...

    :barnie
     
  10. May 30, 2017
    BrendaMNgri

    BrendaMNgri Ridin' The Range

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    I always promote getting to the cause root of the problem instead of using harsh, constricting measures that will only provide a temporary "fix" and psychologically and emotionally damage a dog.

    Muzzling a dog, constricting them with the use of a shock collar, crating - all extreme, harsh methods that did indeed, contribute to making your dog into what she has become.
    It may be too late at this point to do anything but in the future please consider trying to understand your dog more deeply. Here is an article I wrote for Sheep! Magazine back in 2013.

    Causes of Conflicts Between LGDs