Three Scrappy Dogsby shibashake 2 Comments Three dogs hanging out in the living room - Husky lying on back with goofy face, Shiba Inu in the background (group shot). IMG_5347 IMG_5344 IMG_5388 IMG_5389 IMG_5420 IMG_5379 Group Obedience Training IMG_5414 IMG_5376 IMG_5342 Girl sitting with Huskies, who are playing with a toy bone, and Shiba Inu (group shot). Girl hanging out with three dogs (group shot). IMG_5322 IMG_5315 Shiba Inu standing, with orange toy bone in mouth. IMG_5312 Shiba Inu showing teeth while playing with Siberian Husky Lara.
Help! I have 2 female Jack Russells, one is 2 and the other 1 year old. We have had them both since pups and they have lived together for the last year. Up until about 3 weeks ago they got on like a house on fire. I think the problem is with me and occasionally my partner, because they have both started to growl, show their teeth and then full on fight whenever they are around me, sometimes my partner. They sleep together at night in the same bed, cuddled up, they spend the day together (part of the day on their own), they walk nicely together when out and about, on and off the lead. The problem always starts (and it’s instigated by both of them not just one, we never know which one will start). If I have one dog on my lap in the evening, when the other comes into the room, one or other will start growling and showing teeth and the other then starts to. Sometimes the one on my lap jumps off and the fight entails, sometimes the one on the floor jumps up and the fight entails, sometimes they fight on me. It has gotten to the point that the younger one, 1 year old, starts to growl and show teeth even if she is in another room. For example, if I am in the kitchen and Pepper comes over to me, (Daisy may be in another room completely) I may bend down to stroke Pepper or to pet her and she will start growling, looking around for Daisy, Daisy then runs into the kitchen and a fight entails. If I pick up Pepper to give her a cuddle (they are both very cuddly loving dogs) she growls and shows teeth. Daisy isn’t doing this when I pet her or pick her up if Pepper isn’t around. To me, it seems as if Pepper isn’t growling at me but growling to let Daisy know that she is with me and Daisy needs to keep away. Like I said, Daisy is as bad, if she is on my lap or near me but not when I pick her up or pet her when Pepper isn’t around like Pepper does.
Daisy also has seizures, the last one, Pepper witnessed was in the night and whilst they were asleep in the bed together. Daisy messed herself and when we woke up and Daisy was in full fit, Pepper was standing looking at her bemused. We had to take Daisy to the emergency Vet to have her taken out of the seizure. I wonder whether Pepper sees this as a weakness?
I have tried making a dominant dog by feeding Daisy first, giving Daisy her treats first, putting Daisy’s lead on first, saying hello to Daisy first when I get in from work etc. but this hasn’t worked. We have given the command ‘NO’ and ‘in your bed’ but they both ignore this even at the beginnings of the growling mode. As the growling starts we have removed one dog and put it in another room, but the other dog follows whilst both are growling and showing teeth, we have repeatedly removed the dog that started the growling and put it in another room on its own but again this has not helped things.
I am at my wits end with this and now feel that I am unable to pet my dogs or pick them up any more like we used to.
Dogs usually have conflict with each other over resources, e.g. food, toys, space, access to people, attention, affection. This does not mean that they are mortal enemies, or that they will hate each other afterward. It simply means that they sometimes want the same thing, at the same time. When that happens, there is conflict and aggression may be used to resolve that conflict.
Here are some things that helped with my dogs –
1. I am the one to hand out resources, and I am the one that resolves resource conflicts. I always step in and clearly let them know what behaviors are not acceptable, and what belongs to whom. In this way, I teach them that they do not need to deal with conflicts themselves, but rather to let me do it.
2. I set up clear rules of interaction. For example, there is no stealing. When one dog steals, he loses whatever he steals and I put him in time-out. The victim (if she remains calm) usually gets the stuff returned with an added bonus.
3. I try to teach them that cooperation and working for me gets them the most rewards. For example, I do a lot of group obedience training sessions. They all do commands for me, and I reward all of them very well for listening and being calm together. I also follow the NILIF (Nothing in Life is Free) program for all of my dogs.
In terms of attention and affection, that is just like any other resource. First, my dog has to do something for me. This usually includes staying calm, and giving me their attention when I ask for it. I usually give multiple dogs attention at once, in a group training session context.
Sometimes, I will give attention to one, and another will come around to ask for it. If both dogs remain calm, then they both get affection. This teaches them that they do not have to compete. However, if a dog shows any kind of aggression or guarding behavior, then I will no-mark the behavior (Ack-ack) to let him know that it is undesirable. If he continues, then he gets ignored, and I prevent him from coming near me. If he escalates his behavior and starts biting on me, then he goes to timeout. Meanwhile, if the other dogs stay calm, then they continue to get affection.
This teaches them that –
Guarding and Biting = Get Ignored, Lose Access to People, and Lose Freedom
Being Calm = Get Affection and Other Rewards
Dogs repeat behaviors that get them good results and stop behaviors that get them bad results.
One thing that helps me get better control is to put a drag-lead on the dog that is still learning the rules of interaction. In this way, I can quickly stop any problems and quickly do a timeout if need be.
However, all this assumes that the dogs have good bite inhibition and will not cause bite wounds on people. If a dog has a bite history with people or is causing bite wounds, then it is best to get help from a professional trainer. Here is a bit more on what I do at home to keep the peace –