Multi-dog homes and aggression between dogs?

This is a place to gain some understanding of dog behavior and to assist people in training their dogs and dealing with common behavior problems, regardless of the method(s) used. This can cover the spectrum from non-aversive to traditional methods of dog training. There are many ways to train a dog. Please avoid aggressive responses, and counter ideas and opinions with which you don't agree with friendly and helpful advice. Please refrain from submitting posts that promote off-topic discussions. Keep in mind that you may be receiving advice from other dog owners and lovers... not professionals. If you have a major problem, always seek the advice of a trainer or behaviorist!

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Augusta,- CGC, RN

Such a Good Dog!
Barked: Tue Jan 22, '13 10:52am PST 
I'll admit I'm inspired to start this thread by the doghouse confession article where the dog was returned to the shelter after the author claimed "they tried everything" . . . .

I know many many Dogster regulars disagreed strongly with that and wonder what their thoughts are generally about how to approach that scenario, what to do differently. I don't have too much experience with dealing with more than the occasional visiting dog as far as multi-dog dynamics, so I want to hear from those of you who have dealt with dogs that don't get along.

In my own experience hearing of DA in a home, I did have a friend who before I had my own dog (so I knew very much less then), rehomed a pit mix female she had for over a year back to the rescue, after she attacked her Boston Terrier when she left them home alone together.

As far as I could tell, she was very human loving, a velcro dog, high energy, not getting nearly enough exercise or training with my friend, but she did consult a behaviorist before the incident--because she was frustrated with her exuberance, separation anxiety and she may have scuffled with her bf's elder border collie. I'm sketchy on the details --other than I remember her telling my friend that she must no longer let the pittie in the bed and must make her sleep on the floor.

Perhaps she said both dogs, I don't know, but I do know my friend continued to let the Boston, her longtime "baby" sleep in the bed while the other dog had to sleep on a bed on the floor.

Could that have set up jealousy that led to the dog wanting to attack the other dog? Or was it likely other triggers?

And generally what are your thoughts on dealing dogs having issues within a home?

we will dance in- the ring without- words
Barked: Tue Jan 22, '13 11:14am PST 
Sorry, I can't help here. I own 5 and have a plethora of fosters coming and going (as well as lot of doggy visitors) and hardly ever have issues in my home. When i do (for example if a new foster comes in and everyone gets a little cranky), I stop it in it's tracks.

I have helped a lot of students with this issue though.

Barked: Tue Jan 22, '13 11:16am PST 
Rigby has had DA issues with Oz specifically from the week we brought her home.

This started with food issues. Feeding too close together (a fault of my mother's), "group" training with the 3 of them, and when she thought she was going to get food (if she was in the kitchen whilst someone was cooking or eating) we all triggers that caused issues between the 2 of them.
So from then on we started feeding them separately, and when we did group training, Oz received his treat first, then she could have hers.
And banned them from the kitchen whilst eating or cooking, which is my prefence anyways.
This worked quite well.

We then enrolled her into a group obedience class, where she again exhibited such issues with other dogs that were her size or smaller. We worked with the trainer and were able to achieve a level of comfort with her with all dogs. She now works in close quarters with other dogs - sometimes strange dogs to her - in the presence of treats, and has had no slip-ups.

The second issue was couch and bed guarding. We could find them often cuddling in the crate together, however if Rigby was on a higher level (couch or bed) Rigby would display her shifty eyes and snarling behaviour when Oz attempted to come up.
Putting Rigby on the floor and allowing her to come up after Oz seemed to have worked.

For the first few months Rigby was kept crated while we were gone, just in case.

They still aren't "perfect" with each other, but I have since moved out and the issue isn't as prevalent.

The way I see it, the resident dogs should be considered "higher up" than the new dog when it comes to such orders. That is, until they find a balance on their own, but this can obviously take some time.

Ava & Nix

Suburban Farm- Dogs
Barked: Tue Jan 22, '13 1:03pm PST 
Probably the unpopular post here, but I have a really hard time dealing with aggression, rehabilitating dogs and such. I couldn't do it.

Minor things that are easily dealt with like growling and getting snarky when each dog has their food bowls are one thing, but if it was to the point where it was obvious one dog didn't feel safe in the house anymore because the other was attacking it, literally trying to kill it at any given chance, like in that article, the aggressor would be gone. I wouldn't even be willing to work with that kind of aggression--others might, and more power to them, but I'm not the kind of person who can dedicate myself to rehabilitating a dog who has gone so far as to try and kill it's packmate (I usually don't use the word 'pack' when talking about dogs, but I'm tired and can't think of a better word to use).

Edited by author Tue Jan 22, '13 1:04pm PST

Tiller- (Skansen's- Ira in the M

I DO Exist...To- Drive You Batty
Barked: Tue Jan 22, '13 1:27pm PST 
Well it may not be helpful to this thread, Gus, but re that article....the writing was on the wall with what they were saying in that first paragraph. This to me was a puppy raising issue.

Giant Schnauzers have a propensity towards dog aggression. Some have muzzle policies when it comes to fosters. Some breed advocates say "never ever" bring them to dog parks. Doubtless they can be trouble, but my two intact males have been with many a foster and are ridiculously tolerant when it comes to them. Neither have been dogs who don't "have the stuff"....out there in the street, if there is to be a secure, direct challenge to them by a stranger dog on their territory, they are candidates to have a go. But in the home? Never. Around a fear dog? Never.

This puppy was one they resigned to when young. He was "stubborn" and they acquiesced. I still have a brain spasm thinking here you have this dog who you are hoping is going to be huge, who is on the DDA list....and you are ok with this and then phrase yourself as dog savvy?

Early puppyhood raising responses like this are cliche, irksome and at times tragic. Puppies really don't need to feel that they are on their own coping with the world. Good behavior is very building of security and a sense that they don't need to take the world on their shoulders. I personally don't formalize obedience until the dogs are teenagers. I care a lot more about manners and basic communication....those are my focal points. Dogs sitting is a "me" thing, a handler thing in other words. Whether a dog is sitting or not sitting I don't think is any sort of an emotional issue to them....what do they care? wink But when they are jumping all over you, biting your ankles, or when you can't redirect them from a frenzied puppy brain state....these are more emotional experiences. So I worry less about the sits, and more about "let's hold this together, buddy." In my puppy coaching, I stress the importance of learning the art of redirection. That just pays off, for that builds trust and confidence, builds bond, and really helps you to get inside your puppy's head....what works with him....and being able to guide him when he is getting keyed up.

It is inherent in tougher minded breeds oftentimes to test the waters as teenagers. If the dog is not secure, if the dog bears the world on his shoulders, that can really niggle their insecurity side. Or if he is tougher minded naturally, may make him more apt to want to test his strength all the time. Tiller was a ridiculous handful as a teenager, dogs and people alike, but redirection was already a well versed language between us, which kept him out of any "ultimate" sort of trouble, and then he grew a brain.

These people....I don't know if you saw and I am very frustrated that more posters didn't hinge on the one sentence comment from the author....HAD an aggressive Pom in their home, actively. Whose aggression they simply tolerated ("bite to the bone," they said), their point being it was a different matter with a dog of Marley's size. How much does THAT say. They've already raised an aggressive dog, and that they had no sense that they could actually treat that?

The whole sequence to me was a ridiculous debacle.

In terms of answering your question sort of, there very often are subtle messages between dogs going on. Nothing really is acted upon because the puppy is a puppy, not challenging, etc. But with a little age, it comes to a head. Marley likely was living under more dog politico pressure to have made that first launch at the park. That's my best guess. Insecure dog, and due to these people paid a very steep price for their failings.

Edited by author Tue Jan 22, '13 1:33pm PST


Where can I run- today?
Barked: Tue Jan 22, '13 1:37pm PST 
IMO, I think they in part set themselves up for trouble because they were wary of the dog from the day they brought him home....tip-toeing around a dog because he's a pit bull, the fact of which to me clearly freaked them out but they wanted to pretend it didn't, had an effect on the overall environment the dog was growing up in....not to mention their other aggressive dog already in the home. I just think everything was set up to ultimately fail. They seemed way too fixated on their dog's breed in the article.

Cave canis- vigilo omnis
Barked: Tue Jan 22, '13 1:48pm PST 
I'm with you, Ava. I choose my dogs carefully - they might ("might" laugh out loud) have other issues, but they they absolutely must be able to get along with family members, including the other dog/s. I've never had more than a random squabble here. Some of it is dumb luck, no doubt, but some of it is selection and training, too.

Serious violence between pack members is a deal breaker for me. To be honest, I understand why the author of that story gave up on the dog - not everyone has the resources or living arrangements or the level of commitment needed to deal with a situation so grave.

*I do, however, think the author needs to own her mistakes: She chose poorly (both Mastiffs and Pit bull breeds are well known for DA/SSA), she made little effort at training during the crucial period, she ignored all the signs that the dog was becoming dangerous... And when it all went wrong she wasn't there with the dog at the end, and then blamed everyone but herself for the problems.
Tiller- (Skansen's- Ira in the M

I DO Exist...To- Drive You Batty
Barked: Tue Jan 22, '13 1:58pm PST 
It is what I said on that stupid article. If it could have been what she learned of herself the hard way. But she hid behind so much, spread the blame everywhere. We all make mistakes. Mistakes in judgment, mistakes in handling. You need to look at those from the perspective of yourself....what could you have done differently. If only for the fact that you can't control the world, but you can certainly better yourself.

I was very agitated that she could say she knew he may be part Pit, or of the DDA list, *before* taking on that puppy. Blame it now? That's insane. And the breeds she was hoping he might be are SSA qualified...so not even sure what the point of her article was. Talking about how they only raise happy dogs, and then mention a "bite to the bone" Pom?

Egads. Such a lack of self reflection.
Toto, CD, RN, CGC

We don't do- doodles!!!
Barked: Tue Jan 22, '13 3:42pm PST 
Back when I was breeding with my dogs, I had ladies with serious hatred for other ladies... not a problem with any other dogs EXCEPT the certain one. I attributed that to hormones and played crate and rotate until their show/breeding was finished, they were then neutered and placed. I always believed (and still do), these issues were because of hormones and not lack of training.
Now, everyone in my house (ten of them!) is neutered except one male toy poodle. I do not have ANY problems amongst them, except an occasional my toy, no MY toy, and then I get the toy so that ends quickly!
In fact, earlier this evening I had all ten in the living room with me and I was eating some nachos. I gave EACH dog a piece, they each got only their piece and I never, ever even had to say a word other than their name when it was their piece. No pushing, no shoving, not a grumble or a growl. When I was finished, I set the plate on the coffee table and not one even sniffed it.
I was VERY pleased!!!!
I do still have some issues, but very minor. For example, Ali does growl at the others when SHE is being held and they try to worm in, especially if she is being held by a stranger, but she doesn't go any further than that growl and a calm, "quit it" from me stops that. When I am in bed there is some grumbling and growling as they attempt to see who can get closest to me. but they all know that being on the bed is by invitation and that invitation can and will be rescinded if needed. Each dog eats in their crate but that is also to allow me to know who is getting what and/or to make sure any meds get to the right dog.
I do believe that not only do the dogs need to know that I set and enforce the major rules of the house, but I also need to allow them the occasional growl/even snap amongst themselves so they can learn to listen and respect each other as well.

When the night- closes in I will- be there
Barked: Tue Jan 22, '13 5:55pm PST 
I'm with Toto in that I have many dogs and some in and out, and I just don't allow it. DA is something I will deal with outside the home, but not inside.
Fight over a toy, I get the toy. Fight for space, now it's my space. They all know the deal and that's that. I feed in crates for much the same reason as well. I could feed my dogs together because the same rules apply, fight over it and it's mine. Period.
I think the the key is that right from the first minute, the rules are there and they don't change. There is never any favoritism because they all lose if it starts.
That said I know Shadow is prone to DA, I probably would not put everyone at risk by adding another dog to the mix with similar issues on a permanent basis. A foster sure, crate and rotate, but not permanent.
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