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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Member Since
Barked: Wed Jan 23, '13 11:41am PST 
i agree with Toto, I think SSA is often missed because people have the dogs get along for a while at home (especially when young) and it seems to pop out 'out of nowhere', or their dog has typically no problems with others outside the home. Or may not even have problems with ALL of the same sex at home, just a specific dog or two.

As for me, I took the advice of veteran people in the breed and went with a dog of opposite sex for my newest one, exactly to avoid the problems and potential with SSA at maturity.

I also think intact/sterilized (spayed/neutered) sometimes can influence that, too.

I know bitches of breeds prone to SSA who have problems with not only other females but neutered males....

That said, I think we also tend not to entertain the thought that sometimes some dog just doesn't like another and that's OK too.

Edited by author Wed Jan 23, '13 11:43am PST

Toto, CD, RN, CGC

We don't do- doodles!!!
Barked: Wed Jan 23, '13 12:12pm PST 
Gus, not having been there I can't say for positive, but I really think a "dog" person would have seen the issues BEFORE it was too late and stepped in way in the beginning. Way, way, way too many things were done wrong along the way to have ever prevented what ultimately happened there. Just for starters, chaining him while camping was a sure fire way to build frustration in him, frustration which was not recognized and which he had never learned to deal with.
Personally, I think, no, I believe he would have never gotten where he did in my house. He would have had structure right from the get go, and would have a clear sense of his position in the family structure, which he obviously never had from their family. Sure, there most likely would have been issues as he matured, and most likely he would have NEVER been a dog park dog but I do believe he would have been able to exist peacefully within that family if things had been done differently.
I really believe as some one else stated previously, they had major preconceived problems with his breed and therefore believed how he turned out was inevitable... they really believed there was nothing they could do to change it.
I had a person like that in one of my obedience classes... she could not get past the fact that her dog WAS a pit and in spite of the dog being GREAT, she could not treat him as a "normal" dog, no matter how hard she tried. Ultimately, she created the most nervous, neurotic dog I have ever seen and ended up returning him to the rescue he came from. A better interview process way back when she got him would have stopped that adoption and that dog could have been a great dog somewhere else!!

Couch Potato
Barked: Wed Jan 23, '13 12:22pm PST 
Funny, I had NO preconceptions about Pitties, didn't even know that Sonny was really Pit, thought he was mostly Lab and "something" else, and didn't know that Kado was "Cattle Dog" at all. Had no earthly idea what she was, having never even seen a red heeler. So I had no idea that either breeds could have DA, had no idea about DA in certain breeds. Was just a very naive person about such things. They only thing I had heard about was bitch wars, one reason I would never have 2 bitches at once. And in general, I prefer male dogs.

Tiller- (Skansen's- Ira in the M

I DO Exist...To- Drive You Batty
Barked: Wed Jan 23, '13 12:27pm PST 
Some dogs don't like each other. I always say that's fine....that's their right. I've had multiple dogs forever. Some simply tolerated the others. Only once did I have a pairing where I felt it was a great friendship match, Giant Onion and GSD Philo, and ironically enough, for all the times I had wished for "best buds," it really ticked me off because everything took longer with Philo. How are you going to compete with a Giant as to who is the cooler one to hang with? laugh out loud Granted, part of my error was Onion was just a year and a half old when Philo came in as a puppy, and for a Giant that is still puppy stage, so they were on the same wave length and Philo thought Onion was just the most spectacular thing that could be.

One thing about the CM thing....the way that works is that a dog needs to be screwy in the head to walk into a pack and start a fight with a dog. That just lights the pack on the interloper, and they'd be pretty much dead. Dogs are dogs, they know the code wink Just sticking with tv land as some people here do watch a lot, I think there was a stellar demonstration in one of Stillwell's shows, with an agggressive Boxer whose owners thought got relief at doggie daycare as he never fought there. But when they filmed him, you saw a very tense and uncomfortable dog, laying low, pacing, just avoiding as much as he could. But aggressive mano a mano out on the street. With CM, the stays are elongate, so after being put in a position where they know better than to start things, the dog eventually seeks out companionship of some kind, developing social skills. A very interesting thing I have learned from his dog park scenes is that in a large pack setting, you can see the dogs clique. Sub packs form, with dogs who get along. I am sure in and amongst that the indication that there are others there they prefer not to engage with. I certainly saw similar cliques in broodmare bands all the time.

It is perfectly possible for an SSA prone breed to get tougher minded with a little age on him. And perfectly possible for genetics to bear something out....we did adopt this year to a very nice man who had been through a lot of trauma when his ACD mix went from lovely to really wacko abruptly. He saw many trainers, worked with her a lot, but he has kids and eventually rehomed her on a farm, unfathomable energy being part of the problem also. But there, and in the SSA cases, it is a pattern of...."everything was fine and then all of a sudden it wasn't....what HAPPENED?!" That was not the case here. These people struggled from the first. They need to GET that, but they refuse to.

Neither of my Giants do I doubt for one SECOND would have had SSA issues if it weren't for proper raising. And as far as being a Pit, it's all ludicrous as the same would apply to the breeds she was more hoping it would be. If you take on a puppy with these propensities, proper rearing is PARAMOUNT.

Both my Giants have gone through their stage where they were trying to light firecrackers. Getting all up in the business of my other dogs, NO sense of body space, just push-push-push. And us humans too, crashing into us, body slamming when you walked down stairs, crossing over in front of you when being walked. If you are dog savvy, you know they are trying to push buttons, and under less astute management what happens is they do prompt a fight, and will toughen coming out of that. So it's a point of not tolerating the behavior. "Anything that happens three times is not an accident" is what I plant in my head. Pot stirring. So you work on proper boundaries, try to give them other ways to vent, knowing when they hit three or so, they level off very well.

Some individual dogs are going to grow up to be intolerant. You can't know when they are puppies....the fundamental reason I don't have a Kerry Blue. But most dogs, when puppies, can be set up for successful transitions, some of which includes being very attentive to their teenage phase, when they are most likely to "prod the lion" to test out their developing urges, and prior to that giving them lots of positive structure.

Edited by author Wed Jan 23, '13 12:30pm PST

Toto, CD, RN, CGC

We don't do- doodles!!!
Barked: Wed Jan 23, '13 1:01pm PST 
Actually, right now I have three boys, two neutered, one not, that do not really love each other. Beanie, who is spoiled rotten and my special boy, Barney, a crested and my unneutered toy, Riley. My other three boys are perfectly happy with everyone no matter who, even these three boys.
For the most part, they are fine, can sleep together on the same bed, etc., but all three are always pushing if they can. Riley, the toy poodle, hangs his head over Beanie whenever he can and Barney just roars at them both as he is a very vocal dog. I usually only have this stuff happen when they are all out running in the field with me, and apparently I am the "big dog", because I notice, (usually in photos which I take hundreds of by putting the camera on constant shooting), they will stare intently toward me if someone is pushing another one too hard. All it takes from me is clearing my throat...instantly they go off to find something else to play with or chase. If the conflict is more serious, they will come over to me to work on it right in front of me.
If I go back to the house for anything, I have to take Beanie with me or he will definitely try to get the upper hand and start a war. Barney and Riley do lots of the bumping and pushing moves, but can seem to keep it more civil. All three are very jealous of me and all three try to be the one jumping into my lap. The others are all more independent and don't require as many "cuddles" from me.
Interestingly enough, if we are not home, for example at the kayaking pond or on a camping trip, all three are perfectly fine together with none of the posturing.
I really think Beanie is a wimp and doesn't dare start anything without me to back him up but wants Riley and Barney to know I am his, Riley IS the big boy because he has balls, and I can never figure out where Barney fits into all this, maybe his problem is that he can't figure it out, either.

Edited by author Wed Jan 23, '13 1:03pm PST

Savannah Blue Belle

A Heart of Gold!
Barked: Wed Jan 23, '13 1:05pm PST 
Yes, that is the sort of thing I get too now, Toto. And I got there with your help, so thanks again. A sharp noise...my natural warning noise is something between No and Not...sort of a "Neh!" and they stop whatever and go about looking busy with something else.

What's Cooler- Than Being Cool?- Ice Cold!
Barked: Wed Jan 23, '13 3:35pm PST 
The dogs I have now mostly tolerate each other, not much playing to speak of. When Boomer was still alive, she hated Lola but she knew better than to act on it. The few times they got into it, Lola started it but Boomer was damn sure she'd finish it laugh out loud.
Part of my job involves regularly staying with a rotating cast of Havanese plus one cressted and the occasional frenchie. My boss is a breeder and some of the dogs are off at handlers but there are always at least Eight at the house. Their age range is anywhere from 10 weeks to 7 years with the occasional litter of puppies. Mostly bitches, with one male crested that is a permanent resident and usually an adolescent male hav hanging around. Those dogs have the least amount of training on them that they can and still live insidelaugh out loud. Somehow, they ALL get along, no squabbles with toys and bones all over the place. I haven't figured out how it works yet and I've been staying extended periods with them for well over a year.
Shiver Me- Timbers- "Charlie"

My Little Dog, a- heartbeat at my- feet.<3
Barked: Wed Jan 23, '13 3:37pm PST 
I lived in a home with a female Bull Mastiff, two female Rottweilers, a male Rottweiler puppy and Charlie.

Oh boy, the dynamics in that house were INSANE.

My moms fiance owned these females and brought them in when they moved in together. APPARENTLY - Kia, the Mastiff, USED to get along with the female Rottweilers, until after the male Rottweiler(head of house, as far as I've learned and even boss over my moms fiance) passed away, and after he was gone, the balance broke, because HE was the only one who kept things cool between the females. I do fully believe it was due in part to raising, as well as to Todd not taking over and being the boss where he needed to be to keep the peace.

Kia began attacking the female Rottweilers. After she tore open Maya's(she's the Rottweiler I rescued from the situation) ear one day, Maya had finally had enough and was no longer willing to put up with or tolerate Kia even in the same room. Regan(the other Rottweiler), on the other hand, couldn't care less, was non-confrontational and preferred NOT to fight and took to avoidance, and was perfectly fine when we took them on walks together. Kia was fine on the walk, until we got back to the house. Maya simply wanted after Kia the entire walk. It was Regan, however, that Kia managed to attack when she got loose on rotation(Regan was loose, and someone left a door open to a room Kia was in, and she jumped Regan the instant she saw her).

There's NOTHING quite like a Mastiff trying to tear apart a Rottweiler. THAT is a fight from hell and incredibly HARD to safely break up when the one dog sees red and refuses to back down. We had to LIFT Kia onto her back legs to get her to let go and Regan, while no blood was drawn, ended up with torn muscles all down the one side of her neck and was on pain meds from the Vets office for a week or two afterward and couldn't move her neck without wincing and crying.

HOWEVER.. That said.. The mistake of the door being left open was done by my teenage brother who 'did't think' and let's just say that mistake never happened again. Kia was such a 'see red' dog when it came to other adult females, that it was either rehome, euthanize, or crate and rotate. We opted for rotation instead and it worked extremely well. The males got along with all other dogs, including each other, and the two female Rottweilers got along with one another, as well as the males, so it was just Kia who had to be kept separate from the female Rottweilers. We did try working on it, but by that age, and that long of that huge an issue between the three of them, it was incredibly hard and they NEVER would have been safe loose together, supervised or not, so we simply decided 'not'.

That said, I know my own dogs well enough to pick up on when problems are arising - those subtle signs, thanks to the house of five dogs, and thanks to my foster dogs, have become incredibly clear to me and it's quick and easy for me to give a simple, "No.", "Settle." or "Leave it." In fact, instead of telling off Ria(which I sometimes wish Charlie would just go ahead and do), he'll look at me and wait for me to discipline her for harassing him and chewing on his collar, because he trusts me to step forward and do that for him.

It ain't over- till the fat- kitty sings
Barked: Thu Jan 24, '13 9:45am PST 
Isn't it interesting to note that with spayed and neutured critters the females are quite often the cranky ones? You'd think there would be residue testosterone that would still make the boys more rowdy. But even in a house that is mostly cats, the girls rule. Stumpy is the only unspayed female we have. She has never been in heat...why I don't know...but she would take on any cat, dog or other critter and win. The other girls dominate the house as well. The boys play bad%## with each other but not towards the females.

It's all about- me.
Barked: Thu Jan 24, '13 10:54am PST 
I must have harmony in my home. Period. I won't tolerate aggression within my pack.

Choosing a new pack member...I don't believe its totally my decision. I like my dogs to help choose their new house companion.

A friend of mine fosters for the Humane Society here. She got a call yesterday about a Toy Poodle that needs fostering. He is 7 months old. The people who had him also had an adult male Pittie. So their solution to the aggression the Pit had towards the Poodle was to keep the Poodle in a crate. The Humane Society thinks he is NOT house trained due to being "raised" in a crate. Stupid people.
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