My dogs are fighting...

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Misskiwi67
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My dogs are fighting...

Postby Misskiwi67 » Sat Nov 20, 2010 10:15 pm

It started today... two fights, both times Romeo sustained injuries. Both ocurred while I was within a couple feet of the dogs, I have no idea what/who started it, no food or attention were involved either time. These same two dogs were sharing a bed together earlier today.

I have no idea what to do... its so easy to make recommendations when its someone else's dogs, but I'm at a loss because they're mine.

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Re: My dogs are fighting...

Postby Red » Sat Nov 20, 2010 10:38 pm

What you do if you are unable to determine what caused the fight and therefore modify the environment accordingly, and it has happened twice already, is to separate the dogs. On a post in the gallery you mentioned that the dogs bark at each other with hackles raised, when trying to "play". While hackles raised don't always anticipate a fight (it means arousal, generally) there could have been something going on that might not agree with play and an indicator of future problems. Can you add more details on their interaction prior the fights? What level of injuries did Romeo sustained?

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Re: My dogs are fighting...

Postby Misskiwi67 » Sat Nov 20, 2010 10:56 pm

Romeo had a couple of partial thickness scrapes on his shoulder from the first fight, and 3 full thickness puncture wounds on the opposite front leg from the second fight.

Lena is pretty tightly bonded to me, to the point where I've considered leaving them at home in crates (instead of coming to work) just to have some time apart. I can't help but think I'm the resource thats being guarded, there really wasn't anything else around except a dog bed.

Both dogs get along very well with other dogs at work, I don't understand why they aren't getting along with each other. Lena plays daily with another female similar in size and play style to Romeo (I actually went looking for a dog with Susie Q's temperament in pit bull body style), and my boss's male chihuahua will have Lena rolling on her back kicking and begging for more...

Romeo also plays well with both of these dogs, but there is a disconnect between him and Lena. Their intros went very well, and even as Lena came out of her shell they got along very well, they eat together, sleep together, walk together... until one or both became very excited, then they bark at each other and you can see they just aren't "getting it". I can't help but think both dogs are dogs that play well with others but can't allow other dogs to be excited without trying to stop the excitement or otherwise get involved. I've seen them called "fun haters" etc.

If possible, I don't want to have to separate them for life. I want to figure out the root of the problem and solve it. Neither dog is dog aggressive, they don't have to be pals, they just have to co-habitate without trying to hurt one another.
I will try to get a video of the zoomies followed by barking on Monday if I think it can be done safely... both dogs stop on command... or have so far.

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Re: My dogs are fighting...

Postby Adrianne » Sat Nov 20, 2010 11:40 pm

Well, What I have have done with my two (who are expected to cohabitate for the rest of forever) is correct any interaction until I see proper interaction I approve of.

Basically we worked from rotation to slow introductions. Slowly we brought one dog out and corrected each dog for showing interest. From there we encouraged cohabitation (slowly, we were quick to put away a dog if interest escalated) and praised every moment of it. About a year (and maybe a half) later this morning I allow very minimal playing together (tug) with eye's peeled supervision. I also broke things up when I felt just slightly uncomfortable.

Things move extremely slowly with cohabitation requirements however it is extremely effective with the right dogs. My two relatively DA dogs both respect their house mates and have learned through this to respect polite strange dogs.

If you're interested in more detail I can continue but this method is not for everyone, just a suggestion that worked wonders for me in rehabbing my otherwise selective DA dogs.

Some dogs are honestly Socially inept, imo and need to be taught first to cohabitat and later can learn how to respectively interact. That is my goal with my dogs and thus far I am achieving my goal.

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Re: My dogs are fighting...

Postby Mya&theSiebenDackels » Sun Nov 21, 2010 12:14 am

Sometimes when dogs get overexcited(that was one of Mya's problems) when playing and such, it can cause a fight. Sometimes even certain looks dogs give one another can start a fight.

Next time they are near or around each other watch for how their body posture is and their facial expressions. I learned when having Mya, to watch her body posture and her facial expressions when she was around other dogs. Watching for tension in her face, if her hackles are up, calming signals etc. So, now I do that with all the dogs I am around when they are with other dogs as a habit.

Sorry I do not have much advice as Mya wanted to kill other dogs and at first she liked all dogs but then as she got older she only had one doggie friend(Tank) which she ended having to be separated from him too because she would get overexcited and attack him when she was playing with him or when she saw another dog.

Luckily most dogs are not like Mya though and can be worked with as Adrianne mentioned. :)

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Re: My dogs are fighting...

Postby Red » Sun Nov 21, 2010 12:22 am

Misskiwi67 wrote:Romeo had a couple of partial thickness scrapes on his shoulder from the first fight, and 3 full thickness puncture wounds on the opposite front leg from the second fight.


A scrap with lots of noise but no real injuries gives room to work on modifying some things around play safe but puncture wounds and a level 3 and possibly 4 bites are another story. The reason I asked the level of injuries was to know whether it was a minor scrap or something that needs more consideration. Did the dogs stop on their own or you had to intervene and for some time?

I can't help but think both dogs are dogs that play well with others but can't allow other dogs to be excited without trying to stop the excitement or otherwise get involved. I've seen them called "fun haters" etc.


For many dogs it is over stimulation without an outlet and arousal that is not controlled or channeled can lead to problems, as well as aggression. The dogs cannot make the "right" decision in this case, they are past their threshold.

I want to figure out the root of the problem and solve it. Neither dog is dog aggressive, they don't have to be pals, they just have to co-habitate without trying to hurt one another.


What if leaving them together is unsafe for them?The dogs can be expect them to behave reasonably from behind a gate or other means of separation, but you might not be able to have them in the same area loose and get away with it. It is something that is best you at least consider.

Please don't take any video of them running together, that is just asking for trouble. A fight is stressful and cortisol levels take days to go back down to baseline levels.During the recovery time dogs tend to have a lower threshold for stimulation, which means they are more responsive to sensory, auditory and visual stimulation (especially in situation that continue to be stressful or create arousal). The best thing you can do for them right now is to separate them from each other and give them some rest time.I'd give them a week of no barking, no zoomies in front of each other etc.

What to do after that, as far as behavior modification, depends in the motivation behind the original behavior.Hard to say what it was since there are limited information.Your presence could have been a reason for conflict, or one of the dog started it with subtle body language and the other responded. Either way don't rely on forcing cohabitation by the means of punishment or with the idea that "they must get along". Working with dogs who have bitten a member of the same household can be complicated.Remedial socialization require that both dogs are cooperative and it is often hard to expect the receiver of the bite to remain relaxed when the other dog is around. Honestly, in your case, I would look into separating the dogs rather than risking farther injuries.

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Re: My dogs are fighting...

Postby FriscoGirl » Sun Nov 21, 2010 12:37 am

how many of these threads are on this forum? These long winded posts may have some vaild information but keep your dogs separated, stop getting PIT BULLS and expect them to get along, NOTHING is wrong when they decided they want to kill each other either believe it or not. They will never be beagles, no matter how much training you do.

-Chain your dog out or kennel them, you think its cruel, get rid of your dogs.

again, theirs nothing wrong when they dont get along besides the owners expecting them to or training them to get along (l o l) after they let you know they want to shred each other.

where's the truth around here?

8yrs best friends, two dead dogs over a kong toy, it happens. Pit Bulls dont need doggie friends, grab a clue people


the truth

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Re: My dogs are fighting...

Postby FriscoGirl » Sun Nov 21, 2010 12:54 am

and hopefully you have a yard. Get chain set ups or sufficient kennel runs tomorrow, all problems solved, this is how theyre supposed to live in multiple Pit Bull homes from day 1 anyway, its the safe and responsible life to live with APBT's. Theirs no problems here really

my dogs are outside on chains, a few in kennels runs and are happy and safe. No chance of fighting or getting out, theyre as happy as anyones dogs here.

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Re: My dogs are fighting...

Postby Adrianne » Sun Nov 21, 2010 1:23 am

Frisco, while I agree with some things you state, not all dogs are hot dogs like what you choose to own.

My dogs are (useless rescues, which are) not per say hot which, yes, will fight but frankly they are not game dogs. My dogs have proven to cohabitate with supervision and live contently.

I will never, ever, leave dogs alone- no matter the breed (ps, this ain't no pit bull thing alone) and frankly I would never expect my dogs, Malinois, rat terriers, chihuahuas, wheaten terriers, labs, or pit bulls to love one another. I do however expect them to respect one anothers space and my demand for civility while supervised. I also never allow my dogs to get overly excited with one another, puppies, malinois or adults, apbts.

This won't work for every home but it has proven to work in mine and will work in others with dedication and desire (and the right dogs, not all dogs will work in this lifestyle, I accept that freely).

I have had a lot of apbt in my less than 30 years in the breed and can genuinely say, yes, not every apbt will cohabitate. However, most in home spats are not apbt specific, they're merely dogs in communication flaws.

The situation at hand could be a workable situation, not every apbt rescue/mix household is the same as every hot dog game apbt household. There is a reason people differentiate, crude or not.

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Re: My dogs are fighting...

Postby Misskiwi67 » Sun Nov 21, 2010 8:10 am

I spent a LOT of time checking out multiple shelters and even when there were numerous puppies to choose from, selected an adult dog that I knew was low in the dog reactivity because I want my dogs to cohabitate. I take my dogs to work with me nearly every day and they are exposed to half a dozen strange dogs on a daily basis. It was ESSENTIAL that my new dog was minimally reactive, and I worked hard to make sure I selected carefully. I am extremely confident that this is a social issue between these two individuals, and not a "pit bull" thing... Thumbelina has not had a poor dog-dog interaction with any other dog at obedience class or at work, she will allow strange dogs to walk past the office with no more reaction than a tail wag, she shows more interest in strange people than she does strange dogs.

I will keep them separated unless I can focus 100% of my attention on them. I plan on keeping Romeo in ICU with me today while I'm working and leaving Lena in the office, much like I did with Sheila when she had her busted ACL.

What is the best way to determine the underlying source of the poor interaction between the two dogs if I can't video interactions to get help picking up subtle body language?

Or does the current interaction not matter, so long as I only allow positive reactions in the future? What is the best way to encourage positive interactions?

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Re: My dogs are fighting...

Postby Misskiwi67 » Sun Nov 21, 2010 8:17 am

FriscoGirl wrote:and hopefully you have a yard. Get chain set ups or sufficient kennel runs tomorrow, all problems solved, this is how theyre supposed to live in multiple Pit Bull homes from day 1 anyway, its the safe and responsible life to live with APBT's. Theirs no problems here really

my dogs are outside on chains, a few in kennels runs and are happy and safe. No chance of fighting or getting out, theyre as happy as anyones dogs here.


Friscogirl, where do you live? I'm in Iowa, where the outdoor temperatures have dropped from 70's to 30's in less than 2 weeks. Thumbelina is a thin-coated dog with less than 5% total body fat. When she goes outside to potty, she's shivering in less than 15 minutes. It would be cruel for me to turn her from an inside dog to an outside dog in this weather.

I do, however, already have chain setups in the yard. Its the only way to leave dogs outside unsupervised, I trust a chain over a fence 110%.

I also have kennels, my dogs are never together in my home when I'm not with them. I don't even go out to the mailbox or the trash can (unless its super cold) without taking the dogs with me. Even when I didn't have pit bulls, (Lena is my first) I treated my dogs like pit bulls.

Dogs are dogs, end of story... I get that. Now how do I train them to get along... even old dogs can learn new tricks, but this is not an issue I have ever had to deal with. I've had scraps, I've had scrapes, but I've never had fights that escalated, when they occured, it was at the dog park before I knew better, and that was our last trip ever to the dog park.

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Re: My dogs are fighting...

Postby tiva » Sun Nov 21, 2010 9:24 am

Sorry to hear about those fights--it's stressful and upsetting for everyone concerned.

We had a similar situation with two of our pit bulls, and we were able to use CC and DS to calm them down again with each other. It took months of slow work, combined with careful management, including two barriers between them whenever we weren't actively training them (usually a door and a baby gate for backup, just in case someone screwed up with the door).

This is essentially a variation of Jean Donaldson's resource guarding protocols in MINE:

14 months ago, our young male pittie, Vanya, fought with Tiva, our elderly female pittie, over some chicken that an idiot guest had set down on the ground between them. Vanya did rip Tiva's skin, and she punctured him as well, and after that fight, they were extremely tense.

This method relies on keeping the two dogs separated at all times inside, except when I am actively training them. I do a lot of training to relax them when they're together.

1. Management: They are always securely separated if we are not in the same room with them. Even if I step out for 10 seconds, I separate them. We usually use two gates, so that the dogs can share the same space, but not have a chance to snark. When they were tensest, we kept a door between them, so they couldn't stare.

2. CC/DS work: the goal was to get them to relax in each other's presence, and associate the other's proximity with an increase in good things.

a. I started by enlisting my husband's help to train Vanya (the young male) to relax around Tiva's (old girl) approach.
-. I sat next to Vanya tethered on a leash. I had a pile of excellent treats
-. My husband put Tiva (the elderly girl) on a leash and started out with her at the other end of the room, far enough away so that they both showed no signs of stress or tension (under threshold, in other words).
- My husband and Tiva approached one step, still well under the dogs' stressful distance. I played a game called "look at that" (LAT, from CONTROL UNLEASHED) with Vanya. I asked Vanya to glance at Tiva, and then I clicked as soon as he glanced over at her and treat as he looked back at me. We did this dozens of times, with Tiva approaching very slowly, always staying under threshold. We practicing this in lots of short sessions, until Vanya was able to stay relaxed and look at us for treats whenever Tiva approached. We gave Tiva lots of treats during this exercise as well, and never went any faster than either of them could handle and still stay relaxed.

We then repeated the process in other rooms, and then in doorways and other potential trigger spots.

Once they were relaxed enough to be close to each other without any hard glances or tension, we then trained obedience exercises with both of them at the same time. At first, I always kept a baby gate between them, then I removed the gate but kept my body in between theirs, so I could "split" them if either gave the other a hard glance.

After 2 months of these exercises, the dogs were again able to play together outside. I'm always with them when they play, and I keep the play sessions quite short, calling them to me for brief obedience breaks (with lots of treats). I don't let them play inside, because they get over-aroused much more easily inside. Inside, I continue very strict management, and I never let them be together in a room unless I'm actively watching them. I continue to reward soft, relaxed body language, and prevent any hard glances or stiff postures.

So: my experience is that you can go from very tense to relaxed, if you give them time and lots of experience learning to relax in each other's presence--and above all, if you don't let them practice any more stiff body postures, hard glances, or tense activities in each other's presence.

Good luck! I' really recommend Leslie McDevitt's CONTROL UNLEASHED (that's where I got all my exercises). She focuses on teaching a dog to calm down, relax, and learn to settle down after arousal. The exercises REALLY help with inter-house dog tensions.

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Re: My dogs are fighting...

Postby Misskiwi67 » Sun Nov 21, 2010 9:51 am

Great, I can do that... any ideas how I can do that without a friend to help me treat both dogs at the same time? I live alone now...

Also, Romeo is extremely food motivated, very little in life gets him more aroused than food... do I need to keep him calm for treats first? If so, that may be the hardest trick of all...

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Re: My dogs are fighting...

Postby gixxerific » Sun Nov 21, 2010 10:22 am

I can't help you, the others have giving some good pointers.

I am sorry to hear that this is going on. As you said it is more than likely just a "brother sister" fight not breed related. My two would fight always instigated by Niko. I saw a horrible battle start out for no reason at all one time. Maya was just walking by with no interest at all and Niko was laying down, Maya just crossed her path at the wrong time or something.

I hope you can get this under control I hate to hear this. I had to get rid of Niko, and this is the reason I will more than likely never have 2 dogs again.

At least it was only minor scratches, I hope you can get to the bottom of this before it gets nasty. I don't mean to scare you but I have been there and it is not a good time for anyone involved.

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Re: My dogs are fighting...

Postby tiva » Sun Nov 21, 2010 10:38 am

Misskiwi67 wrote:Great, I can do that... any ideas how I can do that without a friend to help me treat both dogs at the same time? I live alone now...

Also, Romeo is extremely food motivated, very little in life gets him more aroused than food... do I need to keep him calm for treats first? If so, that may be the hardest trick of all...


If you're living alone, I'd start by hiring a wonderful, trustworthy behaviorist who has lots of experience using Jean Donaldson's methods for reducing resource guarding, and Leslie McDevitt's methods in Control Unleashed for helping teach calmness. Stormi or Red might be able to make good recommendations. Your trainer could help you with the first session or two.

Then I'd spring for a Manners Minder--they're wonderful training tools, worth every penny. They allow you to dispense treats remotely. My husband helped me out the first few sessions, then I used the Manners Minder to give one (tethered) dog treats while I worked with the other dog. These run $79 to $89 online, but they're very reliable training tools, and wonderful for working on tons of different exercises. The training DVD and handbook by Dr Sophia Yin are excellent.

My Vanya is extremely food motivated as well, and that helped the work, I think. I just had to make sure that he didn't get guardy over the food I was using for training. He uses the Manners Minder, and I've never let Tiva anywhere near it, because I don't want Vanya to feel the need to start guarding it.

When I was working actively on these protocols, almost all of Vanya's food came in the form of treats used during these sessions. Tiva got about half her food during the sessions.


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