Is there hope for harmony after a fight?

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Autograph
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Is there hope for harmony after a fight?

Postby Autograph » Wed Feb 15, 2012 1:57 pm

I have two female rescues that that got into a fight the other night, I was able to break it up with minor injuries, the dogs were then muzzled when in the same room together, the next day, I was seeing how they would do without the muzzles since there was no sign of agression since the fight, my mistake, they were in a lock down fight so quickly it was hard to determine who or what triggered it, i did manage to break it up but both required medical care.

I am currently rotating them, (trying to convert my house into safe zones)

My question is, is there hope that these two will get along again? It breaks my heart to think of having to give one of the dogs back to the rescue, i really feel like such a failure. I do fully understand about the supervision, none of my dogs are ever together when unsupervised.

I am open to any suggestions, it just breaks my heart hearing these two cry because one has to be isolated when another is interacting (doing rotation and I live alone) I also know that living life in a muzzle isn't fair either. Until this, they were inseparatable.

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Re: Is there hope for harmony after a fight?

Postby jamielvsaustin » Wed Feb 15, 2012 2:07 pm

Autograph wrote:My question is, is there hope that these two will get along again? It breaks my heart to think of having to give one of the dogs back to the rescue, i really feel like such a failure. I do fully understand about the supervision, none of my dogs are ever together when unsupervised.

You don't have to give one back! Search crate and rotate and you'll find a majority of the members here live their lives this way. In my house we do. Our dogs can get along in low energy settings with hawk eye supervision, but we don't even ask them to any more. We do use a crate-when we leave the house, but for the most part the dogs are separated by a baby gate. They've been taught what it means and they respect it. And we're such nerds that we mark on our dry erase calendar whose turn it is to sleep with us each night, and the other dog sleeps in the rest of the house.

Your girls are going to need some cool off time. You know how you feel right after you get into an intense argument (or maybe even a fight)? Well they feel like that for MUCH longer than we do...I think it can be up to 2 weeks before all of the chemicals that were released during the fight are completely out of their bodies. That means, they're on edge and any little, non significant seeming thing can piss them off.

If I were you, I'd separate them (by room and door) for about two weeks. Then I'd introduce them into a baby gate (with muzzles on) for short bursts...always trying to end it on a good note, and then slowly, when I felt it was safe enough I'd do it for longer periods of time (until it was a regular thing) and I'd remove the muzzles.

At this point I don't think there is a way to tell if they'll ever get along again...but in order to keep them safe you have to come to the realization that they might not...and then adjust your life accordingly. Can you handle a crate and rotate lifestyle?

Good luck!

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Re: Is there hope for harmony after a fight?

Postby Adrianne » Wed Feb 15, 2012 2:09 pm

In my experience there is hope for supervised harmony but that really depends on the dogs, the owners level of education, and the dedication of the entire household.

Beyond that crate and rotate, as said above, can be a wonderful choice for the right household as well.

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Re: Is there hope for harmony after a fight?

Postby BabyReba » Wed Feb 15, 2012 2:20 pm

i may be considered overly cautious by some, but once my dogs have fought like that -- like, really tried to hurt one another, not just have a scuffle or minor disagreement -- i have never felt comfortable allowing them off-leash access to one another again, even supervised. i have managed to get dogs to the point where they can be tied down or on leashes quietly near one another, walking together, even in close quarters, but for me it's just not worth the risk to have two dogs that have shown that kind of serious aggression toward one another to be off-leash and roaming around together (much less around toys or allowed to play). fights happen so quickly and i've noticed that after one real fight, the fuse is often that much shorter, even if the dogs can spend some time being around one another before the next fight comes. maybe other people have different experiences they can share, but that's what i've seen.

if you do have to go the total separation route, don't think of yourself as a failure for having to keep them separated -- think of yourself as a success for learning to manage your dogs in a way that takes their safety seriously and for being creative in finding ways to keep them happy and busy when they're not with you. it's an adjustment, but it's a way of life that's really not so bad for the dogs or the people as long as you are dedicated to making sure no one is bored, isolated or underexercised. frozen, stuffed kongs when dogs get put up help the dog who isn't with you to feel less concern about the separation.

there are lots of threads on the forum about dogs that can't be together (and i live with a dog who is not trustworthy with my other two dogs) so you can get lots of advice, feedback, tips, etc.

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Re: Is there hope for harmony after a fight?

Postby julie64 » Wed Feb 15, 2012 2:54 pm

i may be considered overly cautious by some, but once my dogs have fought like that -- like, really tried to hurt one another, not just have a scuffle or minor disagreement -- i have never felt comfortable allowing them off-leash access to one another again, even supervised.


Me either. Crate and rotating(or splitting your house in two) does become "normal" and dogs do get use to it. I recently adopted a male. My 8 year old female who has never been snarky to any dog, tried with him. They are seperated by a baby gate. Someday she may accept him, if not that's ok too.

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Re: Is there hope for harmony after a fight?

Postby Red » Wed Feb 15, 2012 5:51 pm

I am currently rotating them, (trying to convert my house into safe zones)


Excellent. What is the problem in continuing to do that?

Autograph wrote:It breaks my heart to think of having to give one of the dogs back to the rescue, i really feel like such a failure.


You don't have to. There is NO failure in keeping your dogs safe. Failure is demanding that the dogs get along, and end up with injuries.I understand canine behavior more than others, being a dog behavior consultant, and I still have dogs that cannot be together.I have had females that got into some conflict and I have determined that they could be together again, after some time. I don't separated dogs unless I have a good reason for it.My female Sneaky, an ex foster, is a dog that won't be able to interact with the rest of the dogs unless muzzled. Not sure about the damage done between your dogs, but the outcome of conflicts and bite levels often gives us a good indicator about what we should be doing next.Bottom line is, let's think of putting some efforts into management, so you can keep both dogs. We can help you with ideas for your house environment.

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Re: Is there hope for harmony after a fight?

Postby spammie » Wed Feb 15, 2012 6:01 pm

I have never felt comfortable with the dogs together unleashed since the day they had a serious fight. Keeping them separated using doors, crates or gates has since become normal to all of us here. It's just another tool in good management. They all have their needs met and live happy, active and loving lives.

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Is there hope for harmony after a fight?

Postby Stormi » Wed Feb 15, 2012 6:35 pm

To add to the already great info above, dogs should not be left alone wearing a muzzle. Muzzles can easily get snagged on something, cause the dog to go into a panic, they can be pulled off by the other dog, and worse. It sounds as though you only tried that the once, but separating your dogs (or any dogs for that matter) while you aren't able to supervise them is going to be a much safer option that letting them alone with muzzles on. Most of them have warnings on them stating that they should not be left on an unsupervised dog for these reasons.

Were you able to determine what the initial fight was over?

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Re: Is there hope for harmony after a fight?

Postby patty » Wed Feb 15, 2012 8:59 pm

Echoing what others have said. We crate and rotate here! It becomes second nature quickly. Neither dog seems to mind at all.

We do allow our two together only while supervised and as others have said at a VERY LOW energy level. NO high value targets like toys and treats are near when they are together.

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Re: Is there hope for harmony after a fight?

Postby jamielvsaustin » Thu Feb 16, 2012 9:40 am

patty wrote:It becomes second nature quickly. Neither dog seems to mind at all.

I'd like to reiterate this. You really become so used to it, it feels weird when you don't do it. And I honestly believe my dogs like it better. One of our dogs-Bailey-is bitchy/easily annoyed and the other-Trooper is obnoxious. It seems to me that having them separated is less stressful for them. There's no worry about whether Bailey has to tell Trooper to knock it off, or Trooper tries to initiate play with her and she "snaps his head off".

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Re: Is there hope for harmony after a fight?

Postby Autograph » Fri Feb 17, 2012 2:21 pm

Thank you so much for all of your information, it really gives me hope that I can make this work. In 15years, I have never had to break up a fight like I did yesterday. Both dogs needed surgery to clean and suture wounds with multiple drains, Chloe has 4 drains (head, chest, leg x 2), Lexi has 3 drains (neck, chest, leg) and a bad bite through her front paw, both are walking, eating, peeing, sulking.

My hunch is the fighting has started because there is a shift in the pecking order of the pack. My 10yr old Doberman, Jagger, has Wobblers’ Syndrome and recently had an acute onset of symptoms that resulted in paralysis in all four of his legs, he was only mobile with assistance, it has taken a couple of months of prednisone and acupuncture that slowly put him back on the road to recovery, he is now getting around independently but not steady.

When he became ill, Lexi, my youngest (1yr) started harassing Jag, getting up to him, just out of reach barking at him, causing him to growl and bare his teeth, I would diffuse this behavior immediately but Lexi took every chance she could. Jagger is a submissive dog by nature, but I encouraged him to take the dominant role amongst them. Walking him first, feeding him first, and paying attention to him first.

Chloe, my 3yr old pit-bull came with baggage. Found by the rescue at a year old, weighting half her body weight, heart worms, very fearful of everything. They got her back to full health, to then have her sit in the shelter for a year before I found her and fostered her and then adopted her. She spooks easily, very timid, wouldn’t let men near her, but started showing signs of improvement once Lexi was added to the pack. Lexi has become bolder as she has grown into maturity; she was already confident and now bigger than chloe. So I always kept a watchful eye on their playtime, they were never left together unattended. Chloe was always the vocal one of the two when they played and displayed signs that she was alpha over Lexi.

Lexi is also a digger and hide the bones kind of gal, so the night before the fight, they had a small scuffle. I had just let them out of their crates and I noticed Lexi was guarding her crate, she let out a small growl, her hair stood up, then I saw that she had a bone hidden in the blankets, I immediately called her to me with a stern voice, which now I see was my first mistake, I should have gone to her instead of having her walk past the other two dogs to get to me while she was in that state. The minute Lexi was near chloe a fight erupted, I was able to break them up and separated them, after that I made sure they had their muzzles on when in the same room together, which they showed no signs of aggression with each other. The next morning, I was testing to see how they would be without the muzzles, the second I got the second muzzle off, they were in a lock down fight, I couldn’t even tell you who started it, I was able to break it up but both required surgery. Both are going to be ok, they will have full recovery.

At the moment I am rotating them, I won’t even let them see each other, I am also following all of your tips, which again I thank you for.

**the muzzles i use are those rubber type baskets, that allow the dogs to eat, drink and pant in, they are never left on for long periods of time or left unattended.

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Re: Is there hope for harmony after a fight?

Postby jamielvsaustin » Fri Feb 17, 2012 2:56 pm

Autograph you may be interested in these links regarding alpha, dominance and pack leader info:

http://www.whole-dog-journal.com/issues/14_12/features/Alpha_20415-1.html
http://drsophiayin.com/philosophy/dominance/
http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/my-puppy-my-self/201007/corens-turnaround-how-the-pack-leader-model-dog-training-is-flawed

The second link is to Dr. Sophia Yin's website, besides that link there is a ton of useful information on her site, and she is typically highly recommend around here.

Good luck! I know you can do it :)

We had a foster for sometime, she and my resident dog-Bailey wanted to absolutely kill each other. It took us some time to finally figure it out (and honestly, accept it/come to terms) and luckily no one/dog was seriously injured. If we can do it, I'm sure other people-especially people like you (who want to do the right thing)-can do it as well.

I hope they heal quickly :hug:

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Re: Is there hope for harmony after a fight?

Postby BabyReba » Fri Feb 17, 2012 2:58 pm

oh wow, so sorry to hear that.

i think giving them complete and total time apart, where they cannot even see one another, is a very good idea for a bit. let them destress and normalize, keep things quiet and routine for a bit. others with the proper training will be able to elaborate on this way better than i can, but i have learned a bit as i've navigated the waters with my dogs: when a super-stressful incident occurs, like a fight, it can take a few days for stress hormones in the dogs to normalize. give them some time to relax and get back to normal.

i would personally be very wary about trying to let these two have regular access to one another again. sounds like they both can get pretty serious pretty quick. hang in there.

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Re: Is there hope for harmony after a fight?

Postby PitFriend » Fri Feb 17, 2012 5:28 pm

but once my dogs have fought like that -- like, really tried to hurt one another, not just have a scuffle or minor disagreement -- i have never felt comfortable allowing them off-leash access to one another again, even supervised


I'm the same way, and I find that setting those boundaries greatly reduces anxiety and stress for ALL of the people and dogs in the house. We invested in baby gates, taught the dogs to respect them, and now keeping everyone happy is pretty easy.

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Re: Is there hope for harmony after a fight?

Postby Autograph » Sat Feb 18, 2012 10:38 am

Thanks again for all the input and the links, both dogs are healing, I am keeping them separate from each other and my doberman, I have baby gates everywhere, but they can still hear each other, we went from all four of us (me and the three dogs) sleeping on the same bed at night to each being isolated, all of them crying, I am sticking to my guns, and asserting my role as alpha and not giving into the cries.

It will be a couple of weeks before the two dogs are recovered (they will get thier stitches out next week) and from there it will be a slow process, they are my kids so I won't give up on them. will keep you posted.


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