Aggression/dominance between older spayed female and young intact male
Some background on each dog before I explain my problem. Sorry its so long...
Luna is an 11yo spayed 65lb lab/ACD female. She has resource guarding issues (w/other dogs, NEVER humans) that have gotten much better over the years but are definitely still there, only managed better. She is completely friendly and well-mannered besides this issue. In the past, she was part of a female-female dominance and fighting situation that we managed poorly to start with (I won't go into specifics but I had a less than cooperative husband) but I did take control and last few years of other females life, things were much better.
Tucker is a 1yo intact GSD. He is big at ~120lbs.I havent had any problems with aggression at strange dogs, people, etc. For the most part he's a big goofy love.
The past few months, we have had an increasing number of "altercations" between the two. No blood has been drawn. But I have always been right there to stop it.
Its starting to happen frequently, and I can tell they are going to blow but its always so fast that I can't defuse it before teeth are bared and they are on each other.
It starts as a sudden "stillness". A scary silence. At first, I would immediately grab Tuckers collar. If I got to him before fur and teeth started flying, my grabbing his collar would send him into it. I would literally have to hold his front end off the ground by his collar and drag him out of the room. Now, I only outweigh him by about 10lbs. But note I am in no way scared of him. And Ive made sure he knows it. Once, i couldn't reach his collar fast enough so I hauled him by his back legs and he reached around to bite me. I knew it was totally reactive to the fight because as soon as his teeth touched me, he turned off and looked at me like "Oh crap sorry about that."
As he isn't done maturing, I do worry eventually my "manhandling" power is going to become ineffective, and obviously that isn't a solution anyway.
It used to be I was sure Luna was provoking it. But now it seems that Tucker might be provoking it some too. Which makes me think he's learning it from her...which is what ive been worried about.
Luna has bad hips and repaired ACL and I KNOW he could easily kill her. I dont think he's at that point of aggression yet, but this has to stop.
By the way, they are never left together unattended. And it seems to happen as much over "space" as food/toys (which aren't left lying around...the mere crackle if a treat bag sent them to their battle stations). If one walks into a small room, or follows me between the bed and the wall, its game on. That I can recall, its NEVER happened outside, even when Im training with treats and toys.
One more thing...Tucker had had free roam of the house at night but is crated when we are gone. Could this be a contributing factor? Luna in my daughters room with door shut.
The fact that once he's gone quiet and still (& seems 6 inches taller), there's no averting it scares me the most. I was always able avert my females from fight with my words and presence. He totally shuts down to me.
As of today, he is wearing his prong and lead whenever inside. Not sure his prong is the best choice but I need to know I can control him if this escalates.
Any and all insight, advice, etc is greatly appreciated.
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I don't have much advice, but I'm sorry you are going through this. We had two small dogs, one that could spin out of control in a heartbeat towards the other. I kept them physically separate, easier with small dogs than large ones though. How stressful for you.
Sorry for you--I can totally sympathize. I am sure others who are much more knowledgeable than I will give you advice. I can only tell you of my experience with a similar situation.
We had the same conflicts years ago between two of my wolf/shepherds, as my male went through the 18 mos. to 2 year stage. The female was 2 years older than him, and a very dominant female--and she had raised him from the time he was 4 weeks. She was spayed, he was intact. They were both very large, and if you pulled one away, it was as though the other felt you were holding so he/she could attack. Very intense, potentially dangerous situations. Outdoors they were fine. I became extremely conscious of the situations that triggered, and looked for the signs BEFORE they got THAT look in their eyes. I could diffuse the situation when I caught it soon enough. The female would get over it almost immediately, the male would "hold a grudge" for at least an hour, and I would put him away to cool down. I was bit once by the female, separating them, before I learned to put out the sparks before it got bad. In their case it seemed to be who went through doorways first, some resource guarding of toys, and with the female it could be just bumping her, waking her from sleep.
BUT--there was light at the end of the tunnel. When the male reached 2 years old, everything calmed down, and they were best buddies, very bonded. I think it was jockeying for pack status, and once they sorted that out (with my help), they never argued again. Oh--except waking the female up. Everyone in the house tiptoed around her when she was sleeping, all her life!
Thinking it through, I believe the important thing was studying them to be able to see the signs and diffuse it before it escalated.
Hang in there, and I am sure others can give you better advice.
Get a drag leash for the trouble maker and have him wear it around the house so you don't have to grab his collar (short leash without a handle.
And watch the front door thing which dog goes out the door is important to them
Leerburg Dog Training | Dealing with the Dominant Dog
Two or More Dogs
And I'd say your dealing with 'Rank Drive"
(Elements of Temperament, by Joy Tiz )
Somethings in my post here;
It sounds like you know what your doing and you have dealt with similar issues in the past. So If it were me and I had to deal with this crap again myself!!!
I'd find a trainer that can show you the correct use of an E collar and stop this crap cold! I've been where you are and "I" was the one getting stitches!!!
Everyone, thanks for your kind responses :) Yes, this is stressful!
Chip, Ive read every article on the leerburg site and plan on ordering some videos. I am implementing as much of his advice as possible...he is no longer allowed on beds and will be crated at night. His crate is coming out of the bedroom today. Should I completely separate them all of the time? As far as doorways, etc....should I control who gets to be top dog between the 2?) Ive always felt Luna should be, as the older female. But maybe I'm trying to enforce something unnatural to them?
I have an awesome trainer, but he is a distance away. He is training for Nationals right now, but afterwards in going to try to get him to come out and watch the dynamics of the situation himself. I do use an ecollar on Tucker, but he does not want me using it for any dog aggression as he feels it could make the situation worse.
I guess my biggest problem is implementing the same rules for my older female. Since our older female died she has become a bit spoiled. She is so well-behaved otherwise, she has been allowed to set her own rules much of the time. Problem, I know, but I have 3 teen daughters who make enforcing things with her a bit more problematic. She wasn't crate-trained as a pup (I will never make that mistake again) and as a young dog, could dismantle ANY crate. She is quite the clever girl (so many missed opportunities with this dog lol!). Confinement after her ACL surgery was a nightmare! So, Im hoping she's too old to wreak havoc on a crate and we can work thru this equally.
Fortunately, the girls are more mindful of my rules with Tucker, primarily because they have seen how powerful he is.
Here's hoping Tucker outgrows this (with my help).
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You've found out the hard way a few truths about dogs. First, that "stillness" isn't the actual beginning of something - it's more like the last chance we get to intervene before all heck breaks loose. It's definitely good for us to recognize it though! But the dog is already halfway there by the time we do, so we have to be extremely cautious at that point. What we do, if we're not careful, will certainly provoke them.
The other thing is that the young dogs do learn to resource guard by example. My pup picked it up from our older dog, even though by the time he came along, she was much better than she had been in years past. I noticed there's a big difference in the level of aggression between the 'real' RG behaviors, vs the 'aping' RG. It's still a pain in the butt! My pup never got to the point of actual aggression, and he's always been verbally corrected whenever he starts. I'm also getting stricter with him by not letting him rush out the door before her, because this was an area that I didn't like either - he was charging her coming down the steps - so I removed that opportunity. Just take away every opportunity as soon as you see it.
Note on the leg grab, you have to spin the dog. That throws him off balance...keeps him from redirecting on you.
Only thing in my favor was my BullMastiff/APBT mix who listened to me even under duress...that put him at a disadvantage!
Never used an E collar myself, never had the need but I knew any "tool" improperly used can be abused. I still don't understand how to use one to get a dog to "do" something but I have full confidence in my ability to use one to "stop" them from doing something!:mad:
I also thought once a "tool" had been used improperly on a dog ..it would no longer have an effect on him.
We have a trainer on here that had always said "I can stop that behaviour "like that" with an E collar! Interesting I though maybe one day I'll see for myself? Well one day came up on Cesar 911, two Boxers (male/female) for the record one of the Boxers was in my opinion an American Bull Dog Boxer mix (Boxer guy here :)).
Anyway same deal fighting each other for three months in the home then fighting every dog in the neighborhood (15 fights outside the home!!!) that tells you something about how stupid their neighbors are...but I digress.
Cesar was using the show as a teaching moment for folks that he knew were using an E collar and still having problems!
He fitted the E collar (and said it was set to vibrate) some disagree but whatever. :) Anyway he fitted the collar did the pack intro thing and this dog wasn't having it! Went to attack a pack member and Cesar lit her up! Problem solved..."just like that!":eek:`
I'm not a pro but I'm pretty good at putting pieces of information together to make things work. My theory that tools used wrong won't work on a dog if used correctly was proven wrong. And a member on here that said "I can fix that problem "just like that!" was proven correct at the same time!
My mouth fell open when I watched that show.:eek: Some dogs don't respond well to kindness and love as it were. Some dogs need the hand of God to learn how to behave!
Your current trainer wants you to hold off so they can observe? Meantime your doing the same things I did and getting the same results, dog is unpredictable, dogs and people are getting hurt and you feel like you're living with a ticking time bomb!
Sometimes you need a second opinion from a different point of view! :)
I have no problem with Leerburgh. :)
This is how I dealt with my dogs "People Issue" and he turned out fine! :)
Leerburg | Who Pets Your Puppy or Dog
And this one
Leerburg | Dog Parks: Why They Are A Bad Idea
No, the trainer hasn't asked me to "hold off." He's been advising me but I just would like him to see for himself. He doesn't feel an ecollar is the best solution to this. From what I've read on leerburg, they dont either. I'm afraid to take the chance that it will amp him up and I wont have my hands on him.
One suggestion he gave me was to take a few pieces of medium weight dog chain and when the "calm before the storm" happens, toss a piece at each dog. Not at their face, but at their body. Not intending to do damage but enough to startle and maybe sting a little. If that does it, separate them immediately. The hope is that eventually the rattle of the chain will be enough to break their focus on each other and get their focus back on you.
Sounds worth trying.
He's an awesome dog and his obedience is really coming along well. I'm just trying to avoid as many mistakes as possible with him!
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