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Lisa
Lisa, Certified Veterinary Technician
Category: Dog Training
Satisfied Customers: 13207
Experience:  CVT with a special interest in behavior modification through structure, boundaries and limitations with positive reinforcement.
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I have three female dogs: 10 yr spaniel mix 50 lbs, 3 yr pointer

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I have three female dogs: 10 yr spaniel mix 50 lbs, 3 yr pointer mix 50 lbs and 3 yr hound mix 45 lbs. The hounds was added last January. After 9 months of peaceful co-existance the hound has become aggressive in the last 2 days and has attacked each of the other dogs in our presence. Is this about us or them? Is she possessive of us or trying to take over the pack from the 10 yr old. We are keeping them separated. We are devastated. The hound did produce punctures during the incidence or our attempts to separate during the incidences. Last week they were great and safe together. We'd like to hire a professional and get a electronic training collar. Advice?
Submitted: 9 months ago.
Category: Dog Training
Expert:  Lisa replied 9 months ago.
Hi there. My name is XXXXX XXXXX X'm happy to help you with your question today. Just like an in person consult, I have a few questions to make sure I completely understand the problem.

What state do you live in?

What are all the girls names (so I can keep them straight)?

Are they all spayed?

How much exercise do they all get?

Can you explain what was going on right before the attacks?

Is it always the hound attacking the spaniel, or does she go after the pointer too?
Customer: replied 9 months ago.

North Carolina. Hound = Maxine Pointer = Penny Spaniel = Sunni


All spayed. Fenced half acre free access but no daily structured exercise such a run.


Attack one (Thursday) was after monring feeding on back deck. I was upstairs getting ready for work, heard fighting, came down and pulled Max off Sunni. Sunni had puntue to shoulder and saliva on back of head.


Attack two (Friday) was when my husband noticed Sunni was frightened and went to pick her up. Max attacked Sunni.


Attack three (Friday) I was examining Max to confirm no injuries, Rick was holding Penny. Max left me and attacked Penny biting ear.


Attack four (Staurday) after putting a basket muzzle on Max we broght them together on the deck. Max's hackles went up and she pursued Penny, Penny ran off but Sunni ran to a corner and Max pursued her and attempted to attach. Due to the muzzle she was only able to pin Sunni down and not bite.


Sine they they have had no contact.


Max is calm when with either Rick or I. When separted and she can see Sunni and Penny with us she is very vocal and agitated.


 

Expert:  Lisa replied 9 months ago.

Do you know anything about Max's life before you got her?

What city in NC are you in?

Are the dogs crate trained at all?

 

So these attacks always happen when you or Rick are around?

Customer: replied 9 months ago.

Pittsboro (in the Raleigh / Chapel Hill area).


 


Max belonged to Rick's parents and was rescued from the Nevada desert. Until she came to us she was an outdoor dog. Due to Rick's father's terminal illness the dog received love abut not a lot of attention. When he passed we took Max. We introduced her to Sunni and Penny at a neutral location, crated her inside for the first month or so. Max was skittish and overweight. In the last 9 months Max and Penny had become constant companions, running in the yard. The five of us watch TV together on the couch. All three sleep on the bed with us off and of throughout the night. They have a dog door for access to the yard. While at work the three are together and have the garage and yard. Other than the first attack we have been engaged with another dog or in the area. I had originally thought the first attack was over a treat dispensing toy but then there was no "object" associated with the subsequent ones.


 

Expert:  Lisa replied 9 months ago.
Thank you so very much for the additional information Jaden. I really appreciate it!

Although a power struggle over who is dominant can result in interdog fights in a home, there are also many other possible causes that range from fear and anxiety to hormonal issues, but my guess is that Max is acting out because she's never had to be a member of a pack before. When she lived at Rick's parent's, she was the only dog, so now there's a bit of a power struggle to get this pack back in order.

There's a good site that discusses interdog aggression here:
http://www.cesarsway.com/tips/problembehaviors/understanding-aggression

That being said, the first step is to have the aggressor of the majority of the fights seen by the vet to rule out possible medical reasons for the fighting. Things like thyroid issues can cause behavioral changes (usually to the aggressive) in dogs. Having your vet take a quick peek and run a thyroid test and/or any other tests they think could explain this behavior is the first step.

If that comes back clean, then you'll have to figure out how to handle this situation. Make sure you don't ever yell or physically discipline the dogs when they're fighting. Raising your voice causes the excitement in the dogs to increase, which can make them fight even more. Also, using physical punishment will only make them feel like they really do have something to be worried or afraid of. When they start fighting, the best thing to do is to quietly and calmly separate them if possible. Sometimes allowing all the dogs to have leashes on while in the house will give you something to grab and use to pull them apart so that you don't get bit accidentally.

If you're reluctant to do that, then you're going to have to take steps to ensure that the aggressor isn't ever left alone with the other dogs. If your dogs aren't crate trained, then this would be a good time to get that started. Crates/Kennels provide a safe place for a dog to retreat to when they're overwhelmed about something. Additionally, getting everyone crate trained will make it much easier to control who is out interacting with each other.

You should also feed them in the crates and make sure to separate them when letting them outside.

Unfortunately, if you're unable to get these ideas to work, you may have to consider finding a new home for one or more of the dogs. It's definitely possible that your aggressive dog simply can't live peacefully with other dogs. It's actually pretty common to have dogs who have lived together fine before develop aggression as they age, so if your more aggressive dog can't live happily in your home, the finding her a new place may be the best not only for her, but for the other dogs (and you!) too.

I hope this helps.

Expert:  Lisa replied 9 months ago.
I also wanted to add that I think getting Max involved in a basic obedience class would be a good idea. These classes not only teach the dogs how to sit and stay (which isn't an issue for her, I'm sure), but it teaches them how to interact with other dogs in a neutral and safe environment.

Customer: replied 9 months ago.

Yes, she had basic classes after we took her in. I understand it's important to be calm but with the others in obvious pain it seemed most important to prevent further injury since she did not respond. Do you think controlled interactions with a electronic training collar when we administered a training stimulus at the first sign (say posturing or onset of raised hackles) would help with this?

Expert:  Lisa replied 9 months ago.
I believe that when used correctly, electronic collars can be valuable training tools. The important thing to remember if you're going to do that, is to make sure she never sees the remote control for the collar in your hands. You want her to feel like the collar is giving the correction, not you, and since most dogs figure out pretty fast that if you press that button, it's causing pain, you don't want her to get a negative association with you.

You also mentioned getting a trainer to come in. I think that may be a good option as well. I've spent some time in North Carolina (mostly Asheville and Greenville), and have many contacts there. I could see if I can get a name for a referral for you if you'd like? Because of the history/age/and severity of aggression, I don't think picking one out of the phone book is a plan...I think finding someone who is experienced in aggression is the way to go.
Customer: replied 9 months ago.

Thanks for the info. We borrowed a training collar from a friend to get Max to stop jumping. Asheville and Greenville are both several hours away so if you have a Raleigh contact, send it along, otherwise I'll get one from the vet when we go in and have her checked out. Wish us luck!

Expert:  Lisa replied 9 months ago.
I absolutely wish you luck Jaden!! I'll do some digging around and see what I can find out for trainers.

And please do me a favor....even after you rate/accept my answer, please let me know how it's going!! You guys sound like you have a pretty good grip on things, and you're starting out knowing she has an issue...you'd be surprised how many people don't think their dog is doing anything wrong!!
Lisa, Certified Veterinary Technician
Category: Dog Training
Satisfied Customers: 13207
Experience: CVT with a special interest in behavior modification through structure, boundaries and limitations with positive reinforcement.
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