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Lisa, Certified Veterinary Technician
Category: Dog Training
Satisfied Customers: 16502
Experience:  CVT with a special interest in behavior modification through structure, boundaries and limitations with positive reinforcement.
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We have two dogs - Ollie (male 7 yrs) has been with us all

Customer Question

We have two dogs - Ollie (male 7 yrs) has been with us all but two months of his life
We have Pearl who just came to live with us 7 weeks ago. Pearl (female age 7) was in pretty bad physical shape we we first got her and had to have 15 teeth removed, all shots needed. Pearl and Ollie were not real friendly with each other, but no fighting. Both dogs have been neutred/spayed. A couple of weeks after we got Pearl Ollie would try to hump her. Pearl did not like this (maybe sometimes because it looked like play). For the passed two weeks Pearl has had digestive problems and has been seen by a vet. Today I took her to the vet and that did a barium xray and found things to be as they should, but put her on a special diet to see if that would help the digestive problem. Well today for some unknown reason Pearl started growling (a low growl) and then started to attack Ollie. We separated them, but a while later Pearl approached Ollie in what appeared to be a friendly way and then start to attack him. What is going on and what can we do to stop this behavior. It was scary to me as I have never seen two dogs fight and anytime we have had two dogs at the same time they never fought.
I hope you can help us
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Dog Training
Expert:  DrMarta-vet replied 1 year ago.

Hello, my name is***** and I am going to opt out of this question because I am hoping that an expert with more behavioral experience can help you.

It does sound like a complex situation.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
when can I expect an answer?
Expert:  DrMarta-vet replied 1 year ago.

Someone will pick up the question, but I'm sorry I can't tell you when that will be.

Expert:  Lisa replied 1 year ago.

Hi there. My name is ***** ***** I'm happy to help you with your question today. Just like an in person consult, I have a couple questions of my own to help ensure I give you the best advice possible....

What do you know about Pearl's life before you got her?

Is she healthy now?

Are they crate trained at all?

Has Ollie lived with other dogs before?

How much exercise are they getting daily?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Pearl has not been feeling well and has been to the vet a couple of times in the pat week. Yesterday (day of the aggression) she had been to vet to get barium X-ray because she had diarrhea and had intenstenal problems. I had just been trying to give her liquid meds and was wiping her mouth and chin. She bolted and became very aggressive with OllieMy information regarding Pearl's past is sketchy. I got her from a woman who lived alone and had been given the dog
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
As a present from her daughter and the woman said she did not connect with pearl she had her for one year and said that her previous home was abusiveOllie has lived with a female older dog and they got along finePearl and Ollie were getting along fine for the first couple of weeks we had we had her
As for crate training to my knowledge no
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
When Pearl was feeling well she went for walks as well as hiking she enjoyed both.I have information that the woman I got pearl from did not walk her and rarely letter outside . She also put her in the bathtub when she was away My feeling was that she fed Pearl but did not interact with her much She also did not keep her up-to-date on shots or take her to the vet
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Pearl is not back to normal today but her personality is back which is friendly , loving lovable and sweet. There has been little interaction between Ollie and Pearl today and we are keeping a close watch on her. We have Ollie's crate out and are prepared to put Pearl in it at the first sign of aggression which we know now is a low growl.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Please help! It happened again about a half hour ago. I put Pearl in the travel cage we have for Ollie when we take a plane. Pearl is ten pounds lighter than Ollie so she has room to stand up and even move around a bit. I have never seen nor experienced this type of aggressive behavior and want to stop it. We love Pearl and she has become a member of our family and I want very much for that to continue.
Expert:  Lisa replied 1 year ago.

I apologize for the delay. I had to go to my in-person job for a couple hours.

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.

There's a good site that discusses interdog aggression here:

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 dog. 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 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 him a new place may be the best not only for her, but for the other dog (and you!) too.

I hope this helps.

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