Dog roomates beginning to fight after a year+. Scary!! Advice?

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Dog roomates beginning to fight after a year+. Scary!! Advice?

This is a discussion on Dog roomates beginning to fight after a year+. Scary!! Advice? within the Dog Training and Behavior forums, part of the Keeping and Caring for Dogs category; Something quite scary is developing at home and I thought I would share for any advice before possibly consulting a specialist here which would be ...

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Old 09-07-2016, 12:07 AM
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Exclamation Dog roomates beginning to fight after a year+. Scary!! Advice?

Something quite scary is developing at home and I thought I would share for any advice before possibly consulting a specialist here which would be very pricey for me.

I rescued an Australian/German Shepard mutt ~3 years back (he was about a year at the time) who is ~50 pounds. I'm not sure what else he may have, collie or a little chow (spots on the tongue?). He was pretty timid and had separation anxiety. Perhaps it's not something that goes away but seems like its gotten better. We lived alone in two separate apartments for a year each before moving into this home with two guys. One is an old college roommate who has a large black lab who is probably 5 years old and about 100 pounds. I know mine is absolutely amazing around other dogs and kids generally. His dog has seemed like a gentle giant generally too. When we moved in the lab would try to hump mine and mine would growl a little but it never got to be anything serious and we would pull off the other dog. This stopped and they seem to play well together and co existed pretty well for a good year and a half (besides mine sometimes growling a little if the big one comes into our bedroom).

The lab is a bit scared of me since I am the one that vacuums the house which he is petrified of so when I get home he generally retreats to his room and stays there. Also my dog is a little protective of our room (possibly because the big dog used to come in my room and steal bones left out - though I've been putting everything up for quite a long time now). Occasionally notice similar behavior when my dog sits under our coffee table. Sometimes he will growl a little. A couple months ago while I was out I returned home to a couple friends saying the two had just fought but I didn't think anything of it as some confuse playing with fighting. About two or 3 weeks ago while brushing my teeth before work I heard a very vicious scary fight downstairs - my roommate was down there and broke it up. It was only 5 seconds or so but seemed much longer. He wasn't too sure what caused it - it was in our living room in the open and no food or treats were involved. Last week while I was in the kitchen I heard another big scary fight begin on our flight of stairs leading upstairs. By the time I got there the big dog was on top of mine with a good mouthful of my dog. Mine managed to get out from under him but it continued all the way down the stairs and into the front door - the big one being on top the whole time and we could not get him off. It lasted maybe 20-30 seconds and was pretty scary. Apparently my dog was sitting on the landing leading upstairs and as the other dog was passing my dog may have given him signs like a growl or teeth (im unsure) but that's how it started. It again happened in front of my roommate but he wasn't sure exactly what started it.

The big lab has stayed with my roommates parents the last week. The lab came back today and they initially seemed fine , running around together in the back and being fine in the downstairs area (a little timidness at one point from mine but seemed fine). After my roommate left for dinner the big dog was heading to go up the stairs (passing by the side of mine) and my dogs tail went down and he growled a bit and may have been going to snap but I immediately told him no and pulled him back. My dogs tail was down a lot tonight while upstairs and the other dog was coming or going.

I tried calmly getting them to sit together up stairs for a while tonight and seemed okay for the most part. It just seems like maybe its certain places that when the big dog passes by mine gets scared or something and the other dog doesn't get the signs. I don't know why mine is doing this in the first place ( hes fine when visiting or playing with other family members' dogs - they're all actually quite jealous of how well behaved mine is). Its just scary how much damage I think the large dog can do to mine. Ive been trying tonight to aggressively say no to my dog when starts to show these signs at the other dog though I'm wondering if that is the right action to take. Im pretty confident they do fine when we are at work. Mine seems to lay by the front door and I think the big dog lays on the couch - Ive never noticed the signs of a fight - like my dogs fur feeling almost matted from the big dogs' large amount of slobber. I plan to try walking them together after work in an attempt to correlate a fun activity while they are together. Just seeing if anyone has any advice. GREATLY appreciated.
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Old 09-07-2016, 12:37 AM
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I thought I would also note... another friends dog - a small pomeranian has hung out with my dog and I in our room on two occasions overnight semi recently when I was dog sitting showing no signs of aggression towards it.
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Old 09-07-2016, 04:16 AM
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Please don't correct your dog for growling, it is similar to me scolding you for telling me you're uncomfortable. The growling may stop, but the dog is still uncomfortable, you just taught it not to communicate that to you. That means you'll only know it is uncomfortable when it reaches the next step which is barking and lunging and perhaps even biting, which is a far more serious situation than growling.

When I read your post, there seems to be a lot of warning signals brushed of as if they're nothing. The dogs getting into serious fights, and food guarding, room guarding, spot-in-the-hallway guarding.

Though your dog may be super well-behaved, it seems as though it is very uncomfortable around the lab, and the lab may very well be intimidated if he doesn't understand your dog's signals.

I think you should consider getting a behavior specialist to come and observe and help you move forward.

It may very well be another trigger point that the lab is afraid of you. Start working on desensitizing the lab to the vacuum asap.

I really hope you make it work! It doesn't sound like you've reached the point of no return, but you may be closing in, so my advise would be not to wait any longer and address the problems emerging now!
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Old 09-07-2016, 10:33 AM
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Ok, so you have a fairly high energy combination of a dog. How much exercise are these dogs getting on a daily basis? It's likely there's some frustration going on.

Alot of people end up trying to fix things while they are happening, reactive instead of proactive so to speak. When dogs are already at the point of scrapping it out, they likely aren't going to listen or learn - and if you're waiting that long to do something, then you're fighting a losing battle.

It needs to be stopped before it starts. You need to take some time to watch the dogs, look for the signals, the eyes never lie.
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Old 09-07-2016, 02:25 PM
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Originally Posted by AlbusandMe View Post
Please don't correct your dog for growling, it is similar to me scolding you for telling me you're uncomfortable. The growling may stop, but the dog is still uncomfortable, you just taught it not to communicate that to you. That means you'll only know it is uncomfortable when it reaches the next step which is barking and lunging and perhaps even biting, which is a far more serious situation than growling.

When I read your post, there seems to be a lot of warning signals brushed of as if they're nothing. The dogs getting into serious fights, and food guarding, room guarding, spot-in-the-hallway guarding.

Though your dog may be super well-behaved, it seems as though it is very uncomfortable around the lab, and the lab may very well be intimidated if he doesn't understand your dog's signals.

I think you should consider getting a behavior specialist to come and observe and help you move forward.

It may very well be another trigger point that the lab is afraid of you. Start working on desensitizing the lab to the vacuum asap.

I really hope you make it work! It doesn't sound like you've reached the point of no return, but you may be closing in, so my advise would be not to wait any longer and address the problems emerging now!
Thanks so much for the response. Yeah I wasn't sure if telling him no when growling was a good idea but seemed odd it was happening just around where the stairs when the roommates and other dog commonly go - I could see him being protective of our room though. Im hoping walking them together may help. I suppose I need to budget in a trainer to come to the house.. just a bill I wasn't expecting but then again better then a vet bill :/.
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Old 09-07-2016, 02:34 PM
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Ok, so you have a fairly high energy combination of a dog. How much exercise are these dogs getting on a daily basis? It's likely there's some frustration going on.

A lot of people end up trying to fix things while they are happening, reactive instead of proactive so to speak. When dogs are already at the point of scrapping it out, they likely aren't going to listen or learn - and if you're waiting that long to do something, then you're fighting a losing battle.

It needs to be stopped before it starts. You need to take some time to watch the dogs, look for the signals, the eyes never lie.
Thanks for the response! My pup is generally really laid back but I try to walk him daily after work and if it isn't too warm out we go for a jog/run. I suppose we haven't been exercising as much lately since my vacation at the end of July. Knowing the other pup was returning home yesterday I took mine on a longer run/walk. I suppose I better keep up his exercise. I don't think the lab gets outside the house much (besides our fenced in back yard obviously) as he is hard to handle when on leash. Hoping we can just get along with the lab a while longer as I look for another living arrangement
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Old 09-08-2016, 01:35 AM
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It's not uncommon for conflict to occur over dogs which are uncomfortable with each other trying to pass each other in close proximity. It sounds like your dog may be intimidated by the other dog, then when he growls or acts fearful, it triggers a fight. Passing each other in the hallway is the equivalent of two people who have previously had a fistfight and still aren't friends having to share the elevator... it's going to be tense, and one wrong move will result in another brawl. It would be a good idea to have a trainer or behaviorist come to observe them if possible, or if you will only be roommates for a little while longer, you can probably just manage them to avoid future fights. A good starting point would probably be to separate your dog from him when you aren't right there to supervise. It sounds like your roommate isn't very observant of/attentive to his dog's interactions with yours, and though they haven't injured each other yet, your description of the fights becoming more intense/longer IME makes it more likely that if allowed to "practice" this behavior, it's only a matter of time before someone gets hurt.

Please separate them when no one is home. Consider the fact that you have had to physically separate them the last time or two they have fought, and what could have happened if no one was home to do so. You could close one or the other in their respective rooms when you are gone, or crate one if no other option.

I would caution against trying to walk both yourself, but it should be fine if you have one person walking each. The last thing you want is for one or both to get riled up over something else and decide they want to brawl (this is called "redirection") while you are trying to hold both.
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Old 09-09-2016, 12:26 PM
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Thanks. Yeah Ive been working with them for 2-3 days now - praising mine when he is calm and the other one passes, 3 walks together (which I guess is not the best idea..) and just generally trying to have the roommates dog out of his room a little more often and hanging out by us. They have been getting along quite well the past few days since the night when the roommates dog returned and things were tense. A local company with dog behavoralists and trainers suggested at a minimum some program that gets us 9 sessions. Think its about 1,100 dollars though. Very tough for me to cover all that currently but if worse comes to worse.. At least when were gone it seems like my dog stays by the front door and the other retreats to and stays in his bedroom. fingers crossed that things continue to work out for a while longer..
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