Dogs are fighting

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Dogs are fighting

This is a discussion on Dogs are fighting within the Dog Training and Behavior forums, part of the Keeping and Caring for Dogs category; I have 2 dogs. Meka is a Belgian shepherd mix and Maple the puppy (who just turned one) is a Jack Russell mix. Maple is ...

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Old 10-05-2017, 08:03 AM
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Dogs are fighting

I have 2 dogs. Meka is a Belgian shepherd mix and Maple the puppy (who just turned one) is a Jack Russell mix. Maple is 30 lbs, Meka is 80lbs.

We've had some issues with Maple. When she was a small puppy, I would put her in her crate at night. The cats were in the same room with her and for some reason she decided she hated them. She is fixated on them- stares obsessively and jumps and scratches the sliding door if the cats walk by. We tried having her lay down, giving high value treats, tried saying "no", tried covering her crate if she so much as looked at the cat... nothing has worked.

She is a bit mentally unbalanced- terrified of most people, terrified of the car, terrified of traffic. If I so much as call her with a firm tone of voice, she submissive urinates. My dad can finally pet her but she looks like she is going to a funeral. She loves my mom though, and likes me for the most part. We have never ever hit her. Ever!

On to our newest issue. She has started attacking poor Meka. The first time was the day after hurricane Irma hit. Everyone was stressed out and our family was visiting with the kids. Maple was terrified and cowered in her crate. After the storm, we turned the dogs out with rawhide chews. They had the chews for about 3 hours. My mom went to take the chews away and missed one. Maple found it, Meka snatched it from her in play. Maple went ballistic. My mom grabbed Meka. I ran out and grabbed Meka, as my mom is about 100 lbs and can't hold her. I thought the puppy would let go if we grabbed Meka. Instead, she was hanging off Mekas back, and would not stop. My dad came running out and pulled her off.

Meka was fine- had a big bruise and some red skin. Keep in mind she has long hair. Given the unusual circumstances, I thought that would be the end of the matter.

Yesterday, they got in a fight over their toy balls. My mom was playing fetch with them and they both had a ball. Maple got mad and attacked Meka again. This time Meka got Maple by the back of the neck, and Maple was still trying to attack. Meka ended up flooring her. My mom thought Meka choked her. I didn't see it so i don't know if that was true. Both dogs were fine- Maple had some small punctures which we are keeping a close eye on, Meka had some slobber marks but no damage.

How concerned should I be about these fights? Meka is clearly boss dog. She also loves Maple and is a gentle soul. As far as I can tell these attacks are unwarranted. Maple is absolutely fearless when away from people and a very stubborn dog. She does not give up when she wants something.

We have discussed rehoming Maple. I'm honestly afraid she will kill my cats if they ever get outside by mistake. And now she's attacking Meka over toys. Meka loves her though...

We could build Maple her own dog pen (she would have the barn for shelter) which would keep her away from the house and separate her from Meka when we aren't around. But what is the point of having a dog that has to be kept separate? This could just be a stage she's going through. I hope.
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Old 10-05-2017, 08:38 AM
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Meka is definitely top dog. I would separate them out. Take one outside at a time put Meka in a kennel when the other dog is out. When you want Meka out put the other in another room. Meka sounds ready to kill a cat at any point. Her body language toward them follow them in the kennel she is ready to get one any moment. What to do about that is when she gets close to a cat scare her off. There should be no reason for your cats to live in fear so I would scare her away from them. The fact she is scared of everything is kind of odd but she will have to slowly get accustom to these things. Maybe try one loud noises at a time if she doesn't have a complete melt down pet her. With you there with just keep telling her it's alright your okay and if she does fine give her positive reinforcement. :-) If you sit by them and put your hand on her when the loud noise comes it usually helps a lot because they know your right there. :-)
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Old 10-05-2017, 09:53 AM
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I wouldn't add more fear into an already fearful dog's life by scaring her whenever the cats are around.

There's probably a lot at play here. She's scared, there's probably some trigger stacking (with the hurricane and previous fight). She's probably insecure. She's a terrier, so naturally has a high prey drive, which is where the cat problem comes in.

And, some dogs are just wired funny. I can tell you that from experience.

I have a dog that can be a little...off. He has been known to get into fights with my parents' two dogs (he is afraid of them), and has had some issues with resource guarding - mostly fine now, but can still cause a scuffle from time to time. He's okay with cats for the most part, as the family cats are very dog-savvy, but can be VERY insecure with cats inside, likely because he's been slapped before. He is also very fearful of strangers and has a fear list a mile long, but when not faced with one of his triggers, is the boldest, most outgoing and fun loving pup you'd ever meet.

I would honestly consider getting a behaviorist involved. You may even want to consider medication for Maple's anxiety.

In the meantime, management is key. Here are some tips:

1) Pick up anything high-value (treats, food, toys) and don't allow any dog access unless they are separated. Both can play this way without fear or insecurities - or a fight.

2) Keep the two dogs separated when you can't actively watch them (and Maple's body language). Anytime they are in the same room, try to keep them fairly far apart and reward Maple for any relaxed or positive behaviors.

3) Obviously, keep Maple separate from the cats. If you'd like, you could start a game of "Look At That" with the cats - every time she catches sight of one, she gets a treat. As time goes on, up the auntie - she only gets a treat if she's calm. You may have to start with milliseconds of calm to begin with and then build up from there.

4) Try to limit Maple's exposure to the things that stress her. Trigger stacking is very real.


Maple will probably be a high-maintenance dog for life. You may have to consider if that is something you want to work with, but also consider the fact that many people don't really want to take that on either.

Best of luck.
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