My two younger dogs attacked my older dog- Help!

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My two younger dogs attacked my older dog- Help!

This is a discussion on My two younger dogs attacked my older dog- Help! within the Dog Training and Behavior forums, part of the Keeping and Caring for Dogs category; I really need help concerning my dogs' behaviors. I have 2 german shepherds (Hannah and Murphy) and a lab (Samantha). They are all girls. Hannah ...

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Old 05-28-2019, 11:01 PM
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Exclamation My two younger dogs attacked my older dog- Help!

I really need help concerning my dogs' behaviors.

I have 2 german shepherds (Hannah and Murphy) and a lab (Samantha). They are all girls.

Hannah and Murphy are younger than Sami, (Sami is 11, Hannah is 7, and Murphy is 3) and there has been a power struggle in the house ever since our oldest dog died.

The other day, Hannah and Murphy attacked Sami. They both ganged up on Sami and grabbed at her neck. She had to get a couple of staples in her back and was shaved by the vet so we can monitor her large bruises and smaller injuries.

How can I show Hannah and Murphy that Sami is the alpha? Is there something I can do to discipline the younger ones or help make them less aggressive? I have a squirt bottle now to help break up fights and stop them from barking at each other, but generally, they are all very nice, loving dogs.

Any help is much appreciated. THANK YOU
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Old 05-29-2019, 08:10 AM
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Hi there fellow gsd and lab owner. Well first off think less in terms of who's alpha- and more in terms of who's not willing to take crap from who. Thats what it really boils down to. Thinking in different terms helps. Don't just blame the shepherds, often it's the dog you think of as " victim " that actually starts these fights, especially with females. First off you're going to need to manage them at least for awhile. This means not putting them in positions to get in fights. This is keeping the lab safe, and also not setting up the other two to eventually fight. This could be as simple as not giving them all free access to toys, feeding separately etc. The shepherds did some real damage this time, so now you know they're willing to take it that far. Again, keeping the lab safe is the first priority now. Toys, freedom in the house, these things are earned by good behavior. Dogs dont behave, they lose privileges. Our lab is a die hard toy stealer. She's alot better about it than she used to be but still does it from time to time. When she gets that bee in her bonnet all the toys get picked up and put away. Funs over. If it happens and theres any aggression on either dogs part, toys get put up and both dogs get put in time out. Funs over.
More than likely your lab has been doing things for awhile that " offend " the other dogs and one or both finally just decided they've had enough of it. It could be small things you've seen that didn't cause problems before. Things were brewing but didn't outwardly appear to be an issue. You've also got a 3 yr old shepherd. Thats getting to full maturity. Common age for things like this to happen. It's like she's thinking " I'm a big girl now and you will respect me one way or the other ".
It could be the other way around and its one of the shepherds causing the problems. Definately possible, but from my own experience it's probably the " weaker " dog which is why I'm focusing on that.
You can make it work, but you're going to need to take the initiative by setting rules and boundaries, enforcing them and taking control of your house. It's your house. Its your pack. You control things not some alpha dog living under your roof. The shepherds especially need firm rules and structure and they usually thrive on it.
There's some other members on here that can probably give you a good plan of action for counter conditioning much better than me hopefully they will chime in.
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Old 05-29-2019, 02:53 PM
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Thank you so much for the input! I will definitely separate them when they're eating because there is usually aggression when it comes to food. Since it's summer break I've been spending more time at home (I'm a high school student), and when I've been going out for short periods of time I've put the dogs in different rooms just to make sure that nothing happens. My lab seems to be okay, except she looks like a reverse lion because of the hair that the vet shaved off.

Thank you again!!!
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Old 05-29-2019, 03:43 PM
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We went through that too. In our case, my nervous 2yo sensed that something was wrong with our 15yo and attacked him out of the blue several times. Turned out his pain meds messed up his liver and it never happened again once we stopped. We kept the old guy and the instigator apart for 2 months (except at night, thankfully there was never any issue there). The third dog always joined the 2yo in the fight for some reason, but he's otherwise a sweetheart and has never started a fight, so I wasn't worried about it.


So I would make sure that there isn't any issue with your 11yo too. but with females, it's probably just girl issues... so I would figure out who starts the fights and keep that one away from the 11yo as much as possible. That being said, I have no experience with two girls, I've just heard horror stories of some females of some breeds not getting along with other females.
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Old 05-30-2019, 07:51 PM
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Dogs fight in your home? Analyze, identify stressors, and work towards reuniting

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Originally Posted by shakakha View Post
The other day, Hannah and Murphy attacked Sami. They both ganged up on Sami and grabbed at her neck. She had to get a couple of staples in her back and was shaved by the vet so we can monitor her large bruises and smaller injuries.

How can I show Hannah and Murphy that Sami is the alpha?

Is there something I can do to discipline the younger ones or help make them less aggressive? THANK YOU
Goodness, @shakakha, that sounds so stressful and scary for all of you guys! Sorry to hear it. I am glad everyone is "ok" ish now and that you didn't get hurt breaking up the fight between the dogs! You didn't mention getting hurt, so I am really hoping you didn't. Poor Sami. I hope she heals quickly.

So, when I hear about a dog fight in the home, I tend to want to ask a bunch of questions to see if we can figure out what went wrong, or what happened to contribute to the fight. I do this with my own dogs, as well.

So.....

Can you go back and think of what happened right prior to the fight?
What were you doing? What were the dogs doing?

Was there food present? Or toys nearby or any other valuable resource that they could be fighting over? Where were you guys--inside or out? Dogs on the bed or couch-- or was everyone on the floor? (Sometimes a fight can ensue when one dog wants to jump on couch and the the other dog doesn't want to move or share space)

What else happened that day or even few days prior? Any additional stressors going on? Any illnesses, new visitors/workmen to your home, vet visits, medicine applications, new dogs visiting, fights with roommates (or partner or parents) etc etc? Have you been stressed yourself? Think about it and you may be surprised.

I know the fights at my house between my dogs were absolutely due to too much stress in our home --on top of resource guarding issues. Human stress really affects our dogs!!!

You mentioned you were home more often due to summer break, so maybe the patterns/routines changed with your dogs? Maybe you were giving more attention/fun training/tricks/walks to one dog vs the others? Changes in routines can sometimes upset dogs--dogs thrive on regular routines.

Personally, I would suggest you concentrate more on reducing stress in your home in any ways that you can, rather than mulling over "alpha' business.


I personally feel most dog "aggression" is due to some sort of stress, and in most cases due to a "combo platter" of stressors. Whether it is between the dogs, due to resource guarding, health issues, pain issues, lack of sleep, annoyance issues (one dog wants to play, the other does not), schedule changes, human induced stress, or other wise. Just my opinion, others may think otherwise.

So, don't spend too much time worrying about alpha issues or trying to make any of your dogs alpha at all.

Instead I recommend to people to treat all of your dogs equally with dignity and respect and love and trust--- and ask the same of all of them with you--and each other... and you will probably have a much more peaceful home with less dog fighting (hopefully none!) in the future.

Also, I suggest you start studying up on dog body language and calming signals so you can see how your dogs are feeling BEFORE any aggressive event/fight occurs. You can study about this online for free.

If you start to see any aggressive/stressed behaviors start then immediately remedy the situation. I would personally not punish this, but rather remedy it when possible. Yelling at the dogs or squirting them could increase stress and hence increase aggression, so be cautious of this. Remember if stress tends to cause some fights, we want to reduce stress, not increase it, right?

So if you see one dog snarling at another, perhaps separate the dogs by taking one in another room and giving the dog something do to, like chew on a bone. Not as a reward, but more as a redirection.

Or in my home, many times I like to go get some yummy food bites and ask my dogs to join together to do some fun tricks. And then I reward them heavily with food and praise. Very good for bonding, teaches them that working together brings good things!!!

And YES, you are absolutely doing the right thing by separating them when you are gone and cannot supervise!!!This is the safe thing to do. I do it with my three dogs everyday. They all have their own cozy part of our house to relax in when we aren't there to monitor..just in case. Better safe than sorry, right? Mine would probably be ok now since I have done lots of work to gradually get them to be relaxed again together, but I say... why take a chance at undoing our good progress?

That's all for now. I hope this helps a bit, to get you thinking about what may have happened... and then to prevent future situations with your beloved dogs. Again, sorry it happened, I know dog fights are so troublesome for all.

PS. Sending healing thoughts to Sami.

Last edited by AthenaLove; 05-30-2019 at 08:01 PM.
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