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A couple of months ago my parents brought home two young adult Aussies: a two year old female and a one year old male. They settled in pretty well and are both just absolute sweethearts.

Nellie, the female, was very unsettled with our current dogs at first. She would nip at them or lunge after them. Lexy, our Aussie mix, and Sophie, my terrier mix did not react to this - they simply backed off. As such, Nellie has grown comfortable with them and there are no issues whatsoever.

As always, Chisum was a different story. He's typically fine with strange dogs as long as they aren't reactive/aggressive toward him. If they are, he fights back.

As a result, he gets along great with Raleigh, the male. Raleigh is very happy go lucky, no issues whatsoever, and they're pals.

When it comes to Nellie, though, it's a nasty story. Essentially, she took to lunging/growling at him early on and that would start a fight. It was clear she was starting it. Now, it's harder to tell. Sometimes he'll be okay with her as long as he's off leash and she's leaving him alone - but not always. Just this morning she was near the barn and he was off leash and he walked right up to her and just kind of stared at her...and a fight broke out. Don't even know who technically "started it" just that it was nasty and lengthy.

There have been moments where he'll come over and sniff her and I'll tell him he's doing great because there's no aggression at all, but often she'll growl and that will start something so I just don't allow it at all anymore.

Other times he will be reactive to her when he just sees her come outside. I think he's associated her with a lot of negativity and is probably just scared/defensive of her at this point.

She's indoors right now because she has heartworms, but ultimately she'll be an outdoor farm dog and he will be largely indoors with the exception of exercise and potty breaks so they may not see each other much but it could potentially still be an issue.

I'm not sure what answers there are...I just needed to rant. I feel so exhausted at the moment :eek: I was kind of hopeful because I met with a trainer and she had great ideas on how to work with him on his reactivity but I really thought he was okay with dogs and now I just feel extra stressed...like is there any problem this dog just doesn't have?

Thanks for letting me rant.
 

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Personally, I think dogs like this do best when indirectly introduced to other dogs- just putting them around each other, but never actually introducing them, so they can get used to each others presence, mannerisms, and start to get a little bit curious about each other. Ideally they should be kept busy while around each other so they don't have time to think about each other too much and provoke each other.

If you are able to walk them together (get someone else to walk one), that might be helpful. If not, you might be able to achieve similar results by working them along a fence line (or one on a tie out/lead anchored somewhere), so you have a physical barrier to prevent fighting and give them the impression of safety, but can toss treats to both easily. I think something like the treat and train/manners minder (remote treat dispenser) would be really handy for this as well, since it would allow even greater distance. Then take turns doing obedience, having one do a down or sit stay while you work with the other, etc. Or, if you prefer, you could even reward for better/more social behavior or ignoring the other dog (whichever you prefer), but it can be so fleeting that it might be harder to capture with 2 dogs, and if you don't keep them busy enough, they may look to start a fight.

The benefit of this is that dogs which are nervous about another dog can get used to their presence without ever feeling the pressure of an actual introduction. Eventually, they will hopefully become either friendly toward each other, or at least indifferent to each other.
 

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Awww... that sucks! :(


Idk if you want advice or not, but I tend to introduce dogs into my home similarly to what busannie is suggesting, in that I work on getting them comfy sharing space first. I normally do some parrallel walking, double dog name game (can have dogs on opposite sides of a gate or pen or even tethered), and some other exercises first. Working multi-dog impulse control type exercises (tug/play/train with one while the other settles on mat then switch; both in stays, call one while the other remains in a stay, reset and recall the other; etc.)can be incredibly helpful but of course require a decent amount of training prior to working them at the same time.

Also, you might find some of the multidog home resources helpful.
There's some good stuff here:
Blog « How Many Dogs?! Creating Harmony in a Multi Dog Household
If you like her blog, then perhaps check out her book.

A few things do stand out a bit coming from my personal experience with having a multi-dog home (I have 5 personal dogs and a 6th I dog sit M-F when his owner is at work)...
Since it will quickly escalate into a fight, watch what they are doing pretty closely and intervene early. It's my experience that dogs who live together peacefully don't normally just walk over to another and stare (exception would be initiating play and that normally is with a play bow or something, not just standing and staring) or do a lot of sniffing each other. Both tend to fall into the rude category at least with my dogs. I hope you don't feel like I'm picking on Chisum! My guess would be that honestly both dogs are doing things that have resulted in what you're seeing now and likely both are defensive.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Thanks @busannie and @kmes :)
@kmes - no worries! I honestly think it's both of them but Chisum certainly doesn't help matters. Nellie doesn't seem to like any of the dogs in her business but the other two are more content to give her her space while Chisum goes on the defensive pretty quickly.

I think once Nellie gets healthy again we'll try some parallel walking, maybe at the lake.

Thanks for the resource!!
 

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Update:

Things have gotten simultaneously better and worse, so I figured I'd post an update here.

We have been doing A LOT of management and generally keeping the two dogs away from each other. Granted, this won't work forever but as a short term solution it's been fine.

Regarding Chisum, he's King of the Cheap Shot, but that mainly involves barking through a door if he hears her making noise in her room. Otherwise, he is absolutely terrified of her. If I bring her outside for a potty break while he's out, he keeps 100+ ft between the two of them. If he sees her out, he immediately tucks tail and retreats. When he's indoors all I have to do is say, "Nellie's coming out" and he absolutely disappears until he knows she's been put away again.

That said, we've still had some fights; almost always they are the product of slip-ups and human error but 100% are started by Nellie. Yesterday afternoon Chisum was outside and I ran in to let Nellie out to the bathroom (I had just gotten home), Nellie saw Chisum through the glass door and he saw her. He tucked tail and tried to get out of there but she charged through the door and attacked him.

We're still going to obedience class and currently asking for help from the instructor there. Hopefully once Nellie is better and able to be outside and work a little bit more on being around him things will improve but it's nice to know we have a resource should we need it. She's totally fine around Lexy and Sophie now so I have no idea why she has it out for Chisum so intensely. It'd be one thing if he was in her face but he's not anymore; she seeks him out to go after him at this point.
 
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