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Hi everyone. This is my first post and I'm hoping someone will have some good advice for me. I have 2 dogs, they are sisters but from separate litters (same parents) they are a year apart. Loki is the oldest and she is 2 years old and Trinity is 1 year old. They are half Pit Bull half Tosa Ken Mastiff. They usually get along pretty good although the younger one, Trinity, tends to escalate very quickly when playing. They have had minor fights that always start from playing but no one has ever been hurt. I do not let them escalate or play in the house and although they are much much better it has taken pretty much my full attention to monitor them when I am home (when I'm not home there is never an issue with fighting). Anyway, the other day I took them both to visit my sister's dog (he is a lab cross) whom they know and play with on occasion. When I arrived at my sisters I make them sit before entering her home and once in make them sit at the bottom of the stairs till they calm down a bit. I released Loki (the older one) first as she is much calmer then Trinity. I kept Trinity on her leash and brought her upstairs she was really excited but the puppies were going outside to play so I let her off to join the other 2 dogs. With in about 2 min my dogs started playing very aggressively and it escalated to a very serious fight. They younger one, Trinity, would not stop attacking Loki and I had to get right in the fight to separate them. Loki has a couple pretty bad puncture wounds and trinity just a scrap. This scared the CRAP out of me! The dogs were fine being together after the fight and are still fine together but I'm scared that this could be the beginning of trend. I use pinch collars on both and even though they had the collars on at the time of the fight I could barely get them to react - especially Trinity. My plan is to keep Trinity on a leash with the pinch collar so that I can hopefully give a leash snap if she escalates. I know that I don't want to avoid these types of situations as she will never learn how to properly behave if I don't teach her. Both dogs go to doggy day care at least once a week and get walks 1-4 times per week on top of this. I am wondering if anyone has any other recommendations on how to prevent my dogs from escalating play time to a fight. Thanks!
 

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First of all, ditch the pinch collar and harsh corrections. They're primitive and are just bandaids on the issue. We have serval stickies both here and in the training section that are very helpful and you should check out.

Teach her to leave it and watch me so she isn't focused on fighting.
Hopefully the other members will chime in soon.
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your plan will only make the situation worse. you cannot cure aggression with aggression. causing her pain when she wants to play with the other dog will only make her associate something painful and negative with the other dog, not with her action. you need to step in and interrupt the play when it starts to escalate. train a positive interrupter and practice interrupting the dogs over and over and over again, during play, to do some positive games with them. i like to incorporate it's yer choice with a nice sit & treat, then release the dogs to play, and repeat. if the play escalates to the point where they are ignoring you, you know you've let it go too far, and you will need to interrupt them and separate them BOTH for a positive time out (give them both a kong, and crate them/put in separate rooms/have them go to their places if they'll stay without restraints) there is no instant fix for this. you might see what looks like results from using an aversives/punishment approach, but you'd only temporarily suppress the behavior.
http://www.dogforum.com/dog-training/suppression-modification-shutdown-fallout-4776/
some links and videos that might help you:
http://www.dogforum.com/dog-training/4-quadrants-operant-conditioning-23702/
http://www.dogforum.com/dog-training/helpful-training-videos-articles-11426/




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Going to echo that using leash snaps especially with a pinch collar is only going to make it worse and can escalate rough play into a fight or make a fight 10x worse.

If you are having trouble walking them try a head collar, or a no pull harness.
 

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This is very likely to become a serious problem. Both breeds of dogs have been bred as fighting dogs so often have problems with dog agression. And yours are both females (females tend to get along better with males). A year old is around when the dogs mature and aggressive tendencies will usually start to come out.

Have you ever been in a dangerous situation and gotten hurt and not even felt it till later? With dogs it is the same. If they are seriously fighting they do not feel things that would normally be very painful till after, so breaking up fights can be very difficult and dangerous.
I don't always agree with everything on the leerburg sights but I would definitely recommend you look up leerburg and search the website for their article on breaking up dog fights. It is dangerous if you don't know how to do it right!!!

It will also give you an idea of how serious this problem can become. Your breeds are not typical "soft" pets, they are tough dogs that have a lot of strength and power. They are probably wonderful dogs, but you'll need to be very proactive to be sure this doesn't get worse.

I would also suggest you get both dogs involved in a training program that will use their minds and reinforce your leadership abilities in their minds. Please remember though, good leaders are fair leaders that know how to teach and direct well, not just beat into submission. Be very careful in choosing a trainer or behaviorist to work with!
 

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Hi,My problem is similar, but belgians have a weird way of playing, they try to grab "the mane" even if a dog hasnt got one, But at the moment, our new puppy who is also a terv, is being jumped on by my older dog who is 6 years old, and she clamps on, reading all the replies, I am in the midst of looking for a trainer, but because the little one freaks out in the car, being sicketc, cannot get easily to a trainer, as we are rural, so trying to take her on short trips with a pleasureable end, i.e beach Gemini
 

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I second shr. This does not sound good.

- your dogs are of breeds with known dog aggression
- they are both females
- they are both becoming adults

This can get very ugly very fast. I would not leave them alone together anymore. I would also try to break situations up waaay before they're actually fighting. Just a look can sometimes be enough provocation to start something. Once they are going at it, there's no real training to be accomplished anymore in that state of mind. Just break them up safely.

I'd also want to say, reconsider the doggie daycare, or at least warn the staff there of what happened. And up the excercise of your dogs to release pent up energy. A young pit cross needs way more than 1-4 walks a week.
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My mom fosters and often has as many as 5 dogs on her house. They don't always get along, although they are often smaller than yours. She read this really helpful article about breaking up dog fights in Whole Dog Journal: How to Safely Break Up a Dogfight - Whole Dog Journal Article. However, given the youth and strength of your pups, I would talk to a positive-based trainer with a history of working with hormonal, strong dogs.

And we had two adult females together, and when they got to the fighting stage (9 months - 2 years), we kept them separated while we were gone, trained them away from each other, fed them in different rooms but walked them together to help reduce tension and create pack mentality. (Yes, I know, traditional pack mentality training is not accurate, but this one aspect - walking unknown dogs together - really helped then, and really helps my mom's foster dogs get along with hers). Once they both hit adulthood (around 3 years), they mellowed out and where able to eat next to each other and be left alone together. They simply had to learn each others' boundaries, and since they were young, herding dogs with tons of pent-up energy (silly us, we thought one hour long romp in the mountains was enough exercise for a 1 yr old Bearded Collie mix and Australian Cattle dog mix), it took a while.

I also like to use the positive interrupter video above and have a cue that only ever means "something fantastic is happening for you!". I use "here" and use to give a whole handful of treats every time I said it, but others have used "party", "incoming", "treat", etc...

Good luck! Dog fights are scary, especially when blood is involved, but try to stay calm and don't correct them afterwards. Unlike people, who may or may not benefit from a scolding after a fight, dogs don't learn that way.
 

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Thank you for all your replies!

I would like to start out by thanking everyone for their replies! I read through most of them and will watch some of the videos and search for the recommended posts later today. I just wanted to say that I totally understand where everyone is coming from about the pinch collars. I am a small female and this is the only way I can control my puppies when I take them out for a walk. I started with regular collars, then had a brad pattison trainer who recommended the martingale collar (she really did not work out at all although some of the techniques were mildly effective) we then did bark buster training and got a canny collar (like a haltie), this worked unless there were distractions (which there are when you walk) and my dogs didn't get used to having the strap over their nose even after months of trying. They would get bloodied noses from continually trying to rub off the collars. When I use the pinch collars I am not harsh with them - I don't even need to be. When I say "leash snap" I do not aggressively yank the leash, again I don't need to. I find that it keeps them more in tune to my body and what I'm doing. My dogs are not aggressive dogs, they have never had an incident at day care and we live with 2 cats who they get along fine with. I also am not a first time dog owner, I have had a rottweiler/shepard as well as a couple other breeds. Somebody did mention that it is at this age when the may become aggressive and this is what worries me about the younger one Trinity as she is the one with crazy energy and who escalates at play time. Loki I'm not concerned about at all.

I do not want to hurt my dogs - ever. If they ever yelped when I pulled the collar I would probably cry! I have just found that these collars (which currenly they only wear when we leave the house) enable them to maintain a more submissive state, even with out "leash snaps". I just thought that if I put them on when they were to play that I could use the leash to de-escalate the situation better. Usually Trinity listens to me at home when I yell her name or clap loudly I'm just scared now because of what happened at my sister's house. I want to be the best dog owner I can be and I want to nip this in the bud before it gets worse. I am also thinking of going back to dog school after christmas.

Thank you all again for your posts! :)
 

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Look for a positive renforcment trainer. I bred mastiffs (my largest male was 220lbs) and I walked them on a buckle collar using pr. They were completely under my control. And I am by no means a big person (5' 7" and 120lbs).
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Sorry, I also wanted to say that I am going to try some of the things you all suggested. I didn't want to use pinch collars I just felt I had no choice. I will keep you posted as to my progress!
 

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Have you thought about using a prong collar? There is a video about how to properly use and size one on Leerburgs website. My Pit Bull female pulled something terrible and we tried everything to train her to stop. The prong worked wonders and we've graduated to a regular flat collar recently.

As far as dog aggression, YES! Both breeds in your dogs mix are dogs that are commonly dog aggressive due to genetics and that dog aggression needs to be managed.

Notice I did not say cured. Managed. Saying you can cure dog aggression in breeds bred for dog on dog combat for over 100 years is like saying you can cure a retrievers desire to retrieve or cure a hounds desire to sniff and bay loudly. It ain't gonna happen. The desire to fight will always be there and it becomes the owners job to make sure there is never an opportunity to do so.

Dog aggressive dogs shouldn't be going to an off leash daycare or dog park. It's an incident waiting to happen.

You can train your dogs to behave and not cause trouble when they see other dogs, but you can never, ever, ever, ever, trust them alone together. Separate them with crates, baby gates, closed doors, etc. whenever you cannot directly supervise their actions.

If you are there to supervise and they keep trying to fight then you should consider getting into a crate and rotate routine where one dog is resting in a crate or room or outdoor kennel while the other is getting free roam time and individual attention then switch.
 

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This is very likely to become a serious problem. Both breeds of dogs have been bred as fighting dogs so often have problems with dog agression. And yours are both females (females tend to get along better with males). A year old is around when the dogs mature and aggressive tendencies will usually start to come out.

Have you ever been in a dangerous situation and gotten hurt and not even felt it till later? With dogs it is the same. If they are seriously fighting they do not feel things that would normally be very painful till after, so breaking up fights can be very difficult and dangerous.
I don't always agree with everything on the leerburg sights but I would definitely recommend you look up leerburg and search the website for their article on breaking up dog fights. It is dangerous if you don't know how to do it right!!!

It will also give you an idea of how serious this problem can become. Your breeds are not typical "soft" pets, they are tough dogs that have a lot of strength and power. They are probably wonderful dogs, but you'll need to be very proactive to be sure this doesn't get worse.

I would also suggest you get both dogs involved in a training program that will use their minds and reinforce your leadership abilities in their minds. Please remember though, good leaders are fair leaders that know how to teach and direct well, not just beat into submission. Be very careful in choosing a trainer or behaviorist to work with!
^^^^^^^ This, this, this, this, this and your dogs need way more exercise and mental stimulation.

Please get a behavourist in to help you. You may even need to think about re-homing one of your dogs (if anyone would be willing to take in an aggressive dog of that combination) if you cannot help them get along for theirs and your safety.
 

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I would like to start out by thanking everyone for their replies! I read through most of them and will watch some of the videos and search for the recommended posts later today. I just wanted to say that I totally understand where everyone is coming from about the pinch collars. I am a small female and this is the only way I can control my puppies when I take them out for a walk. I started with regular collars, then had a brad pattison trainer who recommended the martingale collar (she really did not work out at all although some of the techniques were mildly effective) we then did bark buster training and got a canny collar (like a haltie), this worked unless there were distractions (which there are when you walk) and my dogs didn't get used to having the strap over their nose even after months of trying. They would get bloodied noses from continually trying to rub off the collars. When I use the pinch collars I am not harsh with them - I don't even need to be. When I say "leash snap" I do not aggressively yank the leash, again I don't need to. I find that it keeps them more in tune to my body and what I'm doing. My dogs are not aggressive dogs, they have never had an incident at day care and we live with 2 cats who they get along fine with. I also am not a first time dog owner, I have had a rottweiler/shepard as well as a couple other breeds. Somebody did mention that it is at this age when the may become aggressive and this is what worries me about the younger one Trinity as she is the one with crazy energy and who escalates at play time. Loki I'm not concerned about at all.

I do not want to hurt my dogs - ever. If they ever yelped when I pulled the collar I would probably cry! I have just found that these collars (which currenly they only wear when we leave the house) enable them to maintain a more submissive state, even with out "leash snaps". I just thought that if I put them on when they were to play that I could use the leash to de-escalate the situation better. Usually Trinity listens to me at home when I yell her name or clap loudly I'm just scared now because of what happened at my sister's house. I want to be the best dog owner I can be and I want to nip this in the bud before it gets worse. I am also thinking of going back to dog school after christmas.

Thank you all again for your posts! :)

i understand the need to feel physically in control of the dogs, and how the pinch collars help you to achieve this. but if that is the only way you can control them on walks, you need to be focusing a lot more energy on training. regardless of if these are you first dogs or not, it doesn't make the training approach any more effective. i used to train using a sort of punish the "bad" behavior, and reward the "good" behavior approach, and i've learned that unless a punishment is SEVERE (to the dog, you don't get to define what is severe, or what is even punishment) you are only nagging it into suppressing a behavior, which makes it appear that the technique is working, but if you have to keep doing it, more than a few times, it is not. the suppression, modification, fallout sticky i linked to, goes into greater detail on it ;)dogs are smart, and have evolved to live with humans and many manage to adapt to our misguided attempts to communicate with (train) them. but in a situation like this, where you have a dog that could potentially over-power you, and cause harm to another, it is critical that you understand how dogs learn, and how to deal with the aggression in a way that won't exacerbate the situation. neither brad pattison or bark busters would be good places to start with that.

for the head collar vs the pinch collar... i understand where you are coming from. i spent quite some time conditioning my dog to wear the head collar before i used it, and he doesn't like it, but is very tolerant of it. he does not pull on the leash, with a standard buckle collar, but does have some issues with leash reactivity and at 100lbs, he is very strong... i've also had quite a bit of success using a front clip harness, have you tried that?

some more links for you:
http://www.dogforum.com/dog-training/loose-leash-walking-1683/
pay particular attention to the silky leash training video, it is by far one of the best overall training methods for loose leash walking.

http://www.dogforum.com/dog-behavior/calming-signals-10084/

there is a great book, not too expensive, that goes into detail on calming signals, i highly recommend it, especially considering your circumstances. it will help you to read the dogs' behavior better and hopefully see the signs of stress so that you can prevent a fight.

http://www.dogforum.com/dog-behavior/reactivity-leash-aggression-barrier-frustration-12538/

i think you might find more info here to help you with your situation.

please understand, i have no doubt that you care very much for your dogs ;) i also believe that your past dog experience is valuable, and i'm not trying to negate that. i am, however, trying to offer you information that will hopefully open up a new way of communicating with your dogs... i hope that it helps you out!



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