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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Long post, I am at my wits end right now.

We have 3 dogs. A mediums sized male and female, that we've had for three years now, and a 7-year old shih tzu male we took in about one year ago when my elderly Mom could no longer take care of him.

Since the very beginning we have dealt with conflict between them, first between the two medium sized dogs. That calmed down over time, but there's still always the occasional incident that flares up. They are possessive of both food and us.

Now for the last year, the medium sized female and shih tzu have constant tension, that sometimes escalates into the shih tzu being attacked, and he's completely incapable of defending himself. It just happened again before I typed this and it gets me so worked up I actually have a headache. I had to grab her by the collar and get violent to get her off him. She is normally the most loving gentle dog in the world, but once she goes off on him she won’t respond, even to me.

On an emotional level, it’s make us sad and stressed. I can see from the shih tzu's behavior constant trepidation, he’s always trying to stay away from her and make sure he’s not going to get attacked. When we leave the house we have to separate them.

When we are with them, we can never just love on them without at the same time paying careful attention to the dynamic. For instance if I am petting her, I dare not also call out to or pet the shih tzu or she’ll get jealous and attack. So even when we want to love on them, which is all throughout the day, we can’t enjoy that in the street free manner we should be able to, because we’re worrying about a possible attack.

To be clear though, the confrontations often happen over other things, not just us. And we've also had similar issues when family dogs visit.

What I do NOT want to do is give up on any of these dogs.

Where do we do from here? Can I somehow train them to stop this? Do we need formal training? Will something such as dog pepper spray help? I’m so stressed by the attack that just took place that’s where I am.

Thanks
 

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My dog has had resource guarding problems very similar to what you're experiencing. I would definitely recommend enlisting a PR dog trainer who is well versed in resource guarding and who can work with you in the house.

In the meantime, you need to REALLY incorporate a "leave it" command. This has prevented hundreds of 'would-be' fights for me. If I see my dog make a face at my roommate's dog, I tell him leave it and he'll turn to me for a treat or whatever. Before I had his leave it down pat, I made sure I had a cookie sheet around and would slip it in between the two dogs if mine was making faces and it helped break their concentration. I also have used a jar of pennies and citronella spray to interrupt potential bad behavior.

Teach a good "place" and have the resource guarder stay on a mat or bed when you want to pet the other dogs. If she's not 100% about her stay, you can tether her to a spot so she can't rush over and intercept. When she's behaving, you can go between petting her and the other dog so she learns she doesn't need to attack to get loving.

My dog still has random outbursts, but we haven't had an all out fight in a LONG time now. Every time the dog is able to bite and attack another dog, it further solidifies the behavior, so it is best to try to prevent it altogether.
 

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I have a very similar problem, I have a pitbull male, a pitbull/retriever female, and a black lab female, all around 60 lbs. The black lab is the newest to the pack, and is very passive. Even when she was 6 months old, my nieces would climb on her and sit on her and she has NEVER showed ANY signs of aggression. About a month ago we moved and she joined the pack with the pit and pit/retriever. And up until today she has always been on the receiving end of the aggression, and always ran to me for protection from the other two dogs. By receiving end of aggression I don't mean attacking, more like playful biting by the pit. He likes to "chew" (softly enough it doesn't hurt when he does it to me, which I am still trying to discourage) on her front legs, and she always just runs to me. Today, the pit/retriever and the black lab seemed to get into some kind of altercation, I did not see the start of it, but it ended in the black lab biting the pit/retriever right under her eye enough to cut and draw blood flow that took 10 minutes of pressure to stop. I have no idea how to address this, as she has never showed any kind of aggression prior to this encounter. I'm supposed to be leaving for college in a month and I need to know this won't happen again. Any ideas?

My aunt will be taking care of her in addition to her two dogs (the pit and pit/rtvr), so I need to be certain of how to keep this from happening again.
 
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