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I have 3 dogs. Wilson (boy, 4), Simba (boy, 3) and Cali (girl, 2) Everyone gets along great. There was one fight recently between Wilson and Simba. It was the only incident between my dogs in the 2 years they've all been together, but it was kind of an extreme situation. We had been traveling, left home alone in a new place and there were potentially fireworks going off (it was July 5th). Otherwise, they all get along great and ever since the fight everything has been fine. On a typical day, there are absolutely no issues and no concern at all with fights or attacks....even when we had a cat.

My main concern is the prey drive in Simba. The tricky thing is it only seems to be activated when Cali alerts Simba to an animal. We used to go to dog parks and beaches that are off leash all the time. We had no issues. Simba would run and play all up and down the beach wanting to meet everyone and every dog. He loved playing with small dogs, but may be liked to play a bit rougher than they can handle or were used to. A simple noise or command for him to stop and leave them alone and everything was fine.

Recently though, something changed. The first incident was not started by him, but he got involved in a multi dog scuffle at a dog park where he just clamped down on the back of the neck of the dog that started the fight and was in the process of attacking another dog. It seemed to me he was being protective of the dog being attacked. He didn't break skin or try to mame at all, he just grabbed the back of the neck and held. I chalked it up to a tense situation and since he didn't start it or seem to escalate the problem, I had no real concern. The dog that started the fight was starting stuff with everyone.

After that incident, we had no problems. When it comes to small animals like birds, squirrels, etc... he has an interest, but he seems to just want to chase and play based on his body language. So a few months later we ended up going to the dog beach. Everything was going fine until a small dog (may be a pug) walked by Cali and the dog growled and snapped at Cali as it passed. Simba wasn't paying it any mind, but when Cali got fired up and barked back Simba got fired up and bit the dog. I find it hard to say bite thgouh because again he just grabbed the back of the dogs neck and laid down. He had no interest in shaking the head back and forth or doing anything else, he just clamped on and laid down. It took myself and one other person to get him off of the dog. He never broke skin, but the intensity of the situation has left me worried and we haven't been back to the beach since.

One other incident happened right before Wilson and Simba got into a fight this past July 5th. We were at an RV campground and the dogs got out of the RV when we opened the door. They are typically fine off leash around the house, so I wasn't overly concerned becaus eI knew we could just round them up and get them back inside. Well unfortunately Cali saw a small dog in a nearby campsite and barked at it. Simba wasn't paying attention, but as soon as she barked and he spotted the dog, it was on. He sprinted over and grabbed the small dog by the back of its neck. Within seconds, I tackled him and separated him from the other dog and it turns out the dog was fine, just a few scratches on its ear.

My problem is......he seems like a great dog that just loves out loud, but there is something about small dogs that is setting him off. I don't know what changed from wanting to play with them to wanting to hurt them, but oddly enough the timing of it all ties in to when our cat passed away. After the cat passed away, all these incidents started to happen. The cat was a dominant figure in the house, but everyone got along. I'm not sure if it's a coincidence or not, but I'd love to figure this out to protect other dogs, him and myself from legal troubles.

I understand that he should be on leash in public moving forward (whether its allowed or not), but i'd really like to figure out how to train him to behave in public. We RV a lot and we love going to the beach. It doesn't make sense to me to have dogs at an on leash beach and I've never had issues like this before with any other dogs. I feel like I need to have other small dogs available to me to train him through a fence or something. This way he can be around small dogs and get used to interacting with them again with no problems. Also, as a side note....he has no problems being around children or other large dogs. There is just something about small dogs that sets him off.

I know this post was long, but every situation is unique and if any experts on this board can lend a helping hand that would be awesome. I love my pups and don't want them hurting others or getting hurt.
 

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It's clear you have a good handle on the interactions and the chain of events that cause certain things to happen with Simba. Before I saw your other post on the Intro's forum, I suspected that Simba is the pittie, or pittie mix, in the household, and I was correct. :) (And I love your signature pic too! Cute!)

You're right on the money when it comes to using a leash from this point forward 100% when out in public. No question. You've been very fortunate that Simba did not go for the throats of the dogs he's targeted. :( Perhaps because the dogs are small, the back of the neck is just what was convenient. You might also want to consider conditioning Simba for a muzzle if there's potentially going to be incidents. Here's a couple of helpful threads that explain better how muzzles will help in your situation (One <--very good, Two). If you don't think you're going to go that route, I definitely HIGHLY suggest, as an owner of a staffie (aka: pit) in a multi-dog household, that you pick up a handful of break/parting sticks in the event of future aggression issues. The link will explain in more detail why they're important to have around. You can pick up a couple of sticks from that site, or this one, where I've received a good deal for 10, and given extras to our local shelter.

I'm sure there will be others to help advise on the desensitization toward smaller dogs, but clearly your #1 objective at this stage is to prevent Simba from attacking (leash), or if he does manage to attack, prevent injury (muzzle).
 

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Thanks for the input and info. The more I think about it, I truly think it comes back to the way Cali and Simba behave together outside of the pack. I'm thinking I need to have them spend more one on one time away from each other and around other dogs. That way they learn to be around any other dogs (big or small) without the other inducing a certain behavior. I rescued both dogs within a day of each other (had meet and greets set up and couldn't say no to either), so I know they have a special bond, but they need to learn to act right together in public.

Any other feedback is appreciated. I love the guy, but don't want him to get himself into trouble.
 

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That's sounds like a plan. :thumbsup:
It seems that Cali's barking acts as a trigger for Simba's behaviour so working on Cali's reactivity could help.

Well done for being a responsible dog owner :)
 
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