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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
I'll start from the beginning.

Our first dog was a shelter rescue in 2007 - a female Schnauzer/Terrier mix. We named this dog Annabelle.
In December 2011, we got a male Boxer from my mother in law who had the parents. We neutered him when he was about 6 months old. His name is Tee Jay.
We planned on stopping there.

In November 2012, we had someone who asked us if we would take in their male Boxer who was already neutered. He was 9 months old at the time and his name was Preston.

Preston fit in well and being so close in age with Tee Jay, they were buddies from the git go. We barely had to introduce them. They slept together, ran the yard together, played together, they were true best friends.
Annabelle was mama. She was always mama. She was 20lb vs their 70lb each, but they respected her as the "Alpha dog."

Fast forward to August 2015 and up strolls a starving pup, ribs showing, hip bones sticking out, friendly as could be. He got along with the other dogs right away and fit right in. We decided to go ahead and take him in permanently because he started to put on weight and become less emaciated, we quickly learned that he was mostly, if not pure American Pit Bull Terrier. Pits have a reputation around here and unfortunately dog fighting is still a thing in this area, and I've seen enough abuse and neglect that I am not just going to re-home a Pit Bull to just anyone. So we took him in and everything was great. He even wanted to kennel up with Preston and everything was going very smooth. We named this dog Dipper and had him neutered right away.

New Years 2016 I had to bring my mother to live with me as she was in very quickly declining health. She was not, nor was she ever a fan of big dogs, but all the dogs respected her and kept their distance while keeping a very close eye on her as it was obvious she was getting very weak. She passed in September of 2016.

On the very same day that mom passed, when I was on my way to the funeral home to sign the funeral orders, I got news from my vet that Preston had tested positive for lymphoma. We lost Preston in November of 2016.

In October 2018, I lost Annabelle suddenly to sudden cardiac arrest.

All this time, all my dogs have always gotten along.
The two dogs I have left are Tee Jay (the first Boxer) and Dipper (the Pit Bull). Over the course of the last several months, there has been increasing tension between the two. Now, it seems as though anytime there is food involved or attention from another human (one of my kids or my wife...basically anyone other than me), sometimes for seemingly no reason whatsoever, the two will ball up and full on get into it. Being they are both large dogs, they can inflict damage to each other quickly. Fortunately I have been close by to break it up quickly, and they don't generally do anything if I'm right there. I have a routine every morning where they both get probiotic treats for stomach issues, and I give them these treats while they're sitting next to each other.
Then they get their pharmaceuticals (Dipper gets OsteoByflex for joint issues, Tee Jay gets enalapril for a heart murmur). They get these inside another treat...cheese, a swab of peanut butter, hot dogs, etc, whatever). Then we go out to the feeding area. They are fed separately because Dipper has a bad habit of finishing his and then starting on the other bowl. By the time they get done eating, the wife and I are usually almost ready for work and the girls are walking out to catch the school bus. When we leave for work, they both go to their kennels (I don't even have to command them anymore, they just know the routine and go). When we get home, it's potty time and time for petting and love. They are generally ok. When they are outside together, they are in kahoots together and run the yard. At bed time, they sleep together in our bedroom. I don't get it.

Just randomly, if one is getting attention, the other will attack and it's on.
Yesterday, Tee Jay was getting a drink out of the water bowl and Dipper walked by and Tee Jay attacked him out of no where.
This afternoon, everything was fine and then when my daughter got home and was petting Tee Jay, Dipper just up and attacked him.

Luckily no humans have been injured in any of this...they do know better when it comes to humans, but I don't get where this is coming from all of a sudden. Both dogs respect me as THE alpha both individually and together. I don't know if it is stemming from the loss of their buddy and my "mama dog," who was the alpha in the dog world, or if it is something else.

For now, if when they get into it, I just separate them for several hours and then I bring them back together and everything seems to be fine....until the next time. If anyone has any ideas, I would greatly appreciate it. If there's something I haven't explained well or you need more information, just ask.
 

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I wonder if there is some resource guarding going on. The resource could be the water bowl, a favoured spot to lie on the floor, attention from their human - usually nothing obvious to us, which of course means it is far harder to identify. When there were four dogs, it might have been somewhat diluted.

I am not an expert on this, but there is a good book by Jean Donaldson called ”Mine!”.

And - may I just add that the alpha dominance / pack leadership theory has been thoroughly disproven and widely discredited, even by the person who developed it. It was based on flawed conclusions drawn from poorly observed evidence. The wolf pack (and dogs are not wolves anyway, any more than we are chimpanzees) was not a real pack, and the situation (captivity rather than wild) skewed the data as their behaviour was not natural. In a true pack, the leadership is fluid depending on the circumstances. This article explains it quite well. Debunking the "Alpha Dog" Theory - Whole Dog Journal
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thanks, I'll check out that article as well as the book.
I'm convinced it's a possessive thing that I'm not picking up on or some type of energy that my daughter(s) are putting off that drives this. They've been separated quite a bit the last couple days since their last tiff. This morning, I had them both sitting next to each other for their morning treats and medicine. I took them both outside together and Tee Jay (the boxer) was sniffing and licking Dipper's (the Pit) jowels and the top of his nose. The last tiff they had, Tee Jay got him pretty good on his muzzle and they are just now scabbing over. But Dipper was letting him smell and lick the wounds. Then Tee Jay wanted to play. It's weird.

They are fine one minute and then want to kill each other the next. But it doesn't ever seem to be when I'm in control of them...it's when others are, or ... well ... at least THINK they are.

Dogs feel energy that we don't and we have to learn how to control our own energy. It's not something that can be taught I don't think...because we don't fully understand it. But I think we can learn how to control our own energy, but we have to learn how to do it ourselves. It sounds hokey and new-age-ie, but I believe it.

Anyway....the plot thickens.
 
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