Within the past 2 days, I have spoken with 2 different people both experiencing the same problem. I referred them elsewhere since the problem is not one I am comfortable addressing yet. The issue is dog on dog aggression between siblings in the home – both families have resulted in a dog at the vet. Both families have now resorted to keeping them at the other end of the house.
I have an idea of how I would address it, but I was curious as to what some of you more experienced folk would do in a situation like this. Obviously I don’t have all of the details, but I was just looking for a general idea of what to do to see if I am on the right track.
I can certainly relate to you what I did, and what worked for my dogs in a similar situation. I had a 5 year old Lancashire Heeler, and I wanted to adopt a rescue dog from the SPCA.
I fell in love with one and brought her home. A 1 year old Boxer X, I knew within a few hours that the relationship was not going to work between the dogs. Every time I let them together a fight would ensue almost immediately, no major damage but some small punctures on both sides. It seemed to be a case of jealousy (Resource Guarding of personal space and attention). She was also so reactive to my cats that I felt it was in everyone’s best interest to end the trial period and bring her back to find a more appropriate home. She spent the night as went back to the SPCA the next morning.
A few weeks later I decided a low energy/laid back 5 month old was going to fit in a little better. My Heeler took exception immediately, but the main difference now was that the puppy didn’t fight back, even though he was 3 times the size of the heeler.
The situation was still extremely stressful for everyone involved but I felt it was manageable. The ending was a happy one. The Boys are now great friends, play, eat near each other, and cuddle with me on the couch.
What helped me the most was persistence, commitment, and I also kept a journal on the whole ordeal. I wrote down every altercation (tried to avoid them of course but there will ALWAYS be slip ups). I kept the puppy on a tether wherever I went around the house. The journal helped keep track of how often incidents happened, and intensity. The journal was hugely reinforcing for me because it showed that the incidents were farther and farther apart. It took Nine months from introduction to complete relaxation between the two. I think the personalities of the dogs made a huge difference. I didn’t do any major conditioning exercises, just management (constant supervision), and interrupting iffy-behavior. I do highly recommend keeping the journal on any behavior modification, or highly stressful training issues like toilet training and any form of aggression.
Hope this helps!
Marika S. Bell ABCDT, CPDT-KA