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My dog attacked another dog and I am heartbroken

(2 Posts)
dogtrouble Tue 27-Nov-18 10:12:09

This will be long but please if you don't mind would love some advice and help. Already posted in the chat topic as didn't realise there was a pets one.
background:
my dog is a 3 year old Romanian rescue, I've had her for two years. Painfully shy and nervous and submissive, terrified of a lot of things, have built her confidence a little however still can't walk her on busy streets etc as just cowers. I had to train her a lot, how to walk on a lead etc
She has been well socialised since the beginning as my mum has three golden retrievers, my sister has a pug and my brother has a cocker spaniel. They all love each other so much and she is much more comfortable with dogs.

My boyfriend's parents have two cocker spaniels. One is 10 and her mother passed away earlier in the year who they also owned, they then got a puppy a few months later. Since the 10 year olds mother passed away she is very "vulnerable" doesn't like other dogs, very snappy, will growl at dog, we spoke about how maybe she feels the need to protect herself now her mother has gone, puppy is cute and playful.
THE STORY
we live in an apartment which my boyfriends parent's own, they decided to do up the bathroom whilst we were away on a weekend break, they looked after my dog. when we got back they said it would be another week until we could return to the apartment and to stay with them about 45 mins from the city, so we did.

my boyfriends parents don't allow their dogs on sofas and beds like I do, and they are only allowed in the main living area and outside. So my dog was outside a lot more than normal and also I wasn't really seeing her much as they preferred the dogs outside. their house, their rules, fine.

I noticed that my dog wasn't really socialising with the two cocker spaniels, she kept trying to go over to the dog bed but walked away. The older dog wouldn't even look at my dog she was licking her lips and sometimes doing a low growl and my dog would come away. It felt very tense between them, and I was on edge constantly watching them. This was different as she is normally cuddling up sleeping with my parents dogs, playing, she is normally very relaxed.
my dog kept trying to go and see the older dog and I would tell her to leave the dog alone as she clearly doesn't like my dog. so she left the dogs on the dog bed and came to lie at my feet.

one morning they were all sleeping and my boyfriends mum came in, my dog walked past the dog bed and the older snapped and snarled and growled at my dog. my dog fought back and was on top of her trying to pin her down they were fighting and I have never heard a noise like it, I ran over and tried to get my dog off but she had locked on to her ear, I was trying to pull my dogs jaw apart to get the ear loose, I was also picking my dog up and she still wouldn't let go, my boyfriends mum opened the door to outside and the older dog managed to run out, my dog was almost foaming at the mouth, I was very shaken up, heart racing, pale and couldn't stop shaking. My boyfriend's mum laughed it off and said like oh goodness! I said wow I got the fright of my life and she could tell I was really upset by it.

I straight away tried to arrange someone else to look after my dog, I don't drive and we were about to head into the city, my ex boyfriend said he would look after her (I was with him when I got her) so I said to currents boyfriend mum I will take my dog in today so they can get a break from each other as they clearly aren't getting on. she said no its fine! we will just keep them separate, in different rooms. which we did when we left. Everyone kept saying it's fine! older dog is just grumpy blah blah, but I knew their fight could have gotten serious and was super nervous about it, I said to my bf they would have hurt eachother, . Looking back I should have put my foot down but everyone made me feel like I was being dramatic and since I wasn't really in control of the situation having to rely on lifts and not my house I just listened to them.

That night I got home from university and the dogs were all in the garden together, and not separated. I was just super nervous, like I said I have never seen my dog act like that ever, and the tension was very heavy.

Skip to Saturday, my boyfriend and I left for work to the city again, and at lunch time I got call from my boyfriend, pretty much same incident except this time was worse and older dog had to get stitches in her lip as was down to the muscle, the dad said he couldn't even see who was hurt there was so much blood. and same situation again couldn't get my dog off and only did when he gave her a kick up the bum. I feel absolutely awful about it, their poor dog! and my poor dog for being pushed to do that! I am so angry I didn't trust my instincts and get her out of there.
I can't stop crying about it and just feel so guilty, their poor dog!! I am upset that nobody else was agreeing that it was a tense situation and we needed them split up, how couldn't they see their dog was so uncomfortable? but anyway I could go over everything again and again. I just want to know what should I do going forward with my dog, now this has happened I do not want this to be a regular reflex for her, like I said she is normally very submissive. We got her out of there that night as soon as we could and she was immediately more relaxed etc, I don't think the dogs had been even sleeping properly since they were in a small room together probably both on edge.
What steps should I take?
My boyfriend's dad thinks my dog was just trying to be the boss, and was telling me tips on how to be the boss, but I know my dog very well she is so submissive she tries to groom me etc, if I go somewhere she looks to me for permission first, she won't even walk through a door unless I do first, there is no way she was trying to be dominant I don't think and I think it came from them both being backed into a corner.
Any advice and moving forward would be helpful.

Snappymcsnappy Tue 27-Nov-18 13:26:55

My thoughts, is the cocker spaniel was guarding the bed and I would say, spaniels are well known for having guarding issues.
It exhibited that behaviour to the wrong dog and instead of begging forgiveness and fleeing your dog defended itself.

We don’t know what caused the second fight.

I have seen truly ‘dominant’ dogs and they are in no way shape or form submissive.
This is not dominance/trying to be boss.
Dominant dogs are quietly confident, hold themselves tall and proud.

Most aggression is based in fear, not dominance.

I would warn you that once a dog learns aggression works, the next time they get stressed they will immediately go to what works, aggression.
That is why dog aggression is so tricky to fix.
Why should they opt for head turns, yawns, tucked tails, lip curls etc that get ignored when a snap works immediately?

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