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Help please. New puppy and older dog fighting.

(10 Posts)
Timandra Sun 15-Apr-12 10:17:19

We have a Jack Russell which came from the Dogs Trust 15 months ago aged 2-3 years. He has been lovely except clearly being frightened of larger dogs which can make him aggressive towards them. He has been fine with smaller dogs and puppies.

We introduced him to a five month old terrier puppy at the Dogs Trust a few times and then brought her home on Friday. The puppy was quite jealous of him coming near us during the visits and he eventually got fed up once and had a go which resulted in her on her back crying out and, as he didn't back off, we pulled him away. After that they had a few snaps and growls but nothing major.

We had 24 hours of similar snaps and growls intermingled with a lot of quite boisterous play. She then started to snap at him for coming near me again which escalated into what looked like play again and then became quite nasty resulting in him biting the puppy's face and refusing to let go despite her screeching like a wild animal. I pulled him off and he eventually let go. Her mouth was cut and she ended up hiding in the back of her crate for several hours and being very subdued for the rest of the day. They pretty much ignored each other when she did come out and lay on a bed near us.

This morning he went straight for her again and a fight ensued from which she emerged unscathed and much less traumatised. I did pulled him away by his lead again this time but he wasn't really laying into her. I think it was more noise than anything else.

She is very submissive now but isn't hiding in her crate any more. They seem to have reached an uneasy truce.

We are trying not to interfere or tell either one off and if a human is the reason for jealousy we get straight up and walk away. We are offering lots of reassurance, praise, rewards, walks and toys and putting her in the crate to rest now and then.

Is there anything else we can do to help or that we might be doing to make this worse?

Do dogs which start off like this usually sort things out or are we likely to end up sending her back for her own safety?

Timandra Sun 15-Apr-12 18:52:17

Just bumping because they've just had another fight. It was prompted by her going to him when he'd picked up a pull toy. They played with it together on Friday evening and she was clearly wanting to do that again. He dropped the toy and went for her big time. I couldn't leave them to it because she was screaming so loudly and was pinned down. She pooed all over the floor so was clearly terrified.

Not sure what to do next.

RedwingWinter Sun 15-Apr-12 20:23:24

Hi Timandra. First of all thank you for adopting smile. I hope you can make it work out. Secondly, the Dogs Trust will be able to give you behavioural advice and so it's worth talking to them about it. I also think they would rather know and have a chance to help at this stage rather than find out further down the road if it all goes wrong.

I think it is fairly common for some disagreements between dogs when a new one comes into the house, but obviously you want to sort it out as soon as possible. I know someone who had lots of fights (with blood) when they brought a second dog home, but by six months the dogs were best of friends, so it can be done.

I know some people say to just let dogs sort it out between them, but personally I think it's better to intervene sometimes because you can help to shape behaviour before things get serious. Obvoiusly the most important thing is to make sure that the new pup is safe. It's good that she has a crate to go to. If you know things are likely to be a trigger than you might be able to stop some of it from happening, e.g. by keeping food bowls well apart and only allowing toys when directly supervised, and also you will get better at recognizing the signs so that you can say 'no' at the point just before the terrier attacks. It sounds like some of it is coming from play becoming too much, so you might find it useful to call them out of play sessions for a time-out (this is quite useful in itself because it helps them to learn self-control). Obviously also reward any good, calm behaviour.

They both have to learn how to be around each other, the pup is just in a new home and the jrt has to learn to share resources, so a few teething problems are to be expected. Good luck with sorting it out, and I am sure the Dogs Trust will be able to give you some good advice.

Timandra Mon 16-Apr-12 11:57:34

Thank you for the ray of hope!

We're doing everything we can think of like feeding them in their own crates etc. I will try to distract her away from hassling him too much for the time being and remove the toys.

I've walked her legs off this morning and allowed her to play with a friend's guide dog puppy so hopefully she'll be too tired to play for a bit.

I've left a message at the Dogs Trust and discovered that I can get a behaviourist paid for by the insurance company so will be looking into that.

RedwingWinter Mon 16-Apr-12 16:36:24

That's great, I was hoping you'd be able to get a behaviourist if you need it. And I forgot to say that if they are really fighting, be careful in separating them because it's easy to get bitten by accident. Good luck and hopefully they will learn to tolerate each other very soon.

Timandra Fri 18-May-12 21:15:36

Well a few weeks down the line things are beginning to settle down.

JR is very controlling but the fights don't draw blood any more and are usually a few days apart.

They seem to enjoy each other's company in the garden and always on walks where they run round the fields together play-fighting and chasing each other.

At home there is still quite a lot of stress from the JR. He is always on alert for what she is doing and quick to chastise her if she touches a toy or comes to us for a fuss. She slinks into a corner if he enters the room but comes straight out again as soon as he's gone.

They seem to have come to an arrangement in the evenings in that one goes in their crate while the other comes in the living room with us. If we try to encourage them both in the tension is palpable so we don't bother.

We haven't had the behaviourist in because I have been quite ill and both dogs have had a long and nasty dose of kennel cough. Now we're all on the mend we will get her to do a home visit and book the puppy into classes.

I think the puppy is feeling fairly settled now as she's started doing lots of puppy-nuisance type things like pinching food she can get at, chewing shoes and anything else she can get and mouthing at our hands all the time to get us to play with her. She didn't do any of this until a few days ago so I hope it's a good sign, if a bit of a pain.

She has formed a wonderful bond with my 15 year old who has AS and they spend lots of time chatting and playing in her room. It's nice to have a dog who is so affectionate because the JR clearly had a tough time before he came to us so he's far more motivated by food than fuss or praise. It took him a year before he'd come and sit at my feet during the day. looks like it will all work out in the end and she will be ok here. I was dreading it all getting too much for her and having to return her to Dogs Trust.

Thank you for the advice Redwing.

EdlessAllenPoe Fri 18-May-12 21:35:55

i would be careful about mixing them until puppies behaviour matures. older dogs can find puppies really annoying - separating off your house with dog gates may be a hassle but it may spare a bad pattern of behaviour forming.

a little crate time to calm a boisterous puppy is no bad thing - nor is 'grown up dog' time in the evenings - try and keep a balance, and supervise interaction carefully. Particularly before their first walk of the day - usually a flash point...

try socialising your puppy at puppy classes if there are any near you too - nice way to meet new people with dogs that will ignore your puppy or only gently rebuke it in the way a mother dog would.

Timandra Sun 20-May-12 15:13:31

Thanks Edless.

We have gates as I am a childminder and we do use them to stop her hassling him but TBH she hardly does it now because he has her so cowed in the house.

You're so right about walks being a flashpoint! I have to get their harnesses and leads on in separate rooms but once we're out of the door they are like different dogs.

I'll be booking her in for puppy training classes this week and now she's over kennel cough I can book her in to be spayed too. I don't know but am hoping that might help reduce the tension between them as he does try to mount her an awful lot.

RedwingWinter Sun 20-May-12 17:47:40

Yay! Thanks for the update. I am so glad things are looking up. It's lovely that the pup has formed such a great bond with your 15yo with AS. It must have been difficult dealing with the stress with the dogs when you have been ill yourself, but it sounds like you have made great progress. I'm sure the behaviourist and puppy classes will help, and that's good advice from Edless too. Good luck, and I hope things just keep getting better smile

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