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Dogs suddenly disagreeing

(16 Posts)
Miriama Fri 31-Oct-14 20:57:03

Please help! I have two dogs, one 6 year old pointer cross, male, very submissive and calm, and one two year old english setter cross, female, quite feisty. They have always had a wrestle and play quite rough with each other, but tonight the pointer was snapped at by the setter quite aggressively, and now won't be in the same room as her. He quite frankly looks terrified. The setter has guard dog tendencies, will bark at the door knocking or any loud noises from outside, and I recently had a baby (six weeks ago) so she has been getting more protective., barking and growling at the door. So there has been a few changes recently but they are still getting plenty of regular walks. Does anyone have any advice? I've seperated them for the moment...

Floundering Fri 31-Oct-14 21:00:13

bumping for more experienced folks.

rachmultiplemum Fri 31-Oct-14 21:07:44

Hi Miriama

Is your setter spayed? Does she have any health problems? How does she behave around you and the baby and how do you react towards her?

What happened just before your setter snapped at your pointer this evening? What was the dogs doing?

WeeWhile Fri 31-Oct-14 21:55:39

I know a wee bit about dogs and It could be one of a few things IMO

Your new baby probably has a lot to do with it. Dogs have a pecking order in their pack and you (should be) are top of it - now, so is your baby because the dogs see you spending lots of time with your DC . It could also be to do with the age of your dogs. It may just be that your setter is trying to dominate your pointer by putting herself above him in the pecking order.
You could try making her so by feeding/petting and giving attention and generally putting her first before the older dog? This may sound unfair if your pointer was there first, but dogs honestly don't see it that way. They jostle for position and rank and are more content knowing where they stand. Dogs of similar size can often fight for a place up in the pack order.

I would also make sure your dogs know you are the boss too. Your dog may feel like it needs to protect you cause this is what top dogs do - take that away from her and make sure she knows she doesn't have to protect her pack because that's your job. You do this by re affirming their training. Things like; Making sure they sit and wait for food/walks and take food away when you want to, sit on or take away their bed/toys for a bit, make sure you eat before your dogs and go through doorways first, move them off the sofa when you want and make them move if they are in your way. Do this gently but with authority - cause as top dog, it's not their house - it's yours. Do this every day consistently.

Then try working out what triggers your dog attacks - Is it because there is competition over food/toys/beds/sofas/you? Take anything away that could be a trigger. Or change the way you do things. For instance, if the dogs fight over food titbits in the kitchen, then don't have them near you when you cook or eat.
When I see my dogs do something they know they shouldn't I say ' Ah, ah.' It's a sharp short noise that works at interrupting my dogs unwanted behaviour. Then I tell my dog, or show it, what I want it to do. When he does it I praise him. It might take 100 or more times before he gets it though.

The regular walks and attention is a huge thing, but you said that was all fine.
I would keep them separated when you cant watch them but bring them together for training. Please keep them well away from your baby for now.
Lastly, you must be tired with a new baby and maybe the dogs are picking up on the change of vibes? They can read us like a book!

Floralnomad Fri 31-Oct-14 23:52:27

Ignore any rubbish being spouted about pack theory . My mum has sibling JRTx border terriers and they have the occasional spat - they're 12 now , we have never worked out what sets them off ,it just seems to be one looks at the other the wrong way ! Twice it has resulted in a full blown fight ,on the first occasion my dsis got quite badly bitten separating them ,in the other occasion they both ended up at the vets with bite injuries ( other sis wouldn't get herself in the middle ) . We have never tried to keep them apart afterwards as TBH they are inseparable and they seem to get over a tiff as quickly as it starts . So after that long spiel my advice would be to just keep an eye on them but not to make a big issue about it .( could well be rubbish advice but it's worked for us )

PiggyBankTheft Sat 01-Nov-14 00:36:54

Floralnomad - I don't think anyone should take you advice tbh.

I'd be really worried if my dogs had fights. You really think it's no big issue that your dogs had injuries after fighting and your sis got badly bitten?
Also, I don't think WeeWhile was talking about pack theory. I think they meant that a dog lives with it's pack, or family or however you want to put it. Dogs def have a pecking order and will fight for it if they are both the same size. At least they gave advice about trying to do the right thing.
Im sick of meetin people in the park with dogs who lunge,snarl and bark at my dog and then say their dog is fine!
Put it on a lead and if it has ever actually bitten anyone then put a muzzle on it!!!

Floralnomad Sat 01-Nov-14 01:08:04

I don't think either myself or the OP have said that our dogs snarl and bite at other people's dogs actually ,and as my mums dogs are now fairly elderly I don't think we are going that far wrong - it works for them ,the alternative would be to rehome one of them and as they ,for 99% of the time are inseparable that seems a bit extreme.

KatharineClifton Sat 01-Nov-14 01:26:12

All siblings fight, which is why it's best not to take on siblings.

Anyway, back to the op, good advice from WeeWhile. If you have the energy, back to basics training.

Miriama Sat 01-Nov-14 07:34:35

Thanks for advice. The setter is the alpha of the two for sure. It happened when we were in the Kitchen, baby upstairs. I was making tea, the dogs were eating their dinner. Pointer will bolt his food, setter will eat slowly. Their bowls are far away from each other. Setter wil dominate pointer by mounting him and chewed up his bed this week. Back to basic training I think. They are in seperate rooms, and we have taken food away. In think it must be connected to new baby. Dogs are not left alone with baby, but are allowed to sniff her when Im there. Thanks for replies!

Miriama Sat 01-Nov-14 07:37:40

Both dogs are neutered and rescues, pointer quite nervous, feel sure he has been abused, setter is pretty fearless.

crapcrapcrapcrap Sat 01-Nov-14 08:00:45

I don't think any of the advice you've had is sufficient in these circumstances OP. We need to know much more about the situation and the relationship before anything can be advised, and realistically that might require a behaviour assessment so their body language towards one another and the humans in the house can be interpreted.

Flare ups like this can be something or nothing, but given the changes in the home recently I'd want to be sure it isn't frustration or stress from another area of life bubbling over.

Lilcamper Sat 01-Nov-14 09:38:18

Ignore any advice that says you need to be boss, pecking order, alpha etc as that is outdated and dangerous advice.

Feed them in different rooms. Let them both relax when eating.

If this is something that has just happened out of the blue, a health check is in order for both of them. Providing they get the all clear you can ask the vet for a referral to an APBC behaviourist.

rachmultiplemum Sat 01-Nov-14 09:41:11

I can only echo what Lilcamper says.

dotdotdotmustdash Sat 01-Nov-14 11:08:02

I'm with Lilcamper too on this.

Pack theory nonsense is invalid and dangerous, and anyone who think they know anything about dogs should be up to date on current thinking and research. Domestic dogs are not like wolf packs, they don't think or behave in the same way and should be treated as individuals, not a one-size-fits-all approach. Your bitch presumably feels threatened by something or isn't feeling well and it would be a good idea to find out what it is. A vet check is in order, and some help from a good behaviourist, and APDT registered one, not one who spouts crap from 'pack theory'.

muttynutty Sat 01-Nov-14 11:58:29

Please please please do not follow any advice on pack theory and top dogs or your need to show them who is boss. It is WRONG and dangerous advice to follow.

I would call in a qualified behaviourist - only because with a new baby you have other things to be worrying about. They will clearly be able to give you a plan of action to follow that should prevent any other flare ups. I would also consider a vet check pain etc could cause dogs to react differently.

You could start with APDT although not behaviourists they will be qualified to say if this is something they can deal with if not APBC - if you want to Pm me I can recommend someone in your area

Congratulations on your new baby smile

moosemama Sat 01-Nov-14 15:18:29

Lilcamper's advice is spot on.

Pack/dominance theory (anything to do with Alpha position) etc has been scientifically discredited. Dogs are not wolves and do not live as packs any attempt to achieve or maintain dominance over dogs is downright dangerous. For what it's worth, even wolves don't live in the strict hierarchical pack structures that people used to believe they did. Even the guy that came up with that theory has admitted he was mistaken and done his best to try and dispel the myth.

Please call in a suitably qualified behaviourist, have a look here to find an APBC member in your area. You'll need a vet referral to see any of their members and this will include your vet giving both dogs a health-check for any underlying illness or pain issues that might be at the root of the behaviour.

I'm quite experienced with dogs, but my younger dog is just being referred to an APBC behaviourist because I feel out of my depth dealing with a particular situation. Sometimes you just need someone who's not directly involved and can view the situation from a fresh angle to unpick what's going on and offer a plan of action to sort it out.

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