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two dogs who just don't get on

(26 Posts)
bottleofbeer Tue 16-Jun-15 21:57:43

I'm out of ideas, we got a second dog about a year ago but she constantly, constantly harrasses my other dog. He's been very patient, his jowls are sore because she chews at them, she steals food and he accepts it but his patience has worn thin and twice in the last week there has been a nasty scuffle bordering on full on fight. Today he bit her and drew blood.

I've done all the usual, kept them separate unless supervised but with the best will in the world it's not possible to do that 100% of the time. My lovely, chilled, laid back gentle boy looks thoroughly miserable and isn't himself.

Am I a terrible person if I rehome her? It's just not fair on the dog we already had, and it's a ticking timebomb now, I'm sure sad

DoristheNovice Wed 17-Jun-15 10:09:14

A family friend had this problem too last year. She did eventually rehome the newer pup who was 14 months old at the time. It broke her heart but she really couldn't of kept them together as the older dog (4 years old at the time) was really suffering. I don't think you're a terrible person at all. Just make sure you use a reputable place if you do decide to rehome her.

bottleofbeer Wed 17-Jun-15 10:35:37

Thanks. I have really tried to wait it out until she matures but things really have come to a head the last few days and I don't think it's safe any longer. She is actually a lovely, affectionate little dog and individually they're great. Well trained nice dogs. Yesterday's episode happened in the park, my grown up son couldn't separate them for a good 20-30 seconds. Last Saturday when it happened and I was there I had to resort to shoving the yard brush between them. They fell back into me and knocked me flying. Total tunnel vision, until they were forcefully separated.

This is the last thing I ever wanted to do, my kids are heartbroken sad but the risk has become too big. I feel like an utter failure.

ThroughThickAndThin01 Wed 17-Jun-15 10:38:13

How awful for you. I have two dogs, who fortunately get on ok, but if they didn't, after the length you have had them, I would rehome one. It's not fair on your family, or the dogs.

Sorry op, but I would rehome.

bottleofbeer Wed 17-Jun-15 10:56:54

It will have to be the younger one. I can't rehome our older boy. It'd be like replacing him and it's really not his fault. He was here first, he has to he the priority. I spoke to a local rescue and tbh she spoke to me like I was stupid. I can't buy treats or toys and she said they'll just have to have them separately. Sounds good in theory, not so much in practice. I'm living on my nerves sad

ThroughThickAndThin01 Wed 17-Jun-15 11:07:27

Rescue lady just short with you because rescues are under so much pressure. Maybe she thinks you haven't tried hard enough but at the end of the day you're not rehoming her on a whim; you've tried hard but its not working, some dogs just don't get on and as a result the situation is taking its toll on your family and ddog1.

bottleofbeer Wed 17-Jun-15 11:13:34

It feels like the only responsible course of action. For her safety and for my other dog's mental health. I put Saturday down to a one off, yesterday showed it wasn't and was even worse. I don't want her to go I just can't see any solution other than to never leave them alone together. Not that it helps because they weren't alone on either occasion.

daisydotandgertie Wed 17-Jun-15 11:55:32

What breed are they and are they both neutered?

And how often are they walked separately?

bottleofbeer Wed 17-Jun-15 12:03:33

He's a standard American bulldog, yes neutered. She's a staff cross and yes she's spayed. Walked every day. Mostly together, they're fine on the lead. This kicked off over a ball.

tabulahrasa Wed 17-Jun-15 12:14:07

The thing is, supervision only works if you actually intervene before something happens...the human with them should be stopping her from chewing on him and stealing his food.

If it's over resources like toys and chews, actually it's pretty easy to keep them out of the way and only give them to the dogs in separate rooms, you play with one dog at a time then put all toys away.

pigsDOfly Wed 17-Jun-15 12:24:38

What a horrible decision to have to make.

Understandably you sound pretty desperate and worried over the whole thing and in your shoes I'd feel exactly the same. A full on dog fight would be awful and of course you don't want it to come to that.

You've tried for a year. I would have thought that if they were ever going to settle together they would have done so by now.

I imagine the rescue lady was a bit impatient because the rescues are bursting with staffs.

Be very careful where you place her for rescue, but no you're not a terrible person. Can't see you have any other option tbh.

Costacoffeeplease Wed 17-Jun-15 12:32:41

We have a 4 year old very nervous, very reactive dog (a rescue, picked up from the streets and handed in to our vet). Just over a year ago, we heard about a litter of pups, born in a field nearby, who were in danger (we don't live in the UK) so we picked them up, kept one, and re-homed the others once they were old enough

We have spent the last year or so gradually introducing them to each other, they are still never alone together, but we have gone from them seeing each other across a stair gate, to the pup being on a long lead in the garden while the older one was off lead, to just recently allowing them both off lead in the garden, but only when we are with them. We watch them, intervene if things look like turning nasty, and constantly praise them for good behaviour/give treats when they interact well together/use trigger words 'nice kisses' when they lick each other and play gently, the rest of the time they are separated.

We have built up to this point very gradually - maybe if you take a few steps backwards and go back to the positive reinforcement with treats and praise it can improve the situation?

I know it's stressful, we aren't there yet and there were times I thought we'd have to re-home the pup, but patience and perseverance is paying off - I knew they would have fun if we could get them together, and they do, and I couldn't imagine never getting another pup while we have the older one, assuming he lives another 8 years or so (until last year we had 4 dogs so with just one the house seemed very empty)

If you can try a few weeks of really intensive training, it may just pay off

SunshineAndShadows Wed 17-Jun-15 12:40:53

It sounds as if there's been continuous competition for resources and irritation from the new pup and your old dogs patience has finally worn thin. Unfortunately dogs are resource-driven and so don't 'share' important resources but compete for them (what is important will vary depending on personal preference). If there has not been an abundance of resources e.g at least 1 ball per dog, this can lead to conflict and teaches your resident dog that the new dog is a threat to 'his' stuff (including your time and attention.)

I'd agree with reducing contact and ensuring each dog has a plentiful supply of food/toys/sleeping places to reassure them that they have enough stuff and don't need to guard it. Then bring them together for short periods in a controlled way where they both get rewarded (via praise or treats) for spending calm time together. They'll soon realise that they don't need to guard their 'stuff', they get even more good stuff when they're together so being calm together brings benefits. This process is likely to take several weeks as they need to re-learn how they view each other.

If you do decide to rehome, try and do it directly rather than via a rescue

bottleofbeer Wed 17-Jun-15 13:01:02

Hiya, the rescue I spoke to briefly never asked her breed, just told me they need to be given toys separately. On Saturday it was over coconuts. They had one each. Small dog tired of hers and helped herself to his. I'm very aware of body language but this happened in the blink of an eye. From chewing happily on their own coconut to grappling and teeth baring. They've been fed separately for months. She sleeps in a crate and he's got a dog bed so they're separate at night. I often spend time just observing them. The second they're together she's at his jowls.

Ironically he plays really well with other dogs, this is the first actual aggression I've ever seen in him. He's generally so laid back he's horizontal.

In fact, just now I've had to stand in the middle of them.

SunshineAndShadows Wed 17-Jun-15 13:05:33

I'd remove high reward items like the coconuts and make sure that there's no opportunity for her to steal his as this just reinforces the aggression. Can you use a baby gate or similar?

Also start rewarding them for calm behaviour together - call them both to you and stroke if calm, then give each a treat if they remain calm and keep on doing so. If she tries to take his treat then verbally chastise her - you can use your relationship with your older dog to demonstrate to her that you won't tolerate her stealing. If there's grumbling aggression etc then stop immediately and remove all treats, you could also give her a time-out - you need to teach them that they're rewarded for calm behaviour together and that aggression leads to the removal of attention/toys/treats.

SunshineAndShadows Wed 17-Jun-15 13:14:19

A useful link

And a good video demonstrating ow to reduce this kind of conflict

Sophia Yin video

dancewiththetreedoug Wed 17-Jun-15 21:22:03

I have to say, our dogs are the best of friends - until we introduce toys or treats when they are together.
In 5 years they've had 2 big fights, once over a toy (younger pup got bored of hers and wanted the older one's) and once over a treat (again, greedy young one finished hers first and wanted his!)
Since the last occasion all treats/playtime & feeding are done separately, although on lead walks are still absolutely fine smile

0x530x610x750x630x79 Wed 17-Jun-15 21:37:08

All of these things are great until one dog just finds something good that somebody dropped and didn't even notice or couldn't find and you have a fight on your hands.

i tried for 8 years but they still didn't get on, i just had to rehome one of them as they were not safe around the children.

SunshineAndShadows Wed 17-Jun-15 23:48:05

The thing is 0x530 if they've gone through an effective counter conditioning programme that shouldn't happen because the motivation for the aggression has been dealt with.

It's worth seeking proper behavioural advice if I means that your dogs don't end up in a shelter

bottleofbeer Thu 18-Jun-15 06:19:42

I'm really grateful for all the advice and will be taking it all on board. I got as far as finding a shelter that would take her. But I can't do it. We've had a family meeting grin and worked out some strategies too. She's going to get a separate, long walk every day (he doesn't need anything like as much as she does, nor should he have as his breed is prone to hip dysplasia) to try and tire her out more and hopefully make her less bouncy around him.

We'll separate them more too so he's getting a break and lots of fuss (it's difficult to do that as the second he's getting attention she's right there taking it, or trying to) this is all stuff we generally intended to do anyway but life gets in the way sometimes and you don't always end up doing it as much as you should. He's a massive cuddly boy and needs love. He'd take cuddles over dog treats any day. He's bloody lovely smile

We've got a pet sitter booked for when we go away and I think I need to board her in kennels rather than let someone who doesn't know them like I do get stuck with both in case there's an incident.

And as an aside, I often said it might just take him to really lose his rag and put her in her place to bring it to a head. She's certainly more subdued near him atm.

bottleofbeer Thu 18-Jun-15 06:37:02

A couple of weeks ago my son had taken them both out for a walk. It was late, about half ten and dark. Out of nowhere a dog rushed at the pup (mine were still on lead at this point) and big dog got in the way to defend her. The other dog really hurt him. He's a lover, not a fighter! Tore a huge chunk out of his ear before my son and this 'owner' got them apart. Midnight emergency vet dash and he's ok, although minus some ear (he looks oddly like he's had a haircut). Owners legged it and police couldn't find him in cctv...but anyway, the fact he protected her must be a good sign for them both? Any opinions?

bottleofbeer Thu 18-Jun-15 06:47:29

Eh, then they do this confused

SunshineAndShadows Thu 18-Jun-15 08:32:51

Oh how lovely OP. Remember they don't dislike each other - dogs are sociable - they're just squabbling over precious things. It might be that she's starting to learn that she can't just take what she wants and that's good but be very careful with toy/treats etc particularly when they're excited.

pigsDOfly Thu 18-Jun-15 09:00:00

Ah, can understand now why you're so reluctant to re-home Dpup, in light of your updates OP.

They clearly don't hate each other. Dpup just needs to learn some manners. Maybe now Ddog has had a bit of a go at her she'll start to understand.

Ddog sounds as if he's just too sweet natured and easy going for his own good and he's let her get away with things that a less easy going dog would have nipped in the bud long ago.

Hope it all works out for you.

bottleofbeer Thu 18-Jun-15 10:22:39

Yes, that's exactly it. If she finishes her food first she just shoves him out of the way and eats his (obviously I stop this when I see it) he's not food aggressive at all. You can take it out of his mouth so he steps aside and lets her have it. She's only a diddy thing and he's about seven stone so why he allows it I don't know.

I think what had happened is he got the coconut open first and was really enjoying eating it. Hers was now boring so she thought she'd have it and blam! This wasn't just any old dog food he was prepared to share. Treats will now be separate.

This morning he went for cuddles with his dad (yes, we are his parents grin) and she automatically went to jump in so I stopped her and gave her biscuits as a reward for staying with me and leaving him to get some cuddles and attention. Seemed to work because she did lie down and just watch. Based on the linked vid, I tried that. Dogs aren't new to me, if I say so myself I bring them up to be nice, well behaved, social dogs and individually they're fine. Two dogs together really is new so I'm having to learn a whole new set of doggy skills.

I had a major wobble but you've sorted me out. Thank you all smile

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