Posted by: Sharon Cloete | 2009/10/02

Dogs fighting

two spayed bitches, rotty and alsatian, rotty 8yrs alsatian 4 yrs, recently started fighting viciously and constantly attacking each other . The rotty actually brought up the alsatian which was dumped in our yard as a puppy. All the animals get equal attention and lots of love. What is causing this strange behaviour? thanks

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Our expert says:
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Dear Sharon

Always support the more dominant one and I also think you need somebody to come to your house and give you advice.

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Our users say:
Posted by: Chill | 2009/10/03

Yep, I agree with Carol here - unfortunately. This is a dominance issue... individual incidents can be sparked off by a variety of things, and if you walk on eggshells around the dogs you MAY be able to avert fights for a while - but I doubt there' s a long-term solution other than to separate the dogs.

I' ve been down this exact road myself, tried everything, and kept things going for some years, until one fight which simply wouldn' t blow over - by that time my old dog couldn' t defend herself any more, so I had to keep the two apart 100% of the time, which I did for nearly two years, until the older one died. It was a totally stressful situation, because one single mistake could have ended in disaster - luckily I managed it, but I wouldn' t like to have to do it again.

This has absolutely nothing to do with aggression towards people, by the way, and the dogs are no more ' dangerous'  now than before - so there' s no need to hang such a label round their necks. It also doesn' t mean they' ve turned into generalised dog-killers - it' s just the inter-relationship between the two that has changed. You will probably also find that one of your two is the aggressor and the other merely responds by defending herself. Ironically, one of the things you can try is to play along with the system they have worked out, by also treating the aggressor as the dominant, or ' more important'  dog - human concepts of fairness doesn' t come into this. By this, I mean that when the dogs are together, you should fuss over the dominant one, and ignore the other - wait till the dominant one isn' t around before making a fuss of the other one. Also remove any items likely to inspire competitive behaviour - favourite toys, bones, balls - whatever they play with. NEVER EVER ' discipline'  one of the dogs in the presence of the other because that will motivate the other one to help you by attacking again.

Also, if things are really tense, give the aggressor a few days'  worth of valerian - you can get this in the form of tablets (Calmettes, or Be Calms) or more cheaply, get a bottle of Tincture of Valerian, and administer about 15 or 20 drops a couple of times a day to whichever dog is causing the problem. It' s a herbal thing, not a tranquilliser, but it will take the edge off the tension, and it' s not at all addictive. In fact, take some yourself too!

Again, I feel for you, this is not a pleasant situation to be in.

Reply to Chill
Posted by: carol | 2009/10/03

This can be quite common , and once two bitches start fighting its almost impossible to stop , in fact I dont think it will stop .... Chill correct me if im wrong here.

You will have seperate these two . Try a behaviourist and see what they suggest , but personally I think the outlook is bleak.

Reply to carol

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