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Thread: Help with my dogs...

  1. #1
    Senior Member shelbell's Avatar
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    Help with my dogs...

    I have 3 dogs. Cody is 6 yr old 145lbs Great Pyenees. Lacey is a 8yr old 85lb Chow. Sophie is a 40lb 5 month old Chow/American Eskimo mix. When I first got Sophie at 9 weeks I asked the vet about dominance between the dogs. She told me not to worry since puppies don't usually show dominance until they are around 2yrs old. I thought that would be perfect since Lacey would be almost 10 by that time.

    For the most part they all get along. Lacey has shown her dominance over Sophie since we got her...and we let her so they can learn who's boss. So here's my problem...the past few days, anytime Lacey shows her dominance over Sophie, Sophie doesn't back down. They've gotten in a couple of fights the past few days. Today was terrible, I was the only one home and they really got into it and I had to seperate them by myself. Neither of them got hurt, but they tore my hand apart, scatches down both legs and a cut on my foot. After the fights, Sophie is in my arms gripping onto me cuz she's all of a sudden afraid.

    Has anyone gone thru this that could give me some advice? I don't know if I have the heart to get rid of either of them cuz I love them all so much...please help!!

  2. #2
    Supporting Member Rapunzel's Avatar
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    Re: Help with my dogs...

    I don't know if I can be much help, because I have bunnies not dogs, but when the buns got to sexual maturity they began to fight to be alpha male of the pack and the fights were unbelievably vicious!

    My 2 male buns were about 6 months old when they became sexually mature. The vet said that the fights to show dominance and to be alpha male can be deadly. She knows of rabbits who have had ears and tails ripped off in these fights for dominance. We had to separate ours and have them speyed, then after a few weeks we were able to reintroduce them to each other slowly and they became best buds again.

    Then we got 2 female rabbits! They became sexually mature at about 4 1/2 months old and being bigger buns, their fights were even more deadly. If you've never seen it you could never imagine how vicious 2 buns can be. We also had these 2 speyed (which is healthier for buns anyway as they're prone to cancer in their reproductive organs) but unfortunately they never took to each other again! They say that male buns can rebond but it is very hard to get 2 female buns to bond. We've tried but within minutes they are at each others throats. The first time they managed to rip chunks out of each other and we had to rush them to the vets. Now we separate them with a child gate with a clear perspex sheet tied over the bars. They can see each other and smell each other but if you move the sheet enough for them to sniff each other they'll nip each others noses hard!

    It might be worth chatting to the vet and having them spayed also because, being dogs, it will be harder for you to separate them.

    Maybe Sophie is becoming sexually mature earlier than expected and is trying her hand or paw, at becoming alpha female. She might feel that Lacey is an old dog and wants to make an early push for dominance and to be pack leader.

    My advice would be to chat with your vet and also google some online dog forums, you are bound to have other dog owners who have gone through this problem.
    Best of luck Shell.

  3. #3
    Senior Member buttercup's Avatar
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    Re: Help with my dogs...

    Hi Shelbell.
    First of all i'm sorry to hear about the trouble you are having, i am by no means an expert but i do live with a pack of dogs so have experience.
    The first thing i need to know is are all the dogs female, are any of them spayed, do you feed them all at the same time and if so in what order.
    Is there any possibility that you or your husband favour one dog over the others (please be honest here) as its the best way to give you advice

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    Senior Member buttercup's Avatar
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    Re: Help with my dogs...

    Quote Originally Posted by shelbell View Post
    Lacey has shown her dominance over Sophie since we got her...and we let her so they can learn who's boss. So here's my problem...the past few days, anytime Lacey shows her dominance over Sophie, Sophie doesn't back down.

    May i ask why you think Lacey should be boss? Is it because she was in your home before Sophie?
    If so this is a typical human reaction, we try to humanise the dogs but dogs have their own way of working out who's boss. Perhaps Sophie should be boss and Lacey does not want to give up the position but may be a happier dog if she does.
    Please give me as much info as you can on your reaction when the dogs fought.

  5. #5
    Senior Member shelbell's Avatar
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    Re: Help with my dogs...

    Quote Originally Posted by buttercup View Post
    Hi Shelbell.
    First of all i'm sorry to hear about the trouble you are having, i am by no means an expert but i do live with a pack of dogs so have experience.
    The first thing i need to know is are all the dogs female, are any of them spayed, do you feed them all at the same time and if so in what order.
    Is there any possibility that you or your husband favour one dog over the others (please be honest here) as its the best way to give you advice
    Quote Originally Posted by buttercup View Post
    May i ask why you think Lacey should be boss? Is it because she was in your home before Sophie?
    If so this is a typical human reaction, we try to humanise the dogs but dogs have their own way of working out who's boss. Perhaps Sophie should be boss and Lacey does not want to give up the position but may be a happier dog if she does.
    Please give me as much info as you can on your reaction when the dogs fought.
    Cody, my big boy is a male and is dominate over the girls. He and Lacey have been together most of their lives and I have never had a problem with them. Cody has not been fixed, but Lacey has been spayed, and after talking extensively with the vets office today, I have an appointment to have Sophie done next Wednesday, even tho she's not quite 6 months yet but they told me that would be fine and maybe the hormonal changes could be triggering the problems.

    None of them have food issues, as I've always left their bowls down and they eat when they want(I've done this with every dog I've ever had).

    As far as favorites go, Cody is my baby and has been since day one. Lacey was always a daddy's girl until he passed away 6 months ago(before we got Sophie) and she's been going thru seperation anxiety since, but is getting better slowly. Sophie does not show any dominance or aggression towards Lacey until Lacey starts to first, then Sophie does not back down. What scares me the most is Lacey is twice the size and weight of Sophie, and I'm sure you know how strong a jaw the Chows have. I do my best to give them all equal attention, yet Lacey has always been the typical chow...she likes to get loved on when she wants it.

    When they started fighting today it was in a small space behind my office chair where I was sitting. I did freak out since I was the only one home, but grabbed both of them by the scruff of their necks and was finally able to seperate them. I told Lacey to go and she went and laid down, Sophie was afraid and grabbed onto my neck with her front paws and layed her head on my shoulder(I had picked her up since she's the lightest until they both calmed down) and when I put her back down they were both fine again. Thankfully neither of them were hurt, but they both have thick coats with an undercoat. At some point I'm sure Sophie will be bigger than Lacey, so I need to stop this now. I know they need to determine who's the boss between themselves, but as I said, Sophie is still much smaller than Lacey so I'm afraid she'll get really hurt. I am the pack leader and they all know this, and the vets office gave me some good advice to try BEFORE they start...but I'm up for as many ideas and advice I can get...It would break my heart to have to get rid of one of them. Thanks so much buttercup for anything you can offer!!!

  6. #6
    Senior Member shelbell's Avatar
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    Re: Help with my dogs...

    Quote Originally Posted by Rapunzel View Post
    I don't know if I can be much help, because I have bunnies not dogs, but when the buns got to sexual maturity they began to fight to be alpha male of the pack and the fights were unbelievably vicious!

    My 2 male buns were about 6 months old when they became sexually mature. The vet said that the fights to show dominance and to be alpha male can be deadly. She knows of rabbits who have had ears and tails ripped off in these fights for dominance. We had to separate ours and have them speyed, then after a few weeks we were able to reintroduce them to each other slowly and they became best buds again.

    Then we got 2 female rabbits! They became sexually mature at about 4 1/2 months old and being bigger buns, their fights were even more deadly. If you've never seen it you could never imagine how vicious 2 buns can be. We also had these 2 speyed (which is healthier for buns anyway as they're prone to cancer in their reproductive organs) but unfortunately they never took to each other again! They say that male buns can rebond but it is very hard to get 2 female buns to bond. We've tried but within minutes they are at each others throats. The first time they managed to rip chunks out of each other and we had to rush them to the vets. Now we separate them with a child gate with a clear perspex sheet tied over the bars. They can see each other and smell each other but if you move the sheet enough for them to sniff each other they'll nip each others noses hard!

    It might be worth chatting to the vet and having them spayed also because, being dogs, it will be harder for you to separate them.

    Maybe Sophie is becoming sexually mature earlier than expected and is trying her hand or paw, at becoming alpha female. She might feel that Lacey is an old dog and wants to make an early push for dominance and to be pack leader.

    My advice would be to chat with your vet and also google some online dog forums, you are bound to have other dog owners who have gone through this problem.
    Best of luck Shell.

    Thanks Rapunzel, getting Sophie fixed is something the vet also recommended. Sophie isn't trying to show dominance, Lacey is the one that starts it, but Sophie is at a stage where she won't back down. Sophie is going in next Wednesday to get fixed. The vets office gave me some great advice to try when Lacey is trying to show dominance so she knows I'm the dominant one.

    I'm so glad you shared the info on your bunnies...I had no idea they did that!!! They seem like such docile little creatures that it's hard to imagine them being so violent with each other. I guess it's true...we all can learn something new everyday.

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    BORN TO BE A RED! abbey's Avatar
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    Re: Help with my dogs...

    I hope they settle their differences and it does'nt come to you having to give one up Shell.

  8. #8
    Senior Member shelbell's Avatar
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    Re: Help with my dogs...

    Quote Originally Posted by abbey View Post
    I hope they settle their differences and it does'nt come to you having to give one up Shell.
    Thanks abbey...I don't need anymore heartbreak this year. Just the thought alone makes me cry.

  9. #9
    Senior Member buttercup's Avatar
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    Re: Help with my dogs...

    Hi again Shell
    As i said before i'm no expert but live with a pack, have studied the pack dynamics and can give an opinion based on what you have told me, i hope it helps.
    Here is what i think - Cody is dominant because you allow it and encourage it (him being your baby) I agree with your vet that hormonal changes play a part in this but would also add that due to your recent loss emotional changes will also be having an effect on your energy and the dogs are aware of this . I do not think Lacey is going through seperation anxiety and you must be careful to remember she's a dog and not humanize her, she is picking up on your feelings and exploiting them by looking for additional love which understandably you are giving as she was your husbands favourite, does she butt you with her nose, lift your hand with her nose for attention? If so hard as it is you must stop allowing her to do this, she's taking advantage of you.
    Now the fight - Lacey wants to be top female dog and thats why she starts the fight, she understands Sophie is growing up and her position is under threat. Lacey can never be the top female dog while there is a bitch in the house who is fertile, Sophie will not back down as she realises she is the fertile bitch and therefore knows she should be top female dog. As a matter of interest is Sophie humping Cody, if so this is her way of letting Cody know she has the right to breed and Lacey will notice this and be jealous.
    The fight - Picking Sophie up (although i understand why) will only re-inforce to Lacey that you favour Sophie and i'm sorry to say there will be another fight. Lacey will not give up her position lightly.
    I do think having Sophie spayed should settle things down but am quite concerned that your vet wants you to have this done while she is a baby. You vet is wrong about pups not showing dominance until they are two years old. This is often the case for single dog households but as you have found out yourself is not the case at all when dealing with pack dynamics, is there another vet at the practice who has experience in pack situations?
    Let me know what you think and feel about what i have said and we can talk some more in depth about this, if you like.

  10. #10
    Senior Member shelbell's Avatar
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    Re: Help with my dogs...

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    You do know your stuff buttercup! Cody is the dominant over the girls, but he knows I'm the leader and he listens to me. He is the one that will occasionally come into my office and flip my arm up because he wants attention...I will stop this. The most that Lacey does when she is in a good mood is she will come up and rub her face downward on the chair where I'm sitting, but she never nudges me or try to flip my hand or arm. She usually will lay down in whatever room I'm in and go to sleep. I am normally the one that will approach any of them first to love on them, or I'll call them to me. The only time Lacey ever nudges me is when I'm sleeping and she really really needs to go outside to do her business.

    Now with Sophie I think you are dead on. When Cody is lying down, sometimes she will go over to him and start humping his head.

    Sophie will generally cower if Lacey starts growling at her until Lacey somehow traps her against something, then she'll get rigid and start growling back. When they fight, if someone is here, we just seperate them without picking them up...I just didn't have a choice yesterday since I was home alone and had to make sure they calmed down before I put Sophie down....plus, she is the only one I can still pick up if necesary.

    I've always had my females fixed at around 6 months. I went thru everything with the vets office and since she is getting her adult canines in, they feel it's ok to go ahead with having her fixed.

    Yes, I have learned the hard way that pups will try to dominate. I'm not even positive if was the vet or a tech that told me the 2 year thing.

    I did speak extensively with a behaviorist tech yesterday and she told me that whenever Lacey starts getting that focused look and she starts going rigid I should do a "fishhook" on her. Stick my finger inside her cheek and pull her face away to stop that focus she has and tell her no, and if that didn't help, then give her cheek a pinch. I heard Lacey and knew the growl yesterday and went out and poor Sophie was up against the couch looking scared to death. I tried it on Lacey and she didn't get the message, so I did it again giving her a little pinch and she stopped and relaxed. Lacey must have decided she didn't like it as when I'd hear the growl, I'd go where she could see me and she'd instantly stop. When she would go into a complete calm state, then I'd give her lots of praise without even acknowledging Sophie.

    After all of that yesterday, by last night they were fine and kept giving each other the "sniff" test. It was like they were reintroducing each other. I have to keep reminding myself to stay calm when they are doing this because if I get tense everytime they are near each other they will pickup on this and will only make matters worse.

    Unfortunately I know there will probably be more fights, but I also know I'm supposed to approach them calmly and with authority.

    You really have watched packs and taken a lot in about them and I really appreciate all your input!!!

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