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laura
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PostSubject: Non Alpha Dogs fighting.   Mon Nov 29, 2010 3:43 pm

Hi,

I have an old GSD (Bear) who we adopted about 5 years ago, we have never really been able to work out his age, but we think he's probably about 10/11 years old. He is an incredibly gentle dog, who seems to have an old soul. He has never shown any aggression, except once when he did go for a man (who I later found out was the not-very-nice ex-boyfriend of his previous owner).

A year or so later we adopted a Collie (Blue). A very nervous dog, who instantly got on very well with Bear - although he would always beat Bear to the ball and beat him out the door first, which I took to be just a game - they both seemed to enjoy the race!

A couple of years later we adopted another GSD (Bailey) - who's the youngest of the three. All of them got on.

Recently we've just got a Cocker Spaniel (Lady) - but she's not the issue here, so I'll leave it at that.

All the dogs recognise Bear as the Alpha male dog - although I've never seen him do anything dominating to take on this role. However, Bailey and Blue seem to be fighting for the number 2 role. We quickly realised that Bailey seemed to have taken the number 2 role, and we started to feed him before Blue etc. However, signs of dominance seemed to appear. Blue would want to run out of the door first (still looked like a game!), but then Bailey would let him go out in order to get a nip at his tail/back. Blue loves playing with balls, and Bailey doesn't really have an interest in "fetch" but would bark at Blue for playing it, and then let Blue get the ball so that Bailey had an excuse to go for Blue. (Is this making sense so far?).

Blue is constantly chewing at Bailey's scruff - again, it's looking like he wants to play with him. Sometimes Bailey plays, other times he just stands there and let's Blue continue. I have started to put a stop to this behaviour anyway.

We have another dog who comes to play a couple of times a week - a lovable Goldendoodle who wouldn't hurt a fly. Blue gets jealous of Buster (the Goldendoodle) and Bailey playing - at least I think so.

Twice, when Buster has been here and playing with Bailey, Blue and Bailey have got into a fight. Another time I left the dogs in the Boot room to dry off after a walk, and 2 minutes later Bailey and Blue were fighting again - and Bailey was still sitting in the dog bed that I'd left him in. They've got into 2 or 3 fights when just being out in the garden, playing, I assume.

Unfortunately I have never seen the beginning of the fights (I promise I do watch them and look after them, but they seem to only do this when I'm not around).

My opinion is that they're both as bad as each other. Bailey let's Blue do naughty things (ie. go out the door first) solely so he can be justified in having a go at Blue. Blue is like an annoying little goading child. Wanting to push things too far.

The problem is that there has been a lot of blood and puncture wounds and ripped necks. I'm worried Bailey will kill Blue shortly.

I don't know if I'm meant to embrace this 2nd in line hierarchy or treat them as equals (but under me, obviously).

I have 4 cats, all are left alone by the dogs. The puppy (Lady) annoys Blue and Bear, and Bailey is completely in love with her.

Can anyone offer me some help? I am at a loss - and my husband now thinks it would be kinder to find Blue a new home with no other dogs as he believes that Blue is the issue.

Just so you know - we all (husband, myself and my daughter) love the dogs and cats to distraction.

Many thanks
Laura


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Steven_L
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PostSubject: Re: Non Alpha Dogs fighting.   Wed Dec 01, 2010 9:04 pm

Hi Laura,

Hope I'm not too late in replying to your post.

Right off the bat I'll tell you that in situations like these almost always the best advice people have gotten is that rehoming might be the best option.

I'm not a big fan of the dominance theory because a lot of it has been proven false http://k9domain.org/alpha_theory.aspx , but that isn't to say that it doesn't completely exist. I can't say for sure if this is your case or not. Dominance problems are actually a lot rarer than you think.

However sometimes dogs simply don't get along, for no apparent reason. The fact that one of your dog allows the others to actually go through the door first or have the ball, etc. Leads me to believe that this isn't so much a dispute over who's ahead of who.

I knew a dog before that would nip at the an older dog that lived at the same house just because. Nothing about their interaction lead me to believe that it had to do with dominance, it just that they didn't like eachother.

You haven't said though. Are any of your dogs altered? If they are not yet neutered you might want to look into that, un-altered pets seem to be aggressive around other non-altered pets. Although I'm guessing that since you live in a household with so many pets, they must be altered Nervous

I don't have a lot of information on issues like these, and only having two dogs that respect eachother its a little harder to understand. However what you are looking for is advice for 'multi household aggression' try typing that into search engines and see if it yeilds better results. Here's a link I found right off the bat, and might answer some of your questions.
http://www.whole-dog-journal.com/issues/13_4/features/Dog-Fighting-Behavior-Aggression_16214-1.html

All in all though, having 5 dogs total might be a bit too much and tension is inevitable. It might be hard to hear, but its probable that the most effective thing to do is not have so many dogs under the same roof.

Lastly one of my all time favorite sites is dogstardaily. You might find a helpful article or two in there. So feel free to take a look.
http://www.dogstardaily.com/

Anyway, I hope that things are ok for you and your dogs. Please do post with updates and let us know if the advice helped you out.

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PostSubject: Re: Non Alpha Dogs fighting.   Sun Dec 05, 2010 9:23 am

There are dominance problems with dogs from time to time, especially in multi-dog households, but this doesn't sound like one to me. Dominance issues are almost constant. I would venture a guess at it being something to do with the play and/or interaction between Blue and another one of the dogs causing Bailey to go at him. Blue's doggie manners sound like they leave a lot to be desired. Does Bailey ever get cross if Blue runs or jumps at his humans?
Tossing a female into the mix, even if all are neutered/spayed CAN cause this sort of thing also.
These sound like geniune fights, ie;blood and the fact that the neck area is the target. I would not let these two around each other unsupervised for the time being, and I would stictly enforce NILIF with all of them, but particularly Blue.

It's hard to get an accurate picture through only words, so I don't know if this is helpful for you or not.
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PostSubject: Re: Non Alpha Dogs fighting.   Sun Dec 05, 2010 9:29 am

I would also work with Blue on some sort of sport or job to build his confidence and give him something useful to do. Collies and GSD's are working dogs and really do need to have a job to do. Do you have any obedience clubs nearby where you could pursue herding or agility, something like that?
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