Need some help

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Postby homebrwd » December 30th, 2011, 11:06 am

Ok so as some of you know I recently rescued a tiny pitbull to be a companion to Fergus, her name is Maddie. My mother had also rescued one to be a companion to her pugador, Nikki, her name is Mia. Mia and Maddie were both brought into a local day care that works with the rescue group at the same time. They were crated near each other and would touch paws between crates. Then they went off to be spayed together. Since then Mia has shown dominant aggression towards Maddie. When we picked both dogs up for the first time Maddie would approach Mia and Mia would tense up and in some cases ark and growl at Maddie, not in a playful way. The day care owners are very pitbull friendly and gave of some tips on how to introduce them and keep things in good working order. Well their next meeting would be this past Christmas. We entered my parents house and Mia immediately focused on Maddie. We attempted an introduction and Mia's tail wagged but she was tense and then proceeded to follow Maddie just behind her neck, which we put a stop to. Mia was laid on her side a couple of time as we coaxed Maddie to approach her, sniff lick and stand over top of her, Maddie didn't want anything to do with her. So we tried to walk them together, everything went great, they walked right next to each other no issues at all. When we got back inside it was more tension from Mia so we removed her for a while so that Maddie and Nikki could become better acquainted. It was then decided that Mia would come up, lay on the couch with my step father and she would be leashed. Maddie was playing with Nikki and got close to the couch and Mia lunged out and bit Maddie on the top of her head. All of of us jumped up, and I had to hit Mia multiple times to get her to let go which she did. Luckily she didn't get Maddie too badly and Maddie doesn't seem to be affected by the situation. Now as this was going down there was lots of snarling and growling like I had never heard, Fergus and Maddie growl when they play but it was a totally different sound. So my mother has been all broken up about this and has talked with the daycare people about what to do, considering just fostering the dog or keeping her.

The daycare people have been willing to work with the dogs to figure out what the issue is and fix it as they have done with others in the past. I am not read to put my dog back in that situation again. They also told my mother that lots of noise is a sign that Mia was trying to scare her and not kill her as that is generally a more silent act.

Just looking for any advice and knowledge with this as I am new to it. Both dogs are fine and Maddie is healing up nicely, I don't even thing she knows she has marks from it.
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Postby Tubular Toby » December 30th, 2011, 12:15 pm

Dog fights are typically loud and... dramatic. Haha, it can be unsettling if you've never had the misfortune of witnessing one before, especially when they happen in doors.

It's my gut instinct that laying and holding a dog down to allow the other to stand over it/check it out is a bad idea. More experienced people will surely weigh in, but that could be bad. For one, you're putting your own arms right into the mix, and while a lot of dogs are great at not redirecting towards people, it happens. It's just not worth the risk. Then you have the issues of how this will affect the dogs behaviors. What makes you certain that the aggression is dominance? At any rate, there are people far more experienced here when it comes to dog behavior that can offer more solid advice on this.

I would recommend continuing to walk the dogs together in neutral territory. You said they seemed to do well together that way. You may have to crate and rotate while visiting for awhile until the dogs get used to each other, while walking them outside together. They shouldn't be introduced with any high value toys or in either one's home. Whenever I visit my mom we have to do crate/rotate our two dogs, and while it's a pain sometimes, it's easy to adjust to for visiting and then both dogs get plenty of family time to make up for it. =)
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Postby homebrwd » December 30th, 2011, 12:29 pm

The hold down method was suggested by the day care people. It appeared dominate to me since she gave off a vibe of "go ahead and try something" and I will show you whats what. Now I have discussed with my parents about dog parks and this breed as well but they have brought the dogs to one. Mia was playing fine until a group of dogs started harassing a lone dog, the dog fell at one point and Mia stood over it in dominant stance then once it got up followed it just behind the neck as she had done with Maddie. I do like the crate rotation idea, would we want the crated one in view of all the dogs or away from everything?
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Postby pitbullmamaliz » December 30th, 2011, 12:39 pm

First of all, PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE don't try to force Maddie or Mia to be "dominant" over the other. That will only make the dog being forced on its side fearful of the other dog, and of you guys.

That being said, some dogs just don't like each other. Especially bitches. Bitch-bitch aggression is well-known to be the worst and nearly impossible to "fix." Especially between dogs that are essentially in the same household. How do you deal with this? One answer - crate and rotate. The dogs are never out together, even supervised, ever again.

I just got off the phone with a friend whose cousin has 4 dogs. All 4 used to get along, then a few months one of his males nearly killed his other male right in front of him - punctured a lung. He separated for a bit but today left them all out together while he just ran out for a minute. His one male is now at the e-vet struggling to survive.

All it takes is ONE CARELESS MOMENT to lose your dog. Crate and rotate religiously. Don't try to "fix" this. PLEASE.
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Postby mnp13 » December 30th, 2011, 12:48 pm

I have to start with this - unless the people at the daycare are in a 1 on 1 with every dog there, in my opinion daycare are the last place that any Pit Bull should be. Ever. One minor scrap between two dogs can quickly turn into a rolling battle with every dog in the room involved and no matter who started it or who is involved, the Pit Bull will be blamed. And having broken up a spat or two in the past, two dogs going at it are difficult for one person to break up. I can't imagine trying to get a bunch of dogs apart even with two or three other people.

Also, there are many threads here about how to break up a dog fight safely. Please do not hit your dog to do it. Many people swear by break sticks and other methods, but personally I think the very best way to do it is to simply lift the dog by their collar. It may take a few seconds longer, but in my opinion it's much safer for the people and the dogs involved.

Forcing / coaxing a non-dominant dog to act dominant can be a setup for worse things down the road. Likewise, holding another dog down to allow it can also lead to serious problems. In our house, we decided on the "pecking order" of the dogs and when we don't keep up with it we have behavioral issues. Granted, we don't have fights, but Connor starts marking all over the place.

I'm not trying to be nasty, please don't think that. There is a LOT of advice out there, and if you put three "trainers" in a room, the only thing that two of them will ever agree on is that the third doesn't know what they are talking about. ;)

The leash could have played a part in Mia's sudden move, as leashes can increase a dog's defensive behavior.

If it were me, I'd give them neutral interactions in neutral places. Don't force them to interact, and don't have toys, food or anything else involved. Even our boys (who would happily kill each other) can be around each other leashed and behave themselves. They don't have to be "friends" but it's not unreasonable to expect them to behave either.
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Postby homebrwd » December 30th, 2011, 12:59 pm

Thanks for all of the advice on this, it can really help the situation and make it less stressful especially on my parents. We didn't enter the situation with a whole lot of experience or knowledge other than what we were told my the day care people. But as you said about trainers....

With crate and rotate should the dog be visible? I know that when we crated Mia that day she was in the basement crying the entire time which only made Nikki anxious.
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Postby mnp13 » December 30th, 2011, 1:21 pm

homebrwd wrote:The hold down method was suggested by the day care people.

:shock: :o

No... Freekin... Way...

And these same people offered to help "fix" this? Please please please don't let them "work with your dogs."

Alpha rolling dogs is a horrible thing to do - for the dog and for the person doing it. You break down trust, and you also put yourself at risk of harm if the dog decides that it has had enough of it.

The daycare people have been willing to work with the dogs to figure out what the issue is and fix it as they have done with others in the past.

You don't "fix" dog aggression. You can get dogs to tolerate each other, but you don't fix it. If it's fear based behavior, you can work with it yes. However, if it's dog aggression it's different, it's not fixable. Controllable, yes of course. Fixable, no.


I am not read to put my dog back in that situation again.

Then don't. :) There is no reason to, and no one should pressure you into it.

They also told my mother that lots of noise is a sign that Mia was trying to scare her and not kill her as that is generally a more silent act.

Well, that's a dumb thing to say. How on earth do they know that? I will agree that the noise and screaming that comes with most "dog aggression" is really based in other things (in my opinion usually fear) However, regardless of the source of the behavior, the end result - dead or injured dogs - is the same. Riggs is generally silent when he is focused on another dog, and he displays behaviors that most people interpret as "friendly" however, at a certain point he does start to vocalize due to frustration. But make no mistake, noise or not, he has intent.
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Postby mnp13 » December 30th, 2011, 1:22 pm

homebrwd wrote:With crate and rotate should the dog be visible? I know that when we crated Mia that day she was in the basement crying the entire time which only made Nikki anxious.

It depends on the dogs.

Try giving her a stuffed kong to quiet her down, that may help.
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Postby amalie79 » December 30th, 2011, 2:16 pm

I haven't read all the details of Michelle's response, but I would like to add to Kristen's that not only can high value toys pose a problem, but so can high value people and locations (your dad and the couch, perhaps). We are currently working through some issues with the b*itches in our house, as the new one has become a resource guarder-- primarily of food and locations involving me. They haven't, however, had any real "fights," just a lot of noise and display, and the issues have been relatively easy to pinpoint. But we are working with a clicker trainer who works with aggression and have implemented a lot of management, a lot more crate usage, and whole heck of a lot of classical conditioning (ie, helping change the dogs' emotional response to one another) and other stress relievers.

In my opinion, if they're not going to live in the same household, I would simply manage them, crate and rotate them when they have to be in the same building. If they were living together, I would take every safety precaution and get the services of a good positive trainer and avoid any talk of dominance, whether that's what it is or not. Sometimes, it's just insecurity on the part of the "dominant" dog who's actually lashing out to protect herself rather than displaying any dominance. And even then, it may simply come down to needing to crate and rotate. :|

Just my two cents. :)
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Postby mnp13 » December 30th, 2011, 3:02 pm

amalie79 wrote: Sometimes, it's just insecurity on the part of the "dominant" dog who's actually lashing out to protect herself rather than displaying any dominance. And even then, it may simply come down to needing to crate and rotate.


EXCELLENT point.
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Postby LMM » January 2nd, 2012, 10:51 pm

You've received some excellent feedback already but I will chime in and add to the pile about the daycare people giving you advice. Unless your daycare is run by qualified and competent behaviorists, don't follow their advice and employ the services of an ACTUAL behaviorist.
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