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Thread: beloved dogs fighting

  1. #1
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    Dec 2003
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    beloved dogs fighting

    Just wondered if anyone has a way to break up a dog fight quickly. Have an 8 year old lab/australian cattle dog (Petey) and a 2 year old shepherd/newf(Smokey). The fights have been far and few between for awhile, but just had another yesterday. Petey(lab/aus) starts it and for no reason we can fathom. Smokey(shep/newf) only defends himself and doesn't want to fight. I know about the alpha/beta dog stuff and have had dogs for over 30 years but this clash is one I've not been able to solve. Petey latches onto the face and ears and has to be pried off. I wonder if pit is in his pedigree.
    Broke up the one yesterday by getting a dining room chair between them. It's so upsetting. Smokey got a wound under the eye that will be fine. Petey is a tank and uninjured.
    Thanks so much.
    Kittenwhiskerz in California

  2. #2
    I'm sorry about your dogs fighting!

    A good way to break up a fight is to spray them with water, or dump a bucket of water on them (not a good idea if they're inside though!)

    Daphne got into a fight once and we put a chair over them to try to break it up - but it wasn't a good idea and they became more agressive towards each other. :/ Luckily that was the only fight she was ever in though, and eventually we broke it up.

    If it's happening more and more lately, I'd seperate them when you aren't there, and talk to the vet about it. Maybe you could find an animal behaviorist?


    1 girl, 1 pup, 2 guinea piggies, 1 bunny & 1 turtle!



  3. #3
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    The best way to break up a fight is the wheelbarrow technique (you need two people though). Grab them both by the feet and move them off each other by moving them back away from each other. Make sure you have a firm grip, because if you let them go, they could go at it again. Once you have them apart you want to seperate them for about 30 minutes to let the adrenaline to stop (I'd make them go in their crates).

    My two have gotten into fights before and I have learned to read their behavior and seperate them with baby gates when one of the other is getting "pissy". Learning to read their moods will help prevent things from starting. Hope this helps.

    Good Luck and welcome to Pet talk. We have a lot of knowledgable people on this board that are always willing to help.

  4. #4
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    Wolfie thank you much for your reply. You know, I wouldn't even care if they were inside or outside. I would do anything to break them up including throwing water on them inside the house. I think I'll leave a hose and sprayer on the ready, close to the room they usually fight in. Maybe even a bucket of water on the floor. Heck, lol.....it might come in handy if there was a fire!! Actually it happens LESS frequently now but every time is a nightmare.

    Clara thanks for that 'wheelbarrow' technique. I've heard of this before. Grabbing the hind legs and pulling them apart, yes. I think that would work really well with others here to help me, but I was alone then. Absolutely right about giving them separate time to let that adrenaline fade away. LOL yep I know what you mean about them getting 'pissy'. pretty weird. We need to get inside their heads and understand how they relate to one another. Thank you lots for your ideas! I appreciate it.

    Kittenwhiskerz ~CA~

  5. #5
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    i got a picture of my dog
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    >'.'< I love cats >'.'< they are so cool>'.'< yes they are !!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  6. #6
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    Water on Fighting Dogs doesn't work

    Hi,

    Sorry this is a little long; but I wanted to share my experience with my dogs when they got into a horrible fight and what did and did not work.

    Also, I want to say that in my experience, dumping water on fighting dogs will not work if you are dealing with a very angry and determined dog. And dumping water on a dog who has labrador background or water dog sporting breed background will not at all phase a "water" dog. Those types of dogs like water and breaking up a fight with water on those breeds won't work.

    Here is some background: My female Alpha dog named Elsa is an Elkhound Shepherd Mix and she is an extremely assertive dog when it comes to other dogs within her household pack. She is polite and fine with "stranger" dogs at the vet or at the dog park and she is confident and polite with other dogs. However, at my house, when it comes to dogs in our household pack, Elsa MUST be alpha at all times or else there is huge trouble. And if any of the dogs gets arrogant or takes liberties, she will not hesitate to put them in line. For the 1st 3 years, it was only a growl or warning to my submissive sweet dog Zoro and it never escalated to a fight due to Zoro's extremly submissive and easy going nature.

    However, things got quite ugly when when I adopted an Australian Cattle dog whose nickname is Pepe. Pepe was mainly a submissive and well trained dog. He is sweet, good natured, well behaved, and he is usually submissive to midrange. But, Pepe was 7 years old when I adopted him and he had never lived in a multi dog household before. It was clear that right away he didn't understand pack rules and sometimes he'd mess up and make Elsa mad. I didn't realize that this could become a potentially deadly problem until one night he offended her and she proceeded to beat the crap out of him! I wasn't experienced with dog fights before and it was a horrible thing. I tried many things to break it up and water didn't work.

    Please note, Elsa has never bitten a person and she does obey me otherwise.

    The fight began one night while we were all in my bedroom getting ready for bed. The lowest pack member Pepe took her favorite spot on her favorite dog bed. Elsa didn't tolerate his mistake and she proceeded to beat the crap out of my poor ACD. It was awful! She ignored my commands, ignored my yelling. I tried to pull her off him and she didn't want to let go. I tried putting pillows in between them and nothing was working -- she was ripping the heck out of him while he squealed and yelped in pain. So I went into the bathroom and got a bucket of water and dumped it on both of them and Elsa was unfazed -- she just kept beating him up! The ACD wasn't fighting back -- he kept raising his paws trying to protect himself and was crying out in pain trying to get away and Elsa had him pinned and wasn't about to stop hurting him. So all the water did was wet down my bedroom and waste time while I went to get it that I could have used to more effectively break it up. Believe me, I'd have happily hosed down my entire bedroom if it would have stopped the fight and to heck with the material damage! But, it was not effective at all -- the bucket of cold water didn't affect these 2 in the slightest. Since this was the 1st dog fight in my household, I wasn't expecting it or prepared for it and so I tried the bucket of water because I had always heard people say that is what you are supposed to do when dogs fight. Well in my instance, it didn't work at all!

    However, I was able to separate them by approaching Elsa from behind and putting her in a headlock and dragging her off of him. This was an extremely dangerous move and my vet yelled at me saying that a person shouldn't do something like that. But, I didn't want to just stand there helpless and watch Elsa kill Pepe which I feel sure she would have done unless I had intervened.

    Since I'm a single lady, I didn't have anyone to help me. Fortunately it wasn't a fight where Pepe was actively figthing back because trying to pull apart 2 fighting angry dogs is harder because if you pull one off, the other will come after! Pepe just lay there crying and moaning while I got Elsa into that headlock I came up behind her and applied a headlock and pried her off of him and pried her jaws off of him and dragged her out of the room. This was extremely dangerous and I did it with Elsa because Elsa had never ever bitten me and I knew I was taking a huge risk of being badly bitten . I was lucky because Elsa has always respected my hands and she will let me pry things away from her and take a dangerous thing out of her mouth. I brush her teeth and massage her gums with TTouch and she very gently takes food or treats from me normally without being snappy or nippy. She has never bitten me; but please realize that an angry and 'pumped up with adrenaline from a fight' pet dog could blindly bite its owner. So, doing a "headlock" maneuver can expose an owner to tremendous risk and danger of bad bites to the hands, arms, or even face it the dog whips around out of the headlock and lashes out. So please take my experience as a caution that this is not the ideal technique of pulling off a dog.

    Elsa could easily have whipped around and hurt me if she wanted to. But, Elsa has never been vicious to me, she has always respected me as Alpha, and she absolutely didn't bite me while I engaged her in a headlock and dragged her out of the room. She was furious though and wanted desperately to get back into the bedroom to finish the job. So I shut the bedroom door with Pepe in there and dragged Elsa down and locked her in her crate. Then I rushed Pepe to the vet!

    If you can separate a dog fight with 2 people and using the aproach from behind grabbing the collars and zig zagging out that other people have mentioned in this post, that is the way to go.

    In my case, being a single lady and Elsa wasn't wearing a collar at the time, the headlock approach is what worked for me. But I caution everyone that this type of approach is extremely risky, dangerous, and could result in a bad bite to a person who attempts to put a headlock on an angry dog. It was a risk I was willing to take to stop Elsa from killing Pepe. And I was sure she would have killed him if I hadn't stopped her because by the time I pried her off of him, Pepe was in shock and not fighting back and she was still ripping him apart and beating the living crap out of him. It was horrible traumatic and extremely messy and graphic! And the vet was pretty sure that without my intervention, Elsa was intent on killing Happy that night based on the many rips, tears and puncture wounds that Elsa ravaged Pepe with on that horrible and heartbreaking night.

    Fortunately, Pepe healed ok and had to take antibiotics. His pride was hurt but he healed. I had to make major changes in my household because I didn't want to give away a dog or put one to sleep. I actually had friends telling me I should euthanize Elsa over that dogfight. And I didn't because Elsa was a trained, intelligent dog who has never hurt a person or gone after a person or child. I knew that I'd have to change things in the household or else I'd have to end up finding a new home for Pepe or Elsa. So I hired a trainer.

    The vet referred me to an excellent trainer with alot of behaviorist background and I got a trainer involved by coming to my house to teach me how to prevent these fights to begin with. I live in a rural area and there weren't any nearby "behaviorists". But I did also get information from Cornell's library that I read and all kinds of books that the vet told me about to try to solve this problem.

    The advice about separating dogs who have fought them for at least an hour after the incident is imperative! While I was getting my coat over my pjs to rush Pepe to the Vet, Elsa was thrashing in her crate trying to get out of the crate to get to Pepe and finish the job. She had this determined look in her eyes. I'd imagine that it took a good hour for Elsa to calm down and not want to fight but I can't say for sure because I was at the vet's with Pepe for a few hours while he was getting taken care of for his wounds. I suspect that if Elsa had found a way to get out of that crate, she would have lunged on him and tried to finish what she started while I was getting him out to the car to take him to the vet.

    The trainer I worked with helped by teaching me all kinds of stuff to reinforce Elsa's alpha status and I learned to not treat my dogs equally. Elsa has to get things first, and then Zoro, and then Pepe last. If I dared to give Pepe a cookie before Elsa, it could lead to resentment and a fight. So I learned many things that I wasn't even thinking about before the fight and it helped so that I am not inadvertantly creating trouble. And I now know how to read the dogs to see if a fight is coming on and then I'll separate them into different wings of the house if they start getting too assertive or snotty with one another. Preventing a fight is much better than breaking one up!

    Oftentimes there are warning signs before a fight. If I had immediately removed Pepe off of Elsa's favorite dog bed the minute I saw him on there, it might well have prevented that horrible evening and that awful fight. A good trainer and behaviorist can help you 'read' your dog and understand dynamics so that you are more adept at reading the situations that come up in a multi dog household and will help you to resolve issues and diffuse problems so that they don't have the chance to escalate into a fight.

    Good Luck,
    Anna

  7. #7
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    Anna, yes it was a long post but it was extremely accurate. Once the fight adrenaline kicks in, it take a great deal to stop it. You are absolutely right that it takes a good portion of time before the fight reflex stops. Think about how long it takes us as people to stop feeling angry and start seeing reason.

    The best defense is a good offense. Reading the dogs moods is imperative. I also had a behaviorist come to my house and help me read the body language of my two. Most times they get along great - but I have learned to read their "body language" and prevent fights before they ever got to the stage where they get heavy. I think that the water trick works well if it is a slight "squabble" - but if it gets to the point where it is serious, throwing water doesn't distract them at all. Only seperation for a good period of time (sometimes even a day) brings it back into focus.

    Great points - thanks for posting. I hope you stick around and continue to post your experiences.

  8. #8
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    Anna thanks ever so much for the post and you brought up many very good points. That fight your dogs had sounds like it was horrendous. It really is quite traumatic when they do that. I shook for two hours after this latest one. Petey attacked Smokey the first time when Smokey was just two months old. That took an emergency trip to the vet's at night. The damage was to the face and quite close to the eye.
    I appreciate all your help.

    Kittenwhiskerz ~CA~

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