This was a very interesting online session. The dog is sometimes aggressive towards one of their other dogs.
It took me all the way the other side of the world to Florida and to a farm with hundreds of acres.
They have six dogs. Three are Great Pyrenees and one is a Labrador. Then they have recent additions Pibbles and Maggie May, both mixed breeds.
The lady got in touch as she is troubled by Pibbles’ being aggressive to Maggie May when one, or both, are aroused.
What kind of life did Pibbles live?
Two-year-old Pit-mix Pibbles turned up at their door, flea-ridden and skinny. The fact he settled in happily with their four other dogs is a tribute to the couple.
Then their new rescue Maggie May arrived.
She is a terrier mix of unknown age with a more fearful temperament, not as stable and easy-going as the other four dogs. It seems her temperament may trigger an aggressive response in Pibbles.
They had been keeping the two dogs separate from one another. Fortunately they have the kind of large house that’s adaptable. However, this is hard when dealing with six dogs and when one of them can’t be left by herself!
Maggie May has severe separation problems so she can’t be shut behind a gate in their dog room. She even panics if left in there with a couple of the other dogs, so it’s Pebbles that has to be shut out.
When we spoke they had just let the two together with the rest of the gang, so things are looking up.
Aggressive due to arousal
It became obvious that trouble is triggered by arousal. Arousal that tips Pibbles over into being aggressive.
They have huge windows with a view of endless countryside. The dogs frequently see something outside and rush at the windows barking. They get very excited when they see mail or a delivery approaching.
This is when there is danger of Pibbles redirecting onto Maggie May. He has pinned her down but not actually hurt her yet.
We spent a very enjoyable hour discussing options. These included finding ways to reduce the dogs’ view out of the windows.
We also discussed muzzle-training Pibbles.
Most importantly, we discussed finding ways of teaching Pibbles to love Maggie May and visa versa.
At the moment they leave food down for the dogs all the time which seems a bit risky in the circumstances. The four older dogs may be able to share a bowl but it needs to be shut away from the other two or lifted. When one dog is aggressive towards another, it’s wise to take food out of the equation.
The two dogs in question can now work for their food. This kind of enrichment will help the mental state of both dogs and will I’m sure will result in Pibbles reducing his aggressive reactions. The two can hunt in the grass together for scatter-fed food – a nice, friendly joint exercise.
The lady is very enthusiastic and happy to try some new things.
I shall be looking forward to an update from Florida!
Ten days later:
Pibbles and Maggie MayNB. For the sake of the story and for confidentiality also, this isn’t a complete ‘report’ and is always written with permission of the client. If you listen to ‘other people’ or find instructions on the internet or TV that are not tailored to your own dog it can do more harm than good. Click here for help