They had Dachshund Jack Russell mix Minni first. About six months later Jack Russell Mabel joined them. Minni is three, Mabel two-and-a-half.

The conflict leading to fights began with the usual eyeballing, growling, competition and probably jealousy.

They started growling at each other on the bed, so now they have to sleep downstairs, apart.

Redirected over-arousal and excitement was usually the final trigger for a fight to erupt.

Back from the brink

By being positive and as calm as possible, the two gentlemen seem to have brought their dogs back from the brink.

They have mostly kept them separated, using a kind of air-lock system for getting one dog at a time out into the garden or in the living room for company.

In the evening the dogs take turn to be free in the living room. When one is on the sofa, the other is either in her crate or in the kitchen.

Interestingly, they can however walk them together. They put their harnesses and leads on, one dog each side of a gate, Then they open the gate. The dogs have their minds on the walk and there is no conflict at all.

Out on walks they run together and even bump into one another with no aggressive reactions.

Anchored

They have recently tried tying them up on lead in the living room which is exactly what I would have suggested. In fact, I would make two permanent anchor points on opposite sides of the room with leads already attached.

Being able to hook a dog up should make their airlock and swapping system a lot easier.

There is no one single solution for conflict between two dogs but lots of pieces like a jigsaw. When enough pieces are added, the picture should look very different.

Both dogs must be calm.

Now the real work can start

Once the dogs are anchored, their real work can start.

Now the men will mark and reinforce every positive.

Every negative reaction should be immediately interrupted and redirected in an up-beat kind of way.

So, on their anchors, the two dogs will have freedom to get to one another. they can jump on different ends of the sofa without enough rope to actually jump onto each other.

The men can relax – this is important.

When one dog looks at the other, an immediate click from a clicker or “yes” will mark that moment and food for both dogs will follow. Every positive bit of body language they can spot can be marked thus.

If it looks like eyeballing or one of them goes very still, they will immediately redirect this onto something positive, like a hand “touch”.

Or, like a third dog might, one of the humans could simply walk between the two dogs to break any pending conflict.

Conflict triggers

We looked at strategies for those times of day when excitement peaks, like when one of the men comes home or when food is being prepared.

Rather than causing excitement, they will now feed the dogs in such a way as to increase enrichment and calm them down. The dogs will work for their food.

I suggested after a walk, with both dogs still on lead, that the men scatter dog food all over the garden. A ‘joint forage’ is a very companionable thing to do if all goes well. It’s worth a try.

Another piece of the jigsaw puzzle

Mabel loves a fuss. I suggest that when the two dogs are anchored together in the living room that the men refrain from too much touching of Mabel – it could be like a red rag to a jealous Dachshund!

So that the petting doesn’t simply stop when Minni is with her, giving negative associations, I suggest there is a bit less fussing of Mabel in general.

The longer they go without any fights, the better the future will look. I believe they will always have to watch for redirecting over-arousal.

Each time a fight erupts it makes another one more likely. The longer they can go without a fight, the more likely a conflict-free future becomes.

NB. 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

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