Now the two dogs fight.
Cherry has lived with Bo and the family for nearly a year and all was well until a few weeks ago. The two four-year-old Pugs played together and slept together.
They noticed little hints of unrest shortly before the day Cherry went for Bo.
Food was involved. A friend’s dog, Skye, was with them.
Soon after this it happened again only this time the fight didn’t involve food.
The family now had to watch the dogs closely to prevent further fights breaking out.
Then disaster struck.
The vet diagnosed Cherry with a luxating patella and three weeks ago operated on her. She now lives in a pen in their living room and is only allowed three on-lead toilet outings into the garden a day.
Confined, she can only watch them fussing and playing with Bo. When anyone goes into the room followed by Bo, poor Cherry lunges at the side of the pen, barking and spoiling for a fight.
It is very likely that before their initial fight Cherry was more grumpy, due to undiagnosed pain. Now, after several fights, it will be touch and go whether they can put the clock back to how it used to be.
They must prevent any further rehearsal of aggression if they possibly can. This means Cherry not lunging at Bo from her pen.
A step at a time
In order to find a way forward, they need to work systematically and carefully, a step at a time. They will start right away while Cherry is restricted – in fact that is almost a good thing. Both dogs are becoming accustomed to being alone and apart from the other.
Later they will need gates.
They will now only have Cherry and Bo win the same room when there are two people to handle them.
It seems that Cherry is the main instigator. It’s best therefore if either the man or the lady brings just Bo into the conservatory first and sits on the sofa with Bo at the far end on harness and lead.
Then the other person can carry Cherry in (later on lead). Cherry will sit on the other end of the sofa and there will therefore be two humans between the two dogs.
Each person is responsible for their own dog. Each will watch and prevent eyeballing, getting the dog’s attention if necessary. They will remove ‘their’ dog at first sign of any hint of eyeballing or conflict.
Over time hopefully the dogs will both settle and the time can be extended.
The carefully managed sessions should also include something the dogs love that they don’t get any other time – probably a stuffed Kong each.
Cherry has always food-guarded but only from Bo. They have always separated them with a glass door while they are eating. For the dogs to be able to see one another other either while eating, even through glass, will only add steam to the ‘pressure cooker’ of arousal that builds up in them. This would now inevitably later explode into a fight.
They should no longer use the sofa in the living room for sitting with Bo – Cherry watching from the pen. Dogs can experience jealousy too.
With Bo out of the way, they will give her much more to occupy her in there by way of working for food.
Bo herself seems a little troubled. Her body language is uneasy and she is being unusually uncooperative. She’s not comfortable with the situation even though Cherry is restricted.
Calm dogs less likely to fight
The only way they will succeed in preventing future fights is by calming the dogs down as much as possible.
This is a challenge . The little dogs charge up and down the fence, barking at the dog the other side. They can carry on for half an hour, I’m told. They chase and bark at pigeons flying over the garden. The two young daughters excite them. Cherry is (was) obsessed with chasing a ball.
They will now call Bo in immediately she starts to bark and shut the door to the garden. Later Cherry.
Calm relaxed dogs are unlikely to fight. They tend to be calmer when people aren’t about. In fact, Bo’s bed is in the living room with the pen and so long as she is sent into the room by herself all is well. There has never been a fight when no humans were with them but I feel this should stop for now – just in case.
Its essential the family all act calm, encouraging and upbeat towards the dogs, even if they are showing signs of aggression towards one another (sometimes difficult I know!). No scolding.
Cherry gains her freedom in about three weeks’ time. I shall go again and we will work out the best way forward in order to, hopefully, avoid future fights.