Poor Murphy is not a very happy dog at the moment. The Springer Spaniel and his male owner have recently moved in with the man’s girlfriend, who has two-year-old Akitas, brother and sister.
Murphy was his man’s companion for a couple of years and could do what he liked. It was no problem that he climbed on top of him, on the back of his sofa behind him and slept up on his pillow at night. Murphy’s tendencies to guard resources, food in particular, were not a problem.
Now they have moved in with Chikara and Kai, two beautiful young Akitas. In their past life they too slept on the bed and climbed on the sofas, burying their lady owner in their huge hairiness.
It’s no wonder that there is tension between the three dogs now. The female Akita, Chakira, has always been the bossy one, and now it is a contest between her and Murphy. She has Kai to back her up.
There is trouble around all the predictable things. All three dogs now start the night on the bed with the couple, and there are nightly fights. If the lady tries to move Murphy or go and get him he growls at her, and immediately her two dogs come to her defence – Chakira with her teeth.
Poor Murphy isn’t used to sharing his owner and sits possessively in front of him. All three dogs are unsettled and restless. As well as fights over the lady, there are fights around food, there are fights around the bed and there are fights around the sofa – when one or both people are about. Sleeping on the bed all three together is no problem when people are not about. Sleeping on the sofa all three together is not a problem either, when they are alone.
Poor Murphy is becoming increasingly defensive and unhappy, growling when he is approached and wanting lots of attention from the man. The lady is a little wary of him and he will know this. She has on the whole had admirable control over her two large Akitas; without which the situation would be far worse.
The main kick off points have to be removed. No more going in the bedroom or on the bed, and feeding done in such a way that conflict is impossible. The dogs need to sit on the floor. Murphy high on the chair arm looking down on the others is not a good thing, particularly when he resists being removed, growls, and then a fight will start. Murphy needs some special quality time and controlled activity instead, instigated by both the humans and not by himself.
As the man said, in the past it had been ‘my’ dog and ‘your’ dogs. Now they need to work on them being ‘their’ dogs. They are going to work on relationship building – man and Akitas, lady and Springer – mix and match! The humans need to gain the upper hand in a calm, quiet and controlled way – through the sort of leadership that the dogs already understand.
27th March: I visited these dogs today, the atmosphere was relaxed and the fighting has stopped. The couple are not longer living on tenterhoooks and there is no longer ‘your dog’ or ‘my dogs’. They have been very diligent in following our plan and the dogs are getting along very well now.