Ziggy and Buddy are Whippet siblings, age 3. They had Ziggy at 12 weeks old and brother Buddy joined them two months later. I don’t know if that’s significant.
Until some weeks ago the two dogs have got on very well indeed apart from the occasional scrap, always instigated by the more dominant Ziggy, with no damage done.
Fighting has escalated
In the past few weeks the fighting has escalated to the extent that the more timid and submissive Buddy began to retaliate; they have now hurt each other.
Common denomitors: Food or a chew has been involved. Ziggy may have been on the stairs up ahead of Buddy (they live in a town house with the living room upstairs). Ziggy was already aroused in some way.
Buddy has always been a scared dog. He hides from Ziggy under the table or sofa. It seems that when Ziggy is already over-aroused and something tips him over, he ends up by taking it out on Buddy who will be cowering from him.
A dog gate
At the moment there is no way to separate the dogs other than to shut a door, making it very difficult to reintegrate the two dogs.
For the past week, since the latest fight, the dogs have been allowed no contact at all. They are never together except at night time, when they put Buddy in a crate in their bedroom before allowing Ziggy into the room.
They have been rotating the dogs between rooms when letting one, then the other, out into the garden. They are walking the dogs separately. Buddy will spend time upstairs in the sitting room, often alone, when Ziggy is downstairs in the kitchen (they live in a town house with the living room upstairs). they will be more ‘together’.
On the ground floor they have the kitchen and another small room. I suggest they gate the kitchen doorway and gate the bottom of the stairs. Now one dog can be in the kitchen and the other dog the run of the rest of downstairs.
They should alternate which dog is behind the kitchen gate to avoid Ziggy becoming territorial.
Reintegrate the two dogs – management.
Separated by a gate, the two will then have each other’s company – in safety. They can be fed each side of the gate. They can be given chews and Kongs in safety which should help Buddy to feel more confident.
They will keep the dogs away from all food including the family’s food when they are cooking and eating.
With a gate, it should be a lot easier to integrate them.
In the morning when Ziggy is calmest, they can take the both dogs upstairs to the living room. Ziggy should be on a longish light lead and Buddy taken upstairs ahead of him.
Reintegrate the two dogs – action
The family can have sessions with the dogs together but with the gate between them, positively reinforcing with food any eye contact or relaxed approach.
They will teach Ziggy a very reliable indoor ‘come’ for food, so as soon as they either notice him staring at Buddy or Buddy’s body language showing he’s uneasy, they can call “Ziggy”. He will be on remote control.
Buddy’s demeanour may actually be inviting Ziggy’s attacking, so working on his confidence is important.
They will keep the dogs busy by feeding them in Kongs or snufflemats so they work for their food. They can scatter food over grass – with the dogs together on long loose leads – a good companionable joint activity which seldom invites trouble between dogs.
They can walk the dogs together just around the block, allowing plenty of sniffing.
It’s unusual for dogs to fight when people aren’t about. Ziggy and Buddy have never fought when alone. Mostly it’s been when the man and son were there.
People bring with them arousal and stress, so keeping calm is important.
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