Once Friends, Now the Dogs Fight

Whenever tiny Yorkie is out in her garden, she runs up and down by the fence, in a frenzy of barking

Mia

Both little dogs got on beautifully until Coco matured and then the conflict started – with a fight over a chew. Things escalated until tiny Mia was badly injured. They are now enemies.

Now the dogs have to be kept apart.

Tiny miniature Yorkie Mia, left, is now 6. When she was three years old they got a puppy – Wire Haired Daschund Coco. They are much loved little dogs.

Coco lives with the couple and their young children, and Mia lives next door with her parents. They dogs used to have a special hole in the fence so that they could go freely from one house to the other, but no more.  Their hole is now blocked.

A lot of problems can be averted if we learn to read our dogs

Coco

Whenever Mia is out in her garden, she runs up and down by the fence, in a frenzy of barking and trying to dig under it to get to Coco. It’s very similar to behaviour she does when the air blower is on. I videoed it. http://youtu.be/jUr_x1Lj79U. They thought Mia  enjoyed the action because her tail is wagging and she looks up at them. I feel, to this tiny dog, it’s like a puffing monster at nose level behind the wall, and she is frantic to make it go away; she is looking at them for help.

People often think that tail wagging means happy but it’s not necessarily so. It means aroused in some way. Another misreading is when Coco lies on her back with the little 2-year-old boy. They think she is asking for him to tickle her tummy. She may be saying ‘I give in, I’ve had enough’.

A lot of problems can be averted if we learn to read our dogs.

We have a plan to get the two dogs back together. Everyone knows that it could take a long time and they are up for the effort and self-sacrifice. Both little dogs are extremely excitable and think it’s their job to protect their homes and gardens. This needs to be addressed. They need to value food more so that it can be used for working with them (not left down all the time). Over time they will learn to come whenever they are called and to be each side of the fence calmly.

The plan is that eventually two much calmer dogs who no longer feel that guard duty is their responsibility will meet out on neutral territory, starting with walking parallel at a comfortable distance. We will take it from there.

Over-exciting and hands-on play with a dog would equate to tickling and ruffling a young child who would doubtless end up in tears. Egging a child on in the way people wind up their dogs, wrongly believing they find it fun, would probably end in a temper tantrum with a child.  Just as good parents create a reasonably calm, safe and controlled atmosphere for their kids, we need to do the same for our dogs.

I am sure the eventual outcome will be the two dogs back together. But their humans must never go back to their old ways or so will the dogs.

NB. The precise protocols to best use for your own dog may be different to the approach I have worked out for Mia and Coco, which is why I don’t go into all exact details here of our plan. Finding instructions on the internet or TV that are not tailored to your own dogs can do more harm than good. One size does not fit all. If you live in my own area I would be very pleased to help with strategies specific to your own dogs (see my Get Help page).

Fergus and William’s Owner Very Pleased

Whippets Fergus and William are like new dogsJust under four weeks ago I visited William and Fergus – Whippet brothers that fought (their story is a few posts down).  Walks were a nightmare as the excitable William would redirect his stress onto Fergus, especially if they came across a cat – to such an extent that they were muzzled on walks. Both dogs would pull. They might fight at the gate and they might fight in the car if they saw a cat.  As in most cases, there were other issues that contributed to the problems the lady was having with her lovely dogs.

Their story deserves another write-up, because it is a perfect example of how progress is closely linked to how carefully, calmly and diligently the owners stick to their plan and apply themselves.

I have just received a lovely email, together with this picture of the two dogs:

“I’m really pleased to be emailing you to tell you how well behaved the boys have been this week (in fact I’m bursting to tell you!). I want others to know that this really does work – and I am enjoying it and enjoying my dogs even more than I did before.  It is such a pleasure to walk well behaved dogs!

William has at long last put some weight on, and I put this down to the better food that you recommended and the fact that he is not anxiously running about anymore.

Last Sunday we went for a walk along the canal, which was very busy. I walked both dogs together, they were excellent. When we started off William was over excited and trying to rush ahead, I did the work and after about 10 mins and only covering about 10 metres he finally calmed down and we were on our way with two very well behaved dogs. The best bit was when we approached a couple sitting on the bank next to their barge, they had five (yes five) Italian Greyhounds basking on the grass beside them along with two CATS!!!   I was astounded at how well behaved my boys were, we stopped to speak to the owners for a few minutes (the cats moved on to the bow of the boat) and either the  boys didn’t see them (although not sure how they could have missed them) or they really are settling and feeling more relaxed (I know I am).

Further on we let them off individually and as seems to be the norm now they came back when called and were generally little stars.  A bit further on we had to walk through a field with sheep in it.  Once again the dogs were brilliant and I was whooping with joy, they walked through the field and showed no interest at all (the sheep were very helpful and didn’t run away) about two fields on we met sheep again, these sheep did run off and William got a little excited (but I think that was more about the sheep poo that he was trying to hoover up) so I did a little bit of ‘lets go’ and once again he calmed down and we continued.  When we arrived back in the village we met a cat – they definitely saw it and their ears went up, I turned round immediately and walked back down the road, once they seemed settled I turned back again and walked calmly back to the car – amazing, this would never have happened before and I would have been a nervous wreck.

Its amazing that in almost 4 weeks we have had no aggression between the dogs, I am feeling so much more confident.

I can help you, too, with these problems or any other that you may be having with your dog.