Fighting Saint Bernard and Boxer

Harry is a St.Bernard mix


Great Dane Blue and Boxer Sebastian lived happily together with their owners. Both dogs have their own traits – Blue is a bit needy probably due to health issues when he was a puppy, and Sebastian is very exuberant.

Then, about a year ago, they added Harry, a St.Bernard, to the mix. Things seemed to go very well until about four weeks ago when the St.Bernard and the Boxer had their first big fight. Since then,  as soon as they have come into each other’s presence there has been a big fight and damage, especially to Sebastian. The situation seemed to come out of the blue, but in hindsight the unchecked play between the two dogs was becoming extreme and should have been a warning sign. Hindsight is a wonderful thing.

I personally nip in the bud boisterous play between my own dogs the minute it looks like getting out of hand with any body-slamming or ‘hunting down’. The problem now with Harry and Sebastian is that their entry level is hackles, snarling and FIGHT.Great Dane and Boxer at the window. They now need to be kept apart

The ingredients seem to a mix of Blue, who keeps out of the way, but generally hypes up the atmosphere with excessive barking and anxiety especially if the lady of the house is out of sight, and Sebastian who tends to be over-excitable. One-year-old Great Dane Harry is a calmer dog, but is now an adolescent challenging Sebastian, and there is a lot of testosterone flying about.

In order to keep the two dogs separate means constantly moving dogs about the house like chess pieces, two in the garden while the third comes downstairs, one in the utility room while two are fed elsewhere, two upstairs while the third is let out into the garden – and so on. Very difficult. The people are incredibly patient and doing everything they can possibly find to remedy the situation between their beloved dogs, but are naturally extremely worried and wonder whether it will ever end.

Not having witnessed the fighting, I have to guess what triggers it. I suspect a cocktail of doggy personalities, over-excitement, stress and teenage testosterone. Most have kicked off in doorways.

We are working on the humans creating as calm an atmosphere as possible. Meanwhile, so that the humans will be able to relax when the rehabilitation process begins, both dogs will be introduced to muzzles in such a way that over the next two or three weeks they will learn to welcome them and happily be able to spend some time muzzled. Sebastian will probably get his off and eat it! However, Harry is the main aggressor and does the most damage.

Now, with a calmer environment, some rules in place and muzzles accepted, they need to work at re-introducing the dogs bit by bit, initially just walking one past the other a few times on lead at home, interrupting any eye-balling, along with parallel walking techniques out in the open. I sincerely hope that this works and that the two dogs, like some humans, do not now hate each other to the extent they simply can’t live together. Splitting up a St.Bernard fighting a large Boxer is no joke.

NB. For the sake of the story and for confidentiality also, this isn’t a complete ‘report’ with every detail, but I choose an angle with maybe a bit of poetic licence. The precise protocols to best use for your own dog may be different to the approaches I have worked out for Blue and Sebastian. Finding instructions on the internet or TV that are not tailored to your own dog can do more harm than good as the case needs to be assessed correctly. One size does not fit all so accurate assessment is important, particularly where aggression of any kind is involved. Everything depends upon context. If you live in my own area I would be very pleased to help with strategies tailored to your own dog (see my Help page).

Adored Miniature Schnauzer

pepper is small Miniature SchnauzerI have been to quite a few Miniature Schnauzers of late. This won’t be because they are more troublesome than other breeds but because they are very popular at the moment.

Pepper is very small example of the breed and one year old. She is worshipped by a mainly female household. She is carried about, picked up, cuddled, kissed, greeted with high voiced excitement and obeyed. They all dote on her. Considering all this, Pepper is surprisingly well-adjusted!  She must basically have an easy going by nature, given the chance.

Her main problem is excessive barking at people walking past, and at people coming to her house. Protecting the family group should be the job of the head of the family – or the leader. By being constantly ‘told’ that she is the most important member, this protection role falls upon Pepper. A dog already aroused with excited squeeky greetings and so on, will be much more ready to go into a frenzy of barking on hearing a noise outside.

Calm needs to be encouraged. The family needs to show Pepper that they are there to look after her – not the other way around. Leaving her to ‘get on with it’ when she barks as they often do simply isn’t leadership – neither is scolding her.

Pepper ‘belongs’ to the eight year old daughter (though she won’t know this!) and the child has quietly and calmly taught her a very neat routine of actions. It was wonderful to see Pepper wait one end of the large garden while the little girl walked away, and then run joyfully to her when she was called. It was a perfect example or how good a relationship between a child and a dog can be. Pepper is getting the best leadership from an eight year old! The rest of the family need to tone down the homage and put a few boundaries in place. Pepper has legs! Pepper can then learn to trust them to take on protection duty.

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