Hormones? Two Entire Females That Fight

Are hormones to blame?

fighting females and hormones

Dylis

For nearly a year the two dogs had been the best of friends. They had their first spat around the first time when both had come into season but everything settled down again.

The family adopted Tibetan Terrier Dylis about a year ago to join Sybil, a Goldendoodle, age 4. Over the past six weeks the two dogs have become increasingly aggressive towards one another with the younger Dylis the instigator. Around the same time Sybil had another season but it’s unclear whether Dylis did also. Very possibly her hormones are troubling her. Continue reading…

Adolescent Dog and Raging Hormones

Adolescent dogI have never met a Longhaired Weimeraner before – and what a stunning dog!  Rocco is about one year old and deliciously friendly.

The family put in a great deal of thought and research before getting him and a lot of effort since. There are three sons, two in late teens and a younger boy, and this is a family venture where each person plays a part.

They are still taking him to training classes and he is a model student. They have researched canine diet and feed him on the best possible food.

A few weeks ago, adolescent dog behaviour hit them!

To quote Nicole Wilde: Adolescent dogs are fur-covered containers of raging hormones. Even if the dog is spayed or neutered, the body–and temperament–is changing. The dog who formerly ran in fright from other dogs might now take the offense. And many dogs who are genetically predisposed to aggression begin showing the signs at this time. Whatever the cause, aggression often manifests between the ages of six months and eighteen months. Intact male dogs are the most likely to show adolescent-onset aggression, particularly toward other intact males’.

A few weeks ago, Rocco began to throw his weight around with certain other dogs, standing over them and intimidating them. He has been going to daycare once a week where the now adolescent dog has been picking on a smaller dog, also a male of similar age. This is causing problems.

Many people now would be advising castration, but this is another thing the family have looked into closely. When is the best time to do this? Whether to castrate or not is a huge topic, not least because there are far too many unwanted dogs in the world already. 

To castrate, or not to castrate, that is the question.

Here is some food for thought when considering neutering or spaying a larger breed dog, from Dr. Becker. With Rocco, it’s not going to happen yet.

He can be very excitable and this is not surprising with three boys who play enthusiastically with him. The younger boy gets the brunt of Rocco’s excitement, particularly when he is running around the garden. This is common.

Freedom in terms of space can make a young dog more wild. He jumps at the small boy and, when too aroused, mouths or nips at his clothes. His unwanted and pushy behaviour with other dogs also seems to be when he has more space and has built up a head of excitement.

Our objectives are both for the adolescent dog to be less aroused/excited when meeting other dogs and to take note when called. A mix of self-control and owner-control.

This requires the adolescent dog to take a lot more notice of his humans in general and have a very solid recall before he is set free again. A long line, when the technique is learned, makes the handler into a safe human flexilead without the constant tension from a retractable-type lead.

There was an unfortunate incident with an irate owner hurting Rocco and making him scream. It was probably the first dog that Rocco took on a few weeks ago and may have started a downward trend – a negative association with certain kind or colour of dog. He has never actually caused a dog harm. He just seems to want to intimidate or dominate it. It seems he picks his victims.

It is sad for the conscientious family. It’shard to know what more they could have done. He has been very well socialised and is generally friendly and playful with all dogs. The best of families can have difficult teenagers, can’t they/

Excitement and self-control aren’t compatible.

If Rocco is more relaxed in general, both at home and when out, he will be in a much better state of mind when meeting another dog. At the moment he is ‘throwing his weight around’ as his hormones are taking over.

The whole family will be working together to avoid unnecessary arousal. They will avoid triggers such as the dog and youngest son running around the garden together, and rough and tumble play with the older boys. Even scrapping with one another gets Rocco very worked up so they need to go and do that somewhere else.

Mental stimulation is a lot more helpful, particularly the kind of training that gets him to use own brain (which clicker would).

Despite all the training classes, Rocco still pulls on lead. This is because they have been told to ‘teach him not to pull’ rather than ‘to teach him to walk on a loose lead’. Negative v positive. He’s a big dog and they have resorted to a head halter which he hates. He must be uncomfortable and very frustrated by the time he’s let off lead and has his freedom.

They will now work on walking him on a loose lead – force-free so that he likes walking beside them.

Freelancing.

They will all also work on being much more engaged with him when out. Being more relevant, he will then be more likely to take notice of them when it’s really important. (Like many dogs, his recall is fine until they really need it!).

For now the adolescent dog should lose all total freedom, particularly in open spaces.

A long line can be up to 20 metres.  Rocco will learn, over the next few weeks or months, that when he sees another dog he automatically ‘touches base’. They can then decide whether he can go and play – or not. If they simply drop the line to start with, they can easily get him back if he becomes too excited.

In a few months’ time, Rocco will no longer be an adolescent dog. Having already decided to wait until he’s eighteen months old, they will decide whether they want to castrate him, or not.

 

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 Rocco. 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 any form of aggressive behaviour is concerned. 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).

First Season and Driven by Hormones

PartonCleoWhen I knocked on the door there was no barking and I wondered whether I had arrived at to the wrong house!

I was greeted by two very friendly and curious German Shepherds, one of which was jumping up at me while the lady was trying hard to restrain herself from grabbing or scolding her because I had asked her not to.

We sat down at the kitchen table and for a while I didn’t quite know where to start. The situation was worse than usual because six-month-old Cleo, on the right, is coming into her first season and eleven-year-old (castrated) Leo can’t leave her alone. When he does eventually lie down, Cleo then pesters him. The house is small for the family and two large dogs.

At one stage the fire alarm went off and both dogs erupted into frantic barking, followed by a slightly aggressive episode between the two dogs. Cleo has now begun to show her teeth at two of the daughters, once when being over-fussed on the sofa and the PartonLeoother time when being pulled off the sofa.

The lady felt she needed to be on their case all the time with ‘no’ and ‘uh-uh’ etc. She works as a carer and I asked her how she spoke to her elderly people to get them to cooperate. She was brilliant after that! I wanted to start working with rewards. While both dogs are currently driven by their hormones, there was little we could do with both together, so we put Leo into the other room where he cried on and off to come back in.

The plan for the first couple of weeks is to ‘prepare the ground’ so to speak, for the family to work hard on cutting down on scolding, cutting down on too much excitement and on introducing praise and rewards. They will get a gate to go between kitchen and sitting room in order to make separating the dogs easier. They will, hopefully, cut out rough play and look for constructive games along with finding things for Cleo to chew to help calm her and occupy her.

There are problems with walking the dogs which we will need to address when Cleo has finished her first season as she badly needs exercise and stimulation, spending many hours a day in her crate which is the only place she can be trusted not to chew walls and cables. Currently most interaction with their humans is in the form of either fussing, excitement or else being told off. They must have got a lot of things right though – the dogs are so friendly, and each dog when apart from the other becomes biddable and attentive when approached in the right way.

Against a calmer background we can then get down to work properly. What Cleo in particular most needs is basic training presented in such a way that she has something fun and rewarding to work for. Both dogs badly need some rules, boundaries and self-control. It is going to be a fairly long road.

NB. The precise protocols to best use for your own dog may be different to the approach I have worked out for Cleo and Leo, which is why I don’t go into 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 dog (see my Get Help page).

Two Boxers with Too Much Freedom

The two Boxers have too much freedomHoney and Millie are both six years old. They were brought home on the same day, but they are not sisters. Millie came from a good breeder and nice home environment, whereas Honey missed out on some vital early input from siblings and mother, and had to be hand reared. What happens during the first twelve weeks or so of a dog’s life makes a huge difference and I don’t believe can ever entirely be reversed. A dog without proper early interaction with siblings and mother will be harder work.

The two dogs used to get on brilliantly. They had puppies at the same time  – even putting all their puppies together in one whelping box and sharing the maternal duties.

Unfortunately things have gone downhill.  Honey, predictably, is a much more stressed dog. A short while ago, due to complications in a pregnancy, Millie had to be spayed, and the imbalance of hormones between them may be adding to the growing tension between the two dogs.

Honey will suddenly just go for Millie. Sometimes she gives ‘that look’ first, sometimes it seems to happen out of the blue. There are a couple of common denominators – the lady is always present and it seems to involve comings and goings, either of people or one dog returning into the presence of the other.  On most occasions the house has been busy and Honey will have had a build up of stress.

To my mind the biggest contributor of all to Honey’s stress levels in particular is the enormous amount of freedom the two dogs have. They have quite a large area on the estate where they freely roam – controlled only by an electric barrier. They are left out all day with an open kennel for shelter. They are there at the gate whenever anyone arrives and it is a busy place. Honey barks, growls and hackles – scared and warning. It’s quite surprising that all her stress is taken out on poor Millie and that she’s not actually gone for a person by now. There is a public dog walking path through the estate that they can see but not reach, which also causes barking and stress.

These two dogs are in charge of the territory, no question about it. Without realising it, the people are often allowing the dogs to be in charge of them also. If it were just the much more stable Millie it may not really matter as she can handle it. Honey can’t.

I am hoping that they can find a way of enclosing the dogs during the day when they themselves are not about and that they feel happy with, and of keeping them well away from the gate area when people come and go so they are let ‘off duty’.  My own dogs are peacefully contained in quite a small area in the house when I am out and I wouldn’t have it any other way for their own sakes – and for the most part when they are anywhere further afield than my garden, I accompany them.

Ruling the roost really isn’t easy on a dog. With some indoor leadership work as well as limiting physical boundaries, Honey’s stress levels should then reduce and I am sure she will not feel the need to take it out on poor Millie. Possibly spaying her in a couple of months’ time when the time is right could help, but I don’t believe this alone is the answer as the dogs already had had a few differences earlier. It needs to be done in conjunction with the behaviour work.

Rearing littermates usually comes with problems, and even though these two weren’t actually from the same litter, because they were adopted together at the same age there will be little difference.

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