When they are alone – or just with the lady, these two dogs get on famously, but when the man is at home which due to work is only three days a week, the two dogs fight ferociously and Rufus becomes demanding and insecure – not letting the man out of his sight, whilst poor Stoker has to be shut away.
The two dogs fight only when the man is at home.
This is one of my ‘distance help’ Skype cases. The case of 8-year-old Tibetan, Stoker and Staffie Rufus (age 3) is about the clearest illustration I have ever come across of dogs’ behaviour being the consequence of their humans’ behaviour.
It wasn’t hard for the man to see that because all this only happens around him, he needs to be doing some things differently.
He agrees that from the moment he arrives home with a wild greeting for Rufus, he is the dog’s slave. Rufus follows him everywhere and cries outside any door that shuts him out of the man’s presence. Because the dogs have to be kept apart, if Stoker is to have some time in the sitting room with the lady, the man has to go upstairs with Rufus.
Letting the dogs outside is a management challenge of moving dogs up and downstairs so that they don’t meet.
Both humans and the two dogs can never spend a nice evening together. But, when the man goes away again for four days a week, both dogs are back in the sitting room. They both then sleep in the same room. They then go outside together. They play together nicely.
No problems out of the house
One other puzzling thing is that the dogs are okay going for walks together with both their humans. They all get into one car (one dog and human in the front when the other dog is brought out) and there is no trouble between the dogs when walking in the fields.
For four days a week the lady is unable to walk Rufus so this needs working on. But when the man comes home, Rufus has three days of two-hour-walks. He is played with constantly, and pesters and barks to keep the man’s attention on him. He is fed from his plate. They play wrestling games. If Rufus spots Stoker he gets angry – keep away from ‘my’ man! Stoker promptly retaliates. There have been some quite scary fights.
The poor gentleman is going to forego some of his fun for the greater good. Calm is going to be rewarded with attention – and with food taken from the dog’s daily quota. All attention isn’t going to be Rufus-generated from now on! Overdoing the walks just makes him even more hyped-up when they get home; he needs his exercise spread throughout the week somehow.
The man has work to do
Most importantly, the man needs to work on going out of sight briefly – and on getting Rufus to Sit and Stay while gradually, over time, he can disappear without Rufus following him or barking.
When the man has done his groundwork, getting the dogs back together again could start after a walk. Instead of bringing them back indoors one at a time as they have to now, they could walk them back into the house together before separating them – and gradually advance from there, using lots of praise and reinforcement whilst also watching carefully for any signs of tension between the dogs.
As these two dogs aren’t really enemies – they are fine together for half the time – the outcome should be good, provided that the humans can be consistent with the new rules and boundaries (rules and boundaries that are as much for the gentleman as for the dogs!).