My dog attacked my other dog :( help

chelihJune 15, 2007

I am so so distressed--I'll keep this as brief as poss then sit back for advice & questions.

My 9yr-old Wheaton Terrior is food aggressive & "bossy" with the 10 yr old Maltese we inherited 4 yrs ago. The maltese is very sweet and immediately allowed Pepper to be the big sister. He loves Pepper (the wtn.) and has no awareness of what he does to provoke her. When he senses her acting bossy or mean, he turns his back.... Pepper is also very sweet but a jealous (possessive) dog. Her groomer says she is the sweetest Wtn. she grooms and can't believe Pepper has an aggressive side.

I've always keep a strong "eye" on the signs of aggression/surliness (a word?) I've seen in Pepper (She & my 1st Wheaton were aggressive together--fights for dominance, usually over food). I truly treat EVERY moment with the dogs as though there could be an attack--feeding them separately, watching for the aggressive "warning behaviors" Pepper exhibits and most important, I actively train & show them both that I am TOP dog--not Pepper. Pepper is upside-down under me if she so much as frowns at Tiger but I am also very loving & positive with both.

In the 4 yrs the Matlese has been with us, Pepper has attacked him 4 times--2 times the Maltese suffered puncture wounds, some deep. Pepper viciously attacked the Maltese about a yr after he moved in, when Tiger walked behind her as Pepper was eating. She attacked him again last night. The 1st time, I let my guard down, obviously. I got too comfortable with the fact there had been no attacks or attempted attacts in over a yr. Last night, I'm not totally sure why Pepper attacked him--they were outside, which is a first (I do have a few suspicions). Immediately after the first attack 3yrs ago, I tried to find a new home for the Maltese--I'll give details if asked, but of those who met him, none wanted him (5). I consulted a trainer and became more strict with my training/watching/Top dog behaviors.

You must believe me that I am HUGE animal lover--rescuer--neighborhood pet training go-to and my heart is so heavy when this happens. After each of the 4 attacks, if they were out of their "dens" they were attached to me--as they are today. I worry, contemplate a new home for Tiger..., then a lot of time passes and I think I have Pepper's aggression under control and then a yr later, another attack.

So, now what do I do? I feel like I am letting Tiger down. I can't bear for him to be hurt again. I'm also worried I might attack Pepper next time she "does her positioning" behaviors. I love these 2 dogs so much and this makes me so very very sad. I do not know what to do besides what I am doing.

I'd love some advise, pls.

tks in advance

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I can see where you'd have trouble placing them at their age, but since Pepper was food aggressive and bossy from the beginning the problem probably won't improve much since the attacks are now happening in other areas besides the feeding area.

At 10 yrs of age the Maltese deserves a little peace and quiet in his senior years. If you want to keep them both, I'd suggest trying to keep them separated as much as possible. Also, instead of having both dogs attached to you when they're out of their crates, I'd give each one freedom in the room you're in while keeping the other one behind a baby gate in another room, or in a crate.
When you say you keep them 'attached', do you mean they're both on leashes that are attached to you? I can see where a little friction would develop between the two by having them connected to you at the same time.

Is Pepper spayed?

    Bookmark   June 16, 2007 at 12:52AM
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I was just passing the computer going to bed when I heard I had a message! tks for responding Annz!

~By "attached" I just meant always in eye-sight--bad choice of words.
~Pepper is spayed.
~The outside attack could have been food oriented--not easy to explain, but I can if anyone wants me to.
~I'm a bit less positive about the future when I realized the possible significance of 2 new dominance behaviors I've seen lately:
1: Going into Tiger's kennel at bedtime instead of her own.
2: Laying under my desk in the spot Tiger likes to sleep when I am working--she doesn't stay long, for the space is small. When Tiger attempts to go there after Pepper, Pepper doesn't try to intimidate him tho--she pays no attention to his arrival, then leaves. I thgt she might do her "dirty look" behavior, but she doesn't.

I love your idea about individual freedom from each other--with me. tks!

    Bookmark   June 16, 2007 at 1:20AM
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I have three female dogs. Big about 55 lbs. Bigger about 70 lbs. Biggest, about 85 lbs and growing.

When biggest came along she was a four month old pup, about 35 lbs. The other two dogs were well established. I knew very well what I was getting myself into when biggest came along (long story as to why).

Numerous rescue leagues that I contacted voiced concern about adding a third female to my mix. I was also, but felt that my matching personalities was good. I take my time and don't try to force things when looking for a dog.

My bigger dog, also the alpha, loves her time alone. It is nothing unusual for her to go downstairs and lay on the couch or floor. Everyone is very social and plays great together, she just likes to be alone.

The other two mostly stay in another part of the upstairs house. Biggest has a crate she can go in and out of at will.

All dogs have their spot that they like to sleep and lounge in. I do have a large house, so this is easy for them to do without getting crowded. Do your dogs have "their" spot where they can go and be left alone? Your older dog desperately needs it's own spot. A crate with a blanket over it would be a wonderful thing for it.

When it comes to feeding everyone, they all know that I am the boss. From puppy-hood, I have taught them that I simply must be able to do what I want with their food. That means, that sometimes, just to remind them that I am the boss, I put my hand in their bowl while they are eating. I take a few bits of food and hand feed them. Sometimes I simply take the bowl up while they are eating and a few seconds later give it right back. This has helped lots when I mix up the food bowls (one has a special diet). It also reminds them that I am truly the alpha dog.

Since there have been four major issues, I think you really need to consider what you can do to not have it happen again. What are you going to do if something more serious happens and you are forced to make a decision you really don't want to make?

Right now, your dogs are controlling you. The situation desperately needs to be the other way around, lest tragedy occur.

Consult your vet, where the dogs came from, read about the breed, talk to anyone who knows something about dog behavior. Make a plan and stick with it. If you don't, things are going to get worse.

Good luck!


    Bookmark   June 16, 2007 at 10:37AM
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Thank you so much for your insight--I believe you are a true "dog whisperer"!

Let me clarify a few things and ask specific training & environmental questions:

First I'll say, due to you and Annz' kind help, I believe I have corrected one of my problems. When I designed our new home I made space under the wall cabinets in the laundry rm for the dogs' kennels--next to each other. I thgt I was so smart doing this, but for my dogs' personalities, this may be one big problem. So hours ago, I moved Tiger's kennel to a different room (pantry next to L. rm) and he went right in! So now they will have their own space--away from each other.
~~I am also not going to allow either to sit under my desk while I am working--maybe that made Pepper (the Wheaton) think Tiger was getting special treatment (?).

#2: The dogs do know I am TOP DOG for I, also, use their food & bowls to show my dominance--pretend to eat a kernel from their bowls before putting bowl down--pick up while they are eating & touch them/their food while they are eating. Never a problem--never a growl or resistance. Also, when we pass thru a door outside I am to go first, after I have them sit-stay & wait for me. I have them sit/lay/stay on command from time to time during the day to reinforce this too.
~~A trainer I consulted after the first attack told me that they both knew I was top dog but I did things to allow Pepper to think she was my equal--that we were BOTH top dogs. So I've been doing these things for a long time---more strictly for about a yr--but now you'll see NOT STRICTLY ENOUGH.

***Let me be specific in my info and question: When I open a door to let them out, Pepper does bolt out the door ahead of me about 1/3 of the time. I use my correction sound (Ehhhhh) and she immediately returns to my side to sit/stay until I give her the "OK" to move. (Sometimes just hearing the correction sound from me, she stops & returns to my side.) Specifically, WHEN I say sit/stay--she ALWAYS obeys. If I give NO command, she will start thru the door. ~~~Writing this out, I see I'm slacking and creating top dog DOUBT in her mind. So she isn't totally convinced that I am top dog? Or am I teaching her that I AM top dog but if she "assumes a top dog behavior" there is no real consequence besides "re-doing the situation" and moving on?

SO, I need to go back to square one and take better control--using a lead to control, give commands EVERY TIME AND be persistent. But is it as "simple" as that? I can & will do these things correctly now but what else am I doing or what else can I do. Surely my "allowing" her to even consider disobeying my top-dog status isn't the only reason she's "comfortable" risking punishment in order to attack Tiger? I believe Tiger knows Pepper is Alpha dog and is comfortable with it. It has to be ME & my behavior that affects Peppers attacks.

Hope I've been somewhat clear about what I do & don't do in order for you all to help give me instruction & advice.

tks again in advance,

    Bookmark   June 16, 2007 at 2:10PM
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I think seperating them is going to work against you. In my opinion you should be training the dogs to be together, with proper training you can have both dogs together without fights.
First thing I would do is put your aggressive dog in a harness, like the ones Chihuahuas wear, not a promise collar. I would attach a leash to your aggressive dog and attached the other end to a belt loop on your - if you are home alot, I would work around the house with the dog actually attached to me this way. This asserts your dominance all the time without any verbal commands, where you go your dog must go. Next, I would feed the aggressive dog on a leash. Give treats in a sit stay position with the dogs sitting next to each other, the second your aggressive dog shows any sign of alertness towards your other dog, I would correct (ears up, even looking at the other dog while either one is eating) In training dogs, especially ones with strong personalities, you must assert your dominance AT ALL TIMES. When going for a walk, your dog should be in a sitting position, calm and in control, When going for a walk ALWAYS go out the door first, making your dog sit and stay until you are ready to go out the door, your dog should not ever be walking in front of you, especially going in or out of the house or car. When walking, the first 5 - 10 minutes is scratch and sniff time, your dog can sniff around and pee, after that NO MARKING, NO WALKING IN FRONT OF YOU, you might consider walking your dog on a leash for a good half an hour at least once daily - ideally twice or three times. Leash walking like this at a good walking clip without letting your dog pull you all over the place or sniff or mark everything will do wonders for a strong willed dog. I have used these techniques when assisting my friends in bonding with their dogs, and regaining control. Your thinking of having to give up one of your dogs is not necessary if you have the time and energy to put into proper training and you stick with it daily. It sounds like you love your dogs and are willig to work things out. Once you get your aggressive dog into a routine, start adding the food element whilke the other dog is nearby - treat giving etc, making certain you have a short leash and good control. I think you can make this happen. Do your dogs get much outside time on a leash? Do they have any just run outside for an hour until they can not move when they get home time, in order to get rid of some of that extra energy. Can you locate a flyball group? or a trial run group - where they hid a rat in a cage at the end of a long tunnel dug in the ground? This will help your Wheaton to do what she was berd to do, focus on a job!!! Good Luck, I hope you keep posting and let us know what is working and what isnt.

    Bookmark   June 16, 2007 at 3:29PM
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I do not think that Maltese should be exposed to this hazard. This situation can kill it. It's been injured severly two times already, attacked four times. I do not think training the Wheaton at the expense of the Maltese is fair to the Maltese!

Perhaps call in a private trainer, an expert in dog agression? Not all trainers can do that, and an online message for advice is nice but not going to save a dog's life.

Either that or find a home for one of the dogs. Harsh, but the Maltese deserves better thank living like that.

My two cents. I wish you good luck!

    Bookmark   June 16, 2007 at 5:00PM
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I was emailed by OP and asked to reply to this message and I am flattered but the invitation however unfortunately I don't have an answer for this one. I didn't read the replies so there may be some good info there but if it were me, and this was getting to be a problem with no end in sight, I would contact an experienced dog behaviorist for a consultation and some ideas. I am not one, have never had this problem before and if I did, I wouldn't know what to do. So I'm not going to b e much help with this topic, sorry. But hey, thanks again for the email.

    Bookmark   June 17, 2007 at 10:03AM
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It might be "play" fighting. Or if it's serious, try to keep them apart. Separate room with closed doors.

    Bookmark   June 17, 2007 at 11:10AM
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Whether it's play or not, the Maltese gets hurt. Keeping them apart denies one of them access to their owner/love.

    Bookmark   June 17, 2007 at 3:08PM
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Thank you for all your input!

I do not think that Maltese should be exposed to this hazard...the Maltese deserves better than living like that
***I absolutely agree, I love this little guy--this situation sickens me. I AM making him safe and helping him feel safe, best I can. By the end of the coming week I will make a decision based on the info I find. Besides this site, I HAVE been making calls concerning training/aggression/behavior specialities...which I will be able to follow up on Monday.

...try to keep them apart...Separate rooms...
...Keeping them apart denies one of them access to their owner/love...
...I think separating them is going to work against you. In my opinion you should be training the dogs to be together
**For now, I have separated their beds, but the only time they go to them is when I leave the house or go to bed--then I lock them in. They rarely go on their own. When I am at home, "most" every day--all day, they most always follow me and plop down in that room, then follow me when I leave that room...
**I'll continue to feed them separately--in separate rooms and I, as usual, I will "guard" feeding time & after, making sure there are no scraps on the floor/food left in either bowl AND I always make sure Pepper isn't acting oddly before I leave them alone (like go to the bathrm or s/t like that)--so I will continue that.

Do your dogs get much outside time on a leash? Do they have any just run outside for an hour until...
YES, I have a large yard and they go outside 4-6+ times a day but neither like the heat/humidity so they basically do their business & come back to the door--early evenings, they do like to sit on the porch. And they do enjoy early a.m. & evening walks but I admit they are pretty lazy dogs. I don't "go off to work" so they are not alone much but they sleep a ton. I need to do more walks & stimulate them better, I see.
Can you locate a flyball group? or a trial run group...
I also found a ph# on canine sports, etc that I am anxious to find out about too, for I do know Wheatons need activity.

If anyone has anymore ideas/advice, I sure do welcome it.

    Bookmark   June 17, 2007 at 4:56PM
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I think a dog that inflicts puncture and other such wounds on another dog has a severe problem. Not a problem that will be solved with separating where their beds lie, more walks, more attention, sitting before exiting the house. It sounds like violent behavior to me. Apparently, there is a very mean streak in this dog. I've never experienced this kind of behavior, but it is disturbing to hear.

I feel it is unfair to put the victim of this kind of behavior in continual danger from attack by another dog in the house. If you are truly the Alpha, you must make the situation right.

Sometimes behaviors are so imbedded such as in a pitbull, that no matter what you do there is no way to change the behavior. If you were posting that a pit had done this, I think everyone would say bye to the pit. Because he is not, I think he is getting a little more positive feedback.

It's your choice, but for me it would be a no-brainer. Four vicious attacks. Sounds like it isn't going to change. Any possibility of re-homing the offender to a home were it would only be the one dog?

Best of luck to you. I know this must be a terrible situation to be in.

    Bookmark   June 17, 2007 at 9:36PM
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