Dog fight injuries & therapy

aughi_maAugust 19, 2008

Hi Folks,

My Aussi/Heeler Maya lost a dog fight to a Great Pyrenees mix who was seriously provoked. Maya spent 3 days in the hospital where they reconstructed the shredded muscles in her back left leg and then reconnected them to her knee. She is home today from the hospital and will be recouperating for several weeks in her kennel.

We don't know if the muscles will reattach and we don't know if she will be able/willing to use the leg.

So my first question is whether any of you can recommend types of physical therapy that will help (once her tissues and stitches have healed, of course). Heat, massage, swimming...?

And the second question is about re-socializing her. She was a very friendly athletic dog, but now seems to be extremely timid and fearful. Will this pass as she heals? Is there any way I can help this along? When she came home, she even growled at her best friend, the cat.

I'd be happy to hear any consoling dog-fight survival stories since this is the first time I've been on the wrong end of dog socialization.



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You might be jumping the gun a bit. She may loose the leg, so I would wait until thinking about therapy to see how well she heals. With muscle injuries you are looking at lots of recovery time and slowly getting back into the swing of things. You may want to contact an acupuncturist now and see if they can help with healing. I would wait on the pool therapy, but that would probably be your best bet since it is not a weight bearing activity. As far as your dog growing at the cat, your dog probably feels like crap right now and does not want to be bothered right now.
As far as re-socializing, can you tell me more about the details of the fight? The more info the better, that way we can figure out her trigger. Hope she recovers quickly and can keep her leg.

    Bookmark   August 19, 2008 at 4:56PM
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Yeah, I know I'm jumping the gun. But I feel pretty helpless right now and planning is more satisfying than fussing.

The female Great Pyrenees lives next door. She and Maya have been bitter enemies since I moved in. As soon as the dogs met the first time they tried to fight. [In all other dog-relationships (dog parks and friends coming over with dogs) both dogs are reasonable and social.] My neighbor and I installed a solid wood fence to keep them apart. They can't even see each other, but they run the fence snarling and barking at each other. The GP got in my back yard and Maya went out to fight. She's no match for 110 lbs of solid dog.

It didn't surprise me when she growled at the cat today. I'm sure the cat said something snide.

Acupuncture. That's an interesting idea. We'll give it a few weeks to see if the muscles re-attach.


    Bookmark   August 19, 2008 at 7:14PM
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I'm so sorry to hear about the fight. You must be terribly upset, and I hope you get some helpful suggestions here.


    Bookmark   August 19, 2008 at 9:05PM
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Thanks Susan,
There may not be much to suggest yet since we're still in the earliest recovery phases.

She's alive and I'm grateful for that.


    Bookmark   August 19, 2008 at 11:57PM
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"they run the fence snarling and barking at each other."

That is behavior that needs to be corrected. You should not allow your dogs to do that anymore. They can be trained not to do that.

Both dogs probably need to be taught that you are the leader of the pack and they don't need to protect you or your property, that is your job, not theirs.

    Bookmark   August 20, 2008 at 9:46AM
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Thanks Joepyeweed.
As if guilt and sorrow don't make me feel bad enough, I now know that I'm a lousy dog trainer. These are all shelter dogs that we have rescued and are in various stages of saving, loving and, yes, training.

This did not make me feel beeter nor help Maya.

    Bookmark   August 20, 2008 at 1:17PM
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First of all, I was replying to your question about re-socializing .... and that was what my response was referring to...

What is done is done, and you can't change that. You need to drop the guilt and the sorrow and move forward. Dogs tend to live in the here and the now, they don't drag the past around with them. Dogs will follow your lead. If you are regretting the past and feeling anxious about what happened, your dog will too.

The more you "baby" and feel sorry for your dog, the more he will pick up on that feeling and it won't help him resocialize. He will live in the fear that you carry around.

You need to treat him like a dog, you need to be in control, and your dog will gradually resocialize.

Its not something to be emotional about or feel guilty about. I also know that its easier said than done. As people, we are also second guessing ourselves, living in the should've, could've, would've. But dogs don't do that, and YOU need to get over it, as much as your dog does. When you get over it and start treating the dog, like a dog and not some baby, then he will improve.

My comments were meant to be helpful...

    Bookmark   August 20, 2008 at 1:34PM
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Your comments were meant to be helpful, but the tone was a bit of a "put-down." That's not what people are looking for here, especially someone with a seriously injured dog.

    Bookmark   August 20, 2008 at 10:32PM
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Tone is sometimes hard to pick up in black and white.

Being offended is a choice.

I've been posting on this forum for several years. And yes, sometimes people don't always get to hear what they want to hear when they post to this forum. Though I really had no idea what I posted, would be taken that way.

And yes, my posts are usually direct...but I wasn't pointing guilt or blame. Cripes, I've owned many dogs over the years, and I've been there, done that.

My neighbor had an aggressive bulldog that chomped down on my dog, required stitches... and I've had dogs that toussled with coyotes, deer, raccoons, and cars... some didn't make it. Even if the muscles don't re-attach (which we hope isn't a factor), many dogs can live perfectly happy lives with three legs...

Great Pyrenees are notorious for being overly aggressive too. What happened isn't anyone's fault, I wasn't placing blame. But after the OP's reply to my post, it seems she is carrying a lot of guilt and anxiety, and that will affect the re-socialization of the dog.

    Bookmark   August 21, 2008 at 9:59AM
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As far as physical therapy options, I would ask your vet specifically about what if anything you should be doing at home. Some injuries are best left to heal with minimal movement and disturbance, others require specific movements or other modalities. Pain management is always important.

Once your dog is healed, you can work on socialization. Joepyeweed is absolutely correct that both dogs need to be reminded who is boss, and it is YOU and the other owner. Correcting the instigating behavior can be as simple as having both owners walk the fence with dogs on short leashes and LOTS of treats to reward for ignoring each other. But gaining control of the dogs is most important. A training class will work wonders, since your dog has to obey while other dogs are present. Also you have to be the boss by not allowing the dog on furniture, always preceeding the dog through doors and on stairways etc, making the dog sit and stay for anything it wants- everything must be on YOUR terms. That includes feeding, attention, everything.

I hope your dog's recovery is quick and full. Good luck with everything.

    Bookmark   August 22, 2008 at 8:49PM
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Mmm. I am wondering how you can prevent your dogs from running to the fence and fighting with the other dog because we have the same problem with out two dogs. They are well trained and WILL NOT listen when the other dog is out (our neighbors dog which also barks and growls at the fence)

We have tried everything and our dogs still do this. NO ONE seems to be able to help us!

Augie: I hope that your dog is doing ok. This is so scary! Your neighbors are probably feeling terrible. Don't let everyone make you upset. Our two boys are adopted also and although we train them and are trying to be perfect doggie parents some times they have habits that are hard to break!
Sometimes it takes years to see certain habits die. We don't know how our dogs were treated before we adopted them. One of them still runs away when take off your belt :( although we have had him for years and never have hit him!

Anyways, back to the fence issue. Our dogs listen nearly all the time and we do the "nothing is free" method of training yet we can not figure out how to stop them from running to the fence. We can distract them sometimes but this doesn't work all the time. I have posted on this forum about it too and we still haven't been able to stop the issue. Although it is a little better.

    Bookmark   August 25, 2008 at 12:10PM
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You can stop them from running the fence with a leash.

I would use a leash and walk the dog along the fence line, and make him ignore the dog/people distractions on the other side. When he doesn't ignore, he gets a correction. When he does ignore, he gets praise...

If the dog is running the fence, put a leash on him and don't let him do it.

My dogs aren't perfect either. And they love to run up to the fence and bark at people or dogs on the other side. Its probably one of those things that even after years of training, we still have to remind them what is appropriate behavior. "Thanks for letting me know something is there, but that is enough". Which is usually followed by a slink back to the patio....

    Bookmark   August 25, 2008 at 2:57PM
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