Friday, April 18, 2014

Adding to the Pack - Fights

Unfortunately dog fights do happen. And unless you`re a professional, it can be a scary thing to watch.

Even though dogs are social animals and want to get along, they sometimes have conflicts with each other that lead to fights. A few things dogs can fight over are food, toys or territory. When you add to your pack, you are forcing them to share all the above! So it’s essential to manage these things carefully.

Because adding to your pack is essentially playing “match maker” with your dogs, there are bound to be some conflicts in the beginning. And you can influence the dogs in a negative way if you feel nervous and unsure when they are together. Keep in mind what you want, not what you are afraid of.

When should you intervene when dogs are fighting?

There are some people that believe you should always allow the dogs to work things out for themselves.  In my opinion whether you do or don’t intervene depends on different factors such as your comfort level, your knowledge of the dogs fighting and the severity of the fight.

How can you intervene when dogs are fighting?

Most fights can be diffused with a firm “HEY”. If that doesn’t work you can try different things such as getting between them with your body, pulling them apart, or if you have the resources near you can spray water or throw a coat or blanket on them. The goal is to snap them out of it so they can stop and calm down. Whatever you do, it’s important you remain calm. Screaming at dogs fighting will likely heighten their intensity.

Once you have successfully stopped them from fighting, the important thing is to calm them down while they are still together. If you separate them at that high intensity it could resurface when they see each other again, especially if you keep thinking and expecting it to happen. Dogs naturally want peace and structure. This is an opportunity to show them that you are the leader and what is and isn’t acceptable behavior.

Within your pack of dogs there is a hierarchy that exists between them. So when you bring a new dog into the mix, you have to expect and accept that the dogs have to work those things out. Establishing their roles could potentially lead to fights so keep that in mind. Again it’s up to you how you handle it. Obviously you should use your judgement; you don’t want any dog to end up at the vet’s office.
Judique and Effie Butt Heads

The first couple of days after we adopted Effie were stressful. Bear, my sweet senior had no issue with Effie whatsoever, just like I expected. But Judique, my young Husky was having a hard time sharing her house and life. I was quite surprised just how pissed off she seemed with our new addition. She growled and snapped at Effie constantly. We managed that very carefully and made sure we were always around to provide a positive environment. We gave Judique space and made sure we didn’t give all our attention to the new dog. I’ll admit when I was alone with Judique and Effie I was nervous they would fight and inevitably they did. They had two pretty bad fights and I stopped both of them, one of them I had to pull them apart and the second one a firm tone and Effie yelping in pain stopped it. As much as I disliked them fighting, it did seem to establish Judique as boss of Effie. I can see the hierarchy in action all the time now.

I’m very happy to say that the two girls have become great buddies and make perfect playmates for each other. That is exactly what we wanted when we adopted Effie. They occasionally butt heads but it doesn’t happen often and we always make sure it ends with everyone being calm and moving on. There are numerous lessons we can learn from our dogs and one of the most important is to let things go. Dogs don’t hold grudges and they most certainly do live in the moment. What beautiful teachers I have.

Stay tuned for “Adding to Your Pack – Feeding

1 comment:

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