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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi to everyone - I am the proud owner (!!!) of 4 fabulous dalmations; Mum, Dad and two of their boys. Like everyone else on the forum I LOVE my pets and at the moment I am in need of some serious help ........

My boys have just turned one year old and have turned on each other... at the weekend the whole house was so upset at their ferocious fighting and I know you should never intervene but I did, got bit, ended up in hospital, under general aneasthetic, stitched up as the wound went through muscle and to the bone and sent home 2 days later! They have not been castrated YET as I know this is all part of their growing up but would be grateful of any help to get my household back to normal and all my dals living in peace!!

Thanks
Claire
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks Jo-ann

At the moment they are being seperated and just to know that things will return back to normal in time is of great comfort - I love them all dearly and could not consider parting with any however grumpy they are!!

I am fine at the moment and have my stitches out on Monday - it was just a loving bite!!

Claire x
 
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Hi Claire
Sorry to hear that you were injured and hope you are well on the way to recovery. It is never a good idea to keep entire Males together in one household and even having them castrated may not solve your problem now there has already been an altercation between them. Has your bitch now been spayed? If not there could be more trouble to come when she next comes in season. Large dogs can inflict a lot of damage on each other and their usual devotion to their owners can sometimes go out the window when in the frenzy of a fight, resulting in owners being injured also.
I do wish you luck with these two, not a position I would like to be in as they get older.

Leah
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Hi Leah

Mum has been spayed last year and our vet has warned us that regardless of them being castrated now and of how they got one before they may end up never seeing eye to eye as they have serisously attacked each other and being large, strong dogs have inflicted pretty nasty injuries upon each other not just me!

My husband is away next week so we are going to put both dogs into the kennels (two large dogs, one bad arm and no strong husband is a receipe for disaster!), we will have them castrated the week after and then I am looking for a behaviourist for some serious training ...... after that I can't think what else we can possibly do.
 

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Hi Leah

Mum has been spayed last year and our vet has warned us that regardless of them being castrated now and of how they got one before they may end up never seeing eye to eye as they have serisously attacked each other and being large, strong dogs have inflicted pretty nasty injuries upon each other not just me!

My husband is away next week so we are going to put both dogs into the kennels (two large dogs, one bad arm and no strong husband is a receipe for disaster!), we will have them castrated the week after and then I am looking for a behaviourist for some serious training ...... after that I can't think what else we can possibly do.
i think your main problem is the two boys are the same age both want to be top dog ! in a pack situation you can only have 1 leader hopefully you !some times this will just work its self out ,where 1 dog backs down but in your case neither wants to back down so you have a serious problem
training can help but in my experience you would be better to concider finding 1 of your boys another home
not a easy decission i know but not easy for you or your dogs to live with
dogs can live together but males are better if the age gap is as far apart as possible or you are lucky and have 1 that is naturally submisive
i live in a pack situation one old bull dog & five staffords two of them are dogs but with a 9year age gap and i am top dog !! karen @bluestafford
 
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Sorry to hear your trouble & i hope the dogs do settle & sort them selves out.

However i have to agree with growler1961, the dogs will indeed be better living apart.

Good luck!
 
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I have to agree with Karen. Though it would be very upsetting for you to part with one of your beloved pets if things do not settle down think how upsetting the situation would be for your dogs living in a constant agressive situation. Would perhaps another family member be willing to take one of them on so you can still keep in contact? I really feel for you on this but the dogs welfare must come first. My mother has had a similar situation but with bitches, who can sometimes be worse that the males as bitches very rarely recognise submission as the males do. She is an old hand with dogs and has years of experience but still finds this a difficult situation and has to be on her toes constantly. Whatever you decide I wish you luck.
 

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I hope your injuries soon heal. This often occurs with two litter mates when they live in the same house, they get to a certain age and there is trouble. Inter house fighting is always a difficult one to deal with, do your dogs socialise well with other dogs outside ? Do they get chance to be apart from each other when out for a walk etc. I would contact a behaviourist prior to getting them castrated, to check it is the right thing to do.
Jen
 

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i have had a similiar problem with 2 of my bitches and i was bitten on the hand which became infected when i went to seperate them. they are only cocker spaniels and it was hard to split them up so i couldnt imagine trying to part dalmations.
my bitches went at each other because one had puppies and the other was due to have hers.
i to feel that it would be better all around if one was rehomed. they say not to have 2 pups from the same litter i would not sell 2 to anyone from my litters.
i hope you recover quickly and get the problem sorted. its hard because you will probably be on edge when the 2 dogs are together which they will pick up on.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
We ended up keeping two boys from the litter as we had no-one to re-home them to. We have Dad (10), mum (3) who we did not intend to breed from, we were advised to let mum have a season first and then have her spayed but the dog got there first hence a litter of 8. We re-homed 6 and were left with 2. I am not a breeder and have never wanted to be but did my best in finding suitable homes for as many pups as we could - since then we obviously have had mum spayed soon after her first litter.

With no one to re-home them to we decided that it was our responsibility to look after them, they are wonderful dogs, are not aggressive to other dogs or bitches when out walking and all has been fine up until this one (serious I know) incident.

I have been intouch with a behaviourist, I have been told I am letting my heart rule my head, I love my dogs and I am prepared to take the time and effort to try and work this out. I have no-one that would be prepared to re-home one (and wich one to re-home I have no idea as we have become very attatched to both).
 

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Claire I am extremely sorry to hear of your problem, but would always advise that you NEVER intervene when dogs are fighting for reasons you now know.

From your post I gather that you now have 4 dogs. Two brothers and the mother and father. You now have a pack situation. In an ideal world there would be a bitch and a dog within a household, keeping the ideal balance. Personally, I have seen numerous fights between siblings that share the same household, and there are no quick fixes.

It is extremely important to structure your pack, you being pack leader. Castrating the submissive of the two brothers should help, but further details such as what actually lead up to the fight would be helpful.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Hi Nina - and everyone up to now for your posts, seeing it from many view points and considering lots of other things, peoples opinions, concerns and experiences out is of great help - thank you all ......... keep posting - it keeps me going!!!!

The lead up to the fight ..........
In the afternoon all 4 of our dogs had been taken on their usual second walk -nothing different there but we were joined by a friend and his dog (male, not castrated, who our lot had never met before) which whilst our dogs were on their leads caused barking. We let the dogs off one at a time so as not to overpower the friends dog and when off, both of our young dogs had a slight altercation with the friends dog separately, so we separated fields and joined back up again 2 fields later, all dogs were off their leads and everything was fine. On the walk we met up with a number of other dogs and there were no problems at all.

Later on in the evening came sunday roast chicken dinner and whilst we were trying to enjoy our dinner both of our dogs started to fight, we separated them, they became calm again and we were clearing off the table when all hell broke loose and they attacked each other, I intervened (I know now, but you live and learn...) was bitten, the dogs were then completely separated.

This happened on Sunday evening I was out of hospital Tuesday afternoon so we walked the dogs together, on separate leads out in big open fields, there was a lot of growling but by the end of the walk they had stopped being interested in each other, no barking or growling but we did keep them on the lead at all times. The next walk we tried off the lead in the fields and after a little grumbling and what looked liked was going to be ok turned out to be a vicious attack on each other, eventually locking on to each others jowls. Since this they have not been walked together, are kept in separate rooms, do not get near each other at all.

My husband is away this wednesday for 2 days so I have booked both brothers into the kennels (asking them to keep them as far from each other as possible with a run down on recent events). I know they now have a 'learned behaviour' which they associate with each other but perhaps we can re-introduce the dogs slowly over time to undo this learned behaviour and make the dogs realise that they do not need to be the first one to get stuck in (so to speak) and that they can learn to trust each other. One of the dogs on both occasions was very upset (although he gave as good as he got - if not more, he did wee all over our bed (not like him) and he was off his food. The other dog, although more injured, showed no signs of stress or concern.

Your comment on having one castrated is very interesting as we have been considering having both done (perhaps one dominant male is the answer), this would make a more structured pack - neither dogs every rise to or question their dad of many years their senior. We are trying to look at all feasible options so as hopefully not having to re-home one, but in the end we want to make the right descision for ALL concerned and if there will never be an answer then YES i will rehome for my safety, the dogs safety and everyone's sanity....

Claire x
 

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Hi Clarie

I hope your injuries were not too bad.

I think you have made the right decision by kenneling one or both the dogs for the short term especially feel unconfident at the moment.

I would recommend that you speak to a Trainer or Behavioural Counsellor in your area when your husband gets back and see how they can help. You may look at

The Association of Pet Behaviour Counsellors
http://www.coape.org/
APDT

to help you find some one suitable.

The only other things I would say are:

Dogs some times do fight and the fight could be one offs (dogs don't write letters to solicitors or editors) or some times owners get a situation where it is unsafe for them or the dogs. Again there maybe situations where dogs in certain households get on perfectly but fight around certain resources and these are all different examples when dogs do fight in multi dog households.

When I work with owners and dogs, considerations I will make will include injuries & (physical or emotional distress) caused to dogs and /or owners and of course what the owners wants to do. Then we set about working with the dogs and the owners…
(This may include re-homing, working with dogs and owners to resolve any problems if any exist…)

I hope this help. I purposely haven't put any "solutions" to the problem you are having as there usually isn't one fix for all, and suggestions that trainers will make will probably be based on you and your dogs.
Regards

Chirag

Chirag Patel DipCABT
Certificate in Dog Psychology
SF/SPCA Certs. Training & Behaviour and Dog Aggression
Member of the APDT #00923

Email: [email protected]
Website: Domesticated Manners
(DipCABT = Advanced Diploma in Practical Aspects of Companion Animal Behaviour & Training)
 

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Claire, I really feel that by castrating the lower ranking dog, his smell will be far less of a challenge to your top dog. The testosterone levels will diminish and the problem may indeed be resolved.

I would certainly speak with your vet putting my suggestion to him/her. Pack structure is extremely important, and your two dogs are doing what comes naturally in the wild. It is unfortunate that you are right in the middle!

In the wild, a wolf pack functions as a unit. It is held together by their social bonds, similar to that of a human family. Order is only maintained through hierarchy, or 'pecking order' where top ranking individuals dominate the lower ranking ones. If you watch your dogs they will dominate or submit in exactly the same way that a wolf would do. It really is important to understand the structure and behaviour of wolf society, to help you understand that of your dogs.

As with all behavioural problems it is necessary to have a complete history of a dog problem(s) before you can begin to work through their problems. I can only advise on this forum, but you sound a determined person and I wish you the best of luck.
 

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Hi

I have to say that I am for neutering, if owners are noting going to breed from their dog.

However I don't feel that neutering on the basis that one dogs is ‘dominant’ is the best solution in a multi dog household (If I had a multi dog house hold and didn’t intend on breeding any of them, then all of them would be neutered). I believe we have to be careful how we use the word dominance as looking at the current research, dominance isn’t this linear hierarchy as many people are made to believe.

Old research was conducted on wolves that were held in captivity and were put into "packs" regardless of whether they would have formed those groupings naturally. Current research on wolf in the wild shows that ‘wolf packs’ are not what most of us envisage, there is more of a family structure to them. If you are interested have a look at research and work by David Mech. There is also a book by James O'Heare about the Dominance Theory. We must also remember that although dogs descended from the wolf they have undergone thousands of years of domestication.

I was actually thinking about this topic this morning as I was reading this month’s Journal of Veterinary Behaviour, (Vol. 2 Issue 4 2007). There is a very good discussion in there about “Social dominance theory as it relates to dogs” by Angelica Steinker.

There is a paragraph that you may find useful and it says:

“By labelling a dog “dominant,” the humans involved begin to interpret many behaviours as evidence of “dominance” and ignore any evidence to the contrary. This can be especially detrimental in cases of household aggression. Is a professional misreads a situation and tells a client to support the “dominant” dog, who is-in reality- bullying the other dogs and causing stress and unhappiness, such labels can be especially detrimental.”

This is an interesting discussion in dog training today but I do feel that the dominance theory is somewhat outdated but very popular. There is tons of advice and opinion out there but from a science point of view these are my opinions based on the research that I know of and the work I do with dogs. I have included a few links below for any one interested in finding out more about this discussion. One of the links is to Dogstardaily.com where you should find a blog I wrote some time ago about dominance if you are interested.

http://www.davemech.org
http://dogstardaily.com
http://www.clickersolutions.com/articles/2001/dominance.htm

Regards

Chirag:)

Chirag Patel DipCABT
Certificate in Dog Psychology
SF/SPCA Certs. Training & Behaviour and Dog Aggression
Member of the APDT #00923

Email: [email protected]
Website: www.domesticatedmanners.com
 

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Chirag, you have essentially agreed with my previous post that wolf packs function as a unit, similar to that of a human family.

I have tried to advise based on my knowledge of working with both wolves and dogs, and part of my research was based on David Mech studies, who has essentially led the way with his work in the field.

Claire is naturally keen to find harmony in her pack, and in order to do this she must try to find a way without rehoming one of the brothers. I do not feel that point scoring is helpful in this situation!

As I am sure you will appreciate, what works for one dog will not necessarily work for another and it is important that Claire discusses this with her vet before castration takes place.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Hi everyone

Just to let you know I am avidly reading all postings and I am not prepared to rush into anything at the moment.

As mentioned my husband is away for a couple of days so I have booked one of the boys into the kennels until his return. I have been given contact details for a behaviourist through our vets and will discuss castration of one, or both (as someone has pointed out - even though the issue at the moment is purely between the brothers and they are only 12 months old with more developing to do but it could escalate towards the father, he's nearly 11), so again another point to consider.

I do feel though that they (not with my blessings!) have decided to act this way, (sunday roast chicken dinner being a major factor) and I may have given off all the wrong vibes and handled the actual fight not particularly well but this is my household and small changes have already been made to reinstate to both dogs that I am in charge, it will take time but I'm not giving in!

Stitches came out tonight, needs to be re-dressed again Thursday, feels rather numb.

Thanks to all will keep you updated ...............

Claire
 
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