Sunday, February 23, 2014

It's Always Something

Maisy is, to put it bluntly, a bitch. An only child most of her life, she's never really had to share. This has never been a problem in the past. Although she would try to resource guard things from the cats (who would just look at her like um, there is no way I want your stupid Kong, geesh and walk away), she's never really experienced someone fighting back.

Pyg, on the other hand, is socially confident. He doesn't start stuff and he won't brazenly steal things from Maisy. He will opportunistically steal her stuff if she gets distracted, and I've even seen him do the whole oh, I think someone's at the door bark-bark-bark... HA! SUCKER! fake out thing. But when Maisy is a bitch, it's ON.

I know I'm not alone in this; all multi-dog households are going to have the occasional disagreement. So why don't we talk about it more? Well, I've always been honest on this blog, so yes. My dogs fight sometimes.

Most of the time it's completely appropriate and involves a hard stare, a lip lift, or a brief growl, with the other dog licking his lips, looking away, or shaking off. All in all, no big deal.

But sometimes. Oh, sometimes.

I had one of those sometimes recently. I was eating a snack, and both dogs were quietly begging at my feet. In other words, just another day at la casa de los perros. Except I wasn't sharing, and this upset Maisy. I have no idea what was going on in her furry little head, but my anthropomorphic belief is that she was upset about the lack of sharing and this made her anxious/stressed/frantic/bitchy. And so she divebombed at Pyg, growling and snarling.

I did that stupid thing you're not supposed to do: I reached in to break up the fight. I gotten bitten. It was no one's fault but my own, and I think Pyg was as surprised to make contact with my arm as I was to get bitten. About the only good thing is that now I know what Pyg's bite inhibition is like (worse than I thought).

It was also the wake up call I needed to start working on the issue. I'm fortunate to have an awesome friend who currently lives with seven dogs and has a surprisingly small number of fights in her house. I emailed her, and she wrote some blog posts just for me! (Okay, fine, she was already working on them, but she finished them for me.)

Her advice ended up pretty long, so it's been split into three posts. The first one is on management, and you can read it here. For the most part, I've done a prety good job at this. The dogs already eat in their crates, but I've tightened that up to include times when I'm eating something and not sharing or when Maisy is otherwise looking stressed.

The second post is on actual training things you can do to help your dogs get along better. You can read it here. I'm only just starting on this. Pyg has pretty good impulse control, but Maisy's has really slipped over the years, so I've got a lot of work to do.

Part three will, I'm told, include case studies... I'd say that I will update this post when she updates, but, um. Probably not. Oh well. You're all smart. you can find it, I'm sure.

Anyway, I'll be sure to keep you guys updated on how things go...

1 comment:

Ninso said...

When I first got Jun and only had Lok, Jun was so bad she would walk right up to him and take things right out of his mouth! I put a stop to that quick. Then when Elo came along the dynamics between him and Jun were very similar to Maisy and Pyg, and in most cases the big fights were exactly like the one you describe--neither dog has the resource; I have it and they both want it. For example, standing by the food bin dishing up bowls. I got bit 4 times, all by Elo who also has poor bite inhibition. Something in Laura's 2nd post made complete sense to me, even though I never thought of it in those terms--that RG comes from insecurity over not know what is theirs. We still have the rare scuffle, but they are short, mostly noise, and they break it up on their own now. I have no doubt you'll be able to work through this issue.