Dog Biting another Dog

Posted by LauraHoran
Feb 26, 2008
Let me first set the scene. I have 8 dogs of my own: Charles (border collie/chow 12 years), Roxie (Pom 9 years), Max (Pom 9 years), Sadie (yellow lab/husky 6 years), Joe (aussie/chow 5 years), Moe (cocker spaniel 5 years), Buddy (cocker spaniel 2 years) and Suess (Spaniel mix, 1-2 years). These dogs are inside/outside with a doggie door to a fenced yard.

I also foster for the local humane society - right now I have 5 dogs in kennels outside, with shelter.

My problem is that Sadie has attacked Max 3 times in the last month, always getting him by the neck and not letting go. She has broken the skin all 3 times, but nothing else. Sadie is approximately 65 lbs and Max is 15 lbs. All 3 times were when the "pack" got into an excited state - once when my husband came home, once when I was feeding the foster dogs, and once when I came home. I have been keeping Sadie crated unless I can be in the room with her and make sure I'm there in case the "pack" starts to escalate and then I step in and put her in the crate. I also crate her when I know the pack will get excited.

I've read the some previous postings concerning the alpha, but am curious if that will work in this situation since it seems Sadie is snapping into some kind of instinct when the pack gets excited. She and Max get along fine whenever the pack is calm.

I would appreciate any advice. Sadie just showed up on our front porch about 4 years ago when she was about 2 years old. We've had Max since he was a puppy, 9 years ago. They are both very special parts of our family.
Posted by Blue
Feb 26, 2008
Hi Laura,
It is so nice to hear you are fostering, good on you!! It must get a little crazy once in a while for you! I'm glad you have read about some of the alpha techniques elsewhere on the forum! Feel free to use the information on the forum about alpha techniques, as well as in the book.

When it comes to Sadie, it sounds like she is eitehr going predatory on Max during hi energy times (huskies do have high prey drive) or, if it occurs only when there is something new (visitor, pack members returning etc.) it is more likely to be instigated by a dominant aggression problem.

If it is predatory this is a more difficult behaviour to break and no, alpha techniques may not help to resolve the issue.

BUT... Alpha techniques will help to stabilize the pack if it is a dominance issue - reestablishing your alpha status well make all pack members that they are accountable to you, and that bad behaviour will be reprimanded. So I still recommend trying to include the alpha techniques in your day to day interactions with the dogs - even the little ones, so that they are aware who is boss, and may be less likely to disturb the pecking order by getting under the feet of a more alpha animal.
It may be that Max is getting in front of Sadie during times of peak interest and she doesn't like that he will be greeting visitors first - or during feeding times - eating first!

In addition to including alpha techniques your dog(s) should always be reprimanded for bad behaviour (in particular dominant Sadie). DO NOT yell, as this has no effect on a dominant dog. Growl instead, use a guttural growl like " AAHHH!" instead of "No!", as this makes a sharper sound then "No" (If done correctly it may hurt your throat a little). It may sound funny when you and your husband are growling at the dog, but you'd be amazed how much it works! I also include wide eye contact when my dog is ABOUT to cause a problem!

If you catch Sadie going for or even eyeing Max again, reprimand (like suggested above) and either throw a heavy blanket on her or if you can a bucket of water. This is a definate "that behaviour is UNACCEPTABLE" from the pack leader. She got the growl, didn't listen, then the consequences of ignoring the alpha (similar in effect to a bite that an alpha wolf would give to an out of line pack member).

Remember to always reward appropriate behaviour by Sadie around Max, good play sessions with him, sleeping near him, just good behaviour. This way, she'll know that it makes the leaders happy when the pack is at peace, and that good things come to peaceful pack members!

A strong reprimand/reward program with Sadie and her behaviour will also help with a prey drive problem if that is the case.

I hope this has been somewhat informative!
Feel free to post any more questions/concerns or progress,
Posted by LauraHoran
Feb 26, 2008
Thanks for the information. It does make sense to me. I will work with Sadie on the reward and reprimand, as well as working with the others on the Alpha techniques. I've held off bringing any more fosters into my pack until I have this under control.

It is hard to find much information about working with the larger numbers of dogs. Most information is for a single dog, or two dogs. If anyone has any tips or techniques with multiple dogs, I'd appreciate the information!

Thanks again.
Posted by MaxHollyNoah
Feb 27, 2008
Hi Laura.

You must love dogs so much to have 8 dogs of your own! I am glad that you still have room to foster 5 more dogs!

I used to have 3 dogs of my own but one of them died last year. Just a few of weeks ago, I started fostering a dog, which got adopted after a week or so and I have now another foster dog along with my 2 dogs.

I see what you mean by that dogs get aggravated when they are so excited; it is almost like a chain reaction. Each dog behaves so well when he/she is by himself, for example, Holly walks very nicely and ignores other dogs when they bark at her but if she is with Noah, who is a coward and reacts to the other dogs, she barks back to them.

Now that we have another foster dog, Licorice 7 mos old flat coated retriever, sometimes it is chaotic at my house. Since the puppy is full of energy and she doesn't know how to play nicely, she runs toward and jumps on Noah or Holly when she is excited. She is only 7 mos but she is already as big as Holly or Noah. Since all the 3 dogs are same size, none of them gets hurt or injured but Sadie and Max are 65 lbs and 15 lbs so I can see Max gets hurt. I don't think Sadie is doing it as a predatory instinct. I understand both Lab and Husky are so playful and sometimes get so obsessed by something like balls and like to break frisbees, etc. I am curious how Max reacted when he got bit by Sadie. Did he get mad, or became submissive?

I think it is necessary that you break in the fight by yelling "Hey!" (this works in our dogs case) and control their relationship as the leader. Also, you need to reprimand Sadie, every time you see she gets on Max. She should learn to leave Max alone since he is so tiny and fragile. She should learn to treat him nicely all the time. If she can't, she can at least ignore him. My younger dogs never ever did rough house with our old dog that died last year at the age of 15 and 4 mos, since I told them to leave him alone.

2 dogs and 3 dogs are so different; with 2 dogs, there is only one relationship, with 3 dogs, there are 6 different patterns of relationships. It is so interesting to see them building the 6 different patterns: Noah vs. Holly, Noah vs. Holly and Lico, Noah vs. Lico, Holly vs. Lico, Holly vs. Noah and Lico, and Lico vs. Holly and Noah. When you have 13 dogs, I can not even count the possible patterns!!

Well, I hope Sadie will learn to leave Max alone when she gets excited.

Good luck