Fighting Between Our Dogs

Posted by jaunkle
Oct 9, 2007
We already had two dogs -15 year old female dachshund (Esper) and 6 year old male scottie (Izak) when we decided to adopt a puppy about 2 months ago. We adopted a 8 week old Australian Shepherd / Labrador mix male who we named Bo to be a companion for Izak when Esper passes away - she is not in the best of health.

Esper is the dominate dog and Izak and Bo respect her. Izak and Bo wrestle inside and outside, play with toys together, chase each other and we have had no problems until one week ago. I must mention that when they are playing, Izak appears to be the dominate one, making noises, chasing Bo, throwing him down and putting his head on Bo's neck. Bo is happy to run around with Izak, falls down when Izak catches him, and shows no resistance to Izak "pinning" him down, shows his stomach, etc.

A few days ago, the dogs were inside the house with me when Bo and Izak started fighting over nothing, as far as I could tell. I quickly separated them by pulling Bo off of Izak however, Izak came after Bo when I was holding him. I put them in separate rooms and when they met again, they were fine. There was no bloodshed with this fight.

On Saturday, I was 1 1/2 hours late feeding the dogs. While I was getting the bowls ready (which I have done the same way for the past 2 months), Bo attacked Izak by standing on top of his back, grabbed him by the back of the shoulders and was shaking his head back and forth. Izak did not fight back, just was screaming. Esper was not involved. My husband and I separated them and after they cooled off, they were the best of friends once again. Izak hasn't had a haircut in a while so there was only a minor scratch on him. Later that night, Bo attacked Izak again - I believe it was over a dog bone crumb that Bo thought was in the carpet. Before this, they all ate in the same area with no problems. Izak did not fight back this time either. I believe he was afraid of being scolded by my husband and me.

My theory is that Bo was overexcited with being fed late and attacked Izak because he was closest to him. The second time I believe was over a crumb.

Since these last 2 fights, the dogs do not get treats and Bo is fed in a different room. When he is done, he rejoins the other two in the back yard.

Bo is no longer sleeping on the bed with us, he is on the floor with the other two. I am working on the Alpha dog techniques and have had success with going out the door first, etc.

What I'm not sure of is if the fights were food related or if it is a dominance thing between them. Is there anything else I can do to try to keep everyone safe and happy?

Bo was the biggest of his litter and I don't believe he had to defend himself. There is no growling, no warning at all to indicate Bo's aggression. When we adopted him, he was diagnosed with Parvo but luckily, he recovered quickly and appears to be a happy, healthy puppy. Because of what we have already been through, giving Bo up is the last thing we want to do.

Also, will there be a possible problem when Esper, the dominate dog, passes away? All the dogs are spayed/neutured.

Thank you for any advice you can give me.
Posted by Annie
Oct 9, 2007
I´ll leave it to the experts out there to give you some great advice, but I´m wondering why Bo was earlier on your bed and not on the floor with the other two? For me, this would be a major point if they are trying to work out which order the pack runs in...A young dog needs clear rules so as to establish themselves in a new household, and sleeping on the bed with you gives him the right to want to rule. lucky you having the space and time for 3 dogs. Enjoy!
Posted by jaunkle
Oct 9, 2007
Hi, I'm answering your question about Bo being the only one on the bed. All the dogs have their own doggie beds with blankets, etc. The dachshund is old and she doesn't want to be bothered so she prefers her own bed. Izak will occasionally get in the bed but ends up on his own bed after one hour or so. Bo has his own bed but preferred to sleep under our bed - that is, until he got too big to fit under there. That is when he started sleeping with us. He has accepted sleeping on the floor now and doesn't get on our bed in the middle of the night. Hopefully, that will help things
Posted by MaxHollyNoah
Oct 10, 2007
Hi there!

We had 3 dogs too: Max, our German Shorthair Pointer who died in June at the age of 15 yrs and 4 mos., Holly, 5 yrs Border Collie mix, and Noah, another Border Collie mix who is probably 2 yrs old.
Max lived with Roxy who died 3 yrs ago and we rescued Holly as a companion for Max. Max was already 12.5 so they didn't play rough house but they got along well. We added Noah last November so that Holly can have a play mate and in fact, Holly and Noah have been such good buddies!!

In our house, there is only one ground rule - we treat the senior dog first for everything. For meals, for treats, for walks, for greetings, etc. When Holly came to join our family, she first learned that she had to respect Max. When we brought Noah home, he tried to snap on Max, who was already so old, so I scolded Noah firmly. That was the first and the last time Noah treated Max that way.

None of them seems to be a dominant dog but we implemented the order among them; Max, Holly and Noah. However, we did different things with each of the dogs since they are different in ages, sex, and their personalities are different. Only Holly is allowed on our bed since she is a clean dog. Max was allowed on his sofa and we gave up my husband lazy chair to Holly. Noah doesn't seem to mind laying on the floor. I enjoy Agility lessons with only Holly. I used to take only Max to some dog events until he got too old. Now I take Holly instead because Noah developed a leash aggression after attending a dog training class where he got scared by an aggressive pit bull. But Noah and I go to dog trainings together to have our one on one time.

We treat our dogs equally though. Each of them gets turn, maybe in something different, and gets same amount of attention. However, the younger one needs to respect the older one.

Therefore, I don't see anything wrong about Bo being the only one on the bed as long as he knows that he came to the house after Izak and Izak know that he needs to treat Esper nicely. The life becomes much easier if this order is implemented firmly and consistently by the human family members. Since Bo is still young I believe you can still teach him.

Good luck