after a dog fight ...?

Posted by taniajennifer
Mar 16, 2008
i am brand new here so this may have been discussed in a previous post somewhere but i couldnt find anything...

we are in the process of working out our dog-on-dog aggression issues but it has happened in the past that Libby (dominant adult female dob/lab X from a shelter) has been in a fight with another dog, usually one that is smaller than she is which certainly doesnt help matters.

i want to know what is the correct thing to do immediately AFTER the fight has been broken up.

1. how should i handle the other owner (apologize and assume responsibility, offer to pay for any damage, or perhaps be emotionally disengaged with the understanding that this does happen between dogs sometimes and a dog fight is usually not just the fault of one dog)

and more importantly

2. how should i handle my dog? what is the proper form of discipline, if any, immediately after the fight?

when it happend last week i simply tried to remain calm, gave libby a very firm, loud NO! and put her in a sit stay and extended and very brief but sincere apology with my focus on keeping libby controlled and obedient while the other owner freaked out and stormed off.

any takers for this one?
Posted by Todd
Mar 17, 2008
Hi there and thanks for the question.

I will answer this question later but first i will work through some of the major issues to help you stop this behaviour.

The first advice i would give you is to ensure you and your family members have read and understand the techniques in the bonus book "Secrets to becoming the Alpha Dog". These are great techniques for maintaining or establishing your position at the head of the household. No matter what the problem is all dogs need to know where the stand in the house for both yours and their peace and comfort.

Here are some ways to reinforce your position-
1) If you come across your dog while she is sleeping or lying on the floor then you can reinforce your position as alpha dog by making her move so that you can pass by.

2) Make sure that you always go through doorways first. A good method to reinforce your position as alpha dog is to walk your dog around the house on the leash, making your dog wait while you walk through doorways first.

3) At mealtimes make sure that she eats after all of the humans have.

4) Do not feed your dogs tidbits or let it pester you at the table. Save the morsels and tidbits for training sessions instead.

5) Do not greet your dogs straightaway when you arrive home. Make it wait until you are ready and then call her to you.

6) Whenever your dogs want attention or anything wait till they are sitting and being well behaved.

7) When you give a command make sure that you are in a position to enforce the action that you require from your dog, especially in the initial stages of Alpha Dog training. Also, use the Alarm-No-Command technique as described in the Alpha Dog bonus book to reprimand your dog if it does not obey your command.

Generally I do not recommend people give their dogs bones as this encourages the aggression, because in the wild the alpha dog would be the only one to have the privilege of chewing the bones. The reason your dog growls at you when you approach it with a bone is because it believes that it has the right to the bone and is trying to discipline you for challenging your dog for its dominant role.

I also think it is very important that both dogs be banned from couches and beds as these are items that can be used to represent dominance. This is probably why there were some issues over the couch.

You should reprimand her for unacceptable behavior, no matter what that behavior is. If you do not reprimand your dogs poor behavior then she will feel that she has the right to behave that way and it will take much longer to correct the behavior.

What I recommend you do, is the next time your dog acts poorly and exhibits dominant tendencies (growling), saturate your dog with the garden hose or a bucket of water, or if it is inside, throw a heavy blanket over her and be sure to reprimand her. DO NOT yell, as this has no effect on the 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).

The next step you will have to take is to work very hard on her obedience. Regular training sessions are key to improving your dog's obedience responses and keeping it used to answering your commands. Concentrate on the sit and stay, down and stay, heel and wait commands. The more obedient they are the more likely you are to have success and get them to respond to you when they have misbehaved. This training will take a lot of time and patience.

Now i will briefly talk about how to break up a dog fight as it is very important that you can do it relatively safely. There is no completely safe method.

The safest way to break up a fight is to grab her by the hind legs and pick its rear up like you are holding a "wheel barrow". Then you back up pulling the dog with you. Since the dog is now supporting itself on two feet only, it is not likely to want to continue fighting, and it is very difficult for it to turn to try and bite you.

Now i think it is very important that she has a muzzle whenever you are out. This will protect you, her and other dogs and people. Safety is the key.

Now when she does attack another dog i think you need to apologise and say that you will pay for any vet bills. This might end up being expensive so i think a muzzle will pay for itself very quickly You may want to take name and number after the incident so you can immediately take your girl away.

I think straight after a fight you need to be very firm with your dog. She needs to be told off as above, scolded and made to sit. After you have her attention she needs to be taken straight back home.

AS well as this once she is muzzled and has learnt a little she needs to be socialised to other dogs at home. This will require both dogs to be on lead. Have them sitting a few metres apart. Make her sit and slowly advance to the other dog. If she growls or gets out of hand tell her off as above.

Slowly get closer and closer and for the first few times don't let them meet. MUZZLE must always be on. As you trust her you can let her interact more.

Good luck and if you have anymore questions don't be afraid to ask....we don't bite

Posted by taniajennifer
Mar 18, 2008
Todd, you are amazing! I have already been employing some the things you mentioned and will continue to do so. I have begun doing the other suggestions immediately. However, your advice did give rise to a few more questions. so here there are.

1. with regards to alpha status, i think i have established alpha position with my dog in the house. i have been intensively doing the techniques as per cesar millan and now added your sitstayfetch strategies and i think it is really clear who is the boss at home. She is very obedient. However, it just seems to disappear when we go out for walks and to the leash-free - mostly when we see other dogs. I was wondering why this happens? i will do all the things you have outlined but i think it is important to understand what i am doing wrong (if possible) so that i can ammend the dynamic most effectively?

2. with regards to dog aggression. as soon as i got libby from the shelter i began to socialize her little by little. she was orginally so aggresssive she would even attack herself in a mirror over and over. just so you know, she is at the point where she pulls and strains at her leash to go see new dogs when we are walking but is friendly when she meets them ... if they are big. she is completely fine with big dogs and some small dogs but it seems to be completely unpredicatable as to what sets her off with certain little dogs. and just when i think she's over it and we go to the leash-free without any problems time and time again, she regresses and i have to remove her. i will do the things you have recommended but i was wondering what this is all about? why some small dogs and not others?

3. with regards to the muzzle. i have looked into this before and a trainer recommended against it for libby - rationalizing that muzzled dogs should not be around unmuzzled dogs as it makes them feel more vulnerable and reinforce not extinguish the aggressive behaviours. so ewithe way libby would have to stay away form other dogs. and it only controls the negative behaviours while the muzzle is on. and it gives the message to other people that she is viscious when that is not really the case. this is what that trainer said. obviously you do not agree with this ...? do you have any thoughts on that philosophy? but eitherway i am very very seriously considered getting the muzzle. however, i do not know which kind is best - wire or plastic? also, before i commit to muzzle training i would like to know if this muzzle is going to be temporary while i am training and socializing to improve her behaviour or is this going to be a permanent measure? if it is temporary, how will i know she is ready to be without it? will i ever be able to 100% trust her with other dogs or will she have to wear it forever?

sorry to go on and on. it is such a relief to have found some support on this issue, that i am totally spilling my guts here. i have been carrying around this worry for a long time!!!!