Monday, November 20, 2006

Anger Management...

Well, it has finally happen. 3dogcache is suffering from a bit of an internal struggle, a civil war so to speak. The players include Maggie, the 9 1/2 month old Boerboel, weighing in at 83lbs. And the AndDog, a 5 year old border collie / rat terrier, weighing in at 25 lbs. The "land in question" includes the bed, the lean green kiwi machine (the car), and anything that might smell, taste or otherwise be seen as food. Ellie, a 55lb chocolate lab, and I (weight not to be disclosed) are passive bystanders. Hmm, well not exactly. While Ellie beelines away from the flying fur and gnashing teeth, I get sucked into the mix.

There have only been two such incidences, but the AndDog and I have ended up bruised and/or bloody. The first occurred a week ago over some uneaten dropped kibbles. We had come back from a long walk and were hanging in the bedroom. I had taken their collars and leashes off and everyone was drinking water in a civilized manner. Maggie started sniffing around the dresser and Andy came over to investigate when the war broke out. Ellie immediately backs into the corner to watch, probably hoping she can stake out some kibbles for herself while those two go at it. I, on the hand, can not grab hold of either Maggie or Andy since they are grappling on a slick wood floor and neither have a collar on (a mistake I will never make again --- see house rule #1). So I pounce on top of Maggie (yes, a full
body slam). This temporarily prohibits her from gnawing on Andy. But it is Andy who is in full scrapper mode and continues to just go at it on Maggie's head. This, of course, irritates the heck out of Maggie who begins to struggle to get on her feet so she can rip his little neck. After about three rounds of body slam, flying squirrel, neck shreds, I finally get a grip on Andy and manage to get him out the bedroom door.

Breathless and a little bit shaken I tether Maggie to the bed and begin to investigate the damage. (Ellie is now in full blown scavenger mode eating up the last of the spilled breakfast kibbles). Maggie seems not to have any damage from what I can assess visually on the surface. I have a tooth gash above my left knee (see house rule #2). And Andy, well the AndDog has a gash in one of his right front foot pads and wet spots from where Mags has tried to swallow him. I clean and bandage us both and think about how I should proceed.

That evening, I kept Maggie in her crate while Andy maintained his bed sleeping ritual. Next morning, one would never have known a fight ensued. Andy was prancing around, tail wagging licking Maggie's face and Maggie was playing with him. Hmm, I thought to myself, perhaps this is a single incident never to happen again. Yeah, right.

One week later, I'm sick in bed. It's around 9:00pm. Everyone is sleeping on the bed --- Ellie in the right hand bottom, Mags in the middle and Andy on the right hand top. I'm there too, managing to stake out and claim as my own the left side of the bed. I'm watching tv and start to feel the beginnings of sleep. As I hunker down into the blankets, I mistakenly disturb the princess. As she is looking around, I can see in her eyes the onset of an attack --- as if to say "grrr, I don't want you there" --- okay, perhaps a side of
anthropomorphism, but that is what I saw. Before I could leap, Andrew leaped head first on to her (okay, yes, she growled and went near him...but Mr. scrapper just doesn't get it...doesn't take the cues, he will fight till the end). I grabbed her by the collar and pulled her off the bed --- Andy still going at her. But this time I was able to lift his little body off of her and separate them within moments. But not until the damage had been done.

A puncture wound in his leg and and a few scrapes around the shoulder blade. After I finished my coughing fit, Mags got tethered. Andy got bandaged. And I. Well I downed another cup of
TheraFlu.

There hasn't been another civil uprising since then. I have contained the environment so that neither Andy nor Maggie have the opportunity to fight. Food and dishes are always put away immediately after eating --- Maggie eats alone. Sometimes Andy sleeps in the bed, other times Maggie does. In the car, Andy gets the front seat, while the Maggot gets tethered. This seems to have worked wonders, and is what I promote and teach "...dogs don't define behavior as good or bad, acceptable or unacceptable. It is up to the owner to create and environment that promotes acceptable behavior."

But I wonder, am I doing everything I can? I wrote down how I saw the situation:

  1. Maggie is possessive of the bed, the car, and food.
  2. Maggie will growl if Ellie or Andy gets in her way of these three things
  3. If Ellie is the intruder, Maggie growls and draws near her and Ellie retreats. No fighting occurs.
  4. If Andy is the intruder, Maggie growls and draws near him and Andy attacks. Major fighting occurs.

And then I asked my friends and fellow dog owners what they thought. Bad mistake. Most think Maggie should be reprimanded and punished. That poor little Andy is being abused. I reminded them that it is Andy who is likely to get in a fight at a dog park, usually with some monstrous beast. Whereas Maggie plays, like most puppies her age, with all types of dogs. Even at 80 some odd pounds, her playfulness and clumsiness reveal her youth.

I did a little research on
dog aggression. Many sites maintain my philosophy of controlling the environment. But I need to do more. I know it's a mix of alpha(dominance) vs possessiveness vs food aggression vs fear. For now, I will continue to do as I am to maintain the peace.
=======================================
House rule #1: Every 4 legged mammal must at all times be seen with a collar around his/her neck.

House rule #2: Never try to dismantle two angry dogs with physical being --- high power water gun should be at the fingertips at all times.

6 comments:

Linda said...

Ah, gotta love Boerboels!

Pappy's Fella said...

This sounds like you are outmatched. Ellie seems like she's got a good head on her shoulders-- I suggest you abdicate and leave her in charge. As for rule 2, I would recommend you upgrade to fire hoses throughout the house.

3dogcache said...

PF...sounds like a good idea, the fire hoses I mean. And yes, Linda, you do have to love those Boerboels:-)

Leah's Dad said...

so - we have two dogs, one seven and the other seven months - they love to play, tug toys, bones and everything else from each others mouth, growl and "gum" each other (bared teeth, open jaws, slobber, no bites) neither has yet to yelp in pain - where does the play stop and the fight begin - my greatest concern is that the 7month old outweighs the 7year old by 28 lbs. When do you call it quits on the play?

3dogcache said...

When one dog is dominating the play, and the other dog is either trying to run for cover or teeth are being bared. If the little one is still having fun, I don't think you have anything to worry about.

Paul said...

Would you consider linking to our Lab page? We provide descriptions, reviews, Q&A and photos, basically everything you would want to know about a Lab. Anyways, great site and I hope to hear from you soon.

Our Page:
http://www.greatdogsite.com/breeds/details/Labrador_Retriever/

Also, I have a Pet Site directory setup and I’d be happy to link to your site as well.
http://www.greatdogsite.com/webdirs/form/

Take care,
Paul