Fights over toys/leads

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Fights over toys/leads

Post by Lena124 on Mon Jul 31 2017, 14:53

Hi everyone, it's me again Big Grin
If you read my first post you'll know we've just added a rescue staffy (male) into our home. Everything's been going great as my spaniel and female staff get used to the new boy, but we've had a few issues with the two staffies. They've been having fights (these last around 10 seconds before we stop them, I think it's more growling/snarling than physically fighting) over their toys. And now I've just grabbed the pile of leads and harnesses to go for a walk, they both came running to my feet and then had another fight. I'm wondering if there's anything I can do to prevent these outbreaks/stop them when they do happen. Also, is this just as the dogs get used to each other and will eventually stop or is this a sign of things to come?


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Re: Fights over toys/leads

Post by Lena124 on Mon Jul 31 2017, 15:49

To be fair on Buster (the newbie) it seems to be Tara starting the fights with the toys. She'll be playing with her favourite bone and he'll come over for a sniff, that's when the fighting starts. Our old boy Harvey isn't really one for toys so this is the first time Tara's had any sort of competition for her toys.
I'm all for being patient and letting them sort their differences out so to speak, after all this is only the third day Buster has been with us. However, my mum regards Tara as her baby, and whenever a fight breaks out she will become rather withdrawn for a while and begin to shake. My mum has since said she doesn't think it's fair to put her baby through this as it's obviously causing her distress. I think if I can prove to my mum that this is just temporary as Buster settles in it should put her mind at rest, but even I'm not sure if this is temporary or something we will have to put up with permanently.
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Re: Fights over toys/leads

Post by Mistys Mum on Mon Jul 31 2017, 16:18

Sorry to hear this. I don't have any experience as I've only had one dog but are you sure it's definitely fighting. I know misty is so vocal when playing, if you heard her and her spaniel friend it sounds as though they are killing each other when it's just play. Could they be rough housing or is it definitely fighting? I'm sure someone with experience of a multi dog household will be along soon.


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Re: Fights over toys/leads

Post by Lena124 on Mon Jul 31 2017, 23:13

I don't think it's play, when they do play they make some awful noises but you can tell it's friendly if that makes sense. This however seems very hostile, they'll go very stiff and start looking at each other out the corner of their eyes and it's just different to playing. I can't quite put it into words but it's definitely fighting/dispute.

I hope someone with a multi dog household replies too, I don't mind waiting it out until the issue is sorted but I'm terrified this is going to happen again only it turns ugly.
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Re: Fights over toys/leads

Post by LizP on Tue Aug 01 2017, 08:41

Someone with a multi-dog household here!

The first thing I would say is to think carefully about how you deal with any real fights, if they happen. Do not get caught in the middle, you can't help them if you get injured yourself (been there, done that, bought the bandages). I don't normally advocate having collars on dogs other than when being used but here I would. Have collars on both, especially Tara if she is the more determined, and if you do have a serious fight situation where they won't let go, grab collars and twist. It sounds horrid but it's one of the most effective ways of getting them to separate. You might also want a pet corrector to hand.

How does Buster react when Tara snaps? Do you feel he will fight back, or may he accept her ability to lay down the rules? If it's the latter, then I would leave it for a bit and see if she starts to accept he is not a threat.

Otherwise, or even in any case, I would start by being super careful about keeping excitement down, having toys hidden for now unless you play with one away from the other, and putting some ground rules in place.

Maybe one of the reasons I've not had any possession issues is that I'm very clear about things like feeding (each dog has his/her own bowl, in its own place, and they are not allowed to go to another's until they have all finished. When introducing a new dog there has been the occasional growl but I gave a quick 'no' and that's mostly all it's taken to knock it on the head. When we introduced Bobbert (a very troubled soul), we kept him on a line until we were sure he wouldn't try to muscle in.

Make it clear that you are providing the guidance as to who goes first with leads and things. Ask them to sit and wait before you take the leads and if excitement appears to be starting to build, put them down and walk away. Keep your energy low and encourage them to follow suit, do everything quietly.

Two commands I make sure all of our dogs have in place are 'leave it' and 'enough'. I want every dog to leave anything they have, whenever I ask for it, or not to take it in the first place. I also want them to stop playing whenever I ask them to. I'm not at all into the concept of 'domination', but I do believe that leadership is essential and those two commands give me leadership within the household.

Having said all of that, I would also say that you need to keep your reality hat on. Although any two dogs can have issues about living with a particular other one, bull breeds are strong and determined so when they do fight for real it can be with worse consequences than a couple of JRTs. Be realistic about what you can cope with, that's you plural, humans and dogs, and what Tara in particular can actually accept.

See how it goes, with taking away toys, controlling energy, and some control training. Fingers crossed it'll all settle quickly.


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Re: Fights over toys/leads

Post by Lena124 on Tue Aug 01 2017, 11:37

Wow LizP thanks for the advice! A little while after I posted the original message I decided to lift all toys off the floor and hide them for the time being, there have been no squabbles since. I'll make sure to grab Tara by the collar if a fight breaks out, and I'll also look at buying a pet corrector. I can only go on what I've seen so far but it looks like Buster will have a little snap then walk away, I don't think he would fight back.

I think I'm learning about keeping the excitement down as much as possible. Last night I came home from work (there were other family members home so they hadn't been home alone) both staffies were very excitable and as they both ran over Buster growled at Tara. From now on I won't allow them to get as hyper as they did last night, I'll get them to sit then I'll go over and greet each one individually.

It's strange for me as they show possession issues over toys yet they're happy to eat out of each other's food dishes without problems. However, I'll stop them from eating from each other's and put some ground rules into place so they eat out of their own dish only. Thanks again! Smile
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Re: Fights over toys/leads

Post by Goblin on Sat Aug 05 2017, 14:45

How's it going with your three?
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Re: Fights over toys/leads

Post by Lena124 on Sun Aug 06 2017, 10:35

Pleased to announce there have been no more squabbles! I think everyone's settled down now, they only get toys if we play with them separately and I make sure they don't get too excited when getting ready for walks Smile
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Re: Fights over toys/leads

Post by Goblin on Sun Aug 06 2017, 11:09

Aces! So glad.
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Re: Fights over toys/leads

Post by Lena124 on Thu Sep 07 2017, 11:54

Currently writing this with shaking hands. We've been fine lately, had a few fights where the pair have become too excited but we break them up before long. Today I'd left the dogs alone for 15 minutes while I dropped my mum off at a friends house (important to note they're separated when left alone), and when I come home I made the stupid mistake of not picking up the dog toys asap. So I go to let the dogs out the back to do their business and Tara runs outside with Buster's toy in her mouth. Buster went flying after her and chased her around the garden, Tara started growling at him and they started fighting. Now this is the first time they've had a fight while I'm home alone, usually I'm confident and I'll grab busters collar but today I just freaked out and started screaming at them (I know this isn't helpful in the slightest but I panicked). Buster wasn't wearing a collar so my usually go-to method went down the drain and the fight seemed to last hours, even though in reality it lasted 30 seconds if that. In the end I had to pick up a broom we had outside and hit the pair of them on the head. I feel awful but I just touched their heads hard enough for them to feel the contact and they broke apart immediately.

Tara is now skulking around with her tail between her legs, looking at me as if to say "Why bring this devil dog into my home?" She has a wound on her neck that isn't anything serious, but it is definitely deeper than any cuts and scrapes they get any other time. Buster has cuts around his eye. As soon as they stopped fighting Buster began to kick Tara's neck, but she becomes very stiff if he goes near her. I don't know what to do. It doesn't seem fair to put Tara through these fights when she has been living just fine before Buster arrived. On the other hand, I know that if we admit defeat with Buster he'd have to be returned to the police station and they'd euthanise him which I really could not live with. He's a lovely dog and any other time the pair would curl up on the sofa together Sad I really need a solution asap before things become ugly Sad
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Re: Fights over toys/leads

Post by LizP on Fri Sep 08 2017, 12:39

Have you discussed it with the police? Have they confirmed that he could not be signed over to a rescue centre? I know there is the agreement that you've signed but they might be able to contact the family to get them to agree.

Other than that, my best advice is that you need hands on help from a professional behaviour specialist. Is that an option?

By the way, I completely understand your reactions. Until you've been in the middle of a serious fight you can't relate to how scary it really is.


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Re: Fights over toys/leads

Post by Lena124 on Fri Sep 08 2017, 21:37

The thing is Liz I really don't want to have to give him up. He's the sweetest dog and his only problem is when excitement levels rise or if around toys - even then I can't be sure if it's him that's starting the fights or Tara. About half an hour after the fight yesterday they went back to cuddling up on the sofa and it's just made me even more heartbroken at the thought of getting rid, I'm getting upset now just considering that as a possibility.

I'm not exactly sure on whether a behaviour expert is an option. How much does that sort of thing cost? Do they come to your home? Do you go to classes? I'd need as much info as possible, seeing as I'm living under my mums roof I'd need to pitch it to her. I'm more desperate than ever now, my stepdad didn't take too well to the news of the fight and bluntly said "Once more and he goes". Had Buster shown aggression in "normal" situations I.e. Snapping for no apparent reason I'd maybe agree that enough is enough, but it's just mainly toys. God, they even share food. I've been speaking to family/friends who don't think it's a big deal - they'll say stuff like it's only over toys, dogs fight sometimes, it's normal. I just really need to conquer the issue before a fight turns ugly, I couldn't live with myself if the worst happened.

Thanks for all your help Liz, I really appreciate it.
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Re: Fights over toys/leads

Post by Lena124 on Fri Sep 08 2017, 22:52

I will add a few things I've noticed. When something happens to excite the dogs, Buster runs over to Tara and grabs one of her legs in his mouth. He'll then rag her leg about, like a dog does with a bone/toy. This has been the cause of one or two of the fights, he will do this and Tara will tell him off which leads to a fight.

Another thing I've noticed is sometimes Tara will run over to Buster, become extremely stiff with her tail held stiff high in the air, and she'll try shoving him with her back end. This happens especially when Buster gets a burst of energy and starts chasing his tail, it's almost as if she's bullying him into calming down if that makes sense.
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Re: Fights over toys/leads

Post by Lena124 on Fri Sep 08 2017, 23:19

They've just had another fight over a crisp packet Tara found... Sad
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Re: Fights over toys/leads

Post by LizP on Sat Sep 09 2017, 07:41

Do take the fights seriously, Chenise. There is a real risk of you getting hurt.

Trainers vary in cost. Some can be quite pricey but others are more reasonable. Remind me where you are?

What a good behaviourist/trainer will do is come to your house, assess the family and environment as a whole, see what's going on, how you all react, and then look for ways of training, tweaking, improving your skills, etc. It's what I used to do with horses (but not in houses!). The value is that a trained pair of eyes can see what exactly is going on and in having a range of ideas that can be tried. That first be I can't do from here.

Let me know where you are and I'll see if I can come up with any more ideas.


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Re: Fights over toys/leads

Post by LizP on Sat Sep 09 2017, 10:10

I've just had a quick search for trainers who do behaviour work in Scotland. They're not terribly cheap - starting at about £150 for a two hour session and follow up, but it will depend on where you are as not everyone covers the whole area and travel charges will make a difference too.


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Re: Fights over toys/leads

Post by Lena124 on Sat Sep 09 2017, 10:43

I've had a look and there's a guy who lives extremely close to me, he charges £75 for a two hour session. He seems to have lots of great customer reviews so I think I'm going to get in touch. I just need to work out if my mum is willing to pay towards it or if I need to wait until the end of the month when I get my wages. Will keep you updated.
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Re: Fights over toys/leads

Post by LizP on Sat Sep 09 2017, 15:07

That's sounds very reasonable and good reviews are reassuring. Has he got a website?


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Re: Fights over toys/leads

Post by Lena124 on Sat Sep 09 2017, 19:16

Yep I'll post the link:

http://www.edaprodogs.co.uk
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Re: Fights over toys/leads

Post by LizP on Sat Sep 09 2017, 20:06

Ok, give him a go but please keep your eyes open and be prepared to step in if you feel something's not right. He doesn't appear to have much formal training, if any, and says his main influence is Cesar Millan. Some of his stuff is ok, some such as relying on the dominance theory is not. The dominance theory is not sound, but reading Chris's reviews it looks like that is the basis of his work.

To be absolutely honest, I wouldn't use him but I realise your options are maybe limited.

If you're near that chap, who is Gateshead, is this horribly far for you?

http://www.petbehave.co.uk/behaviour/


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Re: Fights over toys/leads

Post by Lena124 on Sat Sep 09 2017, 21:53

To be honest that whole "my main influence is Cesar Milan" did throw me off a little. Don't get me wrong, I used to watch Cesar religiously until I started learning more about him and his methods on my college course - it definitely opened my eyes. If it wasn't for such good testimonials I would've exited the website then.

The person you suggested does seem a little far but she does mention helping people in my area in the past. Am I reading that right though she charges £30 for a phone call?! Do you think my vet would have any suggestions? They might possibly have a certain behaviourist the recommend to clients who are having issues maybe?
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Re: Fights over toys/leads

Post by LizP on Sun Sep 10 2017, 07:51

The thing with testamonials is that you can always get people to write them, and you can also always leave out the not so good ones. There's a chap round here who trains - I used to go to his classes with a very troubled dog I had as no one else would take him. He said all the right things and people raved about him, but it always bothered me that his dogs seemed to cower. However, I saw nothing wrong until I met him in the woods one day when he hit his puppy round the head, 3 times, for eating a stick. She had to learn, he said. I subsequently found this was a method he'd taught others. I'm sure he would have got rave reviews as well. There's another local chap who pins dogs as a matter of course. My friend thinks he's fab.

There are phone calls and phone calls. A quick booking call for £30 would be extreme, but for an hour or whatever on the phone finding out all the background it isn't outrageous, and if you add that hour to her £50 clinic visit hour you're only £5 above this other guy. My guess is she works that way in part as it's most time efficient for her and cost efficient for her clients. Most others seem to start at £150 or so, usually more like £300 (and I used to charge £35 an hour!!!)

But yes, do ask the vet. There may well be someone else they can recommend but again do your research. One of the worst trainers I came across when I was doing horse work had been recommended to my client by the vet. It took months to get that horse to not try to climb out of the stable at the mere sight of a person.


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Re: Fights over toys/leads

Post by LizP on Mon Sep 11 2017, 11:29

Here another thought for you, Chenise. I've not read this but Jean's generally very good

Jean Donaldson - 'Mine!' - link

Although on first appearances what you have may be a disagreement between two dogs, it actually sounds more like a resource guarding issue at heart. Yes, I know there's the addition of the disagreements when Tara's getting her leg pulled and not finding it funny, but that at least might give you somewhere to start.


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Re: Fights over toys/leads

Post by Lena124 on Mon Sep 11 2017, 12:39

Thanks Liz, I've just ordered a copy. I definitely agree its resource guarding, yes there are the other instances but 90% of fights are caused by an object of some sort. Since the fights have got worse Tara is no longer playing with Buster, he'll be wagging his tail and giving her a play bow and trying to engage her in play but she's still very stiff and will turn her head away. Quite a change from when they would chase each other and play fight in the garden.
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Re: Fights over toys/leads

Post by Lena124 on Wed Sep 13 2017, 00:12

The book arrived today so I'm giving it a good read but so far I'm enjoying it and feeling like I'm learning a lot. I'm not sure if you've read the book Liz but there's a great step-by-step on working with object guarders. It is aimed at a trainer working with a client's dog rather than aimed at the owner themselves, and at a dog who's showing aggression to humans and not towards another dog but I feel pretty confident I can tweak the guide to suit my situation with two dogs.

I understand its all about getting the problem dog to associate seeing the object, and seeing the other dog see said object, as a positive thing. The book mentions tethering the dog so I think it'd be a good idea to use leads, it'll mean they can see each other but can't physically get to each other and start a fight which will help me immensely. Then I know my eventual goal would be dog #1 sitting with their object and allowing dog #2 to approach (I will most certainly have an issue in that dog #2 doesn't want to just approach the object, but wants to snatch it and run but hey ho).

I've got the perfect little idea in my head it's just putting it into action and being consistent with it, in the meantime I need to manage the environment to prevent any fights. If all else fails and I have to call it a day and give up,a behaviourist will have to come in. My plan could fail at the very first attempt but I at least want to give it a try, even if I use it to diffuse the situation until the help of a behaviourist is received.
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Re: Fights over toys/leads

Post by LizP on Wed Sep 13 2017, 08:09

I've not read it - thankfully the only resource guarder we've ever had has been Nola and it was minor, easily fixed with teaching her 'leave it' for something even more valuable. It's good to know it's worth recommending to others though.

What's coming through from your post is a feeling of positivity, that you've now got a direction. Fingers crossed for your plan!!!


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Re: Fights over toys/leads

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