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superamy777 July 6th, 2013 07:22 PM

Trying to keep my neutered males from killing each other
So here is the low-down:

We've got a 9 year old Blue Heeler mix, neutered female named Millie. We've also got an 8 year old full blood Heeler, neutered male named Ryley. The two of them have always gotten along - she is the dominant, but mostly just ignores Ryley until he really gets on her nerves. Then there is a brief "smackdown" wherein she reminds him who the real boss around the house is (dog-wise that is).

A couple years ago we tried adopting a 2 year old lab mix - had him neutered and all. Despite trying everything we could think of or read about, we could never keep all 3 dogs in the same room together. They got along in all combinations of 2 dogs, but when all 3 were together, Ryley would attack Nox (the rescue) until one or both of the two were bloodied (Nox wouldn't attack first, but he wouldn't back down from a fight). We ended up finding Nox a new home :(

Last year we decided that we would probably be safer in adding a puppy, so we got an Australian Shepherd, Tucker (just now a year old neutered male). All three dogs have been together from the day we brought Tucker home, and 90% of the time everything is great. We've had the occasional spat over food and water, but adapted by everyone eating/drinking in separate locations.

And finally the problem - lately Ryley has been going after Tucker more often (basically given any reasonable-to-dogs excuse - he licked my water drop, he looked at my bone too long, etc). Tucker doesn't start the fights, but he will start the defensive growling, and he will pursue Ryley once I've pulled them apart.

My questions: Am I better off letting the two of them work out their own position in the hierarchy? I will be working with both of them individually on basic training (new stuff for Tucker and reinforcement for Ryley), anything I ought to try specifically? Tips from anyone in a similar situation? Stuff that has worked for you?

We live in the middle of nowhere Texas, so odds of finding a qualified trainer or behaviorist in our area are pretty steep.

Thanks in advance!

Goldfields July 6th, 2013 08:41 PM

I have owned Australian Cattle Dogs for 37 years, aka blue (or red) heelers. I find that if they take a set against another dog you won't be able to change it. It could very well escalate into a fight to the death, especially if Tucker isn't backing off. There is also the risk that one day Millie may decide to join in the fight. I had a friend think she could let her two males work out a pecking order and the eventual, (inevitable IMO ) fight was so severe that after trying everything else to get them apart, she had to knock her red boy out with a shovel to get him off the other dog. That fight triggered a second fight between two females and she was home alone, so it would have been a nightmare. Your experience with Nox should have prepared you for what might happen this time.

superamy777 July 6th, 2013 10:34 PM

I don't think Ryley has taken a set against Tucker. As I said, they play together really happily 90% (or more) of the time. They sleep together in my room without incident, and their fighting is very limited to resource-based stuff.

Ryley is, generally speaking, a very independent and stubborn little dog. He has always seemed to overcompensate for the fact that he isn't very large by being easily perturbed/offended and by getting angry when he gets in trouble (he snaps at the pointing finger when you get after him). He grew up with cats, but after being separated from them for a time I have no doubt that his prey drive is strong enough that he'd kill a cat that got mad and defended itself from his chasing. All that being said, he is a sweet little guy.

Millie will never get involved in a fight with the other two. Never. She mostly considers herself in a completely different category than the boys.

Anywho, just a couple more thoughts on the matter. Appreciate the input :)

ETA - IMO, adding a puppy who was neutered as soon as he was old enough to be is a completely different experience than adding an intact male to our household. So I don't really see the connection between Nox and Tucker at all...

Longblades July 7th, 2013 08:48 AM

Were Nox and Tucker neutered just before arriving at your house? Or just after?

Some neutered dogs seem to have it in for intact dogs. The theory is they are jealous but no one really understands it. It can take up to six months, in my readings, for testosterone to leave a neutered dogs body. So if Nox and Tucker had only recently been neutered they might still have smelled very intact to Ryley.

Especially if they were neutered at around 7 to 11 months when testosterone levels in a male spike to 3 to 7 times what they will be in adulthood. At this stage in a young, intact male's life any dog is likely to see him as needing to be put in his place but particularly that neutered male who sees all intact males as a threat. It's well documented and it might explain why adding a neutered male dog to your family IS the same as adding an intact male.

At the link read down to Puppy License to Misbehave.

Now none of that really helps other than to explain why it might be happening, if the timing fits. If it does then I wonder if because the dogs are constantly together Ryley just never gets over seeing the other two as a threat. I'm sorry, I have no idea if it will work itself out. I wonder if a new dog well past his neuter would face the same reaction from Ryley.

Good luck. I hope you can work it out so all can live in harmony.

Goldfields July 7th, 2013 11:26 AM

The topic was 'Trying to keep my neutered males from killing each other', but they're playing together happily?:shrug: OK. Ryley does sound like a typical cattle dog to me. I'll be interested in how this trio works for you, it isn't what they recommend on ACD forums. More like two's company, three's a crowd. :D Good luck with them.

Longblades July 7th, 2013 11:32 AM

[QUOTE]he looked at my bone too long[/QUOTE]

Seems we all missed this. Bones are usually one of THE most high value treats you can give. Either don't give bones or give them in separate rooms.

Goldfields July 7th, 2013 11:58 AM

About the only time I feed mine as a pack is when I 'enrich their environment' by throwing a big handful or two of dry food out on the grass for them all to fossick for. They are so busy using their noses that they never look like fighting. Agree about the bones, Longblades.

Dog Dancer July 7th, 2013 11:01 PM

The two Malamutes will fight over bones as well so are never given anything of value together. Each goes into a different fenced off area to eat bones and meals. Otherwise a fight would ensue for sure. Sorry I have no advice to offer. But I do wish you luck.

marko July 8th, 2013 09:24 AM

[QUOTE]Your experience with Nox should have prepared you for what might happen this time.[/QUOTE]
Although this sounds harsh to hear, I agree with this 100% and I would encourage you not to get another dog if you find that this situation also doesn't work out. Nox became aggressive with the rescue and you did not solve Nox's problem so it's reasonable to assume that there was a risk in this identical behavior happening again - and it has, albeit occasionally.

If I were in this situation, Rylie would be separated from the new dog 100% of the time when I was away from the house or couldn't intervene in case a deadly fight or serious wound fight did break out. The signs are pointing to this possibility - you are in the risk zone.

as Goldfields correctly pointed out - our goal is to respond to the important title of "Trying to keep my neutered males from killing each other".

I DO 100% think that training can help this situation but I'm afraid i don't have the specific training advice you need in this case - curious of course, to read what other members may suggest.

Good luck!

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