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Old March 9th, 2006, 09:14 AM
kwlorax kwlorax is offline
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Question 2 female lab mixes in house - HELP!

Hello, I happened to find this board while looking for some advice/information about a situation in our house that really has my husband and I at a loss...

Here's the situation. We have 2 female (both fixed) dogs, lab/sheppard mixes. They are currently 15 months old. They are sisters, and have never been apart. Biscuit has always been the more fiesty of the two, a typical puppy. Snickerdoodle on the otherhand is much more laid back. There has never been an obvious alpha, they seem to each take on alpha roles at different times. Snickerdoodle will put up with Biscuit's antics (ie: nipping at her face, mounting her, trying to push her away if she's getting any attention, etc) and then reach a point where she will growl and snap at Biscuit, then it stops. For awhile. Recently, the dogs have been fighting. Almost daily. Hard core, down and dirty, drawing blood fighting, which begins as play fighting that Biscuit innitiates. This has me very concerned, because yesterday, Biscuit bit Snickerdoodle right under her eye, and almost caused some serious damage. It drew quite a bit of blood. Myself or my husband break up the fights, because we are afraid of what might happen - I don't know how far they will take it. They do not stop when we yell or call their names... it usually requires one of us to throw something in their direction to distract them. We then have to separate them.

Biscuit has also become much more aggressive with our children (11,7,5). She has never growled at them, but she has taken to biting on them, pulling at their clothes, chasing them when they are playing in the back yard. I am very worried that it may progress into something more.

We are considering removing Biscuit from the home. Any thoughts or suggestions? We love the dogs very much, but we can't let our hearts make a decision that may not be right in the long run. Help!!!!!
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Old March 9th, 2006, 09:29 AM
kwlorax kwlorax is offline
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one more thinng about Biscuit

I wanted to add too that neither dog has an issue with dominance over my husband or I (although, one evening my husband tripped over her while she was sleeping and she woke up and tried to bite him - I believe that was something different than a dominance thing). She allows us to pet her while they are eating, I've removed toys from their area, they are not allowed on the furniture or in our bedroom, and they are both housebroken. Biscuit will allow us to back her, and she will lower her head and tuck her tail if corrected.

Now with the kids, she does show dominance - she tries to push them while playing, and when I said she bites on them I meant that she play bites, mouths them I guess. They correct her by sternly saying no, but she doesnt' really listen to them. It's only when my husband or I correct her does she listen. We do NOT allow them to bother the dogs while eating, just in case.

They are indoors in the evening, and outside in our fenced backyard most days. They are very protective of the house and yard, and will bark at any stranger or animal that comes near.

Thank you for any advice you may have!
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Old March 9th, 2006, 09:42 AM
Prin Prin is offline
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I don't know if this applies to kids or not, but in my experience with other dogs, if there is a little one that can't defend itself enough, and I step in and tell my dog not to bug it, my dog will stop. It's not only the role of the alpha to be able to take stuff away; it's also about deciding who will be allowed to play within the pack and who will be bullied. If you tell your dogs consistently that they can't act that way to your kids and correct them firmly every time, they'll get the message. Don't depend on a child to set things straight. You are the leader.
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Old March 9th, 2006, 09:56 AM
Lucky Rescue Lucky Rescue is offline
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You have siblings, who are both females and spayed. Just about the worst combination you can have, and the fierce fighting for domination is going to get worse.

Quote:
I don't know how far they will take it.
In a case like this, one might actually kill the other or both may be gravely or fatally wounded.

You are going to have to keep them separated, or find a new home for one of them.

Big dogs fighting fiercely is a very dangerous atmosphere when you have kids around.

It also sounds like you are pretty lax with the dogs. I notice you say things like "She lets us"...."She allows us." YOU are supposed to be the boss, and if you aren't, then for sure the dogs are happy to take over that position.

If you rehome one of them make sure you take the other to obedience school so you can learn how to train and get control of a dog.

If you rehome Biscuit, you must find an experienced adult home.
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Old March 10th, 2006, 10:44 AM
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tenderfoot tenderfoot is offline
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I think I am with Lucky on this one. Because you have small kids and we can't trust this dog with them - the dogs life will be too isolated and she doesn't deserve that.
I hate to encourage anyone to rehome, but we need to think of the children and the other dog too. Biscuit is too willing to use her teeth and she needs some very strong - one on one - leadership. I am not sure you are up for it with so many small children.
Better to rehome now before something worse happens, and she is still young enough to be of interest to someone.
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Old March 10th, 2006, 01:06 PM
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mummummum mummummum is offline
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Ceili and Bridie are sisters and large dogs. Like yours they would get into some fearsome battles which ended only when they were pulled and held apart. It took several years before a clear Alpha role was established. Over time, with age and as Bridie established herself as the Alpha the frequency and severity of the fighting decreased. As they matured, they were also better trained and more responsive to commands so ending the fights became a little easier. Now, at 6 yrs they will still start in on one another (and they actually do try to rile each other, get the other one in trouble with Mum etc.) and maybe once a year they will fight and have to be separated. When I speak with friends and other dog people who also have sisters they have had the same experiences so I guess it's a "sister-grrrrl thing". I can only tell you that Ceili and Bridie's relationship has improved but not without the help of a lot of behaviour intervention and training. If you want to make a last effort, I would hire (and they are not inexpensive) a behaviour specialist for an in-home consult and then come to a decision.
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Old March 10th, 2006, 03:33 PM
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OntarioGreys OntarioGreys is offline
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From your description you have a clear cut alpha and that is Biscuit, but she needs some serious and both mental and physical exercise as she has probably inherited the stronger characteristics of the shepherd
, right now she is trying to wear off her excess energy in rough horse play and that is what is causing a lot of the trouble She is also at the age where you can compare her to an unruly teenager so needs some discipline and structure to help her become a good pet.

Quote:
You have siblings, who are both females and spayed. Just about the worst combination you can have, and the fierce fighting for domination is going to get worse.
I am going to disagree strongly with this comment, a lot of people I know have same sex siblings and no problems, I know of people who have adopted 3 and 4 littermates and are not dealing with fighting.

I have had greyhounds for a few years now and some can be competitive and will play rough, and during that rough play if one gets hurt it can cuase a fight to occur, so when I have a competitive greyhounds here I muzzle during outdoor playtimes, and all dogs have to be muzzle, because leaving one defenseless can be fatal. The type of muzzle I would reccomend is a basket muzzle it allows dogs to drink, eat easily and does not interfere with panting, so can be kept on for extended periods of time, so can work well in your home both indoors and out. http://www.morrco.com/itbasmuzsizc.html

Your also need to do some training, Nothing in Life is Free is a good training program you can do at home http://www.greyhoundlist.org/nothing_is_free.htm

She also needs to wear off that excess energy with a long walks and running eg. playing fetch, solo without the other dog so no competition is occuring and possibly enroll her in obedience and even agility classes to her work her mind and body. There is a saying a tired dog is a good dog.

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Biscuit has also become much more aggressive with our children (11,7,5). She has never growled at them, but she has taken to biting on them, pulling at their clothes, chasing them when they are playing in the back yard. I am very worried that it may progress into something more.
This is not aggression, but a dog thinking of the children as littermates and she is playing nipping with them, but she can get carried away in her excitement and unintentially hurt them so it needs to be stopped. Buy a super soaker and supervise them outside, when she goes to chase the children correct her with a good blast of water from the super soaker and tell her no chasing each and every time she goes to shase. She will quickly catch on to leave the children alone. There is another method which can be used stop the play nipping but it requires the children to stop running each and every time and then stand there with their backs to her and ignore her each and every time she chases them, but the 5 year old may have trouble doing this which is why I recommended the super soaker method instead.


With good training, sufficient exercise and maturity she will become the ideal pet, but work and time is needed to help her reach that stage, if you are unable, not willing or don't have the time then you are better off rehoming her before something awful happens.
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Old March 10th, 2006, 04:07 PM
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tenderfoot tenderfoot is offline
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Grey - I appreciate your experience. But there are small children involved and a mom who already has her hands full. It also might be that with work things don't change - not all dogs are meant to be best buddies - and now we have lost good time in finding another home and potentially a child gets hurt.
Trust me I am usually the first to say give it all you've got and make the right changes and the dogs will turn around. But my gut feeling is that it is too much for this family.
A super soaker does not teach a dog to respect the people, and the scene you describe could get a child badly hurt. You don't use children as bait to teach your dog manners by spraying water on her.
This dog thinks everyone is under her - not just the kids, and she is willing to use her teeth to maintain her role in the house. Not a good scenario.
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Last edited by tenderfoot; March 10th, 2006 at 11:19 PM.
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Old March 10th, 2006, 05:30 PM
Lucky Rescue Lucky Rescue is offline
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Quote:
I am going to disagree strongly with this comment, a lot of people I know have same sex siblings and no problems, I know of people who have adopted 3 and 4 littermates and are not dealing with fighting.

I have had greyhounds for a few years now and some can be competitive and will play rough,
You certainly may disagree, but no good breeder would sell siblings to buyers and for good reason. You have greyhounds. These are not greyhounds. These are GSD mixes - two spayed bitches - and can be much more aggressive, territorial and intolerant than greyhounds and are quite capable of fighting to the death.

The original poster seems to not have the time, experience or the ability to seriously work with these dogs, and as Tenderfoot and I both said, there are children here who could be hurt or worse by large aggressive dogs battling.

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if you are unable, not willing or don't have the time then you are better off rehoming her before something awful happens.
Agree with that.
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Old March 11th, 2006, 10:04 PM
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OntarioGreys OntarioGreys is offline
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Quote:
You certainly may disagree, but no good breeder would sell siblings to buyers and for good reason. You have greyhounds. These are not greyhounds. These are GSD mixes - two spayed bitches - and can be much more aggressive, territorial and intolerant than greyhounds and are quite capable of fighting to the death.
I have had dogs in my life for close to 50 years now, my father had blueticks and redbones bred for hunting, I have had a couple of my own hounds(Red and Duke), 2 of my own GSD's(Sheera and Hobi) , a lab(Jazz) , a dobe(Jesse). a couple of mixes(Rats and Carla), 2 cockers(Brody and Buddy), and 2 eskies(Nikki and Babes) as well as the greyhounds(Sunny, Callie and Maya) I was also sole support mother raising my child alone from 9 months of age, he is now grown and I have 2 grandchildren, and I have also fostered dogs, I have worked with trainers and also had a friend who was an animal behaviourlist and had a degree in animal psychology(passed away from cancer) also have a friend who was a GSD breeder up to a few years ago. I have always had an avid interest pack dynamics and language and
in dog training, and over the years I have collected a small library, that interest started when I met Charles Eisenmann in the 1960's( owner and trainer of the dogs who played in "The Littlest Hobo" along with London and 3 other shepherds 2 of which London sired{they all lived together in the same house} at the time he was promoting a new way to train dogs, which laid the ground work for the gentle training methods that exist today)
, my parent bought me his first book "Stop, Sit, and Think"
So you are right I own greyhounds how can I possibly know anything about GSD's and give advice Many of the dogs I owned were adopted as special needs due to behavioural and or medical problems and I aslo raised a few from pups, much of what the owner is describing I has seen and dealt with. And maybe just so you know greyhounds can get into some nasty fights too usually because they can become very competitive, so when adopted out they all go to their new homes with a muzzle, and the owners are warned if they let their greyhound run with other greyhounds to use a muzzle.

[QUOTE not all dogs are meant to be best buddies - and now we have lost good time in finding another home and potentially a child gets hurt.
[/QUOTE]

I agree with your first part, but what she has describe about the dogs behaviour does not suggest an agressive dog but one that has too much energy and therefore is taking playtime too far, therefore annoying the other dog. I do understand that safety needs to come first and foremost which is why I recommended the muzzles. I am by no means telling her to keep the dog , and I am also not telling her to get rid of it by telling her she can' t manage her time to work with this dog, just because she has children. Heck considering she brought 2 puppies into a home when her children were aged 9, 5 and 3 says a heck of a lot about her character and her determination to make things work, and she has done several things right already with regards to training and trying to teach the dogs that people are above them in the pack, she deserves to see what work and options are available, from there she can determine if it is something that is feasible for her situation and make a decision from there.
Quote:
You don't use children as bait to teach your dog manners by spraying water on her.
I am not suggesting to use the children as bait, I said supervise the interactions and correct. And spraying a dog with water can be an effective training tool as it breaks the dogs attention and puts the focus on the person trying to correct, especially when a dog is too excited and worked up to listen. When I introduced a cat to my 3 dog household, when one tried to chase pack instinct kicked in, for the cats safety I needed to teach the dogs not to chase in the fastest possible method, my one grey has very high prey drive but seeing that I could break his focus from cats at my vets office I felt strongly that he was cat trainable, within 3 days of using the spray bottle to correct the dogs ceased making any effort to chase, within 2 weeks the cat was snuggling up to my high prey drive grey to sleep, during the first month the dogs were muzzled and interactions between cat and dogs were closely supervised that was 4 years ago all has be fine.

the NILIF training will help to teach the respect , my advice was not meant just to pick one idea and put that into practice, the owner if she chooses to keep the dog needs to protect(muzzle), correct(spray bottle), train and provide sufficient mental and physical exercise so the dog is not becoming overexcited.

Quote:
This dog thinks everyone is under her - not just the kids, and she is willing to use her teeth to maintain her role in the house. Not a good scenario
Reread the behaviour-- of the way the dog is behaving with the children, what she is describing is excitable play biting, would you recommend the dog be gotten rid of if it was acting the same at 3 months of age?


Play nipping does not necessarily mean dominance or aggressiion , my most recent grey is a spook and very submissive both to animals and people, part of my way to build confidence and to help further her trust so she would not see me as a threat while standing was to play with her by running around the yard and letting her chase me, when she got overly excited she play nipped, because of her fearfulness I could not use spray bottle tactics with her, because of her submissiveness and fearfulness, turning around to look at her and sternly speak to her would set her into a panic, so I had to use the least threatening way possible to let her know that nipping was an unacceptable part of play by the turning my back on her and ignoring, it only took a couple times for her to understand. For a dog like Biscuit, this method would take a lot longer and she might even try nipping while being ignored to regain attention, which is another reason why the spraying method would work better with her.
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Old March 13th, 2006, 06:49 AM
kwlorax kwlorax is offline
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Wow! Quite a wealth of information from all of you, and I want to thank you for taking the time to post back to me.

I do not claim to be a dog expert, this is the first time we have owned dogs...., we've always had cats (!). We adopted the puppies from the county shelter (NOT from a breeder or somebody we knew) at 8 weeks of age, and we decided to get them both because we were under the impression that the two would keep each other company during our absences, and they could "grow up together". We also were interested in having them at the house for home protection - we live in a very rural area. We waited until we owned a house, and had some property so that they could have the room to run and play.

As it stands now, I am not sure WHAT we are going to do. I appreciate all your advice (and criticisms); it is very hard to give you the entire picture in a few short paragraphs.

As far as the behavior theraphy, honestly, we do not have the financial means to do that. I am sure that many of you may scoff at that excuse, but unfortunately, it is what it is. I love our dogs, but the financial line has to be drawn somewhere. We've read books, talked to the vet, etc, and done the best we can. Not everyone is a "professional", nor has the means to train like one.

My daughter has become afraid of Biscuit, mainly because she was playing with the dogs in the yard this last time when the fight started. Right now, we are leaning towards finding her another home. We don't feel right about keeping them separated and only having them together when they're supervised. As stated previously, expensive training isn't an option either. We love her very much, but in the big picture, we have to consider the other dog as well, and most importantly, the safety and wellbeing of the children.

Again, I want to thank you all for your time and advice. Have a good day!
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Old March 13th, 2006, 12:27 PM
Lucky Rescue Lucky Rescue is offline
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Quote:
We adopted the puppies from the county shelter (NOT from a breeder or somebody we knew) at 8 weeks of age, and we decided to get them both because we were under the impression that the two would keep each other company during our absences, and they could "grow up together".
Many people do think that, and end up with dogs who must be separated 24/7Getting two is fine for cats who have no social structure or hierarchy.

Dogs are pack animals with a strict hierarchy, but in the pack, one dog is the "top dog" and the others are subordinate to various degrees.

Dogs learn their place in the pack while still puppies, but in the home it's different. Since it sounds like no one in your home is willing or able to be leader(that is not a criticism - it takes a very knowlegeable person to raise siblings) each of your dogs will battle for that position. Since they sound evenly matched in temperament and size, these battles could be fatal if neither is willing to back down.

Quote:
So you are right I own greyhounds how can I possibly know anything about GSD's and give advice Many of the dogs I owned were adopted as special needs due to behavioural and or medical problems and I aslo raised a few from pups, much of what the owner is describing I has seen and dealt with.
I was not being critical. You are obviously a very experienced and dog-knowledgeable person, able to deal with extreme behavioral issues, which the original poster is not.

I know many people who have multiple pit bulls, some of whom literally want to kill each other on sight, but these owners also are experienced and able to deal with this aggression. Not everyone wants to, or is capable of dealing with such things. I have a pit bull also and have only one dog because I also want peace in my home. A first time dog owner, like the OP, would feel very panicked and helpless at the actions of these dogs and primarily there is the safety of her children to consider.

For THIS particular person, I still feel rehoming one of the dogs is the best option. A home with no dogs, or with a submissive male dog, might be fine.
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