Having had dogs around at home all my life – various combinations of rescues, cross breeds and pedigree working dogs – mainly bitches and often more than one, I had never experienced aggression within the pack until this summer…(if you don’t count the time in Suffolk when mother in laws three turned on my Spaniel and I don’t count that time as it was horrid…)
The youngest one of our three (cross breed origins unknown but looks very like a Labrador) chose to try to take a chunk out of the oldest of our three – black lab. Highly scary noises but no actual tooth contact. There had been a previous skirmish about food which had led us to be careful about ‘pecking order’- making sure that we fed them in age order and loaded them into the car for walks oldest one first etc.
So, quick phone call to the local Dog Whisperer to find out what to do next to avoid aggro in our otherwise highly peaceful pack.
Well, that was an eye opener – turns out we had been doing the wrong thing going for a hierarchy approach that we imposed as actually the dogs needed to sort themselves out about who is top dog now that they are all getting older – they were shaking up their roles and responsibilities and we were confusing the picture no end.
The advice was to ‘shake it up’- feed them separately and have different combinations of dogs on walks and outings and in and out of the car and in and out of the house and order of putting on leads etc. Quite a challenge when so much of what we do is habit and ingrained, but we did some swap around and apart from a couple of ‘moments’ all has been much calmer- and here is a little picture of the fighting dogs now…