I am meeting with first-time clients regarding inter-dog aggression. This is one of those instances where I brace myself for potentially delivering news that the owners most likely do not want to hear. As I read through their questionnaire, I realized that their situation is not an easy one and that a good outcome where all dogs remaining at home, while possible, does not seem very doable. But, I need to wait to meet everyone in person.
There are many factors to consider in order to ascertain the most likely outcome of inter-dog-dog aggression. Most people, while loving their dogs, really do not have the time and energy to intervene when their dogs are fighting.
On the other hand, years of experience in visiting with folks with dog & dog issues have also taught me to suspend all possible scenarios until I learn more about their specific situation.
Once at their home it is evident that the husband’s experience with German Shepherds can really make a difference here.
The two females have had several altercations and it became obvious to me, once we did some work with the two of them, that there is clear animosity between them.
The family reports that even when the GSD joined the family as a puppy the other female never took to liking her. Now with the onset of adolescences for the GSD the intimidation has escalated.
So what are some of the conditions that allow for a good outcome in a case like this? The answer is not a straight -forward one. One has to consider the human element as well as the dogs involved.
Some of the things that I take into consideration while giving a recommendation as to the future of the dogs is the family living situation. These are:
- The time and energy the family has to work on managing the dogs so that they do not continue to fight.
- Time to engage in a long training process.
- Financial resources.
- Demographics of the family: Are there small children in the household, elderly folks? Etc.
- Willingness and the capacity to understand and carry through very precise directions during training as well as in their regular day-to-day life.
- Making sure that all family members care enough for the dogs so that they will support each other’s efforts and equally important not to undermine any of the recommendations. They must work closely with me!
- Having a “plan B” in place in the event a fight breaks out.
- Lots and lots of patience since in most cases, when an owner calls a pro to come help, there has already been a history of fights or a breakup in the relationship between the dogs.
It goes without saying that it is really hard for families to re-home one of their dogs. However, at times re-homing is the right response from a family as the need for safety for everyone in the home is also of paramount importance.
On the bright side, it is also not natural for dogs that are now sharing a household to always get along. Feral dogs often leave their group when conflict with another cannot be resolved and either remain as a solo individual or joins another group of dogs.