Animals

Dog Fight & A Hard Decision

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Cute, huh?

Abby (left) & Pepper (right) had a blast the day I took this photo. But it isn't always fun and games with these two. They fight like cats and dogs, you know what I mean. 

Abby is the dominate female.  The other dogs know this, and don't dispute it. Abby is also very, very moody. And jealous, man is she jealous.

Pepper, on the other hand, is the sweetest dog ever.  She never picks a fight, and even tries to stay away from Abby. After a fight, Pepper is the first to go to Abby and lick all of her wounds. Eventually, Abby will lick on Pepper too. 

The fights first started when we would let the dogs out, and Pepper would bump Abby or just look at her the wrong way. Seriously! We started letting Abby out first, and holding Pepper back so she wouldn't bump her or anything. The last time this happened we let them out at like two in the morning to go to the bathroom, and the fight was on. That certainly woke us up! McD ran outside sporting nothing but undies to break them up. It was quite a sight!

The fighting stopped for a little while, but then started up again when we would drive in the driveway. They run like crazy dogs when we drive in, and Pepper won't even have to bump Abby. Abby flat out starts a fight with her, and Pepper won't back down. I don't blame her. In order to stop the fighting, we started leaving one of them in the house while we were gone. It worked! I thought we had everything settled. 

But, then…

This morning, as I was sitting here writing about something completely different, I let the dogs out to use the bathroom. They were fine. I watched them for a few minutes. Abby had gone one way, and Pepper the other. I came back to the computer, sat down and got busy. After about thirty minutes I decided to check on them. I looked out all of the windows and didn't see them. I assumed they would be sunning and I didn't want to disturb them by opening the door. I walked to the kitchen to look out the back door, and there they were. They were bloody and wanting in the house. They both limped in, and went to their favorite places. 

This is going to be a much longer post than I had expected. Sorry.

After looking both of them over, I called McD. I told him what had happened, that I didn't know what started it, and that I was going to have to take Pepper to the vet. I asked him what we should do about them. He answered, "I don't know." 

I called the vet, and they can't get Pepper in until five o'clock this evening. She is in a lot of pain, and that is saying something because this little one has a pretty high pain tolerance. 

I went to check Abby over again, and have found that she has some pretty good cuts on her as well. 

The decision I have to make is this – what to do. Do I put Abby down? She is the one that is causing all of the problems. Obviously, nothing else is working. 

Any thoughts?

edited to say – I don't want everyone to think Abby is a horrible dog, she isn't. She can be loving. 

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27 Comments

  • Reply Alicia January 22, 2013 at 1:21 pm

    So tricky. Do you know anyone who would like a dog – to live in a dog free home? I know some friends who have dog aggressive dogs and it is a huge commitment, difficult for going on walks, etc, but some people are willing to commit to it. I don’t know.

  • Reply Sherry January 22, 2013 at 1:23 pm

    Oh wow! Soooo Sorry that the “ladies” can’t get along. A good friend of mine has always had 2 (or more) malamutes (sp?) at the same time. At one time she did have a problem with two of them that sounded a lot like the issues you are having. Only the fights usually took place when they went for a walk…they both wanted to be the dominate female. She got muzzles for them when they would go out for a walk. They did NOT like them but eventually learned that they had to “play nice” when they went out or the muzzles went on them…and that they did not want. Good luck.

  • Reply Pamela January 22, 2013 at 1:26 pm

    Call the Dog Whisperer.
    I am no dog expert so I can only pray for you to get inspiration and help so that both dogs remain happy.

  • Reply Heidi January 22, 2013 at 1:47 pm

    Well I’m sorry to hear this!! Those darn girls. Saying a prayer of guidance and peace of mind.

  • Reply Julie January 22, 2013 at 1:48 pm

    I do not, Alicia. We have thought about finding Abby a new home, but she is so stinkin’ quirky, and moody that I don’t know if anyone else would understand her. Plus, this might sound odd, but Abby wouldn’t understand. You think I’m crazy don’t you. LOL The other day she snapped at McD, and all he did was pet her while she was asleep. I can’t give her to someone, with a clear conscience, and have her bite a person next. Does any of this make sense?

  • Reply Julie January 22, 2013 at 1:50 pm

    Hi Love! I have thought about a muzzle for Abby, but not sure. I am taking note of all suggestions, and will be discussing them with McD later this afternoon.

  • Reply Julie January 22, 2013 at 1:51 pm

    That is exactly what I need to do. Do you have his number? 🙂 Thank you for the prayers!

  • Reply Julie January 22, 2013 at 1:51 pm

    Thank you, Heidi.

  • Reply Kim Armstrong January 22, 2013 at 1:53 pm

    The first thing I thought of was the muzzles. I have never had to use one, so I have no idea how it would work. But at least they would not bite each other. I feel sorry for you having to make some kind of decision. Ask your vet when you see him what he suggest. You know you can’t keep things the way they are…but what to do is the hardest part.
    Good luck and my prayers are with you!
    Kim

  • Reply Leah January 22, 2013 at 2:02 pm

    Mom said Abbey won’t get any better, she will only get progressively worse. Since she has snapped at McD her next move will be biting him or someone else. I know it will be hard but she needs put down.

  • Reply Julie January 22, 2013 at 2:16 pm

    Thank you, Kim! We’ve never had to use muzzles either.

  • Reply Julie January 22, 2013 at 2:18 pm

    Hey Leah! Yes, you are the second (third if we count your mom) to say that, and that has been one of my biggest fears is that she is going to continue to get worse.
    On another note, we missed you guys last night!

  • Reply annieb January 22, 2013 at 3:38 pm

    gosh, I am sorry…that is a tough one. I would look into a dog behaviorist…though, I will tell you that we had a “biter” growing up. It was no fun. He bit for no apparent reason. We had to take 2 of my friends to the hospital (today, in our state, he would have had to be put down for that – not totally fair since a cat put me in the hospital and no one cared…another story)…anyway, we had to be so careful when people (kids mostly) came to the house. I just couldn’t live that way again. I know that you care, love, and do the very best for your furry family members. Please don’t consider yourself a failure whatever your decision is…God bless and good luck

  • Reply Sandy January 22, 2013 at 6:03 pm

    Julie, I am so sorry. I was going to suggest an “only dog” home right up until I read that she snapped at McD. We have always had a one freeby rule in my house about the dog’s biting. My daughter put down her beloved Alex because he put teeth on her son…never broke the skin, but put his teeth on him. I must agree with Leah’s mother. She won’t get better. She might, someplace else, get different but I don’t think she would ever be trustworthy…and if you can’t trust your dog, who can you trust? Prayers and hugs.

  • Reply Stefanie January 22, 2013 at 6:31 pm

    I love both these girls. I can’t imagine how hard its going to be to make a decision. I’ll be keeping everyone in my prayers. Let me know if I can help in any way.

  • Reply Virginia January 22, 2013 at 7:59 pm

    When I was young, we had a biter. He was my dog and I was in love with Frodo, so I named him such. Frodo was nothing like the LOTR character, he was agressive and needed to be with someone who understood his needs. My parents gave him to my uncle who was always around and gave him the undivided attention needed. He thrived. He never remembered me, he cared nothing for us. Just my uncle. He lived a long life happily beside my uncle. He was well into his human-teen years when he passed.
    Giving Frodo to my uncle was honestly the best, most selfless thing me and my parents had done. I’m grateful we never put him down.
    My suggestion is to find someone who will offer a 1-dog home, who loves and understands her breed. There are plenty of “adoption” placements online. My parents adopted a mixed-breed that was a 16-hour drive. A friend of mine volunteers for Wire Haired Fox Terriers and helps shuttle adopted dogs from one end of the continent to another.
    Finding the right home for Abbey is definitely doable. Good luck, Julie.

  • Reply Patricia Powell January 23, 2013 at 8:04 am

    I have a german Shepherd & boxer that used to get in to it sometimes. But I bought them both mesh muzzles. And the fighting has stopped almost completely. The mesh muzzle allows them room to drink but not bite. They don’t wear them often but if they even growl alittle at each other I just have to get them out & they straighten up right away. They’ve learned if they fight they have to wear them for awhile. I don’t muzzle just one though. I always do both, because if the other was to start the fight the muzzled dog couldn’t defend themselves. So I always muzzle both to be fair & safe to each dog.

  • Reply Sayre January 23, 2013 at 12:57 pm

    Does your Humane Society have a Doberman Rescue? I had a dog that was very quirky and would not settle into the “pack”. One night I was trying to get her out of my son’s room (clean carpet) and she ripped my hand to shreds. It took half an hour to get it to stop bleeding. And the rest of the night to decide what to do about her as my son was the same height as she was. When my husband woke up the next day, I told him I was taking her to the shelter.
    Apparently she had enough collie in her (known biters) to qualify for a collie rescue group. She was taken in and went through some behavior modification and training and was adopted out to an “only dog” home. She is doing great and her new family loves her!
    I hope you have something like that around where you live. I know it’s not easy because I’ve had to do it myself. {{hugs}}

  • Reply Donna January 23, 2013 at 1:15 pm

    I am so sorry you are facing this decision. It is certainly not an easy one to make. Sending up prayers that you will have peace about whatever you decide.

  • Reply Leanne January 23, 2013 at 3:04 pm

    I’ve had this issue with my two female dogs. They were together for a yr and a half and all the sudden my boxer/bulldog (who we got 2nd) would just start growling at the other dog for no reason and a fight would break out. As in an ear was ripped and blood was drawn kind of fight. Apparently she was all the sudden trying to establish dominance over the other. So the vet put her on prosaic for about 6 to 8 months while she worked through her issues. We had a fog horn/boat horn that every time she even looked wrong at the other dog we’d blow and tell her to knock it off. Then we’d put her in her kennel away from all of us for about 15 min or so and let her out again. This was per the vets instructions. This went on for several months. I hated being left home with them alone because I was afraid I couldn’t break them up. The fighting has stopped for about 2 yrs now but anytime we pick up the fog horn (even though it’s empty) she tucks her butt under and walks away. She hates that thing.
    Sorry to hear you are going through this….hopes it gets better or that you have a peace about the decision you have to make.

  • Reply Mary in Idaho January 23, 2013 at 8:43 pm

    What is safest and best for the humans that come in contact with Abby? Would Pepper never bite or fight if Abby was not around? Our son and his wife had to put down one of their dogs for just this same reason. He told us afterwards that the peace in their home was wonderful and they felt like they had the home life they had wanted for years.

  • Reply Ro January 23, 2013 at 8:46 pm

    Leanne gave you excellent advice. Also, before you put her down find a Doberman rescue-many will take a dog like Abby. She is a beautiful dog but apparently feeling that she is not getting her rightful “share” of attention-a one dog home may be what she needs. I have had Dobies which are very loving and loyal dogs-it would be a terrible shame not to at least try to place her elsewhere. In multiple dog families I find it is best to have male and female. Females together sure get “bitchy” at each other. I wish both you and Abby a fair decision.

  • Reply anonymous January 24, 2013 at 8:24 am

    Behavior can be changed. I’ve watched and read Caesar Milan, the dog whisperer for years. At some point, Abby was allowed to show dominance. Intervention is possible. I would contact Caesar, and/or look at Doberman rescue options.

  • Reply Bailey January 25, 2013 at 6:29 pm

    Contact Cesar Milan (the Dog Whisperer). Dogs cannot be pack leaders in a domestic setting. YOU need to be the pack leader – if you are the dominant female, the other dogs will follow your lead. Never allow one dog to be a leader – their natural instinct is to fight for their place. As long as there is a canine leader, there will be aggression in your pack. However, with how long this is going on for – Abbey will need rehabilitation whether you take on the pack leader role or not. Please contact Cesar, he has a website, before you put her down. Or surrender her to a rescue that works with dogs like her. But don’t euthanize her yet, she still has a chance at a good life. Any dog can be rehabilitated as long as the right person works with her.

  • Reply Kathy January 26, 2013 at 6:39 am

    I chanced over to your blog from The Pioneer Woman and perhaps that was meant to be: with different breeds (both female) I’ve been in your shoes and it’s tough. In my case, the knock down, drag out dog fight was between my GSD-husky mix female and my female retired greyhound. When we got home from the vet, and I was able to replay what had happened, I realized that the humans in the house (my husband and me) had unwittingly set both dogs up for that fight because we didn’t understand how to correctly interpret dog behavior. We were fortunate because several of my good friends were (and still are) very dog savvy. I muzzled Suzy (the GSD-husky) in the house so that I could study her behavior and figure out how she displayed her dominate behavior towards my greyhound, having resolved to behave just like a dog myself and not use words to break up their interactions in the house and outside. (PS We had a 3rd dog during this time, a male greyhound; fortunately, he didn’t enter into this challenge.) Re-shaping dog behavior, especially when aggression is at the crux of the problem, is hard — my line in the sand was that neither of my dogs was leaving. I had a strong support system of dog knowledgeable folks to tap into daily. Listen to your gut; and, figure out how you can safely observe both dogs behaviors (muzzles allow that to happen because your own energy stays calm instead of going haywire because you’re worried about your dogs – and they pick up on your energy, which you know) and then decide what you can commit to and what you can’t. You want both dogs to look to you as their leader … which I’ll bet you know too. While you’re trying to come to a solution, let those muzzles be one of the tools you use for their benefit and for your peace of mind.

  • Reply BB February 4, 2013 at 6:12 am

    Oh Jools… such a hard thing to talk about, think about, let alone do. I do hope you can sort it without putting Abby down. By the look of comments above, it might depends on how disciplined you can be with them both. Honestly – girls these days! (Sorry, just trying to inject some levity to a serious situation).

    BB

  • Reply Virginia February 11, 2013 at 10:52 am

    Hi Julie,
    I’ve been wondering how things turned out. What happened with Abby and Pepper? I’m sure you made the right decision for you, despite all the advice!
    All my best.

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