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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Well it seems that the issue with my two male labs is not going away. In fact Saturday was my second incident in three weeks. I have read the threads where other people have been having issues. I have tried some of the suggested ideas, but I am really getting concerned and think I need some formal help and evaluation.

First I will ask my two questions, I live in the western/southern tier area of new york, I would like to at least talk to someone (professional) about my problem. How do I locate someone.
Second, what types of medical tests would you do on the dog who is being the agressor, just a general physical or something more specific?

I will outline the problem here as well in case there is something someone here would like to add and for new folks who may also like the information

I have a "pack" of 5 dogs, 1 older spayed female, 1 younger unspayed female, 3 intact male dogs ages, 6, 5.75, and 4 years old. All dogs live in the house, but the males are crated when I am not at home. The problem is between the two older intact males. One black, one chocolate (I don't think the color is a problem but other people have suggested it might?!) Anyway, I have had spats between these two off and on when the girls were in heat from the time they were both about 3 years old. It used to be only during that time that the two of them tangled. I always break up the fights, and they immediately get crate time. However, about three weeks ago, the first "non-heat" related fight took place in the early evening after my neighbors had a loud explosion on their property, All three of the boys ran to the window barking and upset about the noise. Immediately after that, the black male started growling like he "meant" it at the chocolate, I grabbed him by the collar, and pulled him into the bathroom and closed the door, I left him there for a few min. to cool off, put the other two in their crates, Brought the black out, put him in his crate, all of them crated for about and hour. Later, let them out to eat, they all eat together in the kitchen in their own places, no issue that I noticed, I took a cup of coffee to the livingroom, everyone came in, when I finished I took my cup to the kitchen and the black jumped the chocolate and it was "game on" . After this incident, I came down hard on everybody, no going through the door before me, no being out of the crates when I eat. I kept the two boys seperate for about a week then slowly let them have a little more time out of their crates together, but kept them in seperate rooms and watched them like a hawk. Then eventually back in the room together, but not unsupervised. No issues until
This past Saturday. I am remodeling the bathroom, had to bring in the tub/shower so had to clear the crates out of the kitchen, put all the dogs together in the bedroom for 45 min or so....NO Problems!, took them outside, played with them brought them in put them back in their crates, they were in their crates for 1-3 hours, took them outside again, played with them again, came in the house and everyone was loose in the house. The two chocolate boys were with me in the bathroom, the black lab was in the bedroom on the bed. I moved into the kitchen, and the chocolate lab barked for his supper, he thought I was going to feed him. Well the black jumped off the bed and came to the kitchen growling again "like he meant it" I grabbed him and put him in his crate, admonished him with "bad dog" and put the other two in the livingroom. Black dog was in his crate for approx. 15-20 min. I put the baby gate between the two rooms and let him out, he was wagging his tail and all happy with "me". however, when I lifted the gate to bring the others to the kitchen, it was "game on" again....he started through the gate just ready to let the chocolate have it. I grabbed him by the collar and started to move him away. Well the chocolate started to circle around to "get involved, and I grabbed him too. I have a death grip on both dogs and stiff armed at my arms length. Both dogs growling, I was luckily able to manuver the chocolate to the bedroom (again the only room with a door) and lock him in there. In the mean time, I took the black dog to a crate I keep on my porch. While the crisis (fight) was averted, I am now back to square one. Total separation, although I did take them outside together twice yesterday. No issues but I watched them like a hawk and if one seemed to get too close to the other I called him off. Now here is the weird part. The "other" male (4 yo) will pick on the black when they play and will jump on him and take his toy completely away from him and just be a general PITA. But the black has never so much as growled at him. When everyone is outside...Usually the older choclate will completely ignore the black and outside doesn't seem to be a problem for the two. They are usually miles apart outside. One thing I think I notice is that issues seem to start when the "alarm" barking starts. Like last night when the black was out alone, and the chocolate in his crate heard a noise outside and "alarm" barked, the black went running toward the door with tail and hackles up(alittle)! Possibly, this is a trigger like a "protection" issue, but I am at a loss and I think I need some help. Seperation is a PITA, but if it means keeping both safe, I will have to do it. But I wonder if seperation could exacerbate the issue, by letting them think they have one up on each other? As for environment, we moved into this house about 8 mos. ago, I am living there alone with the dogs. I try hard to "be the pack leader", but will admit that I do not have the "military police attitude" I probably should have. Also, the black dog has been having issues with elbow dysplasia and my have days when he is uncomfortable so I don't know if he is possibly having some "pain transference issues".

Sorry for this being long. I only list the details in case someone else can benefit from my problem. You may comment if you wish, but I am also looking for answers to my initial questions........

Thanks,
Earlene
 

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Earlene...the medical issue part..

You probably know that TBD positive/Lyme...can cause a dog to become aggressive so testing would be good....

..although, it sounds like in your case this has been ongoing between the two males ..and everytime they get into it successfully, it is rewarding to at least one of them that starts it. So, TBD probably not the cause?

Managing as you say and some professional help. Can you camp the boys out with friends/family when the girl is in heat? Take her out of the picture?

FREEEZing here :( Awful windchill...low teens.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Judy, thanks, actually the girl is out of the picture (as of Sunday) but she has not been in heat since December. So I don't think that she has been a factor in the last "two" incidents.

I used to give my dogs lyme vac. but haven't re-vacinated in about a year. I was worried that I might get a "false" positive but it is definately worth looking at. The whole fighting thing really takes a toll on my nerves...the last thing I want is either dog to be hurt, so if re-homing one of them is my only option I will. Even though I have always been "a dog is for life" kind of person.

The black dog has alway been on the possesive side, he likes to "keep" things. In our old house he had a spot where he hid toys and various other sundries. He has also always been a "growler" sometimes even when you admonish him, he will growl back at you but has never tried to bite me or any other person.

I really feel this is more behavior than medical, but like I said, everything is a possibilty.
 

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You keep throwing the dogs together expecting difference outcomes. These males do not see you as their pack leader. And they are both trying to assume the role... hence the constant skirmishes. Neither of these dogs should be out together... the more they fight, the more the behavior is ingrained.

Why are you leaving them intact? Are you a breeder?

You said one of them has always growled at you... that would not be tolerated in my household... that's a big red flag.

How much exercise do these dogs get per day (separately)....

Thryoid can be an issue and cause aggression.. I would check it out also.

I am surprised you have not had some serious injuries to your dogs or yourself.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Terrie, to answer your questions

I am/was leaving them intact because I was going to breed them, but now my personal situation has changed and I probably won't. I have left them intact for health reasons.

Yes, the black dog has always growled on and off, it was not tolerated, he has been sternly talked to, shook by the ruff and put in his crate for doing it, but the more you "correct" him, the more it sometimes escalates.

The dogs are getting less exercise than they were, but they still get a half hour or so outside their crates running around the yard with the dog sitter mid-day, then a 40min to 1 hour a day walk with me when I get home from work. None of them are currently being formally "trained".

Yes, very lucky on the injuries, although there have been some bleeding ears (dogs) in the past.
 

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You said one of them has always growled at you... that would not be tolerated in my household... that's a big red flag.
Terrie, to answer your questions

Yes, the black dog has always growled on and off, it was not tolerated, he has been sternly talked to, shook by the ruff and put in his crate for doing it, but the more you "correct" him, the more it sometimes escalates.
Careful here, not all growls are the same. Some dogs growl out of fear of the alpha coming down on them.

I suggest you put in a phone call to an animal behaviorist.

This is a good place to start. http://www.animalbehavior.org/ABSAppliedBehavior/caab-directory

But remember some of the best animal behaviorist are the professional trainers around us that spend 10+ hours a day reading dogs. There is no substitute for hands on work.
 

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I'll bet any trainer or professional that you go to for help will first suggest neutering the black dog. Frankly sounds like he should not be bred anyway. The absence of testosterone will help his attitude. It won't fix the problem, but will help his overall demeanor. It can take several months for the neutering to have an effect, though.

I hope you can find a good behaviorist to help you restore peace. But it will take some time to create the solution. This is a complex problem not easy to fix.

Best of luck,
jennifer
 

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I had a phone call about 6 months ago, from a friend whose dog was growling etc. and told her to get the dog looked at- Turned out he had a HUGE prostate infection and was low thyroid. Tick diseases also do this:(
He was neutered and things have settled down, but, she will never trust them alone.

the timing is right if the prostate has been festering, in the meantime be careful.
 

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Careful here, not all growls are the same. Some dogs growl out of fear of the alpha coming down on them.

I suggest you put in a phone call to an animal behaviorist.

This is a good place to start. http://www.animalbehavior.org/ABSAppliedBehavior/caab-directory

But remember some of the best animal behaviorist are the professional trainers around us that spend 10+ hours a day reading dogs. There is no substitute for hands on work.
Definitely, someone that can observe both owner and dog in their environment. Also, the benefits of not neutering at this point may not outweigh the health risks for serious injury from fighting... something to consider.
 

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Find someone to help you with your dogs, first.

I would start working with the dogs daily with obedience drills. Reinforce that you call the shots.

How much exercise are they getting? Something to consider, a tired dog is a lot less likely to cause trouble than a bored dog. Hard exercise will make for a happier household overall.
 

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Also, the benefits of not neutering at this point may not outweigh the health risks for serious injury from fighting... something to consider.
I agree. Check the lymes and thyroid, teeth etc but I would be neutering the black. They are jockeying for position and it's not going to go away, but it's going to get worse until you have a big fight. The other option is keeping them separate at all times which you admit is a PITA. I have intact males but they are further apart in age. When there is a female I never leave them together. The jockeying for position at other times is pretty much ironed out but males close in age with one growling is a recipe for disaster.
 

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since they can't be kept apart all the time and you won't nueter them....

There is one solution. Pull their teeth out and feed them soft food for the rest of their lives.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Thank you everyone for your input....I am not beyond any of the suggestions, (even neutering one or both as I am not planning on doing anymore breeding.) I just know that under normal situations keeping boys intact is better "overall" for their health, but agree that a "big" fight could do some serious damage. What may limit me is that I co/own these dogs and the other owner may not agree to neutering even though we do not plan on breeding.

I do think that their age plays a big part, they are only 9 mos. different in age.
No, the Black should not be bred, he has dysplasia in one elbow, so I would not breed him.

"Careful here, not all growls are the same. Some dogs growl out of fear of the alpha coming down on them"...Yes, I do think that he growls out of fear at me more than agression towards me, only because the more you admonish him, the more he will growl.
 

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What may limit me is that I co/own these dogs and the other owner may not agree to neutering even though we do not plan on breeding.

I do think that their age plays a big part, they are only 9 mos. different in age.
No, the Black should not be bred, he has dysplasia in one elbow, so I would not breed him.
If he has ED, why would a co-owner care if he was neutered? Under the circumstances, I think if the co-owner refused, they should take the dog if they felt his health would be compromised by neutering. Maybe the ED is bothering him and is painful for him hence the growling?
 

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Thank you everyone for your input....I am not beyond any of the suggestions, (even neutering one or both as I am not planning on doing anymore breeding.) I just know that under normal situations keeping boys intact is better "overall" for their health, but agree that a "big" fight could do some serious damage. What may limit me is that I co/own these dogs and the other owner may not agree to neutering even though we do not plan on breeding.

I do think that their age plays a big part, they are only 9 mos. different in age.
No, the Black should not be bred, he has dysplasia in one elbow, so I would not breed him.

"Careful here, not all growls are the same. Some dogs growl out of fear of the alpha coming down on them"...Yes, I do think that he growls out of fear at me more than agression towards me, only because the more you admonish him, the more he will growl.
I wouldn't immediately assume it's fear based and hold onto that as the "root cause". Keep an open mind to what your trainer or the behavorist's evaluation is after watching you and your dogs interact.

I also see you state "admonish" rather than "correct" Perhaps just trying to be "PC" in your terminology. However, "admonish" means to scold in a mild or good willed manner. That's how you would deal with another person not a canine, and surely not how you deal with aggressive dogs trying to be "top dog". You need to apply a firm and consistent "correction" that works and not "admonish". You may require behavior modification also from a trainer in your actions with your dogs as you work through the issues.
Best of luck.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Yes, I used "admonished" to be PC, my form of correction has been to take the dog by his collar and "shake him up" while sternly saying something like "knock it off" or "What's your problem" or "No, bad dog". And I admit to not being an expert, heck, I am not even a "trainer" . I used to be a "trainer's assistant" so to speak ...i.e. bird boy!?!

It's okay though, I put this out there for help for me or anyone else that may go through something similar. I appreciate everyone's input.
 

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Without seeing what is going on in your house it's hard to comment.
So much body language is done between dogs that we all could be missing allot.
Please be very careful when separateing dogs when they fight. I have gotten my worse injuries when separateing dog fights.
It has been my experience that dogs tend to behave better when in a bigger area(bigger playyard,or airing yard) than when in a small confined area where there is minor territories.
Good Luck!
Sue
 

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It may be helpful to post up a video. There are lots of people here that can help you, but they have to be able to see what's going on.
 
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