This happened during Positive Pet Training week when the theme was multiple dogs, but sadly I didn’t have a chance to write it up in time.
Mia and Leo hadn’t been in a nasty fight in almost two years, and generally are the bestest of buddies. Most of the time, I feed them sort of separately. Leo gets his food in his crate (The Bug Hut) and Mia gets hers in her condo or the kitchen.
When I give them Raw Meaty Bones inside the house, Leo runs from room to room looking for a place to hide it before settling down beside Mia to eat it.
Often, they sit back to back while eating their bones. Adorable.
The other week though, something happened. I don’t remember the moments before, but suddenly they were fighting.
I’m certain that Leo left his bone too close to Mia, and then when he went back for it, she snarled at him. With most toys or lower value items, Leo shrugs it off, but here, he didn’t back down, and that’s how they ended up fighting. Snarling and snapping at each other’s faces.
In that first moment, I started shouting, “Hey! Knock it off!” Because that’s what they tell you to do, right? Make a loud noise to shake them out of it? (We’ve used an air horn in the past. Didn’t work either.) But this is counter to what I believe about dog behavior. I don’t scold or yell “No!” to stop my dogs from barking and lunging inappropriately, because shouting begets more shouting.
I grabbed Leo’s hips and pulled back. Rob rushed in from the other room with a broom in hand. He thought he might use the handle to separate them, but instead, he grabbed Mia’s hips and pulled her back. Even though we were in a smaller space (in front of the TV) than we were the last time they fought (over a live rabbit, on the back patio), we succeeded in separating them.
(We had a hard time with that last one. Since then, I’ve been advised to “wheelbarrow” fighting dogs by lifting their hips while pulling back, so their back legs are off the ground. We didn’t have room to do that this time, but luckily we didn’t have to.)
No one was injured.
Even after they were separated, Leo continued to bark at Mia, and Rob said it was scary to see him so checked out (that’s called hindbrain).
After my initial, failed attempt at shouting a distraction, I started saying, “Shhh. Shhh.” I repeated this while putting Leo in his hut and Mia in the back yard.
Then I walked them separately, and when they reunited, they were buds again.
I don’t know if “Shh” is necessarily a better way to break up a fight than “Hey!” but it kept me calm, so maybe it soothed the dogs too.
Our hearts were pounding afterward, but I felt quite pleased with ourselves. This was a welcome change; usually I beat myself up about my failure as a dog parent. This time, Rob and I congratulated ourselves on how well we handled the fight.
But sadly, this means I won’t get to watch them eat Raw Meaty Bones side by side for a while.
How about you, readers? What was the worst dog fight you’ve had to break up? Do you have any field-tested techniques?
Hark! There is a blog hop I can join with this post: June is Multiple Pet Mania Month hosted by Cascadian Nomads, My GBGV Life and Wag’n’Woof Pets and sponsored by K9 Bytes, Merrick and The Umbilical Belt. The entire month is all about life with multiple pets culminating with the first annual Multiple Pet Day on June 30th. If you have or have ever had more than one pet, please take the Life With Multiple Pets Survey. We will be sharing the results on Multiple Pet Day. That is also the day we will announce the winner of our #MultiPetDay photo contest. Anyone can join in the photo contest or multiple pet mania month fun. Check out the posts below, comment, share and follow #MultiPetMania. If you are a blogger with more than one pet, please link up a post about multiple pet life below. Any and all things about living with and loving multiple pets are welcome!
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