Welcome to Ask Ali, where I answer all your questions about dog training. Today's question is from Jenn, who asks "what do I do about dog attacks in a multi-dog home?"
This is a really common issue that many of you may be dealing with right now. Sometimes this is really difficult, especially in this situation where the instigation was very unexpected, and at least one dog was in pain -- but it's still doable.
In today's episode I discuss how to bring down cortisol, and let both dogs destress, allowing both dogs to recover and repair their relationship as positively as possible
Welcome to ask Ali with multi award-winning dog trainer, Ali Smith, answering real dog questions from real dog parents Brooklyn and Camilla Lombardi are two dogs that are owned by Jen. Jen asked me that the younger of her two dogs got spayed and the day after the procedure she Jen accidentally lent on the older dog causing the older dog to Yelp. The puppy who'd just been spayed attacked the older dog. There was skin broken. And Jen is essentially concerned as to whether their relationship can be fixed. This goes back to cortisol again. After your dog's been in for an operation, their cortisol will be up. So again, cortisol is stress hormone. Just in case you weren't here earlier. Cortisol is the stress hormone that basically dictates how our dogs respond in a fight or flight situation. And it's something that all mammals, I think at least all mammals, I'm not sure about reptiles and birds. I'm sure they do. But they all have it and it just makes us very sensitive to our surroundings. So after an operation such as Sorry, that was the very first question that I answered. This will be replayed and it will be sectioned up and it will be released as a podcast. So by all means go there. That should cover you. Okay. The puppy was in pain is essentially what we're saying here. So the puppies in pain quarter's always up and consequently she's feeling sensitive , the older dog has reacted in pain towards towards their human mom. Their guardian. Pup has basically overreacted Pup has gone straight into a fight mode and directed all of that on the other dog, which is. Really sad, possibly avoidable. But again, please do not punish yourself on these things because we are human and we don't know what we don't know. Okay? But it's a learning experience and I wanna just make sure that you don't repeat it and others hopefully learn from this. So it's not anything to bring you down here, Jen, at all. So when our puppy goes, when a dog in a multi dog household goes in for an operation, oh, sorry, I've got a dog flew up my arms. We're in shedding season, aren't we? And it's right up my snoop. So when a dog goes in for an operation, it's a case that when they come out, they are always more sensitive. And this to me is actually something that I think contributes hugely towards reactivity because. When you look at the time that most dogs go in for a spay or neuter it tends to be spot on when the second fear phase starts of puppy development. So the second fear phase happens somewhere between six and 18 months, depending on the size of your dog, breed, gender, all sorts of variables. Okay, we go in, get a, an elective surgery, bring the dog out, and then we've had a puppy that's all sorts of rambunctious and all sorts of crazy and hasn't learned to shut down, hasn't learned to switch off, and then they get told they can't do much for a couple of weeks. And then we take them back out into the world and put them back on their original regime, right? That's how it works. And then they go back into the, in pain. Then we ask them to be just as sociable and just as normal and just as well adjusted as they were the day before they went into that surgery. It's physically not possible. I know I say that dogs are resilient and they are, but they ain't that resilient. So that pain that they are in, changes their way that they interact with the world. And a lot of the time we forget that we are just desperate to get them back out onto their walks and onto their exercise. And as much for us as for them usually. So yeah, we often forget our dogs are in pain and that they sh unfortunately they hide it really well as well. So it makes it really difficult for us to react appropriately. And I actually think, as I said, that this is a lot of where reactivity comes in., they go back out into the world feeling in pain, all a little bit disjointed, having not socialized for a couple of weeks, and then we put them back with everybody and then things go wrong. And then they make associations that they don't. For example, they start playing with their friend and all of a sudden something hurts and it shouldn't have hurt. And then they get a bit snappy and then something else happens and we get the effect that we would like to call trigger stacking in. In dog training, which is essentially just the same principles, the straw that breaks the camel's back. This happens, then that happens then bang. Okay. Same principle, but to go back to the exact situation that Brooklyn and Kamala Lombardi are going through ppa Saw Park should have been given more space. Pup should have had time away from the other dog. Just to protect from this. Okay? And again, please don't punish yourself. This is education purposes for everyone else. We should have let pop recover a little bit more and given her at least a couple of days away from her sister such that she had that time to recover and bounce back because it's tough. Surgery's tough on everyone, right? And it's no different for our dogs. What you can do now in a multi dog household is to keep them separate for a little while and just let everybody come down. Carala Brooklyn and Camilla Lombardi's account Jen accounts owner, Jen. did say that she's currently got them separated in hou in different houses, so that really helps. But yeah, just allowing them to come down and everybody to de-stress cuz now you've stressed out the other dog too. And if you can get that pain dealt with, if it's an underlying pain that your older dog is suffering with, get that dealt with too. And then just slowly reintroduce them. Something like mutual walking or parallel walking can really help In this instance. And by parallel walking we essentially walk as far away from each other as we need to for the dogs to focus on the human and not on each other, and we start walking every time they're doing the right thing. Inching closer together if the other dog becomes too much of a struggle. Separate a little bit. Okay. Rinse and repeat until you manage to get a nice walking together. And hopefully that'll be before the end of the walk and you can go home and then everybody goes to a separate area for a quick nap.. do that a couple of times before I start, like reintroducing around each other more. Outside spaces are usually easier than inside spaces. Depend again, depending on your home and depending where you are. Cuz I know like in England, when I was in England, gardens tend to be the size of a postage stamp, whereas in America, gardens tend to be a bit bigger or yards., depending where you are and depending on what you're facing, you might wanna just pick a nice area with a bit of space and see if they can deal with each other. You might elect to have. The dog who's got less recall on a long line just to make sure that you've got that control, should that be needed. But to be honest, this sounds like everybody's just gotta heal up a little bit, de-stress and come back together. I know that you said, Jen, that you were struggling or you really wanted to get to the point that everybody could sleep on the bed together again, because it's a wonderful thing and you've got mul, multiple dogs in a home and you all get to have cuddle time on the bed. And I know that one cause I do that too. It might be a little way off. I just wanna manage your expectations, but it is doable. Okay? You're just gonna have to play it by ear. And if they need more space, listen to them. If they need., if they want less space, manage it., I'm not gonna say listen to them then because a lot of the times, unfortunately, our dogs don't necessarily know what's best for them. And I would always advocate using your sense and a little bit of caution because, dog fights are scary., moderate it. Be there. Make sure that you make all of their interactions as much of a positive thing as possible such that, nobody gets hurt, nobody ends up in pain. We want basically a little utopia. You basically have to craft a little utopia for your dogs and manage out all the stress, manage out all the opportunities for it to go wrong, and then slowly reintroduce those opportunities. It's slow, it's rubbish, but it's do. Okay. It is entirely doable. I really hope that helps. And if you need anything more, please gimme a shout. And if you wanna go into some professional, like actual professional training with this, with me, absolutely happy to help. Do you want Ali to answer your questions? Email woof@ rebarkable.com and make sure to subscribe.