Archive for April, 2009

What to do when dogs fight

I got a question recently about fighting breaking out in a pack of three male dogs who up to this point were getting on fairly well. Here is my response:

blkdog2Given that one of the dogs is 10 months old, the increased fighting may be due to increasing testosterone levels in the youngest dog. (The older two are neutered, the youngest was just neutered) Even after he is neutered, these levels will remain high for some time. High testosterone levels not only cause a dog to be more prone to assert himself, they also cause other dogs to assert themselves more frequently toward him.

Don’t be so quick to let the only dog who “isn’t starting the fights” off the hook. Unless you are watching very closely, you may be missing the ways he is starting them. Some dogs have an uncanny way of winding up other dogs with just a look. He may also be using the placement of his body in a way that signals a direct challenge. Just because one dog is quiet doesn’t mean he isn’t causing trouble!

blkdog1All the dogs in the pack are doing what any group of dogs do…working out their status relative to one another. This will happen and it isn’t necessarily a problem as long as you are clear to the dogs that the humans are ultimately in charge. I wouldn’t suggest doing things to challenge the status that is already in place, such as feeding the highest ranking dog last – you run the risk of them fighting even harder when you aren’t around. But neither would I support the status, like allowing a higher ranking dog to take the bone or bed of a lower status dog who is using it. I have a rule in my house: “If your nose is in it or your butt is on it it is yours unless I want it and then it is MINE.” No other dogs have the power to displace (more…)

Parrots are different than dogs

Franklin gets puffy

Franklin gets puffy

Our Quaker parrot Franklin has been with us for a week now. He is a love but the honeymoon has definitely worn off. He has started challenging me more, standing up for himself and not doing everything I ask. During those first few days he was like the perfect bird, very compliant and easy going. But for the last few days he’s been more stubborn. Tonight for example, he was pulling my hair. I made it clear that I didn’t like it and usually he would stop. But today he hissed at me and did it again! So I went to shake him off my shoulder and he flew off before I could and landed on my arm. I was impressed that he anticipated my reaction. Since he changed his behavior I let him stay there. But I fear that I am either totally misreading his cues or that I am acting like a push over.


Bauer Report – 4 months

Here is a report on one of Annie‘s litter, Bauer from his forever family.  We love getting and sharing these updates!

Bauer at 4 months old

Bauer at 4 months old

Bauer has turned into a very well behaved large puppy. I first noticed this when I was walking with him. I now can give him slack on the leash (which makes the walk so much more enjoyable for me!), and he doesn’t lunge or pull or even try to take the lead (90% of the time on this last one). When he does start to forget he needs to walk by my side, I say “with me” and tap my leg and he waits for me. This has progressed into us (when we’re sure no one else is around) dropping his leash during the walk. He has yet to stray more than 2 feet from my side — occasionally he’ll smell something and stop to sniff, but I say with me or catch up and he’s back at my side.

The other HUGE step he has made is with his stay. He always had a good stay, but we wanted him to have the best possible. We’re not there yet, but we’re getting there! Our new “trick” is to have him outside with us and a large basketball the neighbor boy donated (partially because Bauer found it when we first brought him home as a puppy — he managed to dig it out of a snow pile when some poor child lost it…..), and partially because (and I’m using the (more…)