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By Felix Adamo/ The Californian
By Sherry Davis
One of the most frustrating calls to receive is from a distraught owner whose dogs fight with one another. While discerning the cause of the discord may not be difficult, providing a solution that fits into the owner's vision of "happily ever after" often is.
These explosive outbursts with their resultant physical injuries and veterinary costs are the only focus of the owner who just wants their dogs to get along. It may never occur to them that in their natural state, dogs that fight aren't forced to stay grouped together in dysfunctional and unbalanced packs.
While some fighting problems can be prevented simply by not providing triggers or allowing the situations that provoke them to develop, that can't be said for dominance displays, which owners often perceive as coming out of nowhere. Because dogs literally exude dominance or submission that is clearly read by another dog, owners must use caution when bringing adult dogs into an already established hierarchy of family dogs, especially when they are disparate in size.
Debbie writes that she already had three dogs (two small, one medium-sized) when the beautiful husky-mix wandered into her neighborhood and took up sleeping on her front porch and playing with her kids. Attempts to find her owners went nowhere, so Debbie's family welcomed a fourth dog.
She says "everyone gets along 99 percent of the time, but for no apparent reason the husky will lash out at one of the other dogs."
Her "yorkie-mix with an attitude" has been to the vet two times with puncture wounds, the last time so badly it had to have sutures in four places and drains inserted. And her medium-sized rescue dog lost a canine tooth as a result of another fight.
Debbie says that each fight seems to get worse and she should probably re-home the husky, but they really love her.
She wants to know if "this is just a train wreck ready to happen."
In my opinion, this train has already gone off the tracks, and because these fights are escalating it's not a reach to predict that next time the husky could break the yorkie's neck or puncture a vital organ.
Although Debbie sees no apparent reason for the attacks, that only means it's not visible to her untrained eye.
The husky may be seeing such slights as a shift in posture or violation of her space by the smaller dogs as challenges to her status, for which she in turn is just doling out appropriate punishment. It also comes as no surprise to me that the yorkie, with the breed's typical terrier determination, just keeps coming back for more and then is punished with a higher degree of aggression.
Re-homing the husky may not be the solution that Debbie is looking for, but her other dogs' lives might just depend on it.
-- Sherry Davis is a dog trainer/owner of CSI 4 K9s. Email her at email@example.com. These are her opinions, not necessarily The Californian's.