• Dustin

    January 12, 2023 at 9:06 am

    Good Answers everyone! I agree with Phillip on almost everything except the skipping steps part. I will add that Mike said he thinks that resource guarding could be the initial trigger for Senna. I agree with that. The posture of Ziva reaching in with her nose while im delivering a treat is very similar to if she were to reach into a food dish while Senna was eating. I think in this situation it is a fine line between the two and the presentation of the behaviors very well may look the same. Senna’s body language before the fight shows that he was quite relaxed adding value to the resource guarding argument in my opinion. In situations like this I tend to weight Mike’s experience pretty heavily.

    Dustin’s Answer:

    In order to understand this interaction better we need to start by understanding the normal dominance relationship between these two dogs. Remember the purpose of dominance in canines is to reduce aggression within the pack. Normally this works very well with Senna and Z, when dominance conflicts arise they are quickly settled by one dog giving up the claim. Occasionally conflicts rise to the level of air snaps but as mentioned before the dog with the lesser claim gives up quickly resulting in a fairly equitable relationship overall.

    Contributing Factors:

    MAJOR: Lack of leadership- Ziva was allowed to freely roam without command. This meant she was free to roam about and put herself into inconvenient places. I should not have allowed her to wedge herself into such a small space while creating possible dominance conflicts by handing out limited resources in the form of food and attention.

    MINOR: Frustration in Senna was a secondary contributing factor to this incident. The frustration was caused by me not having a good plan on how I was going to prompt this behavior beforehand, leading me to wing it and have Senna struggle through the process. Adding to his already high frustration. This was not the reason the fight started but it likely shortened Senna’s trigger.

    The conflict started when both dog’s were inside the tight closed end of the bedroom hallway. When Dustin was handing out a treat to Senna, Ziva reached her nose close to the hand area, triggering a dominance reaction in Senna. Senna then gave her a good air snap (watch the video closely on .25 speed). Normally in this situation Ziva would have backed down and that would have been the end of that but in this situation she was unable to give up the claim, she had no easy escape route from which she could flee so she reverted to a fight instinct. The fight, which was now one of Senna dominance/Ziva self defense, was in full swing. The most interesting aspect of the fight once it was on is the amount of restraint shown by both dogs. The dog’s do not skip steps in the aggression cycle and are very slow to escalate the steps even once they are fighting. If the video is played back on the slowest speed it can be observed that, though very noisy, no contact is made by either dog for the entire “first round” of the fight. We don’t see a tooth hit until after I’ve separated them slightly the first time and Senna goes around behind my back, he does start to tooth hit or lightly bite her at that point. The restraint shown by Senna is further evident when I grab him and pull him off of her, had that escalated into the actual biting phase of the aggression cycle I think I would have gotten at least some misdirected aggression coming my way. Instead it was pretty much over the instant I separated them. In slow motion it can be easily observed that as soon as Ziva gets all four of her feet underneath her she instantly retreats. Supporting my conclusion she was not fighting for dominance but just trying to escape. She is generally happy to give up a claim because she understands she will be taken care of soon enough. After Z makes the initial retreat she stops and turns around to look at Senna for a second before disengaging for good with a head turn. She does a shake off when she’s walking away followed by a couple sneezes (have to listen) and then a bigger shake off as she walks back on camera. Senna starts to lick his lips pretty much as soon as I have my arms wrapped around him followed by the big shake off as soon as I release him.