• Michael D'Abruzzo

    May 13, 2016 at 1:24 am

    Hi Maria,

    I read Cobbler’s profile and his training journal.  You certainly have your hands full with this case and you are on the right track by trying to understand your dogs first.

    You likely have many triggers for Cobbler and Tina’s aggression including social, guarding, territorial, predatory, fear, etc..  all of which need to be addressed in this case.

    The first thing that I can tell you is that you certainly will have other incidents unless you have a good short term management plan in place.  Regardless of what the DNA profile says about Tina and Cobbler they both are taking on the characteristics of a fighting breed when it comes to many different types of conflicts with the other dogs.  Therefore you must treat them as so while managing.

    Two traits that are sometimes passed from fighting line ancestry are the silent attack (skipping steps in the aggression cycle).  This was needed to get a quick hold and advantage in the ring.  And,  not stopping to signals of submission, surrender, etc.. once a fight begins (It was the dog that STOPPED fighting first that lost, not the dog that was beat up more, so this trait was selectively bred). Almost always we can explain why the fight happened.  Usually for the same reasons that every dog had conflict.  The difference is that what may just be growls, air snapping, single corrective bites, squabbles that end when one dog submits, etc with “typical” dogs can be 100% full throttle fight with a fighting dog that easily goes into kill mode regardless of what the “challenger” is signaling.  This is your MAIN problem that will underscore all the inter-dog issues within the home.

    As Cobbler approaches 2 years old and is showing aggression toward humans for various reasons you will now have a secondary problem since bites on humans MAY also show same tendencies of skipping steps once triggered.

    Before even discussing the actual training, you need to make sure that you are not putting any of the dogs in unnecessary “Russian Roulette”  situations.  For instance there is no reason why any of these dogs should eat together when it can be done separately.  Unless, you are 100 percent sure you can verbally command all the dogs to leave each other be while eating (which may be a long term management plan after training) it is best to separate them.

    All triggers should be controlled, mainly anything that is considered a resource and “limited or important to the dogs”.  Toys, attention, resting places, food.

    Any of the dogs that have a history of fighting like a fighting breed should not be left alone unsupervised with other dogs period.  This is just part of owning a dog with that capability.  I have owned many pit bulls and American bulldogs and when i wasnt spending time with them, they were physically separated from any dog that had past incident with or any dog that potentially could be a conflict.  If you dont do this you will eventually come home to a dead dog or will at the very least round a corner to see another incident in progress.

    Now that Cobbler has shown he has no problem biting a human, you will also be playing Russian Roulette giving him free access to any guest that enters the home.  He is at the age where the bites first start and progress with more confidence to 2 years of age.  You should have him on a leash and make it impossible to have contact with guests or have him in a secure muzzle if he will be loose with someone that doesnt mind the possibility of being butted with the muzzle if we make a bad judgement call.

    Only after you go through the situation with a fine toothed comb and feel confident that you have secured the situation in a short term management plan should you focus on the training.

    With the right plan you and all your dogs can have a safe and good quality of life.  You can enjoy all your dogs for their individual good qualities.  First step though is to recognize the qualities that must be respected and managed for now.   After things may be less “strict” when we get down and dirty with the rest of the training and progress, but life will never be like owning a pack of average golden retrievers or beagles.  There will always be an aspect of management with the combo of dogs you have.  Fighting dog behavior and the onset of guarding dog behavior with maturity will require control training and structure to guide the dogs best.