Dog Training World Forums Aggression Problems Dominance Aggression Possible status-based conflict Reply To: Possible status-based conflict

  • Michael D’Abruzzo

    December 28, 2016 at 5:01 pm

    Hi Anna,

    Sorry for the delay on feedback with the holidays…

    The good news is this is pretty cookie cutter dominance aggression.  It is always good when a behavior is explainable and “normal”.

    It is normal and predictable for intact adult male dogs to start “picking on” younger intact males around 10 months of age since this is when testosterone levels start to peak.

    This originates back to natural pack behavior where “alpha males” start harassing their young adult male offspring at about 10 months of age and usually drive them out before they hit full sexual maturity usually before the second year.  Those young males then go off and start their own packs and “families”.  It is similar with the females as well, give or take some exceptions in a dynamic world.

    In a captive state, where wolves are kept at zoos and such there is much more violent behavior when adults are forced to remain together and much more tension.

    This timeline has also been observed with domestic dogs.. with the exact happening with a group of captive “labs” in a study that Ian Dunbar was involved in.  Adults pick on the subadults at about 10 months old.

    There have also been recent studies with free-ranging feral dogs that mimic this pattern.

    So what you can basically predict here is that Axel will pick on the young intact male, but obviously cannot drive him out of an enclosed home and Manji will be forced to keep defending himself.  Established “alphas” rarely give up their position.  In my experience they will die first defending it and I have seen this many time with older dogs that can’t drive out a younger dog and eventually the younger dog hits full adulthood and will literally fight for position instead of self-defense and this is when you see the older dog seriously injured.

    If you want to make this work, neutering them both would be ideal although that will only take the turbo boost out of what has already started.

    Neutering or not, if you want to keep two male Dobermans you will need to either physically separate them in any situation where there will be a resource to compete over (ANYTHING important to EITHER of them). This can be your attention, food, toys, resting places, etc.. And also you ay have a fight when there is a conflict over a group decision such as one dog really likes a visitor and the other chooses to show aggression toward the visitor.

    Dominance is a good thing because when it is in order it is meant to reduce fights when there are so many things in their world that they may all equally want or when there are decisions that need to be made as a group.

    If you do not separate them your alternative is that you will have to mimic the position of “leader” in a way that they understand.  In the natural state lower status canines would never be allowed to pick fights like this with other pack members without serious repercussions from the “leader”.  A good leader keeps the peace and is the only one that decides when a member can be “driven out” of the pack.

    I would suggest tou read the article here: Dominance debunked? and read the “mech studies” that are referenced in the article if you want to take this task seriously.  The first step is understanding their behavior and then it makes so much more sense as to how to resolve it humanely and smoothly.

    For now I would definitely separate them, or there will be more fights if there has not been more aleady.