Fighting Westies

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  • #62629

    Our new member Emily has a big problem with her 2 westies.  She contacted me for help and i pointed her in this direction.  Im posting to save her writing it all out again.

    So the problem is 2 westie sisters, here’s the story.
    Our Westies are 3 years old in Novemeber this year, my partner purchased one (DOT) at 8 weeks of age, she lived with him until February 2007 alone although she had regular interaction with other family dogs including 2 black scotties, a chocolate labrador & a boxer. He then heard on the grapevine that the same breeder had recieved one of the litter back after selling her to a couple at 8 weeks of age. They wanted to return at around 18 months of age her as she didn’t look like their other Westie. She then had puppies at the breeders. My partner bought her (GRACE) so the sisters were reunited & got on really well from day one with no fighting & very little growling, although GRACE doesn’t like bigger dogs & has always growled at them. We then met in April 2007 & have two dogs of my own, a chocolate labrador (OSCAR) & a Rottie (DIESEL). DOT & GRACE were neutered November 2007 & OSCAR neutered December 2007. GRACE is smaller than DOT. DOT is chunkier & usually comes out best when they fight.

    After a while of regular interaction, she gets on really well with OSCAR, even to the stage of rolling on her back & letting him nibble her stomach but not with any other big dog, if DIESEL even comes into the room she growls but only occasionally snaps.
    On 30th may 2008, we sold my partners house & up until this point they were happily left on their own, unfortunately meaning they’ve obviously made up their own rules & live as they want, ie. being on the furniture – whilst we were at work. They had a walk in the morning & evening then sat on the setee with us on an evening. We are currently nearly at the end of the purchase of a barn so have moved in to my parents. On top of this upheavel, my parents split up & my mum moved out in May 08 with my 11 year old brother, due to his schooling commitments mum & dad came to an arrangement where my dad would move out in September 08 & my mum & brother moved back in, since then the Westies have started to fight really visiously.

    The first fight they had, they were in the passageway from a large kichen to a closed door that leads to the garage with a plastic ‘babble ball’ that makes animal noises, all four dogs were in the passageway with the westies by the closed door so were blocked in, GRACE had DOT on her back by the throat, they had to be physically separated. They were both covered in blood as GRACE had managed to pull one of her teeth clean out from the root. They were both taken to the vet who examined them, charged us £90 for painkillers, anti-botics & suggested a plug in of DAP calming solution which we also took ( which obviously doesnt work ).

    The second was when somebody came to the door, I was holding DIESEL & OSCAR away from the door & GRACE & DOT were behind so couldn’t get to the front door, as I had my back to them I can’t give anymore detail on that one, they had to be physically pulled apart again.

    The third was again when somebody came to the door, my mum picked them up together one under each arm, GRACE started to growl so i took one & we put them in separate rooms, when they were reunited around ten minutes later they went for each other, again having to be pulled apart, they each had grazes & cuts under the eyes & around the nose.

    They came close when my partners sister picked GRACE up & hugged her, she was growling & they both squared up to each other however this was at his parents house so not on their own territory & fighting was avoided.

    The final fight was on a Saturday night whilst in the care of my partners parents at their house as we were away for the weekend for his birthday, GRACE has got a puncture wound at the top of her front leg which is quite deep, they had to be pulled apart again. It was started by his mum picking GRACE up.

    GRACE will allow you to pick her up on certain occassions such as to get in the car but mainly growls if you pick her up however DOT is fine with being picked up in every situation & being cuddled.

    The westies are currently separated on the advise of my partners mum, which a vet she spoke to this morning agreed with, she has kept DOT at her house & GRACE came home with us yesterday afternoon to DIESEL & OSCAR.

    In their view they should be kept apart until we move to our new house, I disagree. I would really appreciate your advice from the dogs perspective rather than a humans as to what maybe causing this behaviour & should they be kept apart, i’m terrified being apart for that long will make things worse.

    They’ve recently seen a behaviourist who despite a extortionate fee (2visits for £420!) and they’ve got no further, one of his solutions was to tie the girls to house hooks, which obv worked while they couldn’t get to each other but made them even worse once let off.  Apart from that he didn’t recommend much but scullcap and valerian and a change of diet.

    Before going down the rehoming route Emily wants to be sure she’s exhausted all other avenues and at least trying to get some calm back in the house

    #78144

    Here’s a pic


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    #78145
    Izzie
    Member

    I would say she needs to be Bev’d

    £420 for 2 visits!! 😮 😮 thats shocking!!! >:( >:( >:(

    #78146

    [quote author=Izzie link=topic=13096.msg252386#msg252386 date=1227113375]
    I would say she needs to be Bev’d
    [/quote]

    Thats what i said!  😀

    I’ve given her a bit of info on what i think is the cause etc but she needs serious Bev help!  😀

    #78147
    Izzie
    Member

    To me it sounds like pack structure issues -But then I could be going off on the wrong tangent

    [quote author=Foxisle_crazy link=topic=13096.msg252387#msg252387 date=1227113477]
    [quote author=Izzie link=topic=13096.msg252386#msg252386 date=1227113375]
    I would say she needs to be Bev’d
    [/quote]

    Thats what i said!  😀

    I’ve given her a bit of info on what i think is the cause etc but she needs serious Bev help!  😀
    [/quote]

    Great minds think alike Foxy!  😉 ;D 😀 😀

    #78148
    Anonymous
    Guest

    Hi,

    The thing which sticks out for me is all the change in a relatively short space of time, and the owners being relatively emotionally unavailable (i dont mean in a nasty way just maybe concern with all the family human issues might have drawn away focus from dog pack).

    I would really really reccommend bev i know it will be hard to have confidence in a behaviourist again but I wanted to add that I have had bev help me with 2 lots of dogs that have been fighting now and both times she has given excellent advice.

    Claire x

    #78149
    Anonymous
    Guest

    me again,

    I also wanted to add that diet can be a very important factor in fighting and could certainly be looked at as part of the whole picture, DAP and valerian should work but my experience of them is more to keep already calm dogs from stressing and maybe not to “simmer down” dogs that are already not getting on.

    I would advise keeping them apart unless you can guarentee that they wont fight again – atleast for now.

    claire x

    #78150
    Anonymous
    Guest

    Dear oh dear was a lot of coming and going  ::) this is two bitches not only the same age but litter sisters that have both been top bitch, one has now lost statue and moved home changed owners plus had a pile of coming and going with different humans.
    Definatly think you need to be Bev’ed BUT this may land up with a death bitches mean it when they fight, think you need Bev to sort out who is top bitch to see if anything can be rescued from this situation
    Good Luck
    Val

    #78151
    kizkiznobite
    Member

    hi and welcome

    oh dear oh dear…this is the behaviourists nightmare…2 girlies battling for status with little direction and proper re-enforcement

    this is a really complex pack issue…you have introduced competition…they were getting on well until the boys became part of the pack….

    they have been spayed ….so the calming hormones have been taken away and if i understand you correctly then one boy has been done but not the other??

    until you get help from a prof behaviourist that should do a full assessment before advising anything then you must keep them totally apart and out of sight of each other…musical dogs stage i am afraid…one in one out etc….this has been building and has now reached a serious peak…this is the worse scenario…girls in this state …with this build up will fight to the death….especially if the pack managers role has not been re-enforced correctly….

    i am happy to come and assess the situation if you wish but in realty i doubt if very much can be done now and that you should consider re-homing one of them…

    sorry but as i said this is as bad as it gets

    #78152
    emily-reed86
    Member

    Thanks for all the postings so far, I dont want you all to think we’ve got money to burn by spending that much on the behaviourist as we are making a costly move to a barn in the middle of wales with 2.5 acres in a month for our dogs. They really do come first.

    We didnt go straight to the ‘solution’ of having a behaviourist in,  the posting that Foxile made was at the point we decided to get the behaviourist in & that was the first correspondance to him describing what had gone on. We had already changed things we thought would help such as not being on the furniture & being in their own beds, amongst other things.

    All 4 dogs have been neutered, Diesel was done in July 2006 & he now lives with my mum & brothers as they couldn’t part with him, we is an extremely well trained & behaved dog in every way, as is Oscar. I am not a weak handler.

    Matt’s first dog, a male boxer died of renal failure at 18 months old & that effect on him led him to be softer on the girls. The girls didn’t have much training when I met Matt but I trained both girls to sit & shake within a couple of weeks, that was a start. We didn’t just throw all the dogs together in one house, they had regular interaction from the day we met, although i realise this isn’t the same as living with each other. In November 2007, Oscar moved in to Matt’s house so it was the 5 of us Me, Matt, Dot, Grace & Oscar who lived in absolute harmony with each other, we had no problems at all.

    Then when the house sold in May we moved in with my dad, brother & Diesel. Only adding one dog to the pack. Again no problems apart from Grace giving the odd growl in Diesel’s direction. When my dad moved out & mum & other brother moved in, that’s when it started in Sept. They had lived together for 4 months with no problems.

    None of the dogs have been neglected with walks & i’m with them all the time as Matt has his own company & I do his admin & accounts so take them in to the office with me.

    One thing we thought to mention whilst talking last night is that Grace has a shoe fettish & has always been like it since Matt had her. When a pair of shoes are taken off, she trotts off one at a time with them to her bed, but always brings the pair & are best when the shoes are still warm. When the other dogs approach her bed with them in it she has always growled, even at the old house but never snapped or fought over them. Is this significant?

    They have been reunited since 16th October, since the visit from the behaviourist, which i wasnt impressed with – his first sentence was … “I concentrate on prevention rather than the causes.”

    One of his main suggestions was keeping them on their leads & tieing them down (What … For life?)

    He reccomended change of diet from Bakers to James Well Beloved which we have adhered to.

    3 weeks ago we moved into rented accomodation with OSCAR, DOT & GRACE. Just me & my parner so there aren’t any further influences or distractions, unfortunately the damage may’ve already been done but we are not going to give up on them yet.

    All of our dogs are well trained & apart from the fighting we have no problem with them, none are over weight, they show no aggression to any other dog whilst out or when a dog comes into their home. They have their own beds, not allowed on the furniture, not picked up, trying his methods of tieing them down, they get exercise every day & fed twice a day.

    Monday was their most reccent fight which unfortunatley i was alone & not the most confident when it comes to separating fights but had to pull them apart, resulting in blood over the carpet & blankets, 3 puncture wounds, a graze & missing fur on DOT & GRACE had a scratch on her nose. I’d just bought them in from a walk & didn’t realise GRACE had hidden a dentastik in her bed, DOT was eating it & GRACE literally jumped on her. From Tuesday morning Matt has been taking one of the girls to work with him all day whilst Oscar & the other stay with me.

    I have gone over every little detail as to the cause of their fights, as you can see from the mammoth posting but we are absolutely desperate for a solution to keep the dogs together.

    Whether I am right or wrong, I always felt that Grace felt threatened in the situation & after they had their first fight every little thing seems to trigger them off. With so much change in her life already before we even had her, we’ve added to it by cirumstances of living whilst trying to have better surroundings for them.

    I really appreciate all your opinions but if anybody has the slightest small suggestion of something new I would really appreciate it, especially from Claire as it seems you’ve had similar problems.

    Thanks, Emily.

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