help /advice please regarding LDG and aussie/mix

Discussion in 'Guard Animals' started by use2bwilson, Dec 11, 2016.

  1. use2bwilson

    use2bwilson Member

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    Hi There,
    I am very concerned about the safety of my 11 year old male aussie / heeler mix around our 1.5 year old male LGD.
    I am considering re-homing the LGD but really really hate to do that.
    They are both great dogs and the LGD is turning out to be an awesome guardian and super sweet great dog in general. (But to be fair the aussie mix is my absolute favorite dog I have ever owned. I would not forgive myself if something happened to him that I could / should have prevented).
    The tension between the 2 dogs began about 6 months. But shortly after I noticed this growing tension, my aussie mix and I moved away from the "family" while I started a new job in CO. During this 6-month transition, I had my aussie mix with me while my husband stayed behind with the rest of the critters while the house sold, etc. We have been together at our new place for just over a month and have been very cautious to keep the 2 dogs separate. Our new place is fenced and cross fenced and we are able to manage this separation pretty well. Both dogs are relaxed when they are separated by the fence and there is no attempts to rush the gate when gates are opened. Both dogs listen very well.
    However, the other day we had an incident with another dog nearly killing a chicken (we have 5 dogs total and typically they all have been fine with our chickens and goats). However, in the last week one of them has killed a chicken and was caught in the act of eating it. This was a 2nd attempt.
    In the drama of another chicken assault, our young LDG got out of his pasture and attacked our aussie mix. Somehow, miraculously, our aussie was unharmed ... everyone was unharmed. But it took both my husband and I to separate the two and had the fight not occurred right next to our tack room where we could put the aussie for safety once they were finally separated, I do not think it would have ended so well. If this had happened away from the buildings where we could not have put the aussie behind closed doors ... I do not wish to imagine what might have happened.
    My husband is a super strong athletic dude and he is barely able to control the LGD "pup" when he goes "full akbash" as we call it. Our LDG "pup" is in general very sweet and submissive and pretty darn obedient in the realm of LGDs. He LOVES to play with our female LDG and our female bc/heeler mix. He also gets along great with our 11 year old male akbash. He also plays really nicely with our neighbor's female dog. He is truly an amazing dog that I do not want to re-home.
    He has not yet been neutered. I wanted to let him mature a bit before I had him neutered but I will be making an appointment ASAP.
    On a day to day basis, the situation is very manageable; however, there is always the potential that someone makes a mistake and a gate is left ajar. I would not forgive myself if something happened to my aussie mix.
    I do not want to over react and get rid of an amazing LGD. He really is amazing. (He only barks on an as need basis!!)
    But I do not want to under react...
    I feel like I am crazy to keep them both ... THOUGHTS !??!!?
    I do not expect that neutering him will change anything over night ... but perhaps in a few months as a 2 year old LGD, his intensity will subside a bit (as I type this I know it is wishful thinking).
    Before the recent incident, I had taken them on a short "run" together while the aussie is off leash and the LGD is on leash. I thought this time together would be positive and relaxed and it might help improve things. It went well and was very relaxed. They are fine together on many levels yet I DO NOT TRUST IT.
    Perhaps with continued controlled positive interactions, we can work through this ...?!??!
    I truly want to work this out somehow ... but my heart tells me it is too risky ...
     
  2. Maura

    Maura Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I think your pup sees the Aussie as a threat. The herding dog stalks the sheep and looks like a wolf about to order lunch. Sheep recognize this and move away from a herding dog. Even if your Aussie has never harmed a lamb, the LGD does not know this, he is going by what he sees. This is why they can get along as regular dogs when they are apart from the sheep.

    I think separating the dogs during a critical adolescent phase (12 to 18 months) makes the LGD see the Aussie as a threat, whereas the older dog sees the Aussie as her old pal and accepts his weird stalking behavior.

    The fact that your Aussie was not harmed in their big fight tells me that the Akbash was pulling his punches- warning the Aussie.

    I think you can keep both dogs if you figure out a way to keep the Aussie on his own side of the fence and not allow these dogs together except when well away from the sheep.
     
    kalmara likes this.

  3. ShannonR

    ShannonR hillbilly farmgirl

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    Couple thoughts. Is your aussie mix the dominant one of your pack? There was some tension between my Heeler and the lgd we have there for awhile. In short, it's because the heeler is used to being the boss around the place. They'll still growl at one another occasionally but have no major issues with one another anymore. I didn't do anything special about the situation, dogs will be dogs.

    Also, keeping them separated as a matter of course could actually be making the problem worse. I know it sounds counterintuitive, but these pack problems are often best left to resolve themselves. Your preferential treatment of the aussie mix may be seen as a threat to your lgd.

    I say intergrate your dogs more. If they were OK before the move, I seriously doubt they are going to harm one another at this point. They need to work out their pack issues on their own, I know it's tempting to try and help but it probably isn't actually helping the situation.
     
  4. use2bwilson

    use2bwilson Member

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    See my thoughts / responses to both replies below in RED. I very much appreciate your input!!
    I think your pup sees the Aussie as a threat. The herding dog stalks the sheep and looks like a wolf about to order lunch. Sheep recognize this and move away from a herding dog. Even if your Aussie has never harmed a lamb, the LGD does not know this, he is going by what he sees. This is why they can get along as regular dogs when they are apart from the sheep. This seems like a good possibility; however, if that was the case our female bc/heeler mix would certainly be a dead dog. She LOVES to “stir the pot” and create a little chaos everywhere she goes. She is a little bit of a pest. Our aussie is as respectful as can be with the animals. Zero chase in him.

    I think separating the dogs during a critical adolescent phase (12 to 18 months) makes the LGD see the Aussie as a threat, whereas the older dog sees the Aussie as her old pal and accepts his weird stalking behavior. I agree that separation was bad timing. But they had spent a year together before that. The LGD was just coming into his own when we left for the new job. I could see him starting to assert his dominance.

    The fact that your Aussie was not harmed in their big fight tells me that the Akbash was pulling his punches- warning the Aussie. I agree. I had the same thought. If the akbash wanted the aussie dead, he would be dead. But none the less, it is unfair for the aussie defend himself against a MUCH stronger, bigger, younger dog. He is a grumbler but he has never started a dog fight in his life.

    I think you can keep both dogs if you figure out a way to keep the Aussie on his own side of the fence and not allow these dogs together except when well away from the sheep. On one level, I agree and think it is manageable. But at the same time, I know even as vigilant as we can be, mistakes are inevitable and I am not sure I am willing to risk it. I am trying to make the best decision and be fair to both dogs!! Yet my gut says it is not fair to jeopardize an older smaller dog’s safety.

    Couple thoughts. Is your aussie mix the dominant one of your pack? There was some tension between my Heeler and the lgd we have there for awhile. In short, it's because the heeler is used to being the boss around the place. They'll still growl at one another occasionally but have no major issues with one another anymore. I didn't do anything special about the situation, dogs will be dogs. He is not super dominant. He is grumbly and growly at the other dogs at times but has never started a fight with another dog in his life. He uses body language and low growls to communicate but is not overbearing. Our female heeler mix and female akbash are the two that tolerate each other. They have had a number of drag-out fights and vets bills. It is the heeler that caused those fights and does not back down. They are together every day but we are always de-escalating and correcting the heeler.

    Also, keeping them separated as a matter of course could actually be making the problem worse. I know it sounds counterintuitive, but these pack problems are often best left to resolve themselves. Your preferential treatment of the aussie mix may be seen as a threat to your lgd. We have left the females try to work out their differences but in that case it is the smaller dog threatening the bigger dog. However with the aussie and the young LGD, that would be like sending the aussie to a gun fight with a knife. He is much older and smaller. There would be nothing fair about that fight and am not willing to risk the outcome. The intensity of the LGD is off the charts.

    I say intergrate your dogs more. If they were OK before the move, I seriously doubt they are going to harm one another at this point. They need to work out their pack issues on their own, I know it's tempting to try and help but it probably isn't actually helping the situation. I have been trying to take both dogs on short runs together. The LDG is on leash and the aussie is off. They do okay together and there is no tension and both enjoy the run.
     
  5. CountryMom22

    CountryMom22 Well-Known Member

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    Sounds to me like it is a male dog thing. Younger male LGD coming into his own, not neutered (fix that little problem ASAP) and older male on the downward side of life. Most male dogs will tolerate females, no problem. Females will usually fight other females but eventually develop a pack order and tolerate each other. Two males, will, most of the time, fight until things finally get out of hand. I speak from experience. I had two male shelties, born a month apart, roughly the same size/weight, who were best friends until they hit 18 months old. Then all bets were off. One dog was clearly the aggressor but the other wouldn't back down. Once I tried to separate them during a fight by lifting the one dog over my head. Didn't stop the aggressor, he just ran right up my body to get to the other dog. Now, no one was ever seriously hurt, no one ever needed a vet, but I could clearly see things escalating. We too, tried the keep them separate thing and it did work for a while. But if there is anyone other than yourself living with these dogs, the chance of an accident happening go up exponentionally.

    I did end up re homing the non aggressor dog as I was placing him with a member of my family and knew he would be a better fit for them. Funny thing is, when they weren't living together anymore, they got along great. The dogs spent a lot of time together as the one I rehomed came back to stay with us whenever my Dad and his wife had to travel for business. They never had another fight, which I believe is because they were no longer vying for top dog position here. The one who stayed here had the position and the visitor knew this wasn't home anymore, so all was well.

    If you really don't want to rehome either dog, I would definitely neuter the LGD and call in a professional. But be aware that these dogs may never be able to be trusted together. Good luck, I know this is a painful position to be in. Let us know how things work out.
     
  6. use2bwilson

    use2bwilson Member

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    CountryMom, you summarize the problem very well in your first few sentences. Yes, the LGD is coming into his prime and won't tolerate the possessiveness and growling from my aussie as he starts to decline. The aussie will not and can not back up his position. Maybe he has gotten that message after the other day. He doesn't have a snowball's chance in hell in this battle.
    I have an appointment to neuter the LGD right before xmas. I probably would have done it sooner but have been away and transitioning. Our plan was to give him a chance to mature a bit and then neuter around a year and a half (or sooner if he was a problem). It is time!! And, he is not a problem in general. He really is a love!! Except for this one issue.
    I appreciate the responses ... and welcome more!!
    The bottom line is ... I am extremely nervous that despite being vigilance about gates and working on training and controlled interactions ... I am super nervous that sooner or later someone will make a simple mistake and I will not forgive myself for allowing another fight to happen.
    Right now my husband and I are both on high alert and very mindful. There are layers of gates and fencing that also help the situation. When we are not home the Aussie is in the house. When we are doing chores, we can try to keep TWO gates in between then at all times so if one gate is accidentally left open, there is a safety. The LGD is respectful of gates and does not try to rush out when they are open so we are not struggling on that level. There is no snarling or tension when I pet them both while on the opposite of the fence. Perhaps the neutering and additional training and time near one another will calm things down ... but still I really don't want to be wrong ...
     
  7. Maura

    Maura Well-Known Member Supporter

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    It depends on how the gates are made, but I did this: Put a spring on the gate so that it pulls itself shut. Put a self latching latch on the gate. This way, it will shut itself even if you forget. Always check to make sure the gate latches, but this set up kept our dog in the yard with eight kids in and out. You can always use a cord to keep the gate open when needed.