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two aggressive shibas with an update
  • Hello--

    I'm new to the forum, though not new to the breed (I have two Shibas and had an Akita years ago). This forum seems like a great opportunity for me to ask some questions of other shiba lovers regarding feuding Shibas.

    My boy, Toby is 6 and is a very dominant dog. He pretty much doesn't get along with any other dogs except my elderly german shepherd, and that's probably because the GSD has just learned to stay out of his way. Other than his dislike of other dogs, he's sweet and mellow.

    I also have a female, Bel, who is 5. I got her at 5 mos. old. At first, her and Toby got along ok, though there were struggles for dominance. Then, two years ago, she just lost it. They were playing and then suddenly they weren't. She nearly killed Toby. $3,000 and a one month vet stay later, Toby came home, and now the two are permanently separated. (They were together briefly this fall when Bel was injured after being attacked by coyotes. Toby ignored her, but when she started feeling better, I saw her eyeing him in what I thought looked like an aggressive manner, and then they were back to the permanent separation). I actually tried, briefly, to rehome Bel, but she's a skittish, kind of psycho little thing, and who would want her other than me? After a month of a listing on Shiba rescue, I realized I was used to the "these dogs can never be in the same room" routine and now both of them are mine for life....:)

    I'm ok with keeping them separate, but here's the thing....I really would like to get an Akita when my GSD passes (he's not in good health, probably has a year or so left is what my vet and I think). But can I even bring another dog into this mix? I think I might be able to introduce a puppy. But a male or female? Both shibas tend to do better with big dogs (they both like Kai, though he is quite submissive). On the surface, Bel seems more adaptable, but she is also way more unpredicatable. Toby would probably hate a puppy for awhile, then ignore it, then get used to it, but I'm not even sure of that.

    Am I crazy to even be thinking this? I know I would miss having a big dog, too, though, and I also have always wanted another Akita.

    Anyone have thoughts? I'd also love to hear how others have handled living with two dogs that want to kill each other, if anyone has been through that ordeal.

    [mod edit: re-categorized due to addition of new category]Lisa and Toby (Shiba), Oskar and Zora (American Akitas) and Leo (Kai Ken)
    From the House of the Fox Dogs blog
    Why it's Not About Dominance
    Bel's thread: the story of a puppy mill Shiba's life
    Post edited by sunyata at 2013-06-06 15:20:33
  • from reading on the forum, akita/shiba sounds like a bad mix, especially if the shibas are known to be aggressive already. a few people on here had heartbreaking stories about dogs that got along for years UNTIL SOME FATEFUL DAY.
  • it is not easy to mix shibas and akitas. You have to the right disposition in both dogs for it to work.
  • While I do not agree that shibas and Akita tend to be a bad mix. Brad has 4 JA and two Shiba Inu and they do fine. In fact he has some great videos of his male Hilo (JA) and his female Kaia (Shiba) and their little love affair.

    Frankly sweeping generalizations don't work, and get people in trouble. It is actually the root of all BSL, and 90% of the time incorrect. Look at all the silly untruths written about shibas all the time. In fact how many threads on this forum alone come from people asking questions like "I thought Shiba's were supposed to be like this...mine isn't". Making assumptions based solely on breed will bite you in the ass (hopefully not literally).

    If you have dogs that have known outward aggression towards current pack mates, the thought of adding to the mix without the direct supervision of a talented behaviorist is probably unrealistic.

    That isn't to say that it couldn't work. But frankly managing three dogs, when one wants to kill the other is hard enough. Now make one of the three a puppy and it can be a nightmare. I say this from personal experience.

    You have written a bit about the dynamic between your two shibas. What did your behaviorist have to say about the situation (I am assuming with the severity of the issue that you did in fact consult one. Although all dog owners should have one IMHO)? How do they interact with your GSD? Do they only take issue with each other, or is it with all dogs?

    As far as the "ONE FATEFUL DAY " response; dog do not randomly just show aggression (unless it is a medical issue like thyroid or brain tumor). There are ALWAYS signs. ALWAYS. We as humans are often oblivious, and sadly anthropomorphize our dogs to the point of sabotaging any chance for true understanding. The signs are there. Always. We just need to pay attention and be willing to hear what our dogs are trying to tell us, even if we don't like it. This is true for all circumstances, not just yours.

    But to address yours directly, adding another dog with known issues in your current pack is probably not a good idea.
  • sunyatasunyata
    Posts: 8588
    I tend to agree with Jessica on this issue. If you have two dogs who already have issues, adding a third/fourth is probably not a good idea.

    I applaud you for your dedication to your two shibas, as there are not a lot of people who would be willing to work so hard to keep them both happy, healthy, and safe. I know that it must be hard to have them separated all the time.

    I have two lovely shibas, and I am not sure I could handle having to keep them separated... Although, that could very well possibly be because they adore each other (most of the time). I guess if their feelings and attitudes changed, so would my thinking. :)
    Bella 2Mountains 2Nola 2
    Casey, with Bella and Nola, hanging out in the mountains of Virginia.
    I Wander, I Ride
  • Thanks for all your thoughts. I do think it is really helpful to get the opinion of others who have been through it with these kinds of breeds.

    To answer some of JessicaRabbit's thoughts/questions: You're absolutely right about them showing signs that I did not read correctly. I recognize now after reading and talking to others that the signs were there. Toby is a bully. He is reactive with most dogs, though he rarely does more than growl aggressively. And he is a resource guarder, and it's taken quite a bit of work for him not to do that with me. He's bad with other dogs. For example, he used to do this: he'd lay down in the middle of the living room floor, then he would not let any of the other dogs within 5 feet of him. He'd start with stares, then he'd growl if they tried to come nearer. The GSD just accepts Toby's position, and doesn't challenge him, but Bel would challenge. Usually she started out barking, then with play bows, and then she'd rush in in what looked like a playful manner: high pitched bark, play bow, etc.

    The thing is, with her it changes in a second. She's playing. Then she's not.

    I should have recognized some bad behavior from her too. Now it seems obvious, but then it did not. She grabs on to the other dogs and hangs on them. She does it with the GSD (not so much anymore as I intervene now) and she used to do it with Toby. It looked playful at first, but of course was not. I did she was challenging Toby's positiion, but I also didn't think it would go beyond challenges, because they got along (mostly) for 3 years. And then one day she just went after him. No growling. She looked a little excited...but I was getting ready to let them both outside so I thought it was just that. Instead, she attacked him. I had a really hard time getting them apart on my own, and by then, Toby was badly hurt.

    I really think something is wrong with Bel, mentally. Sometimes she doesn't seem to recognize people she has known for a long time. Sometimes she'll be very affectionate with a person she knows fairly well, and then that person goes out of the room (to the bathroom, say) and when she comes back, Bel acts as if she has never seen the person before in her life and is now afraid, and she barks and runs away. She's the same with dogs....she generally gets along with my friend's GSD and Golden Retriever, but sometimes it is as if they are totally new dogs she has never seen before (and this at my friend's house, ie. not Bel's territory...and she's been playing with the other dogs until one went to get a drink or something.) I don't want to tax everyone's patience with what is getting to be a long post anyway, but there are many examples of very odd behavior from her. There have been times when she didn't seem to know who I was, and I've had her and been with her since she was 5 mos. old. When I leave her when I'm traveling--at the kennels or with a friend or home with a housesitter--she acts normal then goes outside and hides. And she doesn't eat if I'm away. Anyway, even my very old-school vet said recently that if ever a dog was a candidate for prozac or something like it, it would be Bel.

    Kai (GSD) doesn't challenge her, ever. He just tolerates whatever the Shibas do, and Toby ignores him and Bel seems to like him....she follows him around and jumps up and gives her Shiba smile when she sees him after having been separated (I do mostly keep Kai and Bel together and Toby apart).

    As for the behavioralist....I don't have one that I work with regularly, and probably should. I did have one come out about six months before the big fight, because I was becoming worried about Bel and the way she was hanging on the other dogs. Unfortunately, the person I called so radically disagreed with me on training methods that it was just not a good match (she did not believe in positive training and said I needed to do alpha rolls, etc, and from my experience, those totally do not work with Shibas). I probably should try to find someone else; I think I've been a little lax on that since I got used to the total separation routine (and I simply haven't had the money).

    And ALL of my dogs have low-thyroid issues. All of them take meds for it, and it did make a change in all of their behavior, including the GSD. I just don't trust the shibas enough to try to get them together again. I don't want to lose one, and it feels too risky to me still.

    So probably I should not try to bring another dog into this, unless it was not a Nihon-ken. (I think they'd do ok with a large submissive dog, but I'm not so interested in a dog like that!) The bigger question is what to do with these two? Is there anything to do with them beyond keeping them separate all the time?

    Anyway, thanks for you patience with this long post, and I'd be interested in hearing any further thoughts.
    Post edited by shibamistress at 2010-02-10 04:18:22
  • Having a bad behaviorist like the one you had must have left a pretty bad taste in your mouth. But I think finding a really good one who gets it, and understands the power of positive reinforcement is essential; regardless of whether you ever decide to get another dog.

    Also you said something that put up a pretty big red flag for me. The comment about Bel not recognizing people if they leave a room and return. My dog Piglet started to do that. We just thought it was weird and ignored it for the most part. Until it got bad. When we finally took her to the vet we found out it was a brain tumor and she had to be put down. With all three of your dogs having thyroid conditions (and I cannot emphasize this enough) I would not bring another dog in (regardless of breed) it just isn't safe.

    It is very good of you to keep your dogs, issues and all. Many people turn their backs on dogs for such minor things. I actually had someone return a dog to my shelter because he didn't match her couch, and another person who returned her dog to the shelter because he vomited post surgery. So when someone tells stories of struggle such as yours I am very grateful to know that their are still dedicates dog owners out there.

    You are in Japan right? I don't have too many contacts in Japan, but we have one member on the Nihon Ken Forum who may know at least some positive reinforcement behaviorists. He's pretty involved in the community. If I am wrong about your location let me know. The Shiba Forum is still fairly young, so if we don't have a connection here we may on the NKF and perhaps we can find you someone who can help.
  • Sorry to hear about your beloved dogs fighting and not getting along. That is such a tough situation to go through.

    This is just a thought - Your situation reminds me of an episode of Dog Whisperer...Are you re-inforcing their fear or bad behavior by separating them? Cesar Milan says often that dogs live in the present and don't dwell on past events like humans do so easily. So, if they sense you get nervous when they come close to each other, or you wont let them see each other at all because of the horrible experience you've had, then they'll pick up on that negative energy or nervousness from you and it makes it worse.

    I hope your girl doesn't have any serious medical conditions either!

    Good Luck with everything!
  • BradA1878BradA1878
    Posts: 2242
    I was just reading over this post and had some thoughts I wanted to share...

    "The thing is, with her it changes in a second. She's playing. Then she's not."

    "Sometimes she doesn't seem to recognize people she has known for a long time. Sometimes she'll be very affectionate with a person she knows fairly well, and then that person goes out of the room (to the bathroom, say) and when she comes back, Bel acts as if she has never seen the person before in her life and is now afraid, and she barks and runs away."

    "There have been times when she didn't seem to know who I was, and I've had her and been with her since she was 5 mos. old."

    "And ALL of my dogs have low-thyroid issues."

    These are all classic examples of the odd behavior you can see from a hypo-thyroid dog. If your dog is still showing these signs then you are either giving the meds to her incorrectly or her dosage needs to be changed. Assuming you are treating with soloxine it is VERY IMPORTANT that you give soloxine to your dogs 1 hour before meals or 3 hours after a meal. If you are not following those directions then your dogs are not absorbing the medication properly and you are basically not treating them for their hypo-thyroid conditions.

    Also, you should have your dogs' thyroid levels checked annually, because, as they age, their dosing levels could change.

    With Lani, our Akita with hypo-thyroid, if we mess up and feed her too closely after her meds or do not allow the right amount of time after a meal we can see her start to show behavioral signs (hyper activity, disorientation, defensiveness). We see these behavior changes from just 1 screw up in dosing, its that sensation with her - could be the same for your Shiba.


    As for this...

    "Cesar Milan says often that dogs live in the present and don't dwell on past events like humans do so easily. So, if they sense you get nervous when they come close to each other, or you wont let them see each other at all because of the horrible experience you've had, then they'll pick up on that negative energy or nervousness from you and it makes it worse."

    Cesar Milan is not a dog (or animal) behaviorist, and once again he is incorrect on this point. Dog do not only "live in the now". Anything that results in a negatively associated experience while a dog past-threshold or acting defensively/fearful is PERMANENTLY etched in their memory. You cannot undo it either.

    So, if you dog is hypo-thyroid, and therefore disorientated, fearful, and highly defensive, and a negative experience happens to her, one that she can build an association with, then I guarantee she will remember it and will react to it later. This has been proven.

    Also, after a traumatic experience happens to a dog (like a dog fight), there is a 48 hour window where the dog's levels have not normalized.

    Post edited by BradA1878 at 2010-02-10 15:29:06
  • Thanks again for your comments...And I'm in New Mexico, actually :)

    Interesting about the thyroid. They do get checked, every six months, to see if the meds are still working. They take thyrosin, and my vet didn't say anything about this one needing to be taken before of after meals....they usually get it with their food...But I do think I should check into that, because maybe this is something my vet missed. I don't think they are very up to date on thyroid issues. I had to insist that they check the thyroid for all three of my dogs, because I believed some of the erratic behavior might be caused by low thryoid. At first my vet said that wouldn't cause aggression, but I showed them some articles and they finally did test. Since then, they have educated themselves on the issue, as I hear them testing more dogs for low thyroid.

    I know if I miss a dose on Bel, her behavior is noticeably different.

    As for Milan, I'm afraid I'm not much of a fan of his. I don't agree with a lot of his training methods and ideas. I like Pat Miller and others who are true positive trainers (and I'm a huge fan of the Whole Dog Journal, which I imagine some of you read). and yes, I separate them all the time. If I didn't, I'd have one dead dog. I'm not going to take that risk. Toby is afraid of Bel now (with good reason) and Bel is just....erratic. The brain tumor thing is something that actually crossed my mind, but since she's always been this way and hasn't gotten any worse, I'm not thinking that is it at this point, though of course you never know. And re: the permanent etching in memory of negative experiences--yes, I see that in Bel. Last summer she became afraid of thunderstorms, very suddenly after a particularly loud storm, and now she's like a little weather station--she can hear thunder miles away, and starts shaking and tries to crawl into my lap. We started working with small amounts of valium to calm her and see if she would eventually be relaxed (by the valium) enough that she realizes the storms aren't that scary, but so far, no luck.

    It's very interesting to me to hear how other lowthyroid dogs behave, though. I wonder if there is a thread on that here? I'll go look....And check into proper dosing on thyrosin, in case I'm not doing it right.

    thanks again for the suggestions!
  • Wow! Where the hell did I get Japan!?!?

    Well Brad (who just wrote to you about thyroid issues) is also in New Mexico so he may be able to suggest a great behaviorist and perhaps a more thorough vet.

    But when in doubt is a great source for good behaviorists with the right attitude.

    I couldn't agree with you more about Mr. Millan and about WDJ. You will find there are quite a few positive reinforcement advocates here!
  • I probably could have a better vet...but I go to the one near my house for a couple of reasons: they're close, and they are significantly cheaper than a lot of vets, and while they are VERY conservative/old school in their approach, they've been very good to me when I had serious dog letting me not pay the whole 4,000 $ vet bill for Toby at once, letting me come in on the weekends to visit him when he had his month at the vets, etc. That said, I know they're conservative on some treatments--like they will not give dogs meds like prozac, etc. So my strategy has been to take the dogs to this vet for shots and for simpler things (like wounds, like a few months ago when Bel was hurt pretty badly by coyotes) and then go to another vet for more complicated things (there is a really good vet I sometimes go to in Albuquerque, but damn, they are REALLY expensive!)

    But now that I've paid off vet bills and things are pretty much back to normal around here, it is probably time to find a behaviorist!

    eta: thanks for the link to trulydogfriendly. I already like it....just started reading some articles about dominance....very interesting!
    Post edited by shibamistress at 2010-02-10 19:01:45
  • BradA1878BradA1878
    Posts: 2242
    Oh, awesome, you are in NM... are you close to Albuquerque? If so, you MUST contact Dani Weinberg the next time you need a behaviorist! She is GREAT, I mean I was really really impressed by her, she is so helpful and very good at what she does. We have worked with quite a few behaviorist, many were very very good, but Dani is one of my favorites.

    Dani Weinberg, Ph.D., CDBC:

    She knows us (Brad and Jen Anderson), and Jen (my wife) will be taking her Karen Pryor Academy classes in September. She also met and worked with Lani and was in contact with us when she was diagnosed with Hypo-Thyroid, so she is a great contact. :o)

    Also, did they send you dog's blood work to HEMO PET for analysis? Dr. Dodds is really good at diagnosing Thyroid issues based on breed and is VERY familiar with Shibas and Akita.

    Post edited by BradA1878 at 2010-02-10 19:05:04
  • BradA1878BradA1878
    Posts: 2242
    On domincane...

    Schenkel's study of wolves published in 1947 was the first time the term "dominance" was used to describe wolf behavior, then again in the 1970s David Mech used the term in his writings on his studies on wolves.

    The dominance based training methods and ideas we see today applied to dogs all stem from those early studies of captive wolves. Since David Mech's 1970s writing he has moved away from the use of the terms "Alpha" and "Dominance" when referring to the social structure and behavior of captive or wild wolves.

    He made a point in his most recent writings to de-bunk the idea of a dominance based social structure in wolves. He writes...

    "Schenkel’s Classic Wolf Behavior Study Available in English

    Below you can download a pdf version of Schenkel’s 1947 “Expressions Studies on Wolves.” This is the study that gave rise to the now outmoded notion of alpha wolves. That concept was based on the old idea that wolves fight within a pack to gain dominance and that the winner is the “alpha” wolf. Today we understand that most wolf packs consist of a pair of adults called “parents” or “breeders,” (not “alphas”), and their offspring."


    His most recent work is very helpful for understanding the behavior and social structure of wolves, and *may* be some what accurate in the explanation of domesticated dogs. He writes...

    "Labeling a high-ranking wolf alpha emphasizes its rank in a dominance hierarchy. However, in natural wolf packs, the alpha male or female are merely the breeding animals, the parents of the pack, and dominance contests with other wolves are rare, if they exist at all. During my 13 summers observing the Ellesmere Island pack, I saw none.

    Thus, calling a wolf an alpha is usually no more appropriate than referring to a human parent or a doe deer as an alpha. Any parent is dominant to its young offspring, so "alpha" adds no information. Why not refer to an alpha female as the female parent, the breeding female, the matriarch, or simply the mother? Such a designation emphasizes not the animal's dominant status, which is trivial information, but its role as pack progenitor, which is critical information."


    So, if the man who basically created the "dominance" and "alpha" ideas for wolf (which is used for dog) behavior now rejects it and clearly states they are "inappropriate" labels, how on earth is Cesar allowed to run around screaming dominant, submissive, and alpha on TV? It's insanity, if you ask me. Networks will put anything on TV if it sells - meanwhile millions of dogs are being "alpha rolled", poked, and jerked by every moron that sees his show. Such a step backward for dogs, such a shame.

    Post edited by BradA1878 at 2010-02-10 19:34:58
  • brada--thanks SO much for the info...I'm going to check into the behaviorist right away. good timing too, as I was just trying to find one by googling. (I'm in the cedar crest, btw, so both abq or santa fe work well for training/behaviorists, and other suggestions are welcome!)

    And yes, the article I was reading was by Ian Dunbar refuting the dominance theory re: wolves, so yes, this will be even more interesting reading.

    And I did just look up the thryoid meds, and of course mine is just a generic of the one mentioned above, so I have NOT been dosing them correctly since I give them their meds with their meals. I can't believe I've been doing this wrong for 3 years! Well, now I know. But no wonder I haven't seen as good of results as probably should. Even though Bel had the most minor hypothyroidism of the three, it may very well be that getting the right dose at the right time will help a lot.

    But a HUGE thank you to you all...if I hadn't joined this forum I might have gone on doing this wrong.
    Post edited by shibamistress at 2010-02-10 20:11:46
  • BradA1878BradA1878
    Posts: 2242
    Oh, great, we are in Santa Fe every Sat. for dog training. We primarily work with Deborah Tolar, CPDT-KA:

    But we have also worked with most of the trainers listed on

    Jaime Fellows, CPDT-KA is great too:

    I also really like Suzanne Fuqua:


    About the drug thing - don't feel bad, we made the SAME mistake - also, no one told us either, we emailed Dr. Dodds about it. Jen was adding the meds to Lani's food instead of following the correct method, and we noticed she was starting to show signs again... we emailed dr. Dodds and she gave us those instruction. Live and learn - I'm happy to pass the info on to someone that needs it... I hope it helps you as much as it did for us!

  • I started to ask more about thyroid issues in another thread, but then thought I should come back to this one. (Would it be better to start a thyroid thread? Let me know if so).

    anyway, I did find an article that talked about Dodds on the Akita Rescue page and it was very useful. I'm still following some of those links, but if people have more suggestions for reading up on this, let me know. And thanks for the trainer recs--that will be very useful. Any vet recs in ABQ or Santa Fe? I do like my vet as i said, but I think someone more up on thyroid issues and the issues that face Nihon-ken might be useful too....

    I will say this all sounds EXACTLY like Bel. She is fearful, sometimes suddenly disoriented, and goes from what appears to be friendly to aggressive very quickly. It was one thing I really worried about with her, because it was bad enough that she hurt Toby so badly, but I've been a little worried about my GSD sometimes. Most of the time she loves him. She follows him around, and is always thrilled to see him if they have been separated. She licks at his muzzle quite a bit, makes play bows, etc. But there have been a couple of times when she is excited, playing, then suddenly bites him hard, and I can see that something happened and she is not playing anymore. It's happened maybe 3-4 times with him, at each time, it really is like flipping a switch--something happens to her. Also, when she gets suddenly scared in the house, it is wierd because one moment she is fine, then I see this shift in her gaze, and she suddenly is afraid of people she's known for a long time. It's like they are total strangers to her. She's never shown aggression towards a person, but the ways she seems to switch on and off is scary. Otherwise? She's a sweet and silly little thing who is much more affectionate than Toby and tends to get along better with other dogs, though she is much more timid with people.

    Anyway, that was a long descriptiion to say how much she sounds like the descriptions in the articles about thyroid and aggression. She is the closest to normal of all three of the dogs (the GSD had virtually no thyroid function at all when he was tested, and he had also been showing aggression which has totally gone away even with my incorrect dosing), but she is also the one with the worst behavior. If I was reading that article right, though, it seemed that even a little bit of hypothyroidism can cause big problems...

    I also think she was not well-socialized. Partly my fault, too. I did get her at 4 mos, and she came from a farm with lots of other dogs and had been running around with a pack of puppies, but not seeing many people or experiencing new things. I took her home to my pack, and then took her out to new places and to work with me some.....but not as much as I should have.

    Now I'm trying to figure out who to work with next. Bel needs help, and while she is timid, she isn't terribly dog reactive in normal circumstances, so I can see eventually taking her to a training class with other dogs, though she'd probably shut down in fear at first. Toby, at 5, is eager to learn new things and is super quick to learn, and loves to GO and meet new people who will admire him. But he is so dog reactive it's difficult to take him places where he will encounter other long as we're moving he'll leave other dogs alone, but if we stop for a couple of minutes he thinks he owns that spot, and any dog that enters his space is going to get a big show of growling and snarling.

    I'm just not sure which problem child to start with! :) Or even where to start, though sounds like the behaviorist is the first step (or second after adjusting the meds).

    I don't think I'll ever trust the two Shibas together again, but it would be nice to know that they are healthy and stable.
  • With regard to the "who do I start with first?", I know you said you were looking into a new behaviorist, let her make the call. My gut says if you can do it, get each one in a different class (after you get Bel's thyroid stabilized). Most good dog training facilities offer classes for dog reactive dogs. I used to take my dog Piglet to one that was specifically for shelter Pit Bulls. By the time she graduated, she was CGC certified, could comfortably ignore other dogs, and not long after was able to get therapy certified as well. And her story was straight up horrific.

    good luck, you sound like you are totally on the right track.
  • I just wanted to let you all know that I have already seen progress with the thyroid meds at the right time. Even my old GSD is a bit more lively and alert. Bel just seems more...focused. And last night she laid down in front of Toby's crate and tried to lick him through the crate....and he didn't growl, but seemed calm and receptive to her advances (which then turned into play bows).

    I'm going to let them be together, but I did feel encouraged by the calm approach and the response.

    Thanks again for getting me on the right track! Trainer/behavioralist is next!

    (And I'm valiantly holding out against my puppy lust! No new dog for me until this situation is stable and until my old guy is gone....and I'm hoping he's got sometime yet. He's old and getting more and more lame, but he is still in good spirits and can still get around and doesn't seem to be in too much pain.)
  • Well, looks like my first thread on this forum is still bumpable, so I thought I'd give an update on how things have changed. I've learned SO MUCH from this forum and NK forum--thank you everyone for your help.

    One thing I've learned is that though Bel "won" the fight with Toby, and though it did look like she started it, I think I was not interpreting the fight well. Yes, she is undersocialized. yes, she had serious issues with the thyroid problem. yes, she plays rough. But I believe the reason this turned into a bad fight was because I had been ignoring had badly Toby had been harassing her and bullying her for years, and I think what started as probably jockeying for position at the door (which was where the fight started) became her realizing she was big enough to take him on. And she did.

    I've seen a great improvement with her with the proper thyroid meds. She will never like to go to strange places or be around people other than me and my husband (though she tolerates a few other people) but she loves being around other dogs, and though she plays a bit rough, she isn't aggressive, and she is enchanted with our new routine of clicker training--it engages her and she's quick to learn. I got the book "Click to Calm" per recs here and am going to work with her more.

    When my GSD died in May, she became very despondent, and started acting odd again....not aggressive at all, but clearly grieving...mopey, and she wanted to be outside all the time, where she ran around and barked a lot, but did nothing else. Two weeks ago, we brought home an American Akita pup who we named Oskar, and Bel's life changed dramatically for the better. She LOVES the puppy! She wants to be with him all the time. We're being careful to have short, supervised play sessions at first, because, hey, she's a Shiba, and plays rough, but it's clear now that they get along just fine. I've seen her growl at him only when he was out of line and then only in an appropriate way. He's almost as big as her already, and they are obviously already bonded.

    Toby? No. I have not tried a face to face intro because the other ones (Oskar in his crate and Toby loose or the other way around) were so bad. Toby goes crazy, growling, snarling and snapping. Oskar ignores him. If Toby is outside and sees Oskar and Bel playing in the house, he goes crazy again, slamming himself against the window (the front of my house is windows, so it's kind of hard to avoid having them see one another). It's meant that Toby's life has suddenly become rather circumscribed: he is in the sunroom during the day, with occasional trips to the yard. He's downstairs in the house at night when the other dogs are upstairs. I feel bad that he's not getting much attention, simply because the puppy needs so much still, but I do try to take him on a walk everyday (he's also fat, so he needs the exercise!)

    I don't know that he will ever be able to be with Oskar....I'm not even sure I want to try it, given how bad he is right now. So while the puppy has been a huge blessing for Bel, really making her into a more confident, happy dog, it hasn't had the greatest result for Toby.

    And the pup is happy and silly, and has a very even temperament....not bothered by Toby's theatrics, and he's a quick learner and thinks the clicker is just the best game ever....He seems delighted to have both a human "mom" and a new dog "mom" and is settling in well.

    So that's the update....
  • interesting update and good observations. enjoy little Oskar and glad Bel is happy to have a pal. Now I feel bad for Toby, lol
  • curlytailscurlytails
    Posts: 2779
    Very interesting update (or introduction for me, as I had not heard your story before). You seem to know your dogs well and are able to describe their personalities/behaviors in good detail. It's very helpful in picturing what's going on.

    Your Toby reminds me a little bit of Bowdu, especially the way you describe him holding his own spot and then getting pissy when other dogs encroach on the "territory" that he has claimed. We worked with him a lot, and he's WAY better than he has been in the past, though these bad behaviors can sometimes still flair up at dog parks with very specific kinds of dogs (large, slobbery, panting dogs for example -- he has a very short fuse around such types). Anyway, that's why we were looking for a very specific kind of second dog to integrate into our home, and miraculously, we found her -- the very deferential (I won't say "submissive", heh) female who would NEVER dream of challenging him. It's like as long as he's not challenged, he's at peace with the world. But sometimes it does make me wonder if he's missing out on some essential part of being a dog if he never gets to be with other dogs on his own terms, even if his own terms are so, well... biased. I guess it could be a little like that circumscribed world that you describe Toby currently inhabiting.

    I do hope there's good news for Toby with your next update. You have an interesting family dynamic. I'm rooting for all three.
    Bowdu 寶肚 (Shiba) and Bowpi 寶媲 (Basenji) with M.C.

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