This past Easter weekend I drove up with Ofélia and my boyfriend to visit my family, and to stay and my parents’ place for a couple of days. I knew that my mother was taking care of one of my sister’s 3 huskies because she was healing from a neck wound – she was attacked. This husky is a few months old and weighs about 40 pounds. She won’t get more than about ten pounds bigger as she’s a runt, but she’s large enough to overpower my 25-pound corgi.

Now I should have remembered that when Ofie and I’ta (the husky) first met, they immediately took a disliking to each other. They were constantly trying to one-up each other and take charge; constantly trying to dominate. Well the last time they saw each other I’ta was about 10 pounds.

So I get in late because it’s a long drive and I walk in the front door with Ofie and we’re greeted by I’ta. I didn’t think much of it – only that she had really grown and that red huskies look a little creepy. Anyway, they greet each other and I let Ofie off the leash and start to gather my things. Lo and behold, a fight ensues. Doesn’t matter who started it but I’ta was on top of Ofie, who was letting out little screams, and they were both snarling and biting.

My boyfriend grabbed I’ta and we pulled them apart. I didn’t coddle either of them, instead demanding that they both relax and that Ofie stop barking and snarling like a rabid dog. So my mom comes running down all in a panic, since she didn’t know we were coming Thursday night. So much for a surprise.

That night Ofie and I’ta stayed away from each other, or else we tied them up. And again in the morning. The next day, and the next, and all through even on Sunday, they continued to get into snarling fights in which we had to forcibly pull them apart. Gladly, neither of them was injured. Mostly gladly – Ofie wasn’t injured. She’s way overmatched in size, strength, ferocity, and jaw power. But of course this doesn’t keep her from letting out an instigating snarl here and there.

Needless to say I had to watch them closely as they instigated each other all weekend, mostly vying for my mother’s attention. It didn’t occur to me until after they’d fought a couple of times that they had always disliked each other. From the very beginning they never got along.

Walking them together helped a good deal. And they even managed to play nicely together several times, run together, and even lay next to each other, drink near each other, and basically act civil. But I’ve resigned to the idea that they will never get along. They just won’t.

This last weekend the fights were power struggles. No injuries. But they could escalate. It helps to stay calm, of course. I’m always calm about such things. But I’ll be watching them very closely from now until the end of their lives, which will hopefully be very long and very happy. And maybe one day when they’re old and gray they’ll be swatting harmlessly at each other as they lay lazily on the floor at everybody’s feet. Who knows.

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Comment by Bev Levy on April 14, 2009 at 9:47am
Do you ever watch the Dog Whisperer? He shows some great techniques for dealing with this. I have 2 corgis and my son has a doberman. The dobe as a puppy was so much bigger than my male that he really hated her. (she would step on him or other non-respectful types of behavior) Fortunately she is pretty passive so every time he went after her, she would back off. Well, now my son has returned to college, sold his house, and moved in with us. I knew we were not going to be able to handle the constant power struggle! So taking Cesaer's advice I took control. Any snarl or "stare" from either dog got a firm NO and if the behavior continued at least one got leashed and got to follow me around. We now (after not that much time) have a peaceful home with very few times that a No is needed. The important thing to remember is that they are both doing it and try to catch them while they are still just thinking bad thoughts before it escalates. If they did not draw blood it is because they did not want to. They are just trying to determine who is boss and it has to be the humans. Good luck! Here's to many peaceful family gatherings!
Comment by Sam Tsang on April 14, 2009 at 9:41am
Yup, it really takes solid work to make relationships work, i think my toughest case was over 1 month. You got the right idea, by walking together, it helps to build pack order :)

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