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7 Year Old Male Un-Neutered BC Just Started Fighting


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Hello, newbie here. We have the sweetest most neurotic un-neutered male border collie. When I say neurotic I mean that he is totally fixated on my location and runs from window to window trying to find me when we are at home. He is strictly a suburbs dog, we don't live on a farm. We didn't even know what a Border Collie was until someone offered to sell the little puppy to us at a softball game seven years ago. I hope you can see the pictures as I included them so you could see that he looks like a long-haired BC, actually a little on the big side. Most people when they first see him say that they didn't realize BC's got that big. Everything was cool with his behavior until this last Saturday. We were at the local off-leash dog park and apparently he got into an alpha-dog one bark & growl session with another dog. The other owner so over-reacted that I was not able to verify 1) who started it and, 2) sex, etc of the other dog. Being polite, I immediately left the park blaming the other dog's owner of using his over-reaction offense as a defense? Since I have had no aggressive behavior problems with him before so I usually read a magazine or look around while at the dog park and don't watch his every move.

 

Then the next day at the very same place he got into a knockdown/drag out fight with another un-neutered male and I had to smack on them with a rolled up newspaper to get them apart. The other dog's owner didn't seem to give a hoot about the fight. Someone else that saw what happened said that he was watching and the other dog definitely started the fight. So obviously an alarm bell goes off in my head: two fights two days in a row after seven years of nothing? The only other aggressive behavior I previously saw was when another "bad-tempered" dog attacked him as we walked in an open field behind our old house. The other owner came running apologizing about the bad behavior of his dog. I have to add that the coming and going the one mile each way to the dog park is with him basically "towing" me on my bike as he is attached to the kid trailer hitched to my bike. The reason for this is to give him some sheep-chasing type of exercise. We have to walk the first couple hundred yards with my bike's brakes on about half way otherwise he tries to pass me towing the kid trailer sideways in front of me because he gets so excited. He barks and yelps like a fool and tries to play bite my feet if we try to ride away without the walking (you try that on a bike at about 15MPH). Recently when we did start out riding at the start he crossed under my bike dumping us both on the ground, hence the initial walk to calm him to an acceptable level.

 

I have noticed that since we moved here close to the dog park in Feb '07 he has become less playful with other dogs (if you count stomping his front legs down next to dogs that won't play or knocking them over like wayward sheep playing) and spends his time sniffing EVERYTHING and peeing on EVERYTHING. He is very kind to my two little daughters, tolerates our cats and only playfully chases the cats if then insist on running. We did get a new kitten on 09/10/07 and he may be a little jealous of all the attention my girls are lavishing on her. He is not one of those dogs that tried to mount other dogs. He even has a longstanding every-other week all day unsupervised play date with a fixed smaller female German Shepherd/mutt who will alpha-dog bark/nip him when he plays too roughly. He always backs off when she bark/nips him. I have never seen him try to mount her either.

 

Sorry for the long-long story, here's the question: Is he 1) Normal, yet will not back down when another alpha-dog un-neutered male dog challenges him or, 2) Not normal and his behavior indicates that he needs to be neutered now or, 3)?

 

Thanks for your help in advance and please no flaming as I am trying to do the right thing here and could utilize your experience.

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I can't answer your question because I don't know your dog, but I wonder why you never neutered him? Regardless of his intact status, if you are noticing he is starting to fight with other dogs, you need to keep a better eye and more control over him. Neutering wouldn't hurt anything, that's for sure.

 

He also looks like an Aussie with a tail to me.

 

RDM

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I didn't even read the thread but looked at the pictures and also immediately though aussie. I don't even need to read the thread...if it has anything to do with intact and aggression, your first step is to neuter right away. It should have been done long ago.

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That is one BIG BC! With most dogs, its all about eye contact and body language. If you know what to look for, you can pretty much stop it before it starts. None of my BC's will start some thing, but they sure arent shy about finishing it if another dog really wants to mix it up. They arent an aggressive breed by nature, but they are totally capable of taking care of themselves when push comes to shove. Id watch the dogs interacting more and put the paper down for a bit and study the dogs. You may find your answer .

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I agree he looks Aussie, and agree with why was he not neutered before now? Are you planning on breeding this dog? Have you already bred him? No? Then why still have him intact?

A

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Re: "the dog looks like an Aussie with a tail," isn't that the usual comment made about conformation-bred border collies? Anyway, my first thought on looking at him was conformation-bred, not aussie.

 

But that makes no difference to the aggression issues. Neutering may help. But I also think you're going to have to spend time at the park watching him very carefully and immediately correcting *any* sign of posturing or behavior that could trigger a "bad" response from another dog, especially if this is a recent change in behavior toward other dogs. In other words, if you want to continue to go to the park, you'll need to be much more proactive about his behavior there. The only other thing I can suggest is thinking about any changed circumstances that might have triggered his change in behavior. I don't think adding a kitten to the house would do it. Also, if he gets super hyped up for the walk over to the park, then that means he's entering the park in a state of excitement/arousal and that might be contributing to the problems. So I would also work on getting some sort of control over his behavior/actions *before* going to/entering the park. That may mean stopping the bike rides and instead *walking* to the park, all the while insisting on obedience (no pulling or other naughty behavior) so that he gets to the park in a more controlled/less aroused state. It may not hurt to just cut out the park visits for a while and just go on long controlled walks with him until he learns better self control.

 

I'm saying all this without actually having seen or knowing your dog, so my comments may or may not apply, but these are my thoughts anyway.

 

J.

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Has he ever been to an off leash dog park before? Socialized with other dogs? I never "read a magazine" while my dog is at the park. It's like having your kids there. I don't mean to flame you, but you are responsible for your dog. I had to leave the last 2 time I went because my dog was aggressive. I would neuter him. Non-altered dogs are not allowed at the dog parks in my area. I'd check with yours. I didn't know before I got mine fixed. Just didn't read the sign. What was he fighting over? Toys, food, water?

 

Try getting him a little pooped out before you go to the park. He might be like a new man then. He just might be in such a hurry to play- mine gags himself on the way to the gate- that might help a bit. Have you done any obedience training on him. Sounds like he needs a little refresher course. Hope this helps.

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Could be that the first fight got your dog all tensed up to expect that. My dog is not an angel, and has lots of issues with meeting dogs. (If their body language is the least bit worrisome, Buddy wants to "get them before they get me.") But this past summer, he had a several-day spurt of regression to his early, completely aggressive behavior with other dogs. He had one bad experience, and that seemed to set him into "defensive" mode again. A few days of careful watching and controlling his meetings seemed to work. Buddy is definitely more tense around unneutered males - less with fixed males, and even less with females.

 

I always recommend "The Other End of the Leash" by Patricia McConnell - it's made me much better at identifying body language in both my dog and other dogs that might indicate the early signs of tension. Then I just skeedaddle before anything can happen.

 

Good luck!

 

Mary

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I have to agree with all that has been said. Put down the paper and get up, walk or play "with" your dog. If you keep the dogs attention on you there will be far less chance of a fight. If need be keep a check line on him so if he gets too far away from you he can be pulled back in.

 

Are you going to the dog park after he has been cooped up all day? It could be that if you are at the dog park every day he is thinking "this is my dog park". Maybe a change of scenery would help or a different type of work out. Mental challenges can go far in tiring out your dog after a long day at home. Try to change things up a bit.

 

He doesn't have to play with other dogs to have a good time, he has you. So put down the paper and enjoy your dog.

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My daughter has a byb dog that looks allot like him. He's all BC. To me your dog looks like a big BC.

 

I'm not going to comment on what the rest have said, only to say I agree with most of them.

 

I would like to add, that if this aggression is out of the blue and you've noticed anything else going on with him I would check him for tick born diseases. I had a young un-neutered male who was quite ill with tick diseases. Before I knew this I had him neutered thinking that would solve the agression problems. It didn't. Now that he's older, and neutered he's much better but still not that friendly with other dogs. Neutering did not solve our issues, but it certainly helped. Teaching him how to respond in stressfull situations helped the most.

 

Kristen

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If he was fine before this, then being intact probably an issue here. If he isn't being allowed to randomly breed (which nothing in the posts indicates that) it gets down to personal preference.

 

I would, at 7 with a large dog, be more concerned about thyroid levels, arthritis pains, general age related issues.

 

Time of year may be a factor possibly. In this region, scores of females are coming into season, purebred and mutt alike. I'm seeing breeding packs of pet dogs roaming on the way to work, and most of the purebred owners I know have one or more females in season. *All* dogs, neutered or not, are affected behaviorally by the scents of this drifting around and are more likely to bicker, fight, and roam if allowed.

 

*If allowed* is the main component. It can be stopped if the owner chooses too.

 

My dogs don't like dog parks, and those that did as playful young dogs don't care for them as adults. Most dogs don't want "friends", and while a well socialized dog don't feel any stress about being around other dogs, free interaction with a constantly changing "pack" isn't their idea of fun. They *aren't* going to put up with being bullied by socially challanged surbubia park mutts - hence scuffles.

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Thank you all for your heartfelt responses. By and large I was surprised at the helpful responses with only a little bit of finger wagging.

 

I think the three responders that said he was "an aussie" need reading glasses.

 

1sheepdoggal: The reason again, that I wasn't watching was that seven years of nothing bad earned him the right to be off-leash in an enclosed dog park. It's about 25 yards wide by 50 yards long so the guys can get away from your direct supervision easily. But good suggestion, I will watch much closer.

 

Juliepoudrier: What exactly is "conformation-bred collies"? But I do think the run to the dog park observation being too exciting might hold some truth. On my own, (before I posted) I did start talking him on long no dog park walks.

 

As to why not neutered? I am from the camp of don't fix what ain't broke. It has never been an issue until possibly, now.

 

Bo Peep: Little flame but OK, He's been going there only since we moved in Feb '07. I don't know what he was fighting over. I now it was not toys, food or water. Again, this was the first time it happened, one second tails wagging next second loud barking/biting, no damage though. More like chest pounding. I think he just not taking any alpha warnings from other dogs and is responding in kind, again, in a micro-second. And yes, I will re-read the posted sign. He has non been to an obedience course as he has always listened and behaived.

 

mbc1963: Right on, that's it exactly: "get them before they get me".

 

firpwr52: Yes, that is what I was thinking of doing. Go there with a long line ready just in case. And no, we are going first thing in the morning.

 

bcnewe2: Good comment, I already scheduled him for a Vet appointment this Thursday.

 

Lenajo: Good comment about dogs not wanting to interact "with a constantly changing pack". I think you were right on the money with "They *aren't* going to put up with being bullied by socially challenged surbubia park mutts - hence scuffles".

 

Wish me luck and I'll post back hopefully some good results. Thanks to all for your wisdom . . . . except the aussie comments of course.

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Juliepoudrier: What exactly is "conformation-bred collies"? But I do think the run to the dog park observation being too exciting might hold some truth. On my own, (before I posted) I did start talking him on long no dog park walks.

Rmlilley,

I was posting in response to the comments stating that your dog looks like an "aussie with a tail." That is often a comment made about conformation-bred (i.e., show) border collies, because the judging in the show ring has led breeders to breed dogs with heavier bone, rounder heads, and more coat so that they look a lot like the show aussies (except they have tails). Too see what I'm talking about, look at the dogs in the other post in this section that references Westminster (I think).

 

But to go back on topic, it sounds like you're going to do some right things regarding your dog's behavior. I'll be interested to see if the steps you take help with the aggression issue.

 

J.

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