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Vent! I've had it with Craig!

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Craig is skating on thin ice right now. As many of you know, he hates Taz with a passion and would like nothing more than for Taz to go away permanently. Until recently, they had a sort of peaceful hatred going on between them, with Craig doing the occasional drive-by bite on the butt and Taz lifting his lip whenever Craig got too close to him but otherwise coexisting without incident. But about a couple of months ago, Craig started hopping into Taz's crate (which doesn't have a door on it so Taz can come and go freely) teeth first whenever it started thundering. I was always right there, so I'd say "hey!" and Taz would run out of the crate. Craig, who listens to me very well otherwise, does not even seem to hear me; even if I see it coming, I cannot prevent him from running into Taz's crate. It's a fear/OCD thing (he does have some weirdo OCD things, likely due to brain damage his ophthamologist feels he sustained early in life, perhaps from a kick from cattle or a horse). Anyway, it's been slowly escalating to happening even when there is no thunder (that I can hear, who knows what he can hear, though my thunderphobic dog, Sophie, doesn't react), especially when I've stepped out of the room to answer the phone or do the dishes or whatever. He seems to wait until I am distracted with something else, but I know that could be a coincidence. When I am not right there telling them to knock it off, Taz stays in the crate and they fight. Or rather Craig attacks Taz. So far, he hasn't hurt Taz, but Taz's head is wet when I hear what's going on and break it up. Craig's head is dry; Taz apparently isn't fighting back. This happened twice today, and I've had it. From now on, Craig is going to be crated every. single. time. I leave the room. I feel bad crating him because ever since I switched jobs and no longer work at home, Craig must be crated 9 hours while I am at work and then 8 more when I am sleeping. I know many of you will think this is too much already, but he cannot be loose when I am not there because, well, he will start a fight with Taz. Now I'll have to crate him even more often, but I don't see any alternative. Actually, I suppose I can lock him in my bedroom while I'm at work, though he has always been crated when left so I'm not sure what he'd do. Hmm, I will try this, I think. If it works, it will at least alleviate some guilt about crating him so much, but I am still going to have to isolate him more. But I cannot have him attacking poor Taz anymore!


I think there's only so much I can do about this situation, but if any of you have other ideas, I'd love to hear them...


ETA: Taz isn't doing anything to instigate these attacks. He is in his crate and can't even see Craig, who is on the couch when things start.

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Laura, I am so sorry to hear about the escalating conflicts between Craig and poor Taz. I think your idea of leaving him in the bedroom is worth trying for a day and seeing what happens. I don't imagine Craig is destructive? Maybe leave an open crate for him in the bedroom as well, in case he feels the need to be even more protected if a storm comes rolling while you're gone?

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I was thinking the same thing as Anda - the bedroom with an open crate, so he can crate himself if he feels nervous?


Sorry you're going through this. I don't get a second dog for fear of my (reactive) dog acting like this. I've got no advice, but maybe a trainer or board member who's lived this life can help. Good luck!



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Hey Laura

As you know Mick is a Dick all the time. I have to watch him like a hawke. I've had lots of trainers work with us (me and Mick alone to see if it was me or him) and it's him. I've had so much advise that I'm sick to death of advise on this topic but would love to read some that actually worked. I get tired of the "well if he was my dog he wouldn't be allowed to do that" like I'm allowing or approving this to happen.


The only thing I've been able to do is learn to read Mick instantly. It's second nature so I don't even know I'm doing it. Recently I've had someone who knows his breeding tell me it goes way back in his lines and there is no way to "get rid of it" I also wonder if he had some brain issues when born or going through all the TBD's damaged his brain a bit too.


So what I learned was if I watch I can see it coming. But if I yell, or act upset in anyway, I'll set him off quicker. I'm sure I've told you to what affect I've tried "corrections" with no avail. But what will work is if I see it coming I tell him that I need him and lets go "do" something, like work, go outside or some other thing that will snap his brain to a different place.

I've even seen him make the decision to "attack" when he knows I'm watching him then duck cause he knows a correction is coming. It's like he can't help himself and he knows it's wrong. Guess the good thing it that he's not likely to start trouble if he's home alone, as I've never come home to find evidence of a fight.

I don't own another male because of this. But he will pick on a female if it enters his brain. Another thing I've noticed is that he seems to really react to body language of the other dog. Not threatening language but "weak" language. Like Jazz acting all sad or helpless will set Mick off.

He's really bad at door trolling so now he goes out alone or with Dew who seems to be able to keep him in check by knowing what behaviors to do to keep Mick under control. Then after they come in, Jazz and Ray go out. Jazz won't even go through a door if she thinks Mick is on the other side. So in the morning when it's time to go out. Mick stands off to the side barking while Jazz slinks out, with me watching her back to keep her safe.


I will add that Mick has never drawn blood or actually caused physical damage but he causes mental damage none the less.

So I think he knows what he's doing only can't help him self.

I had hiim neutered at 18 month to try and settle him down. It didn't do a thing.


The one sad thing about it is recently when Mick almost cut his foot off (not really but sure seemed like it) so now if he gets in a fight it hurts his foot. After fighting and getting corrected (or not if I don't catch him quick enough) he limps around holding his foot up. I've seen where he will almost attack and remember his foot and stop. It's made the whole family stop and almost laugh at him, in a poetic justice kind of way.


Mick is less likly to attack females than males but he will if they give off the right signals. Females are the only ones who seem to be able to kick his butt and he's had his nose almost ripped in half by a female. He later tried to attack the same female who almost bit his nose off (the female suffered no physical damage from mick) So he didn't "learn his lesson". Heck down in AR he went after one of the LGD males. Poor Lonesome held Mick down with one paw then waited till I could pull Mick out from under him. Loney did nothing to hurt Mick and the whole time Mick was bing held down on his back he was growling like he was on top. It was pretty pathatic but also showed me just how ingrained a behavoir it is.


It's all in the management, I sure hope you can get the 2 under control. It might be Taz is just sick of taking it anymore and is trying to fight back a bit more than he did. Have they ever really had it out? Not that I'd let them but I'm wondering who'd come out on top. Dew and Mick recently got into it and Dew won. I think it was cause of Mick's foot but Dew was quite pleased with herself and Jazz is now Dew's best friend. Jazz actually danced around the room (it was when we were living in the guppy and I had all the dogs in Ian's room watching tv) after like she was happy Dew won!

The other thing I've noticed is when Mick and the rest go for a hike Mick seems to pick up a piece of wood or someother thing and carry it around in his mouth cause he's trying to control himself from attacking. Like the thing in his mouth keeps him from a fly by bite. Strange but Jazz does this same behavior.


I wish I had an easy answer and would love to read something here that might change out situation, but for us, I doubt I can find anything to change the situation other than management, I sure hope you do.

See you soon.

BTW did you sign up for the Strang Ranch trial?

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Sorry to hear things have gotten worse between the two--that's absolutely worth a vent. I agree that loose in the bedroom might be a good solution. the other thing I was wondering was whether Taz really needs his crate--maybe if he isn't as easy a target, it won't trigger whatever it is in Craig.


Maybe calling Craig to go do something (as Kristen does with Mick) will work more than a "hey"--though of course you can't watch him every second since sometimes you do need to do something like type on the computer. :rolleyes:


I also agree with Kristen that there's not much that is likely to change these kinds of situations. We've consulted with lots of people (and gotten plenty of unsolicited advice) about how to "fix" the serious dislike between Hamish and Rafe--nothing but keeping them completely separated works. I've also asked lots of people who have dogs who seriously don't get along and none of them has ever said they have a fix other than management/separation for dogs who really don't/can't get along.

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I like the suggestion of having an open crate in the bedroom for him for when you're gone. I hope that works. At home, why not take him with you when you leave the room? It would probably take less time than crating and uncrating. I'd put down a couple of "stay" mats in a few areas of the house where you work, (laundry room, office, etc.) and ask him to go to his place and stay there while you're working. I haven't had the situation that you describe, but one way I work on my dogs bonding, is that I take them on walks together. I've found that when they travel together as a pack like this, they start to connect. They check in with each other by touching noses and little licks, it's really interesting.


Do you think that perhaps Craig has started thinking "Taz in the crate" means scary thunder is here or coming? If so, maybe changing the look of it all can interrupt that line of thinking. Like put Taz's crate somewhere else or turn it in a different direction, drape a towel over it. I think someone said this already, but when you start to see it coming perhaps give him an alternative behavior. I did something like that with Cadi. She's the "fun police" at our house, and when the other dogs are playing she can get pretty aggresive at times in her attempts to break it up. So when the other dogs started playing, I'd call her over to me and click and treat or give a good belly rub. After a couple of times of this (she's very smart my Cadi) she just started seeking me out instead of going after the boys for playing.


I'm sure it's very stressful and frustrating.


Good luck!



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We have two bitches who don't get along either. What worked for me is to keep them separate whenever possible. If they do get together try to stay calm and don't raise your voice (hard for me to do). Calmly walk away and get in the car or truck. Usually one will follow me and the fight ends. Just avoiding the situation has helped. We have also taken one of the girls out on a leash to avoid any confrontations if they are together. That way we can keep them near each other but not in each other's faces.

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Thanks for your advice and support, everyone. It is frustrating to deal with, very much so.


There isn't really room for a crate in my bedroom. But I agree he would need one. I'll have to drag a crate to the bedroom and then back to the living room every day. Annoying but doable, I suppose. I don't really think it's a solution, per se, since Craig will still no longer have much time with me, but I suppose I can give him an hour or so each evening. Maybe things will get better without practice and when summer really ends and the storms are less frequent (although he attacks Taz other times, too, the storms are definitely a trigger, and he hears the thunder before I do).


I've tried to talk softly and redirect Craig, but he doesn't seem to even hear me. He won't come somewhere else with me. If I put my hand on his collar, I am fairly positive he would bite me. He is not quite right in the head (maybe like Mick in that regard, Kristen). Sigh.


Taz doesn't need his crate, but he likes it and spends a lot of time in there--unfortunately, he spends most of the time that Craig is loose in his crate, probably to get away from Craig. I can't get rid of it. And because Taz is in his crate so darn much when Craig is out, I doubt the Taz being in the crate is a trigger. Who knows though, I guess. There is a mudcloth covering Taz's crate; I can switch it out with the mudcloth covering Craig's crate and see if that makes a difference.


Craig does usually follow me when I leave the room. He is very (annoyingly) clingy. I can make more of an effort to make sure he comes with me when I'm in a different room, though. Maybe crate him when I am on the phone so I won't have to pay attention to him then. It happens most often when I am on the phone it seems.


As far as trying to get them to bond--sadly, that ain't gonna happen. I take both hiking frequently and they hang out at sheepdog trials, clinics, and work sessions together all the time. Craig hated Taz the minute he came to live with me two years ago, and after getting nipped and attacked by Craig repeatedly Taz has learned to hate Craig right back. Anda, Kristen, and Robin have all seen them together and I imagine they'd agree there is little chance they could form a friendship.


I know the answer is to keep them separate at all times. I just, like many of you, hate that answer.


ETA: Yes, I'm going to Bridget's trial, Kristen! With the hater and the pacifist...


ETA again: Um, jamesgf, seriously? Er, yes, Craig is a dog. I tend not to lock boyfriends in crates, even if they misbehave during thunderstorms...

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You know what Taz needs? A break from Craig - in the form of the Barker Days on Sept 19th, in Parker. I think he earned his right to a day of swimming and obsessing over which ball to pick up :rolleyes:


Seriously - could you maybe put a mesh crate in your bedroom? I don't know anything about crates since I never used them, but I remember seeing some that look like tents - you could colapse that in a corner or even under the bed after you come home.

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How bout a baby gate that is movable?

I don't keep my dogs seprate but I don't own another male either. Dew is on Ray's butt right now cause they had a squable a while back and she thinks Ray is falling off the top spot. I watch quite closly and even Dh and DS watch, if Dew is tail upping Ray, she gets a crack on the bum or a CUT IT OUT RIGHT NOW from any of us. It's working and what really helps is Ray is not rising to the challange.

I dunno....I hate keeping them apart, it's such a hassle, if they could return to what they had where they ignore each other. It seems the more I stress or obsess about it the more it happens with Mick.

I have an old horse whip hanging by the back door. I've never used it more than a training tool long ago but if Mick is really bent out of shape I pick it up and show him. Again I've never done anything more than use it as pressure in training and he backs right off. I can never raise my voice.

OMT....it scares me a tiny bit that you say Craig might redirect on you. Mick would die before he'd bite me. He has turned his teeth (he turned and put his mouth on my foot but never bit down) on me once when I tapped his butt with my foot when he was hassling a strange dog and I know it was redirecting but he slunk off like he'd been shot so I know he knew instantly that was a huge NO. I think you'd be suprised that Craig would probably not redirect on you. You are his GOD...I think he's trying to keep you from that nasty Taz. and the crate thing...it's where he wants to be when it's thundering...what about his own crate? Why not that one? All my dogs have some form of Thunderphobia. They will crawl on top of each other to get away from thunder. That's the one time I know Mick is not gonna snark anyone. Wonder what's going on there with Craig. Is the crate position a better place to get away from the noise?

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This may not be an ideal solution, but if Taz leaves Craig alone, perhaps you can put Craig on a tie out in the room. Is there a way to put an eye bolt in your most frequented areas and then just tie Craig on a short (short enough that he can't get tangled) cable, so he can be in the same room with the rest of you but doesn't have the opportunity to go after Taz? It would be something of a pain to move Craig from room to room (though you wouldn't have to), and perhaps he'd get used to being on his tie out and just settle there.


My old Boy always hides--closets, crates, the bathroom, whatever to avoid confrontations with other dogs. I've always felt guilty that he felt the need to separate himself off and essentially hide for fear of being harassed (this habit started before I got him as none of my dogs bother him, but he still seeks a hidey hole).



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I have had this problem. During the Summer of Fireworks, Solo began to redirect on Fly when he heard firecrackers. At first it was only if she was right next to him, but as the pattern formed he would actually run across the room, or into another room, to pummel her when they went off. By that time he had become sensitized to the point that any noise that sounded sort of like a firecracker (like a slamming door) would set him off. It was a pretty mindless response on his part, like a reflex, so correcting him was difficult as it didn't really get through to him and just heightened the tension.


I kept them separated by keeping each of them crated/in another room/in the yard half the time rather than always crating Solo or always crating Fly (this is what I also did while Jett was going through her hormone-induced "kill Fly" phase). This broke the pattern so it wasn't such a knee-jerk reaction on Solo's part. By that time I had also put him daily alprazolam because the fireworks were driving him crazy, and those also helped. After he had calmed down about the fireworks I was able to have them loose together again and now they are fine. The occasional firecracker goes off these days but after the separation and alprazolam (which Solo is no longer taking) Solo had become desensitized enough that he doesn't really react.


I think what you need to do is break the pattern first. Put them on half and half time and keep them secure from each other at all times. It'll require more active management for a while, which will be a total pain, but hopefully once the pattern has been broken it won't be as acute a problem. Put them on a time share program so one of them isn't isolated all the time (this'll make you feel better too). If you are going through a particularly noisy period then temporary administration of alprazolam may also help, but you'd have to talk to a vet about that. I'd keep them separated for at least a week and preferably two, and then slowly try going back to normal and seeing how that works.


Good luck. I feel for you.

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Anda, Taz would love to come to Barker Days again! He had a blast last time, and he does enjoy life more when Craig is not around. I have a mesh crate, but I think it might not be sturdy enough for Craig during a storm...


Kristen, a baby gate is a good idea, but he really needs a crate. I don't think this is a power play on Craig's part. I don't think he is thinking very much. He doesn't attack Taz if I let them out to pee together in the yard, and he will jump inside Taz's crate even if I am right there. Which is not very wise, since it gets him told off and put inside his own crate 100% of the time.


Craig has bitten me before, not hard, when I've put my hand on his collar and he was afraid or upset. He panics easily and is kind of a baby. When I pick burrs out of his coat after a hike, I must always say, "Don't bite me," which he honestly seems to understand, but I am always careful and cognizant of this. I do not invite confrontations like that with Craig. This thing aside, I can always get him to do what I need him to do without grabbing his collar.


I don't know why he doesn't go into his own crate. It is a little further away from the couch he hangs out on than Taz's crate is. Now maybe it's a habit. But now he is also entering Taz's crate when there is no thunder, so...?


Julie, a tie-out is an EXCELLENT idea! Thanks!


Melanie, I just read your response when I went to preview my post and that makes a lot of sense. That patterning and mindless response thing is exactly what I think is happening here. I am going to try complete separation for a couple of weeks, then introduce them slowly. But Craig may be introduced on that tie out, as I do not trust him at all at this point. And talk to my vet about alprazolam, at least during the reintroduction phase.


Thanks all, for helping me think of ways to work through this. It does suck, and I'd love nothing more than for things to go back to the former uneasy truce between them...

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That patterning and mindless response thing is exactly what I think is happening here

yep that happens all the time here too. I don't notice the good patterns, only the bad. I will change things up on purpose just to keep a pattern from happening. Isn't it bummer how quick one can form but it doesn't go that easy. I've removed a dog from my home altogether (foster that went to his forever home) and the pattern still stays if the situation ever arises. Even when we moved we took the pattern with us.


How bout trading Craigs crate spot for Taz's just to see what happens. Does Taz's crate touch the side of the couch? It would feel more hidey hole if it did. Or away from the window wall? I was thinking the baby gate during times you're home just for sepration times.

Good luck and keep me posted. I have to say when I met Craig he seemed so "needy" that it suprised me that he'd be like that, seems to me it's his lack of confidence more than dominance. Or did I read it wrong?

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Will Craig attack Taz if Taz is in a closed crate? That would give Craig more freedom while you're home and not crated so much. And/or just keep them in separate rooms (either crated or not), dividing your evening time between them. That way they don't have the opp to fight.

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Oh, he's not trying to be dominant over me. He's panicking and thinks he is fighting for his life. He has the same reaction when going to the vet. It's just rather extreme, maybe because of his brain damage, maybe because of something that happened in his life before he came to me, maybe just his own twitchy personality. I suppose I can switch out their crates, but Craig's crate is much larger than Taz's and won't fit very well in that area (which is indeed right next to the couch). But Craig's crate is sort of wedged between a wardrobe and a futon, so it's actually more of a hidey hole. Sometimes i think he just wants to torture Taz!

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My girls used to have interbitch aggression. Kaos would redirect any of her anxiety into a rage at Sam, after lots of meds and counter conditioning we were able to get Kaos to pick up a toy and kill it when she felt anything above a sigh. However, given a choice she would always go for Sam. The only thing we could do for the past 6 years or so was to keep them completely separated. Each one in a separate floor of the house. One locked in the bathroom while the other walked by to go for a pee outside and vice versa. Not fun, but it sure helped my ulcers and their anxiety levels.



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