View Full Version : Help! The joy of 2 is wearing out!

Terri Voltz
7th February 2008, 05:14 AM
My boys are FIGHTING lately, not over food, not treats, but TOYS. And I mean some bad fights! The problem seems to be that whatever toy one has, the other wants that one. It doesn't matter what it is. If they both have a toy, they're sure that the other toy is better than the one they have. Now Desi will just lie on that coveted item for an hour if he has to, and Marley circles him, waiting to grab it. It's become quite a contest between them. I've had to pull all toys a couple of times, just so they'll get that out of their little minds.
Have you had such situations? Outside of this, they get along wonderfully. They play, they wrestle and kiss each other. But introduce a toy and they're agitated. What would you recommend? I want to see them LOVE each other! Thanks-! Terri

7th February 2008, 05:47 AM
=( my big boy 2.5 cocker is afraid for 12 wks nimo

7th February 2008, 06:23 AM
It's normal, let them work it out.

One will be alpha to the other, let them call the shots unless they're really hurting one another.

It may also be part of their normal play...

Rosie always takes toys from Mary Alice....if Mary Alice wants it bad enough, she takes it back. :)

7th February 2008, 08:42 AM
Yes, I saw lots of this behaviour when I used to have three little darling Cavis, but it did appear to be part and parcel of their play and the little 'pretend' routene seemed to keep them happy and nobody got hurt. If one did get a little too heavy handed, then I used to remove his toy and not return it for a day or so and things calmed down a bit. Also, I found that what at the beginning sounded like agressive play to me was actually normal and fun for them, especially as they always ended up in a playful wrestle afterwards. I guess this type of play and the power games with toys help to alleviate boredom and get rid of excess energy so is not such a bad thing.

7th February 2008, 11:05 AM
Can definately relate to this. I have 5 year old twins and they have done this over toys since being about 12 - 18 months old ? It can get nasty at times and they haven't got any better with age. I can have two identical toys give them to them at the same time and one will drop his and stalk the other for his or just attack for it ? I had to take toys away unless supervised unfortunately. So can't give you any answers but wanted to let you know your not alone. :(

7th February 2008, 11:16 AM
Help is simple: do NOT give them toys when they are together, or chews, or feed them near each other. This is a common problem with having more than one dog.

They are starting to fight to establish or to assert rank, and is typical especially if you have two of one sex. This most likely will never, ever stop -- and you simply cannot set up trigger situations by giving them toys when they are around each other any longer -- they can and WILL fight viciously if given the chance. Leo and Jaspar will really go for one another in certain situations and so I avoid putting them in confrontational situations (this BTW is one reason most trainers advise getting a second dog of the opposite sex -- this is far less likely to happen. Cavaliers are generally better than a lot of breeds but the conflicts will almost always arise between two dogs, both the same sex, in a two dog household).

The solution is that they only get fed, get chews, and get toys when they are in crates or otherwise physically separated (eg get a puppy pen -- this is one of the best investments I have made for managing more than one dog).

Do not ever allow one dog to guard a toy or chew or ANY item and let another wait to try and grab it -- that is one hour of building tension that is only going to end one way. The nanosecond one of my dogs starts to growl and protect a chew or toy, that's it -- I use a phrase to mark that their behaviour has ended their fun ("You lose!' or 'Sorry!' are two suggestions) and I take the item away and that is that.

If a fight breaks out, "You lose" and they both go into separate rooms for timeouts for 10 minutes then are allowed back out -- and the item is removed, never to be given again to either dog when the other is also around.

But as I said the correct approach is not to allow such a situation to occur ever in the first place. You now know you have a trigger situation if they have toys, chews etc when both free to roam and interact and look at each other. So toy time now has to be on their own, chew time on their own, etc, out of sight of each other. If they are allowed to continue as they have been this is definitely going to escalate into a serious problem and they may become dangerous not just to each other but to humans trying to intervene -- and can progress to general food and toy aggression with people s well as dogs. Keep them PHYSICALLY separate but equal for toys/chews/any value item. Anyone who has dogs that will regularly fight cannot rely on supervision alone -- the dogs need to be physically separated. This is what crates are great for. :thmbsup:

7th February 2008, 11:33 AM
Further reading:




Cathy Moon
7th February 2008, 11:58 AM
I would manage them as Karlin describes in order to prevent fighting.

I have the same problem regarding high value chews like bully sticks and dental rawhides. Geordie and India have gotten into spats in the past over chews, and even though no one got hurt - I had to break it up by putting a sofa cushion between them. I bought a few Patricia McConnell booklets to learn how to manage them better. Now Geordie goes into the kitchen crate, while India and Chocolate get to be loose together when the goodies come out. I don't allow India to hang out near his crate either, as she seems to be quite the instigator.:rolleyes:

7th February 2008, 12:12 PM
Yeah in my place, Jaspar is usually the instigator-- he likes to play games with food and that can quickly turn into an actual fight. The boys never fight with the girls nor the girls with each other -- it is solely a Jaspar/Leo thing.

I often think: what would I do if these were toddlers? You'd probably not try to convince them to play together in a friendly way as they are too young to reason with -- you'd give them something else to do and separate them so that they don't squabble over the same things.

Part of controlling such situations too is having very good obedience training done with both dogs. Well trained dogs can be put into downstays at opposite sides of a room with a chew, and not released til you say so. That really takes time though -- physically separating makes more sense for most people and is safer.

7th February 2008, 05:31 PM
I also have found that certain chews are a problem - pig's ears, notably, although to an extent they tend to sort this out themselves by going to opposite ends. Same with food- they're fed at opposite ends. I rarely see any aggression re toys and when I do, it's clearly play. Rawhide is very likely to trigger a growling session from Amber, and that can be a problem since sometimes she panics and tries to eat it at once! I've started taking it away from her when there's still a lot of the chew, rather than risk choking. At least Holly doesn't really care about the rawhide, so after some grumbling from Amber, the two will settle down happily enough - even side by side on my lap.

Judging from this, I should be taking away the rawhide as soon as Amber starts growling? They've never, ever fought apart from the odd snap from one to the other that's over almost instantly.

8th February 2008, 12:16 AM
Mine play with chew toys and get fed seperately as they can fight. Pippin is usually the one who starts it. I would not leave them to fight as one or both of them could get seriously hurt.

Cathy Moon
8th February 2008, 12:24 AM
According to Patricia McConnell, the best way to manage is by prevention. So you'd want to avoid setting up situations where one will growl at the other.

8th February 2008, 12:37 AM
All excellent advise and somthing we can all learn from for the future.

Terri Voltz
8th February 2008, 03:44 AM
Toys are tucked away in a closet today, and PEACE REIGNS. Although, Desi (little Ruby)has found the said toys...keeps snuffling at the closet door and looking sad. But all in all, they had a great day. Playing, wrestling, had a nice long compatible walk to the park. I think we'll let well enough alone for about a week, and then see how they do with a few toys. You all gave a lot of help, and it is much appreciated.
Also, an aside note about those doggies that like to skarf down their treats when they get too small: I found a great solution. A small vice grip that clamps on to the middle of the treat tightly, give the pooch not only a great handle, but they can't swallow chunks of the treat...get it right down there to the vice grip and it works great! I was having that problem with Marley, my Blenheim, and as much as I tried to watch him carefully, he'd swallow whole pieces of treat, especially if he saw me heading his way to retrieve it from his mouth. Now I need to get another set!

Cathy T
8th February 2008, 03:47 AM
This is why we don't have bully sticks anymore :eek: For such sweet little dogs....they will rip each other apart over bully sticks and it just isn't worth it. Like Karlin said, if they were able to understand reason I would reason with them. But, given that they are doggies and just don't get what I'm explaining to them ;) we just stay away from trigger items.

Tonight Shelby brought a big stuffed puppy on the bed, Jake promptly walked over, took it from her and went and laid down on the other side of the bed with it. Little stinker! Shelby just looked at me, went to the family room and brought in another toy. Silly girl.

Cathy Moon
8th February 2008, 04:35 AM
Geordie used to be a total brat and take toys away from the girls, but somehow he outgrew it. I like to take all the stuffed squeaky toys and play fetch with all three dogs at once. If I keep lots of toys flying, they just focus on bringing any toy back to me and they don't waste time trying to grab toys from the others!:)

8th February 2008, 12:34 PM
Some things are just triggers for dogs to fight, so as Karlin & Cathy have mentioned, it is best to remove those triggers.

A while back we had two Boxer girls that would happily eat together & share toys together, but go outside & throw a stick and they'd want to rip each other apart. We actually had to lecture our visitors "do not throw sticks for the dogs".

Thankfully our current 3 don't do this, but occasionally I will notice that one has not eaten his biscuit but is instead guarding it & eyeing off the other. As soon as I notice this, I calmly & quietly retrieve the biscuit & put it back in the tin. That guarding & eyeing off is a challenge and can lead to fights. It is considered unacceptable behaviour in our household.

Terri Voltz
8th February 2008, 03:00 PM
I've seen that "guarding & eyeing off" and wondered what that was all about. Now the crazy thing is, they are currently lying side by side chewing bully sticks. No problem there! Nobody cares about the other's stick, they're totally content to chew them compatibly. I guess you're correct in saying that some things are triggers, while other's aren't. They're such sweet hearts, the both of them, it was really hard seeing them be such butt heads. I'm glad for PEACE!