Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Fighting in the pack: What went wrong

A note from the Secretary:

Dear friends, your insights are a big help as I attempt a "postmortem" on the  "mayhem" ( as Asta puts it)  that happened in our dog pad lately.  I am considering some factors that could have triggered a power struggle between Jappy and Moymoy on one hand, and between Trudis and Bambi on the other.

1. Trudis' sickness (suggested by Maxie and her Mom)- Trudis' absence after being confined for weeks inside our house presented as an opportunity for Bambi to challenge  Trudis'  rank in the pack. Looking back, I distinctly remember reading fear and distress in Trudis's body language, but I dismissed it. Sensing Trudis' weakness, Bambi attempted to fight back the next time she and Trudis had a  spat. Though thinner and weaker, Trudis refused to back down at Bambi's initial show of dominance.   What used to be a spat turned into a full blown, bloody fight between them.

2. Bambi had killed a cat (Pussy) during Trudis' absence- Note that only Jappy ( alpha dog) and Bambi ( rank 4th in the hierarchy) attacked Pussy. Having  killed another animal, Bambi could have experienced new found strength and began aspiring for a higher ranking.

3. Jappy's insecurities- Of the five dogs in the pad, it was Jappy who received the most affection from me.  Jappy and I have gone a long way, even before I lived with the Animal Doctor and before  I took Moymoy, Trudis, Bambi, and Woody in. I would often bring Jappy inside the house  at night to sleep with us or with Scarlet during the night.  But I ignored him for days  after he killed Pussy. It was also around this time when the Human Pup came home after  spending the holidays with my Mom in my hometown, and became the focus of my attention once more.

Alpha dogs are usually not  the type to  bully middle ranking dogs because they are confident of their position in the pack order. Jappy's insecurities could have triggered him to pick a fight with Moymoy, to ensure that the latter forever remains below him in the hierarchy.

4.  Moy's unresolved issues- When Moymoy was younger, he had behavioral issues that were party resolved when we took classes on obedience training  I became complacent when Moy stopped chasing his tail; not realizing that his inner demon could be unleashed when he is cornered against the wall. This is exactly what happened when he and Jappy fought.

5. ME-  Many of you are correct in pointing out that I should be the alpha of the pack. I must admit that my tendency to be overly affectionate with my dogs, to a point of treating them like babies  led to the development of  their undesirable behaviors.

6. Diet Changes- This may sound remote but the idea came to my head after our  readers, Jed and Abby offered us a theory to explain the fatal attack on Pussy. Several weeks prior to the incident, I modified  and reduced the dog's diet in my effort to reduce their weight ( all of them except for Trudis are overweight!) . Could it be that  hunger jumpstart  their prey drive and drove them to attack Pussy? Could hunger also be the reason why they became combative with each other usually during mealtimes? (we feed them simulataneously at meal times)

Keeper Lui told me that Bogart ( when he was still on Earth)  and Sumo  fought each other after being friends for several years! I know its possible for dogs to become suddenly enemies, but I never anticipated this to happen with the five dogs in the pad because  four are neutered/spayed.  Well, this experience has taught me that the pack order is very fragile and many factors could break it up, not just competition for food or mate.

Next timeI will share to you the  changes that I've instituted to address the situation in the dog pad.  Last night we already started the exercises suggested by Jasper and Ruth. It remains to be seen if the five dogs can be reunited again or forever separated in smaller groups.

I do not claim to know a lot about animal behavior but I am glad that I am not groping in total darkness.  I am so thankful for all your advice, support and prayers. I  wish to post happier news next time.


  1. Hello sweetie,

    Thank you for mentioning us in your blog - we are honoured, but wish it was under happier circumstances. I think you are fantastic for the way you are dealing with this sorry, messy business, and these problems won't last forever.

    As mentioned in his "Evolution" series, Jasper was an ABSOLUTE nightmare when I first got him. His behaviour and attitude were appalling and I came SO close to giving up on him altogether, I was so disgusted by him. But it was bizarre - he seemed to 'click' into place almost overnight after a "struggle" lasting a few weeks. Now I wouldn't part with him for all the money in the world.

    I'm honestly not an expert in these things, but I'm sure that your patience and loving guidance will restore order in time and that your efforts will be rewarded.

    With much love and many hugs to you.

    Ruth (and a sleepy Jasper) xxx

  2. I hope peace will be restored in your pack. I'm sure it will be a great relief for everyone in your household (two-legged or four) if they all start getting along again. I can't share any experience as I never had dogs.

    Based on my observation with my cats, they become docile once they are neutered/spayed. They act like "adult kittens" because they never outgrow their kitten behavior (playing, making kulit, etc.), which is adorable :)

  3. I really don't know what happened there to make them fight but sure I hope it will not happen again!
    Take care
    Kisses and hugs

  4. Woof!
    There was fighting in the house!
    Who? What? Why?
    And Keeper knows this?
    That woman does not tell me anything!
    Well, I've been napping most days because of the chilly weather but now that my friends are fighting I think I should stay alert again.

    Woof, I don't want to fight with Popsy.
    He is old. Er, make that older.
    But in truth, because he is bigger, stronger, and won't take my bullying antics.

    I am the baby and will remain that way, I guess.

    And you Happy is still my GF. One of. ;-)

  5. Wow, it sounds like you're learning a lot about pack hierarchies. Maybe you'll have some new understanding to pass onto clients, though it's not a pleasant way to learn.

    My mom is a terrible pack leader and lets me walk all over her, so she totally understands your dilemma. Her friend, who has 4 big dogs, is a strong leader and keeps her dogs in line, and my mom knows if she wants more dogs she'll have to assert more authority too. (The only time mom asserts authority is when I try to be mean to CC-man, which she lets me know clearly that she will NOT tolerate. Then she becomes the big boss.)

    We'll be interested to learn what you find out to resolve the fighting.

    Teddy & mom

  6. Thanks for this! Really need this. Gave me more insight on how to handle Maska.


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