Cattle Dog Mix Aggression Questions

Discussion in 'Australian Cattle Dog' started by Neva, Dec 8, 2023.

  1. Neva

    Neva New Member

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    Neva

    Cattle Dog Mix Aggression

    Boy am I in over my head. We already had four dogs, two mixes and two pure American Foxhounds. The mixes are a rat terrier (and almost everything else) mix who is about 45 lbs and pure sweetness, and a Shepherd Lab mix. All dogs were rescued as adults and getting up there in years.

    My husband was sent a photo and video of a dog in an overcrowded rural shelter who was going to be put down at the end of the week for running out of time. He was a favorite with the shelter volunteers. I said I felt too overwhelmed, but he really pushed that he wanted to save this dog and I gave in.

    Now the dog is here. We got him dna tested and he's 75% Australian Cattle Dog and then a whole bunch of other stuff in the remaining 25%.

    My immediate issue is that he's being very aggressive with our oldest dog, the Rat terrier mix, and I'm almost at the end of my rope. The older dog, Casper, has seizures, so that could be a factor. Though Skippy the ACD looks concerned and isn't aggressive at all during the seizures.

    When Skippy first got to our house he latched onto Casper as his best friend immediately and followed him everywhere, constantly wanting to play with him. Then as he became more comfortable he started playing more with the shepherd mix and the male foxhound. The female foxhound has some health issues and he seems to just leave her alone.

    At some point in all of this Skippy, the ACD, decided I'm the best thing since sliced bread. This isn't necessarily great for me, since he bites legs and the strategy the behaviorist suggested, of just ignoring him, is leaving me with some big bruises. But the behaviorist was actually helpful (it's all remote behavior counseling) so we went from a dog who wasn't just not housebroken but stubbornly resisting housebreaking and incredibly destructive to furniture, rugs, whatever.... Well now he's housebroken and his destructiveness seems somewhat in check.

    But the behaviorist said I just need to keep Skippy and Casper separate at all times. Not only do I not have space to do that, but I'm so exhausted. I have lupus and I'm barely sleeping with this new dog in the house causing so much trouble, plus Casper having seizures at night.

    But now Skippy has gone after Casper out of nowhere a couple times and I don't even understand why. This morning they were happily playing and suddenly the play changed to fighting. Casper won't even fight, he just flops over and goes passive and Skippy will keep biting him. I broke up the fight and the next moment Skippy is trying to lick Casper's face like it never happened.

    The husband thinks they are in a rivalry over me. It seems plausible--they constantly vie with each other for my attention. Plus if I'm in bed or on the couch it's not enough for one to be on each side, Skippy will always try to switch sides so he can push Casper away from me and be the only one next to me.

    We really can't send him back to the shelter to certain death, but if there are any ideas that don't involve keeping them separate at all times I'd love to try them.
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  3. Toedtoes

    Toedtoes Member

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    CaroleC and Neva like this.
    I'm not big on ignoring bad behavior. Instead, I prefer to redirect and reward.

    So, when Skippy starts behaving in a manner you don't like, such as biting your legs or getting pushy towards Caspar, redirect him tobsome other activity. Whether it's a toy or a game or a bit of training, get him focused on something else. And when he does switch to that activity/item, reward him for it.

    By redirecting, you keep interactions positive. You also minimize the bad behavior without punishment.

    For the fighting, I would limit the interaction between them. If Skippy starts playing with Caspar, give them a few minutes, but then redirect Skippy to a different activity BEFORE he gets aggressive with Caspar. Basically, instead of separating them when they fight, redirect them before they take take issue with each other.

    I would also get your husband actively involved with the redirections. He wanted to save this dog so he needs to put in the work. When the dogs have played a bit and it's time to redirect them, your husband needs to give one dog that one-on-one redirection time while you give it to the other dog.

    You can also use baby gates to give them some separation time without being extreme in it.
  4. Neva

    Neva New Member

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    Toedtoes likes this.
    Thank you so much for your reply. We had yet another incident this morning, while I was fixing their breakfast, though there's never been aggression during that time before and it seemed to come out of nowhere.

    You are right about my husband, but I don't know how much I can reasonably expect. He says now he regrets his insistence on saving this dog and set up the remote sessions with the behaviorist. But he plays tennis nearly every day and the tennis courts are about a 45 minute drive each way. So I'm here alone with the dogs much of the time. I haven't been able to work out on my elliptical machine since he got here though, since I have to constantly watch him like a hawk. The most ridiculous part was that right after my husband brought him home he then went on a four day trip out of town. Granted the trip had been planned for forever.... But there I was on my own with all the dogs and Skippy wasn't housebroken at all and all the disruption was causing the worst behavior in everyone. The male fox hound Quinn caught a garter snake and was tossing him around like a rope toy. So I had this snake in my kitchen, I was calling the wildlife rehabber to try to find out what I should do with the snake, Skippy snuck off and pooped and peed all over the living room, and the female foxhound, who had been sleeping in a sunbeam in the yard suddenly came to the door covered in blood. Skippy reacted very badly to Carlie the foxhound covered in blood, he tried to attack her. I had to grab him and lock him in the bathroom. Anyway, turns out Carlie wasn't even hurt--it wasn't her blood. She had taken advantage of my distraction to catch and kill and mostly eat a turtle and then roll in the remains. She knows I won't let her do that, but I was distracted..... Uggghhh. Once she was bathed and no longer drenched in turtle blood Skippy was fine with her. I swear he was like "oh hi Carlie, where have you been, you missed it when I chased a giant zombie turtle out of here."

    Thank you. We have one baby gate, but I'll ask my husband to install some more. He is very handy. I don't mean to run him down here, honestly, he does so much. It's just that in the past his "I must save this dog" impulses have gone pretty well. He was like that with both foxhounds and they both just blended right in, never fought, are pretty gentle, etc. I mean, they're horrible to reptiles in the yard, but great with people, other dogs, and cats. Quinn, the male foxhound, had never been inside a house before and was starved to the point of being a walking skeleton. In about four days he learned his housebreaking and other than being loud causes very little trouble. Carlie had a longer struggle with housebreaking (again she likely had never been allowed inside) but even she was easier than Skippy. And other than toward reptiles, she is extremely gentle.

    But this time he somehow misjudged his "I MUST SAVE DOG" impulse.
  5. CaroleC

    CaroleC Member

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    Toedtoes and Neva like this.
    You don't mention how much training or exercise you do with your dogs. Although I don't always recommend exercise for a dog tht is hyperactive, it is a fact that ACD's were bred to herd cattle over long distances in pretty tough conditions. Just as your OH needs his tennis, so does this dog need an outlet for his energy too.
    The more time Skippy can spend interacting with one of you outdoors, the more opportunity he will have to receive praise for relieving himself in appropriate places, and the more chance you will have to learn to read his signals. Though you can use mentally challenging games like searching for toys or treats, following a trail, or teaching some fancy moves or tricks, to use some of Skippy's energy, I think your husband is going to have to do his bit and provide regular physical exercise for him.
  6. Neva

    Neva New Member

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    Toedtoes and CaroleC like this.
    Thank you. We were playing fetch with him in the yard every night but admittedly that got cut a little short during the last week when it was cold and rainy nearly every day. We will have to get back to doing that.

    I know I really need to take him hiking. I keep waiting to feel a little better, but I think I just need to bite the bullet and start going.

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