So...ahem...I'm about to post something that is a bit embarrassing to me. It's not horrible but in a way it makes me feel like a failed puppy parent.
Ever since we got Toby, the bull terrier, we fully expected to have a happy pet family. We knew that we would have our work cut out for us with him since he was a rescue case. And boy in the beginning I had thought about packing up Toby's belongings and sending him back to the bull terrier rescue place in Houston. He was a holy terror and he was the most stubborn dog I have ever come across. It was probably four to five months before we finally got him to sit or lie down on command just as an example of how much this dog could care less about pleasing his new masters.
Our older dog, Josie, did not care at all for Toby. She had been living a pretty peaceful life for about six years and all of a sudden...BAM...she has a little one year old brother. And some background on Josie: she has always been an anxious dog...a big time nervous nelly.
When we first adopted Josie from the pound she was a scared five month year old, which I would assume is very normal for most dogs entering a new situation from the pound. The thing that wasn't too normal, I think, is that when we brought her home she shook for like the first three hours. She was wide eyed and scared for her life. K and I left her be and ignored her talking to her every once in a while. Eventually, she came around us and showed us her fun loving personality. Even though she let her guard down with us we could see that she was an over anxious dog. It was definitely stamped onto her personality.
In the beginning Toby looooooved his big sister. He was Josie's shadow at all times, which seemed to really frustrate Josie. Toby would try to touch or even lie by Josie and would in return get nipped and growled at. This never deterred Toby even though sometimes he looked a bit rejected but he always got over it quickly by pestering her again in about five minutes.
Today, Toby still tries to be near Josie. But now he doesn't only adore her he now pesters and bullies her at all times too.
The only time there was a major problem between Toby and Josie was during feeding times. The first time we had to pry them apart from a dog fight and clean their wounds we didn't hesitate to take the hint that we would never feed them in the same room again.
Every time they got into a dog fight it usually revolved around some type of resource guarding. In the old house the fights had started to become few and far between.
So here we are now...
We're in the new house and their routines are the same but the environment is different. The fights have begun again and Kreg and I are at our wits end trying to figure out WHY!? It's hard to tell who starts the fights because once they go at each other it's a simultaneous agreement to tear each other up.
What we have noticed, though, is that Josie has been cringing from Toby. When it all begins she starts to cringe from him, her body gets really stiff, and her eyes are huge. He'll come around her sniffing and she'll growl and next thing we know they are going at it.
At this point it doesn't matter who actually lunges first. What we do know is that our nervous nelly, Josie, is the one who puts out the signals that our human eyes can see. All I can figure out is that she has gone into fear-aggression mode and I've talked to my vet about all the things that have occured between the two dogs.
Toby has always pestered Josie but never seemed to be an aggressor, which in the beginning I of course always blamed him since he was the new guy. Josie, however, has always put out bad vibes towards Toby. In the dog world Josie is very rude. Toby has always let Josie sniff him from head to tail without moving and being ever so accomodating. As soon as Josie is done with her full body sniff Toby goes to do the same to her and she's always growled and snapped at him. I guess from puppyhood Josie did not learn proper socialization skills that showed her what polite behavior was between dogs.
Plus, Toby is around two years old now and another possibility that could be occuring is he is looking to up his status to top dog in the house. If Josie would willingly step down to the subordinate dog status then there is a possibility that this wouldn't be occuring, but I can tell you if this is the scenario then she is not willing to step down.
And if I had access to a pet behavioralist then I could go this route but Cesar won't be coming to East Texas any time soon. I checked his schedule. And I cannot wait any longer on this because these fights are not just love taps with a "I'm just playing" attitudes. These two are willing to step into Vick's ring when they go at it and we just don't have the stomach to watch our dogs do this.
So...here is where my embarrassment begins. After speaking with my vet and going over some options my vet had suggested a puppy Prozac for Josie. I was speachless even though at times K and I joked about that was exactly what Josie needed.
I guess I feel embarrassed for even going this route and what's worse is that I feel like a failed puppy parent. My vet assured me that it is not K or my fault and we had adopted dogs that came with issues and these issues were not implanted by us.
I cannot even imagine what a real parent to a human child feels like when they are advised to medicate their child's behavioral problems. I'm sure it's triplefold to what I am feeling for a dog.
Josie is on day two of puppy Prozac.