Last night’s Dog Whisperer TV show featured fighting dogs, Ruby and Jinx, who Cesar said literally wanted to kill each other. These two dogs seemed similar to Nutmeg and Nora, our two Cairn terrier rescue dogs in that one of them, Jinx, was insecure, like Nora. Seeing those two terriers go at it on TV made me realize that our dogs have some real rivals out there.
If you’ve been following Nutmeg and Nora, you know that we’ve had some real struggles with their conflicts. Their fighting hit its worst point right before Christmas when Nora sustained a split of her lower eyelid. It has healed nicely, but the incident made me realize that I needed to do some research into prevention of such serious injuries. I had already figured out that the disruption in their routine over the holidays had contributed to the increase in their fighting, but it wasn’t the only factor.
Shortly after I wrote the blog post about needing Cesar Millan, Dog Whisperer, to help us, I saw him on one of the morning news shows. In scenes of upcoming episodes, I noticed that one would cover fighting dogs. That sent me to Cesar’s Web site where I found an article on the subject that has proven to be very effective in our home.
The technique described in the article involves identifying which dog is being the most aggressive and applying a touch to the dog’s ribcage. At the same time you should pull back on the collar from behind the dog. Another bit of advice says not to yell at the dogs over and over to stop, because you’ll only intensify the negative energy. I didn’t have to wait long to try this technique.
In Nutmeg and Nora’s fights, it’s really not easy to tell which one is the aggressor anymore, since Nora has really started to become less submissive to Nutmeg and no longer resembles the victim. So, I just picked whichever dog was closest to me, pulled back gently on her collar and touched her in the ribs. The touch resulted in a complete pause in the dog’s aggression and instant docility.
The technique Cesar used on the TV show was different, though. When the two dogs started fighting, he grabbed each of their collars and held them apart while they continued to try and get at each other. He said that Jinx needed to vent at Ruby, and although Ruby was the dominant dog, it was Jinx who had the most negative energy. Cesar knelt there with each arm outstretched, holding the dogs for so long that his feet started to go numb. He said this would show the dogs that he did not want them to fight.
I had the opportunity to use both techniques on Nutmeg and Nora today. When they started to fight, I held them apart for several minutes and when I let them go, they apparently weren’t finished yet. So I employed the rib touch, and that always turns the dog I’m touching from violent to gentle. It’s very puzzling how that would work, but it does for now. So, I guess that the touch of the ribcage is a technique that helps in the moment, and the act of holding them apart works toward ending the problem in the long term? I’ll let you know.
Here’s a link to the article about breaking up dog fights:
Here’s a link to the Web page that has pictures from the TV Episode.