We've had a big weekend. I hope that this is the last post I make about their recent fight...
We saw our behaviorist Friday night. It went really well. She said that she thought my "perfect storm" theory made sense, and said that she felt like as long as we didn't duplicate that situation (or anything like it) things should be fine. She noted that they were very responsive to us when we asked something of them. When she was there for a few minutes, they started "showing off" with a loud round of bitey face, which either of us could extinguish with a word. A couple of times Angus got to show off his "Leave It," which is very solid due to lots of rewards for that behavior. She said she thought we were doing a really good job, and that unfortunately this was a situation that was out of our control and the cards were stacked against them.
That was my guess, but it was great to have a behaviorist confirm it.
There is still some question about whether they should be left together. The behaviorist's theory was that they are unlikely to get into anything without us being there, as a) they have no history of that, and b) the fights are only over resources, which we can control when we're not there (that is part of what my morning security sweeps are about).
I said the only thing that worried me is if someone, or something (squirrel? cat?) came to the front porch, they ran to the door together, got frustrated that they couldn't get to it and turned on each other. She said she thought it was great that I had enough forethought to consider all possible scenarios (forethought is my life now, thanks to Angus).
Our dog sitter, Diane, seemed to think that it was not a bad idea to keep them separated, at least for a while, when we talked about it last week. Mom also thinks it's not necessary.
Two things that have me torn: 1) They seem to self-separate when home alone anyway, so what's the harm? 2) Or, would it create frustration at being separated, and make the experience of being together more novel and exciting, therefore creating a more emotionally-charged environment? This is probably me way overthinking things...I think I will keep them separated for a while longer.
We spent a lot of the visit talking about solving some other little problems, like barking at the doorbell and rushing the door, and also Angus' fear of men, so we have a few things to practice.
Then, Saturday morning I took Angus to see his vet (back from vacation). The younger vet who was there and patched him up after it happened came out to the waiting room to have a look at him and say hello. I really like her. I've been watching her there for about a year now, whenever I am just hanging out waiting for Angus to get something done. I think I have a nice #2 vet in her.
Anyway, it was great to see #1 and talk to him about it. I may have told you, he has two Labs so he has a great understanding of the breed and I always enjoy talking to him about his "kids" and mine. Angus loves him, and so do I.
There is also a vet tech we've been getting the past few times who I really like. Anyone get WDJ? There was an article this month about proper dog handling at the vet. There is a book written by a vet that explains low-stress handling techniques for vets and techs. With the article is a photo of the vet demonstrating the proper hold for a large dog on the table, and I noticed it was the exact same way this tech holds Angus. She is really great. She doesn't latch on, but just supports him gently and as long as he's standing nicely, she just keeps one arm underneath his hindquarters and a hand on his side. I am allowed to come in and hold his head, rub his ears, etc., and this combination does seem to keep him calm. Granted, if the vet is going to do something he knows is going to hurt (think toenail), Angus will try to climb my head to get off the table. But even then she doesn't manhandle...we just sort of catch him together and put him back.
Alright, back to the visit. Angus got his staples out and got his eye checked, and all looked good. His eye is almost 100% now. Vet says the conjunctiva is still a little swollen, so I'm going to keep using the ointment for another week. But at this point you'd never know something had happened. PHEW. So lucky.
I have also started using Vit. E on the scars, so hopefully that will help them heal. All are healing nicely, and when his hair grows back where he was shaved I think there will be very little evidence of anything.
We've stepped up NILIF again in a big way, and they are doing very well with it, but really it is Simon who needs the most work here. I've noticed in asking for sits before everything that it is Angus who is the most compliant and the fastest. Simon tends to back-talk and take his time (rolleyes).
Glad the visit went well and Angus is doing so much better. I think if they had been going to have a fight to physically hurt each other while you were gone it would have happened long ago. As you say I bet this was the "perfect storm" of getting excited situation and your dad not knowing the warning signs & how to rein the situation in so it exploded. They were also probably so much more showing off because his being there was different and you know how our labs are about being creatures of habit and anything out of the ordinary excites them.
Karon and Cinnamon
I am glad everything is going well.
Sounds like you got some good info from the behaviorist and vet - I hope their suggestions can help. I don't think that separating them while you're gone would make them go extra crazy when they are together - as you said, they kind of self separate themselves anyways. It would give me a little more peace of mind to know that they can't be having a fight while you are at work or wherever.
I'm glad you had such good visits, I think you're well on your way to making sure things go smoothly from now on.
Daisy, Hayshaker She's Utterly Unforgettable, CGC
Lola, our mellow yellow gal. Gotcha on 1-7-07
Good news! Hope everything stays peaceful .
~Veronica and Nikki~
Sweet Emma, 16th of February 1996~26th of November 2010
Always in my heart and soul. Together forever, my love....
Nikki 6 months
I think your assessment of the situation and plans for avoiding incidents in the future are spot on.
You have a remarkable grasp of the real issues going on between them. Angus sure has taught us ALL a lot, hasnt he? lol
Aidan- UCH Kelrobins Yellow Brick Road aka/ The PorkChop
So glad you had a good visit with the behaviorist I think with regards to separating them you should do whatever makes you the most comfortable. You have a great handle on their behavior, so if things seem too emotionally charged I'm sure you can quickly redirect them. Glad Angus is healing well too, and that you've got a great #2 vet as well!
Only after the last tree has been cut down, only after the last river has been poisoned, only after the last fish has been caught, only then will you find that money cannot be eaten. - Cree prophecy
Connie, it sounds like things are going well and you have had confirmation of pretty much everything you thought about the situation and its causes. But like I think I said earlier, they're going to cue off you and if you're not ready to leave them alone together unsupervised, don't. Go with what feels right to you and they'll happily take your lead on behaving accordingly.
Let's hope the Lab Peace Accords hold firm and life returns to normal in your home.
[[Slight hijack]] -- Is my vet the only one who doesn't ask for Wes on a table?? In 9+ years of going to my practice, the doc(s) have NEVER asked me to get Wesley on a table for an exam/treatment. They all go to him, on the floor.
Kelrobin Cleveland Street Denizen, CGC, RN [Parker]
"Dear George: Remember, no man is a failure who has friends. Thanks for the wings. Love, Clarence" -- IAWL Screenplay (1946)