Competition within a group of dogs is always there, it is just the level that varies and different factors can change that dynamic from one of relaxed acceptance to one of violent conflict and when two large female dogs get into conflict, the consequences can be serious.
When a dog family is settled and knows each other well and knows what is allowed and what is not, there is a degree of balance and calm and tolerance that can be harmonious to live with.
When another dog is introduced the whole dynamic and balance can be thrown off simply because the attention levels change, the new dog gets more attention than the other three and protests are triggered.
When the new addition is a puppy, the attention shift is huge, the control levels are dropped and frustration boils over.
Add to this one of the bitches being in season also, there is a hormone surge to contend with that can really affect the dogs behaviour and this was the case with these four dogs.
When bitches fight it can be serious but is surmountable and balance can be restored but it takes effort and patience
When dogs escalate their behaviour, it is normal for the owners to escalate theirs as they try to intervene and stop the elevation.
This can have the opposite effect and actually further elevate the frustration behaviour and increase the intensity of the conflict. This frustrates owners because they think they are addressing the situation in a way that will show their displeasure at their dogs behaviour and let them know they have done wrong.
Ideally, the owners would have intervened before the escalation started and this would have helped the dogs make a different and better decision.
A lack of control is often the cause of frustration, especially if the group has been well controlled before.
It is very common for a new puppy to be out of control because it is a puppy and is allowed to explore and learn about its new environment. This won't usually cause any problems but of the puppy is allowed to be a nuisance with the other dogs, especially the females and they feel the need to tell the puppy off, this can cause escalation because the female being bugged feels she has to do the telling off.
This causes elevation in the female that the other female may object to, especially if the female interacting with the puppy gets attention, either praise or being told off, it is still attention which can provoke competition.
So the dog that needs to be under control is the puppy because it is the owners job to show the puppy how to behave, not the other dogs.
Yes I know that would happen in the wild, that is an answer I often hear, and that the puppy has to learn and that is true but the dogs are not in the wild and it is the owners responsibility to show the puppy how to behave and to stop it pestering the adult females.
Once order was restored and all of the dogs could see everything was back in the control of the owners and the owners were relaxed and calm, balance was on the way to being restored and happy and relaxed dogs were again achievable. This was a very testing, challenging and rewarding time for the owners who were delighted there were answers to their problems and the results were quite quick to see. Yes, there is work to be done and consistency to be achieved and they will get to that point with my ongoing help.
I hope you found this useful, feel free to share as others may also find this useful. Thank you for reading.