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Izabella's Mom

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Izabella and Shonah occassionally have serious fights. Well, I had to break it up and I got bit fully and hard on the back of my hand. It hurt badly and drew blood :( This was not even incidental... I went to reach for Izabella as she was zooming in with her teeth bared. She could have avoided biting me. I put her in her crate and corered it up with a towel. The crate is not a punishment of course, but the towel was a measure of isolation. It was the best idea I could come up with. I need a plan for next time. The problem is... when they go at it (this has happened about 10 times already) nothing I do breaks it up until I phusically pull them apart. Really in a short time, a minute, they act as if nothing happened.

Any suggestions would be appreciated.

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I can really sympathize with what you're going through but do I have any answers....no!

Is there something that instigates these fights? If it's food, treats or toys then you might be able to keep them separated but if it's just random, spur of the moment fights then I would seriously think of getting some help.

This is only my $.02 but I would start with a thorough medical examination of both your Cairns including bloodwork. There are some medical conditions that can trigger aggression.

If all tests are normal than I would think about looking into a trainer who specializes in that type of behavior problems.

I have a scar on my arm from the sweetest little Cairn who loved people, kids and all of God's creatures except other dogs! You would not want to chance an aggressive act that might cause an innocent family member or child an injury.

Please keep us updated...

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angel and scotty used to get in fights but they don't any more. I would grab one and my husband grab the other and we picked them up about the middle of their back (to keep their teeth away from my skin). They also wore harness so I could pull away that way. i would put them in separate room to cool down. and then we would put them in the same (as were watching very carefully) and usually there fine. usually it was over Scotty stealing angels toys and bones.


Dogs' lives are too short. Their only fault, really." - Carlotta Monterey O'Neill

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I had that a few times with Dori and Ellie, I also got bit on a finger nail, which i lost....I grabbed them both by the scruff and let them know it was unexceptable. I think I either tied them seperately or crated them for a while. they havent done it in a long time. Just putting her in her crate wont do it. She needs to know you are pissed basically and not putting up with that behavior. Give her a good growl of your own.

Terry, mom of Dori and Ellie Mae


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agree with everything said. my dog has bitten me more than once and it hurts like the dickens --at least once he broke the skin, after which he was truly very contrite. but when a cairn frenzies it will bite anything it has a chance to bite.

my cairn would attack my old shih-tzu. it happened because my cairn was growing up and he thought he should be the alpha dog (there were other complications including the fact that my shih-tzu was blind and mostly deaf and couldn't respond to challenges and warnings from the cairn). it took a lot of work on my part to get the idea out of his head, but in the meantime there was mayhem on almost a daily basis. i grabbed him by the scruff of the neck (sounds like the place nicole is describing) and locked him in a bathroom. when i was tired of being bitten i would have him wear a short leash so that i could jerk him around to where he needed to go.

ditto on the human noisemaking. when my dog had been confined i let him know very loudly what a jerk i thought he was. when i need to intimidate him i definitely growl at him like a mother dog, and it never fails to get him to do what i say --so long as he is in his right mind. a frenzying dog won't respond to commands, but once you have got her under control, vent at her as much as you can, even if you are yelling through a locked door. you will definitely make an impression.

it sounds like izabella and shonah are having a status contest, possibly due to a change in circumstances --one dog might be feeling more worthy than the other, one might be showing signs of age or weakness, one might be showing fear or hesitation when threatened by the other. the only way i know to break this up is to impress upon each dog that there is no point trying for alpha because the position is already occupied --by you. make them each tow the line at meals, at play, and when deciding who will sleep where at night (they might be fighting over who is closest to you, for instance). if they show indirect aggression with food or toys, insist they stop it. the phase will pass, i believe.

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my girls have done this on occasion too. I've been bitten once and a tooth went thru my thumbnail. Boy did it hurt.

I've learned to look for signs and stop the aggression before it gets to a fight. For procaution, I always feed the girls seperate in their own crates. I have a "no rawhide" rule in the house because it always causes a fight.

The few fights they've gotten into were hard to break up. I finally had to throw a towel over them and grab Tabitha.

Poor Tabby would try to run away from Teona and she just kept going after her.

In my house they seem to trade alpha roles on a regular basis. Just when I think Teona is alpha I see her showing signs of submission. For instance if Teona's "bouncy ball" gets too close to Tabby she won't go near her to get it. She just whines until I go get her ball for her.

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I don't have any advice besides the above. I would remove all treats, toys, and especially rawhides that might be causing these fights. I'm curious to know if everyone who said their dogs fight are two females. I've been told that a female dog is the alpha dog and when you put two females together, you have a much higher chance of aggression/fighting since they are both trying to show alpha dog status.

Has anyone had two male Cairns fight like this? Or even a male/female?

I hope your hand gets better! I agree with above, get some professional training help if this continues.

Jack's Mom
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My Scottie and my Cairn are both females, and yes, they occasionally fight. The first time they did was about the time that Ellie decided she was big enough not to have to submit to Black Lady anymore. Unfortunately I got caught in between them and got bitten through my blue-jeans. No blood, but the bruise was horrendous and lasted for months! That was Black Lady, the Scottie. Since then I've learned to move faster if they get into it, although Black Lady, at 13, isn't all that aggressive anymore. Guess which one is Alpha?


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  • 3 weeks later...

Jock hates other dogs and once I was taking him on a walk and another dog went for him and what did brave Jock do? Went right back at him. Unfortunately I yanked on Jock's leash to stop him biting the dog and instead of biting the air (as I planned him to by yanking him away) he latched onto my leg. Christ it hurt! Here's a picture (not for the squeamish!)


I now have a scar that sometimes gets maddeningly itchy. The doctor offered to remove it however I elected to keep it as it will serve as a reminder of Jock when I am way older.

- Chris

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