Everybody is at Risk; Dogs should Sleep on Floor

Question:
I have 2 male Chihuahuas, father and son. They have always slept with us. The older one growls when the younger one is near him and starts prancing around on the bed so the younger one prances behind him eventually growling back and then they fight and my husband and I have to break it up. This has affected our sleep and they are causing each other stress, pain, and injuries.

Dr. Nichol:
Are we having fun yet? This nightly fiasco is putting all creatures great and small at risk. Agitated dogs become highly focused on inflicting wounds. Keep your hands out of this fracas to avoid redirected aggression. Anything that obstructs access to either dog’s target may get bitten.

While some dogs respect the privilege, sharing the owners’ bed is a disaster waiting to happen. The leaders’ den is a high value location. When a dog is allowed into that inner sanctum he may believe that it’s his to guard. Big daddy and his pip squeak son are jockeying for position on a playing field where neither of them belongs.

Banishing these two hooligans seems unthinkable, I’m sure. There’s nothing like togetherness. But with nightly repetition these combatants now associate your bed with pain, fear, and defensive aggression. Attempting to train them to get along in this context would be futile. Failure to derail this nightly train wreck would invite their animosity to generalize to every location in your home.

Father and son need to sleep on the floor, tethered to the bed posts so they don’t jump back up. An Adaptil pheromone diffuser would promote a calmer emotional state. You folks need to sleep well too and enjoy each other’s’ company. That’s a tall order when your first priority is playing referee for a couple of brawling ankle biters.

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Do your cats fight and bite? Do they believe your home is their bathroom? Are they de-upholstering your furniture? I’ll address any behaviors that damage your feline relationships in my seminar at the Animal Humane Adoption Center, 9132 Montgomery Blvd. NE on Monday February 9 from 6-9 PM. Cost: $40. Call 792-5131 to register or go to facebook.com/drjeffnichol. Bring plenty of questions. I’ll give individual help.