I knew when I decided to get a puppy that doing so would add a significant level of stress to the household for a while, and that would likely create issues with Aslan. When Aslan is stressed, he redirects his stress onto Pax. I’ve worked pretty hard to minimize this problem since it began about three years ago, and at this point, both because he rarely gets to “practice” acting out and because he has matured, we rarely have an issue.
When we do, the issue is potentially serious. The last real fight we had was last February, but that one resulted in trips to the vet for both dogs. More than that, it created tension between the two dogs which lasted for several weeks. During that time, they had to be separated, and their reintroduction was phased and carefully monitored.
Since we brought TenTen home, I’ve watched Aslan carefully, particularly when Pax is around. He has been great with the pup herself, but there have been moments where he growled at Pax. Until yesterday afternoon I’d had enough time/space to redirect and jolly Aslan out of his reaction, or to remove him so he could calm down. I could, however, see that his stress level was building — which is predictable and expected. I’m surprised he was able to be “in the general population” this long!
Yesterday afternoon, I was playing with the pup on the stairs to the basement. Aslan was at the head of the stairs. I think Pax ran into the middle. Aslan growled, but Pax was RIGHT THERE in a small space. Aslan jumped him, and I reacted by standing and reaching out to separate them.
Aslan nailed me at least three times. To be honest, I don’t remember exactly how many times he bit me. I know I was darn thankful that I was wearing a heavy long-sleeve fleece. Great Pyrs have a very hard, crushing bite — he’s a livestock guardian breed used for predator control. His bite style was developed to be used against animals that were going to fight back and try to kill him.
I got hold of their collars and managed to separate them. Aslan didn’t bite me “accidentally.” Dogs know EXACTLY where their mouths are and what they’re doing with them. He was telling me to get out of his way because he was going after Pax. I was able to get them apart though, and neither redirected their aggression to me. (That’s really important. Had he redirected to me in that situation, not only would I have been injured far worse, I would be truly frightened of him and the situation. Our problem would be much, much more serious.)
Adrenaline or endorphins kept the bites from hurting much. I was actually surprised he broke the skin, but he did. He got the side of my hand at an angle, so there’s a groove, rather than a puncture. I went down to my doctor’s office and got it cleaned up. He wanted to put in a couple of stitches, but I opted for the tape stuff. I’m not worried about a scar, and I want it to be able to drain.
It bled a fair amount initially. I still had Aslan’s collar, so my white dog had blood all over him. I told Jay on the phone not to be worried by the blood on Aslan — it was mine, not his. Somehow, that didn’t reassure him.
Anyway, I’m not terribly concerned. I’d hoped to avoid an actual fighting incident, but I stopped it quickly. Now the big dogs are separated. Aslan is very stressed, and we’ll work on that. It will take some time for the household to return to normal — it’s stressful on everyone when a new one comes home — but it will happen. I just need to take steps to minimize stress and prevent incidents until then.
I suppose the worst of it, from my perspective is that I got nothing accomplished yesterday. I worked until 3, and then almost immediately got bitten and lost the rest of the afternoon dealing with it. By evening, I was mostly concerned with keeping the puppy awake, so we’d all get some sleep last night.
Guess what? It worked! TenTen and I went to bed at 8. She slept without needing to potty until Jay came up at 2:30. He took her out, and she slept until 5:30. I took her out, and then took a chance on putting her back to bed. She slept again until 7!