Do Your Dogs Protect Each Other?
Much has been written about the dogs being “pack” animals and having protective feelings for their human pack members, but do dogs feel protective of their canine pack members? Given that Jack mostly ignores Maggie, I often wonder what would he do if we had a run in with another dog or coyotes – would he protect her?
Luckily I’ve never had to find out the answer to that question, but I do know that our dog Tino was VERY protective of his big sister Sally.
One time, we were running in the early morning at JPL in Pasadena – there was a big holding pond area around their grounds, with running paths all through it and it was a favorite morning run for us. Since it was usually deserted, we could let the dogs run off leash with minimal worries.
We were finishing up our run and headed back to the car when we round a corner and there was Sally’s nemesis, Goldie, a border collie. For whatever reason Goldie just did not like Sally and usually tried aggressively herding her whenever we saw her – which luckily was infrequently. Sally played along and since she didn’t have a mean or aggressive bone in her body was always completely subservient to Goldie.
This morning however Goldie must have gotten up on the wrong side of the bed because she went after Sally with a vengeance. Sally immediately flopped down and rolled over – completely subservient as in “I have no interest in fighting or playing” mode, but Goldie didn’t stop. She had Sally’s neck in her mouth and Sally was crying and wildly trying to wiggle away. I was behind Sally with Tino and started racing to get to them to help her. The owner, by the way, was completely oblivious. Usually, when we encountered them, I was able to grab Sally & Tino and tell the guy to put Goldie on leash before anything happened, but this morning I didn’t see him until it was too late.
All of a sudden I see Tino flash by me towards Sally. He ran full speed up to Goldie, teeth barred, barking like crazy, hair and tail up and charges right into her and knocks her off her feet to get her off Sally. He stood over Sally – between her and Goldie and was totally ready to rumble. Goldie, realizing she was totally outmatched by Tino, quickly backed off. I’ll spare you the sordid details of my exchange with Goldie’s owner and suffice to say that lucky for him, other than a very small nip on her ear, Sally was fine.
What I remember most about the incident is Tino’s charge to come and rescue his sister. This wasn’t his fight – he wasn’t involved and Goldie never went after him in the past, but he saw his sister being bullied and he wasn’t going to stand for it.
I spent some time looking for research that documented this type of sibling protection, but really couldn’t find anything to support this. Most of what I found was interdog aggression – siblings fighting amongst themselves, but not protecting each other. While I never condone any type of aggression in our dogs, I was sure proud of Tino that day for standing up for his sister.
Have you ever encountered a similar situation with your dogs? Do they protect each other?