Do Your Dogs Protect Each Other?

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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.
sallyandtinoThis 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?


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  1. What a scary story, glad Sally was alright. Katie and I have our system, I squeal and she goes running to kill the other dog. Mom finds it a bit extreme and does not appreciate it. Bailie hasn’t needed protection yet, so we don’t really know what that system will be. I would guess that if it comes down to it we will all protect one of our pack, even when we don’t appear to be the best of buddies on a normal day.
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  2. How impressive that he protected her but didn’t actually join in the fray. Great story! I hope you had serious words with that owner. Jeez.

    Wags (and purrs) from Life with Dogs and Cats.
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  3. Cash was a Labrador puppy, the same size as my mom’s Chihuahua-mix, Lola, when he arrived at my home. He loved her from the beginning, but she was the boss and he respected that. He loves her more than my female Lab loved Lola, though Lola loved her. I have not seen Cash run to her rescue, but I am sure he would as although he is submissive to dogs, he does not take well to bullying. Perhaps it is a boy-thing? Great post!

  4. There is no doubt that Taj and Tally would totally defend one another, much like good ole Tino.

  5. Not only do our dogs protect each other, Rodrigo being the biggest protector of a lll, they protect me too. If a coyote comes on our property, they’ll chase it off, while never leaving the property OR they’ll flank and block me from the coyote. I feel completely safe with our dogs.
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  6. Oh yes, Eko is Penny’s muscle. I remember the exact moment I knew they would be good siblings. Eko was nonchalantly hanging by my side while Penny romped with another dog at the park. The other dog took Penny down and she let out a screech. Eko darted over, pushed the other pup away and made sure Penny was ok. Nice to have some back up!

  7. Such a frightening experience, but we’ve had something similar happen – twice – with similar results. Lucas can be a fairly rude dog. He just doesn’t know how to give appropriate social cues, though he loves playing off-leash with other dogs. In two instances, once with my parents’ dog and once with another dog trainer’s dog, he was being rude with eye contact, and those dogs just couldn’t “turn the other cheek,” so to speak. It erupted into a fight. In both instances, Emmett was on the other side of the field, spotted what was happening, and raced to join into the fray on Lucas’ behalf. Both times we were shocked, and it was certainly tougher to break up the fight and calm everyone down. Emmett is the most placid dog EVER, but he was there backing up his brother in a second.
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    • Good for him! I think there is more of this type of protective behavior than the literature shows…
      mkob recently posted…Do Your Dogs Protect Each Other?My Profile

  8. Our first Doodle Romp at Dewey Beach Delaware – 200+ doodles running free on the beach (so cool) loving life, the sand, and the water. There was one doodle who just shouldn’t have been leash less (know what I mean?), he preyed on a few doodles throughout the morning and by noon, he had set his sights on Harley. There were a few barks and growls exchanged, and I thought Harley’s language conveyed his wishes to be left alone. Apparently not! Said doodle came up behind Harley and startled him, Harley “yelped” and Leo dropped his “Wilson” and charged the other doodle. He pushed the doodle away in such a manner, and showed a little lip action, and we never saw that doodle again. I didn’t know whether to hug Leo or scold him, but I never got the chance to do either. Harley jumped on his back as if to say “Thanks Bro” and off they ran down to the water.

    • Way to go Leo! Kind of amazing the protective bond isn’t it…I would have high-fived him 😉
      mkob recently posted…Do Your Dogs Protect Each Other?My Profile

  9. Amazing story, it’s always so inspiring to hear of animals compassion for each other. Something I know some humans could take a cue from. I wonder if Kilo had a sibling how he would act.

  10. Phod has stepped in when other dogs have been being scolded. I think he would protect his sister.
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  11. Everybody needs a hero to rescue them at some point. I’m glad that Sally had Tino. ☺
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  12. Jimmy has a tendency to be an instigator, and when it gets him in trouble Wilson just looks the other way! There’s no way he’s joining a fight Jimmy started.
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  13. I’ve often wondered if Ace would protect me (hopefully?) or if he would protect our cats if they were ever in danger. I am doubtful about the cats.

    One of my cats will protect the other from Ace, however. I guess it’s not really “protecting” because Ace is mostly harmless. However, if Ace is chasing my cat Beamer or barking at him or whatever it might be, my other cat Scout will go up “protect” Beamer by getting between the two. Then they gang up on Ace and chase him off. Beamer doesn’t do the same thing for Scout, however.
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  14. Sage is Mr. N’s “muscle.” Another dog was bullying him and Sage came right over and charged at the other dog.

  15. Hi Y’all!

    I’m an only, but my Human said when they had their little Basenji and my Human’s Flatcoat was a youngster, a neighbor dog attacked him. The little Basenji grabbed the attacker by the throat. The dog went running home, screaming all the way. Only one little problem. The little Basenji was still hanging onto the dogs throat.

    Y’all hurry on by now!
    Hawk aka BrownDog
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  16. We’ve never really had occasion to see protection. But, our K was somewhat protective of her younger brother. When we met a dog who was at all “iffy”, she shouldered her way in between that dog and R. We interpreted it as “protection” but it’s hard to be sure.

    That’s quite a story of Tino!
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  17. One of the things I held against Bruin was that he failed to step up when Jasmine needed help on a number of occasions.

    JD and Jasmine, though, and now JD and Cookie are always there for each other. When one notices something suspicious in the bush, they always both go chase it of, side by side.

    • Team work…Jack will always check out whatever Maggie is smelling…but he’s not good on noticing critters.
      mkob recently posted…Do Your Dogs Protect Each Other?My Profile

  18. Way to go Tino, you show that meanie. Nellie will step up and get between Gambler and Glory if they are playing to rough for her liking.
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  19. Wow! What a story!
    My huskies protect each other, only sometimes though BOL!
    ღ husky hugz ღ frum our pack at Love is being owned by a husky!
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  20. Torrey has protected Roxy more than once. She watches out for and her smallness.

  21. I know for a fact that Boomer will protect me, he’s stepped in more than once to help me out when someone has made me nervous or come a little too close.

    As far as protecting Dottie I think he would, it’s hard to say. We were walking one day and a dog jumped the fence and attacked Dottie. I was trying to get to Dottie to help her but Boomer kept getting between the other dog and me, he was protecting me from the strange dog not realizing I was trying to help Dottie. Luckily my hubby was there to help out!
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  22. Callie has always been protective of Shadow, especially where our neighbors are concerned. I won’t go into details here – simply because I don’t trust them – but they are why the girls are not left in the yard unsupervised. And when the pet sitters are here, they are given specific instructions about yard time.
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  23. Thunder and Storm are bonded. They would definitely protect one another. Now with a third dog it is hard to say what would happen there. I don’t know whether they would protect Freighter or he would protect them.
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  24. Oh yes!
    Dante and Ziva will definitely protect each other.
    One time we were at a dog park – and the last time, as we will never go back.
    Ziva was minding her own business when a women decided to start handing out treats! Seriously lady?! Well Ziva sat like a nice girl, I was on my way to retrieve her from the mob of dogs all of whom wanted the treats, when a very big mastiff mix made a lunge for Ziva’s head! He came right down on top of her head!
    Dante immediately roared and made a jump into the fray. Thankfully the hubby and I got there just in time, the mastiff owner had her dog the hubby had Dante and I had Ziva.
    No one got hurt but it was definitely scary.

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