Problems They Have Living Together
By Erick Conard, August 2021
With input from Jamie Abele (Thank you, Jamie)
I received a text in April, 2021 from Jamie Abele who had a young male Mastiff/Rotweiller mix and had purchased an Anatolian puppy. Anatolian breeders should always question a potential Anatolian puppy buyer regarding other dogs on the property, especially if the Anatolian is being used as a home companion guardian interacting with the other dogs! If I knew a Mastiff or Roweiller (or a mix of the two) was currently living in the house, I would immediately express my concern that a problem most likely would occur between the two dogs, even if they were of opposite sex! I would most likely recommend they NOT PURCHASE the Anatolian, not only from me but from anyone! I would expect nothing but problems with this combination of a Mastiff (or Rotweiller or Mastiff/Rotweiller mix) and an Anatolian, neutered or not!
However, now I had Jamie's April, 2021, text asking for my help with the consequences of a Mastiff/Rotweiler and Anatolian situation. I've quoted her text below.
Mr Conard, Elon Hollow Farms Referred me to you about a crisis with my Anatolian. They tell me you know the breed better than anyone else here in the states. The issue is complicated. But I will be brief.
My two year old male Anatolian, who I adore, has decided it is his responsibility to viciously attack my English Mastiff and kill my cats, all of whom I also adore.
Euthanasia and rehoming have both been recommended [for the Anatolian]. My once peaceful house is now in chaos and my heart is broken. Can you advise? I can provide additional details at your request. Jamie Abele
I called Jamie and asked for more details regarding this situation. We spoke at great length, which helped me understand the interaction more clearly. Based on Jamie's description, it appeared to me that the Anatolian was not just attacking the Mastiff out of the blue... Anatolians are highly intelligent and their behaviors tend to be protection oriented. I wondered if Jamie had paid enough attention to the Mastiff's behaviors just before the Anatolian attacked. The key to correcting a problem is to fully comprehend the true interaction between the two dogs. I suggested that she observe them and use this information to formulate her response.
I reminded her that Anatolians who are attacking believe they are performing as their owner would wish. Therefore, it is important to see that an attack might be coming and to stop it before it becomes full-blown! If the owner is yelling at the Anatolian while it is attacking, the Anatolian will assume the owner is also upset and will increase the severity of their attack.
The owner must remain calm and in control of their own emotions and responses at all times. The owner cannot afford to become just another "barking dog" in these situations. Being observant, calm, and in control, the owner has the greatest chance of success in stopping the behavior before it truly begins!
I also gave Jamie some ideas to insure that her cats were safe from her Anatolian. You must clearly demonstrate to your Anatolian that you love your cats and that they are off-limits to the Anatolian. There are a variety of ways this can be done. It works best when you have a loving relationship with your Anatolian, who will tend to leave the cats alone because the Anatolian loves you and doesn't want you to be unhappy with them. It can take some time and you can have variable results, depending on your technique and your Anatolian's genetics. The cat plays its part also. Cats that love to strike out with a paw to the nose with claws out might not make it!
On August 16, 2021 I received the following text from Jamie.
Update and thanks for your advice. When I contacted you in April for help with my battling Anatolian and Mastiff/Rotweiler mix, you really helped me out. I am not foolish enough to believe we will never have another dog fight, but things have been so much better. You correctly analyzed the situation.... my mastiff was the instigator! I was missing almost all of his virtually imperceptible "threatening" behavior toward my Anatolian. I had no idea what a cunning bully he was being until you clued me in on it. So now I focus my attention on his signals and make corrections with him first.
I think my Anatolian recognizes this change and seems to be appreciative that I move to diffuse situations with my mastiff immediately. He has even learned to ignore some of my mastiff's behavior. My Anatolian now has periods of time, which he chooses, separated from my mastiff and more one-on-one attention from me. He has his own bedroom. We adapted our situation so that almost all issues of contention have been addressed ... food, toys, visitors and my attention. He has been neutered and is more relaxed than I have ever seen him. Our communication is improving daily. His kind and gentle nature is more evident. My mastiff has also calmed down, though he is less than willing to cooperate most of the time, hard head that he is. I always have to use very calm verbal and physical correction to keep my Anatolian from feeling like he has to assist in the correction.
But this tact has been successful. They typically spend several hours a day playing and resting together ... on the Anatolian's terms.
Thanks for giving me hope and encouraging me to hang in there and re-evaluate the dynamics of their relationship. Sincerely, Jamie Abele
PS. I know this is a 24/7 job while they live together. But now I have tools and hope ... thanks to you. :)
Owners with this situation need to always keep in mind that this situation will always be an ongong problem no matter how well the two dogs behave, even if they are excellent most of the time. The best solution is - Don't purchase an Anatolian to go with your Mastiff/Rotweiler, most especially if they are of the same sex!!! Since Jamie had already done that, I am glad that she looked deeper, found the actual instigator of the problem, and did the serious work required to keep them from killing each other! This is difficult and time consuming work and Jamie is to be congradulated for being willing to expend the time an energy to make this mis-match work!