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Jane Lefler
Jane Lefler, Animal Behaviorist
Category: Dog Training
Satisfied Customers: 19831
Experience:  Dog breeder/Trainer and Behaviorist 18+ years
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I have a problem in how 2 of my dogs are behaving towards

Resolved Question:

I have a problem in how 2 of my dogs are behaving towards each other Not sure if a vet can help or if I need another avenue

I have 3 dogs

1 male 2 females

I have a 17 year old westie female

and a 1 year old Shitsu female

The male is jackchi but not a problem

It is between the females

My Westie has far passed her life expectancy but is still in pretty good health

She cannot see very well and is very deaf

I got the Shitsu last year thinking it would be good to introduce a new dog as we knew the Westie would not be with us for much longer

The Westie tried to teach the new pup but the new female from small showed she was dominant

We had some issues a few months ago when the new female would block the older female when she tried to go out or go up and down the stairs

We went on holiday overDecember and they were all kenneled together

When we came back the owner said they were are great

However we have a huge problem and with very little sleep and work it has been a bad 3 days

The older female has been very stressed since she has come home

She pants and walks around a lot at night more than the day

She used to sleep a lot now she walks around a lot

The younger female keeps blocking her and has now on on many occasions actual bit the older female

I had to separate them and pry open the smaller dogs jaws to let go of the older females tail

I have tried to separate them but the older female cries when no one is in the same room and as soon as I try and put them back together it all starts again

The younger dog cannot wait for the older one to wake up so she can block her

It is the biting that is a worry as my dogs have never been attacked and now at this late stage of her life she is being bit in her own house

I separated them last night and slept on the floor downstairs with my old dog

It has been 3 horrible days

I love them both and this is breaking my heart

Please help

Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Dog Training
Expert:  Jane Lefler replied 2 years ago.
JaCustomer,
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My name is Jane. I have been working professionally with animals especially dogs in both health and behavioral issues for over 18 years. I have over 14,000 satisfied customers. It will be my pleasure to work with you today.
What you are experiencing happens quite often. I do not think this is a medical issue on the part of the young dog but I have to mention that sudden aggression can be the cause. You can read about this here.
http://www.petplace.com/dogs/medical-causes-of-aggression-in-dogs/page1.aspx
http://www.apdt.com/veterinary/assets/pdf/Dodman_MA10.pdf
When a dog is a puppy (under a year of age or so) any older dog in the house is the alpha dog. A male is usually alpha over females and females have one female alpha in addition to an alpha male. Often the male will not interfere with female infighting. While the younger dog was maturing, the older dog established her rank over the other female with minimal or no fighting involved. Though from your description, the pup never really was submissive to the older girl.
Now that the younger dog is matured, she feels she has to put the older dog in its place and establish herself as the alpha dog especially since the older dog is quite elderly. An older dog will usually not just submit without some sort of altercation and this can be an ongoing issue. It may also be that the younger dog senses some weakness (illness perhaps) in the older dog which is triggering the fights. Your older dog does seem to have given up the alpha spot though the younger dog still feels like she has to exhert her control over the older dog . While your dogs were away from home, they were not on their own and thus you wouldn't have seen the same behavior. Once back home, the older dog would seek to reestablish her normal behavior at home. However, her normal behavior would likely included doing things that are the right of the alpha female like getting attention from you first, going through doors first or eating first.
You might even be encouraging her to do these things since she has been your dog the longest. When you do that, it confuses the dog since they see you treating her like the alpha when she isn't. The younger dog won't reprimand you, but will take it out on her for accepting the special treatment.
The newest dog need obedience training. She needs to listen to you when you give her a command. Once trained you can command her to sit and stay or lay down and stay allowing the older female to move around or relax without worrying about being attacked or blocked. It doesn't have to be a formal class, but needs to be consitent daily training. Two 15 minute sessions a day is a good number to work toward. The following site is helpful for teaching you how to train your dog. Be sure and click on the link to the page on obedience at the bottom. and links on subsequent pages leading to detailed instructions.
http://www.schutzhund-training.com/training_theory.html
I would start making your dogs work via the Nothing in life is free program (NILF). It is outlined below.
http://www.pets.ca/articles/article-dog_nilf.htm
http://www.cairnrescue.com/docs/nilif.pdf
With obedience training, you will also need to start treating the younger dog as teh alpha. I know it will be hard. If you want to show your older girl a lot of attention, put the younger dog away in another room while giving your older girl some one on one attention.
You will also want to keep a leash on the females at all times initially to grab if they should disobey. Dogs like knowing what is expected of them and they love the little paper thin slices of hotdogs that I use for treats while training. Give this a try and see how it works for you.
In addition, if the situation is not improving using the techniques I describe, you may have to consult a professional behaviorist. You can usually find a behaviorist by asking your Vet for a recommendation or you may be able to find one using the following site.
http://www.apdt.co.uk/dog-owners/local-dog-trainers
Living in a household with multiple females can be an issue. You may eventually need to keep the two separate to avoid these problems. You can read about this issue here:
http://www.canismajor.com/dog/feisty.html
I hope this information is helpful to you and you are satisfied with my response. If you would like any additional information or have more questions please don’t hesitate to press the reply to expert or continue conversation button so I can address any issues you still have .
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