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Jane Lefler
Jane Lefler, Animal Behaviorist
Category: Dog Training
Satisfied Customers: 20175
Experience:  Dog breeder/Trainer and Behaviorist 18+ years
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hi i have 3 dogs two cocker spaniels aged 6 and 7 who have

Customer Question

hi i have 3 dogs two cocker spaniels aged 6 and 7 who have always been together and a male beagle who is 1.5 years and recently moved in with my boyfriend. untill recently the girls have been inseperable howling for each other even if you put them in seperate rooms they sleep together and there has never been any fights or even minor scuffles between them. however over the past few months rhat has changed. the older one sky came into season both were very flirtatious with the male (who is nutered) but especially the younger girl blue my partner would seperate them by snuggling blue under a blanket next to him blue then had a season so this pattern of having blue cuddled up next to him continued fr 2-3 months over that time blue has become aggressive towards sky snarling and full on fighting sky is clearly terrified when this happens panting with wide eyes ears back. it most often kicks off when my partner gets home but almost always around his attention. the beagle will sometimes stand between them when they are posturing but we try to keep him out of the way and seperate them.
i can distract them by calling them and getting them to sit and do tricks and it normally settles down they lick each other and return to being best friends but i am concerned as they get a treat when they do this i may be rewarding the fighting. i am finding this distressing my partner has tried ignoring them when he walks in and is trying to reduce his attention to blue but we dont know if it is the right thing to do
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Dog Training
Expert:  Jane Lefler replied 3 years ago.

. Hi JaCustomer,


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.


Dogs are pack animals and usually there is an alpha male and alpha female. The alpha members of a pack are the ones that naturally have the right to mate. Normally it is the oldest female if you have more than one and the dogs were raised together. That means Sky would have been the Alpha female and blue would have been the lower ranking female. Then you added a third dog to the mix which was a male. While the male was a puppy things were still ok and the pack order was maintained.


Then the male puppy matured and you moved to a new place. When you move it is a new territory where there is no established pack order so blue was then able to possibly have the chance to be the alpha female. In addition you have a male added and the dogs would then want to be the alpha so they had the "right" to mate with the male.


In addition, your partner being male may be seen as the Alpha male of the house. When the alpha male has a clear favorite (snuggling blue), it shows that the adult alpha male acknowledges Blue as the preferred female or alpha female. This makes Blue even more likely to try to be the alpha.


Normally in situations like this, if there is no blood being drawn, we allow them to work the situation out, but there are things you can do to help with the situation. I would immediately stop the cuddling. Your partner should start showing the established alpha female, Sky, the most attention. Sky should be fed first, shown attention first, and always shown preferential treatment. This hopefully will help Blue see that she is not the alpha and help reduce the fighting.


You state it is worse when he is home and that would be true since he is the alpha male. The other thing that will help is start up obedience training with both dogs again. The following site is helpful for teaching you how to train your dog in case you need that information. Be sure and click on the link to the page on obedience at the bottom. and links on subsequent pages leading to detailed instructions.


Training works best if you train at least 30 minutes a day (two 15 minute sessions). I would start making your dog work via the Nothing in life is free program (NILF). It is outlined below.


This type of training will help reestablish you as the alpha and the one who the dogs have to be submissive to. Also it will help since you can have them sit or lay down and keep them like that when you notice the signs of stress between the two dogs. Since that can be difficult, let me give you as site that goes over body language.


You are on the right path. He has to not only stop his attention to blue but start paying attention to Sky first. Dogs should do something to earn attention. You can also leash both dogs and use the leashes to get their attention (short tug) and then give a firm "NO" when you notice the posturing and a fight brewing.


You can recreate the circumstances when they normally would start the undesired behavior. When they react acceptable, reward them with tasty high value treats such as hot dog(vienna sausages) slices or liver slivers.


I know it won't be easy but this method works for this situation. Now medical causes can also lead to sudden aggression but since it does coincide with the heat cycle, moving and the male maturing, I'm pretty sure it is dominance based.


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 .


Expert:  Jane Lefler replied 3 years ago.

Just a quick note to see if you have had a chance to try any of my suggestions yet. i hope you found my suggestions helpful.