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Jane Lefler
Jane Lefler, Animal Behaviorist
Category: Dog Training
Satisfied Customers: 20180
Experience:  Dog breeder/Trainer and Behaviorist 18+ years
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Hi, I have a problem with my two dogs fighting. Gina, My 7

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Hi, I have a problem with my two dogs fighting. Gina, My 7 year old is our first dog we had her for last 5 years, she is rescue Patterdale mix possibly wiper cross staff terrier, I got other dog Poppy, rescued too from a friend last year she is 4 and half and Yorkshire terrier cross, she is also nervous dog and bark when strangers approach the house ...
They were fine to start with got on and slept together but this summer, Gina started to bite Poppy and is very dominated over Poppy, in the process of separating the dogs my mum got bitten on one occasion and I was bitten on last monday, all done by Gina ...
This morning as I came in and went into the kitchen and did not give them attention much went to wash my hands gina started to bite Poppy again i made a diversion this time and grab hold of Gina and taken her out, Poppy is staying with me ... This is all stressful for all of us as it is now happening almost on the daily basses.
Please I will do anything necessary to get them to stop . thank you
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.
In order to supply you with the best information, I do need to ask for some additional information. Once I receive your answer, it will likely take me about 30-45 minutes to type up your response. I hope you can be patient.
Do you allow dogs on the furniture?
Has Gina had any obedience training?
Can you explain everything going on when Gina starts to bite Poppy?
Is she drawing blood on Poppy?
has gina had a thyroid panel done?
Has poppy had any obedience training?
Is what you mentioned the only thing you have tried?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

My dogs are aloud on furniture but not upstairs, they have they own sofa where they are whilst we have a meal and they sleep there.

Gina did not have obedience training, they never suggested anything like that for rescue place we got her . she was not house trained ether.

On this last few occasions that we had bitting happening is when I come in the house, considering my self as pack leader.

She did drew blood on Poppy, yes.

Not to my knowledge, not checked Thyroid on Gina.

Poppy did not have any obedience training , they both been trained by me with treats. something I picked up from watching programs on dogs.

I am in the process of going to buy a cage for Gina and muzzle for her, on my way now to the Pats at home

Thank you so much.


Thanks for the additional information. It is helpful. Learning training from TV shows can lead to issues depending on who you are watching. A popular trainer in the US uses some questionable methods in his training such as kicking (he calls it tapping) the dog in the unprotected part of the abdomen and physically forcing a dog to the ground. These can cause a dog to actually increase their aggressive behavior. Those training methods can teach a dog that physical reprimands are ok and their only form of physical reprimand is biting.
Some trainers only believe in positive based training but I believe that their does need to be reprimands for unwanted behavior though it should be a verbal reprimand after you get the dogs attention. I use a small tug on the leash to break the dog's attention and then the firm low toned "NO" as the reprimand.
Now by obedience training, I do not necessarily mean formal group classes but dogs need obedience training or they start to get the idea that they rule the house and make the decisions and are in charge of reprimands when it should be you that rules the house.
So let me give you a link. 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.
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.
The first thing that should be done is to rule out a medical cause for the sudden aggression. Thyroid conditions can cause sudden aggression. You can read about these here:
If there is no medical cause for the aggression, then it is strictly behavioral. Dogs are aggressive toward other dogs for a variety of reasons. It might be that they are fearful of other dogs and thus are aggressive before the other dog can be. In other cases, a dog is aggressive in order to dominate the other dogs and be the alpha member of the pack. Other causes could be that the dog feels they are the alpha member of the pack and as the alpha member they must protect the pack (you) from threats (other dogs). In this case I do feel it is likely a dominance issue.
A Basket muzzle is a good idea to help prevent serious injury to the smaller dog. If either dog is not spayed, have that done as soon as possible.
Many dominant dogs are described as well behaved until you try to get them to do something they do not want to do, and then they reprimand you either with a growl or bite if you don't heed the growl. Things like taking away something they want, making them move when they don't want to, waking them up, etc can cause them to reprimand (bite) you. Only you know if this has happened with either of the dogs.
Dogs that are allowed on furniture (even if put on the furniture) tend to feel that since they are elevated to your level or higher if on your lap, they mentally feel elevated as well in the pack order and thus are the boss. Even if they have their own couch, they are still on your level and even have a place that YOU don't sit on that is theirs. Keeping them on the floor can help lower them mentally back to a submissive position in the pack. So the first thing is to not allow him higher that the humans or even on the same level. If the dogs do not want to stop getting up on the couch, attach a leash and use it to remove them from the furniture. Give a correction in the form of a quick tug and firm "NO" when they attempt to get on and a treat when they start not trying to get on the furniture. Thus you are providing negative reprimand for the getting on the furniture and positive reinforcement for the desired behavior (not attempting to get on the furniture).
You will need to have the obedience training and NILF as I mentioned earlier. Obedience training serves various purposes. It helps a dog learn what humans expect of them when they state a command which leads to self confidence and less fear. Each time a dog obeys a command, even if it is for a treat, it makes them a little more submissive to that human in the future which helps with dominance aggression. And since it is the leader or boss who is responsible for protecting the pack, if the dog is made submissive with training, you are responsible for protecting him, so that can reduce aggression due to fear and dominance.
You will also want to keep a leash on her at all times initially to grab if she should disobey. I think you will be pleasantly surprised at how well your dog does with training. 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.
Now you also need to treat the alpha dog as the alpha. Many owners try and split their attention evenly between dogs and will alternate who gets what first, etc but that confuses dogs. The alpha dog should get attention first, fed first and get treats first and even let out first. The lower ranking dog should not be allowed to worm their way through to get your attention first. That behavior from a small dog will be seen as disrespectful and earn a reprimand from the alpha dog. Usually reprimands are growls or stern stares, but if that is ignored, it escalates to nips, etc.
Additional training can also help. Both dogs should be leashed and if one dog even looks at the other dog, a correction should be done. Any sign of aggression including a prolonged look, hair raised on the shoulders, a growl or even a stiff legged walk, should be corrected. Once you have done this couple of times, you should notice the dogs ignoring each other. When that happens, you will want to reward them for the desired behavior. Again, use tasty treats like the hot dog slices. This teaches the dogs that you WILL not tolerate fighting in YOUR pack.
In addition, if the situation is not improving using the techniques on the previous website, 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.
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 .
Jane Lefler and other Dog Training Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Thank you so much for all your advice .... just got they cages and beds sorted and muzzle for Gina, I will work with them and get Gina tested for thyroid function...


You are very welcome.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.
Hi, just letting you know that aggression in Gina has stopped, it is so much better now. When I walk them I am in control and they are staying with me , Gina is on the lees hall the time . I am still considering behaviour training by a dog trainer ... Got one that is near by and recommended ....
Thank you so much for your advice made my and my dogs life so much better now .
I'm so happy everything is going well for you. Thanks for the great update.
If you have questions in the future that you wish me to answer, you may go here and bookmark the page or make it a favorite. It is best to put my name "JANE" in the question as well. Please recommend me to your friends and family members if they have any problems with their dog as well. I would truly appreciate it.