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Jane Lefler
Jane Lefler, Animal Behaviorist
Category: Dog Training
Satisfied Customers: 20226
Experience:  Dog breeder/Trainer and Behaviorist 18+ years
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We have 3 dogs. 1 is a 12 year old westie, and does not seem

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We have 3 dogs. 1 is a 12 year old westie, and does not seem part of this problem. They are all spayed bitches. Martha is a border terrier type, and pretty laid back. Jessy is a long legged ***** *****, who is a nervous, hyper, excitable and energetic dog. She is very affectionate, and loving to people,as is Martha. Martha and Jessy are very close, and they have only had a couple of fights in the 4 or 5 years they have lived together - with no injuries. Jessy tries to dominate Martha by standing over her and keeping her in one place sometimes, and this has got worse this week,leading to a couple of rolling around, terrifyingly loud fights, as Martha has had enough. Once again, no injuries, but is that only because I pulled them apart. They both lick their lips for a while after. Is this adrenalin, or something. I'm getting anxious about leaving them together, and the adaptil drops and plug in I bought don't seem to be doing anything to relax Jessy.Is it a sexual thing, do you think?L

Hi JaCustomer,

I'm Jane and I've been working professionally in the dog health and behavioral fields for over 19 years now. I'll be more than happy to help you with this matter. I do need to ask you a few questions and it will likely take 30 to 45 minutes to type my reply to you after I'm notified of your response.

How old is Jessy?

How old is Martha?

Is Martha larger than Jessy?

Does either have any known health issues?

Can you describe what is going on before the fight breaks out and how you handle the fight and aftermath?

You have tried a dap diffuser it sounds like. Have you tried anything else?

Has any blood been drawn?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Martha is 6, jessy is 5.
They are about the same height, but Martha is a heavier build. Jessy is quite lean.
Both seem to be healthy, and are up to date with vet checks.etc. We did have extra checks on Martha a while ago, as she seemed to wee a lot, but blood tests were ok. She would wee in the house if we didn't notice that she needed to go out, and it wasn't a dribble, it was a full on wee. We wondered if that was behavioural, but it seems resolved now, although I do make sure she goes out more often.
Sometimes it seems like a bit of play fighting which suddenly changes. Often it starts with Jessy shadowing Martha closely, blocking Martha as she tries to turn away. Jessy's tail is wagging, and she seems excited holding her head high over Martha. I've noticed that she tries to get at Martha's mouth, and that's when it starts. I don't know if Jessy nips at her mouth or if Martha just gets cross. Other times they run around playing, and you can tell it's different
I yell and grab jessy to pull her away as she is the lightest. They sometimes hold on for a minute. Then Jessy is put in her room for a while. They do that licking their lips thing for a while after.
No blood, and I haven't seen any marks. Its mostly mouth to mouth, but its frightening as its so fast and furious
I bought a new diffuser yesterday, also some spot on drops for jessy's neck. We used to have a diffuser, but I can't say if it worked - it ran out some time ago.

Thanks for the additional information. It is helpful. The first thing to investigate would be medical issues. There are medical issues that make a dog become suddenly aggressive. One is pain. Perhaps Martha has some bad teeth and when Jessy bites at her mouth, it causes pain and she reacts. Another could be mouth ulcers or gum disease. It is worth checking at her age. The other condition that might be an issue is hypothyroidism. It can cause sudden aggression and often a dog will have other changes like hair that seems to break off easily, lethargy and possible weight gain. Special test have to be run to rule a thyroid issue out.

Either dog might have that issue so it is possible that both would need to be tested. If they haven't had obedience training, you will want to do that so you can command them to come or sit or perform some other task when you notice that they are getting too tense around each other. You also need to learn how to interpret dog body language so know how close one or the other of them are fed up or aggressive. Read more on that here:

Training doesn't have to be in classes. It just has to be structured. The following site is helpful in helping owners train their 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 aim isn't to teach the command but to ensure the dog knows the command and obeys immediately even if they don't want to. The daily practice of the same commands over and over help achieve this. Use hot dog slivers as treats since they work really well.

If the fights continue or get worse,you will need to do additional training. Both dogs would 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. A correction is a quick tug of the leash and a firm low toned "NO". 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.

Since you seem to know the triggers, try and stop that behavior before the fight starts. With the training to allow you more control and the behavior modification, you should see improvement pretty quickly.

Try not to pick up the little one, instead use the leash. When you pick her up, she is getting attention from you, this might actual cause her to act up more. If there is an alpha which sounds like it is Jessy if she is the pushy one, you need to treat her special. Feed her first, give her treats first and give her attention first. If you give the lower ranking dog attention first that can actually trigger the more dominant dog to reprimand the other dog.

Since they have not drawn blood it is likely a situation that can be calmed down pretty quick. I wouldn't waste any more money on diffusers as they are useless for aggression. They are effective for anxieties like noise phobias, car avoidance, and separation anxiety.

I hope this information is helpful to you. 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 . If you do find this helpful, please take this opportunity to rate my answer positively so I am compensated for my time.

Jane Lefler and other Dog Training Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Thank you, ***** ***** those tips are very useful.I'm pretty sure it's not a medical problem, we just need Jessy to respect us more, and as she is the top dog, we shouldn't try to compensate Martha for being in second place, as I can see Jessy definitely does reprimand her in little ways.