sisters reprimand

Posted by luckypenny
Jul 14, 2008
I have two 30 lb terrier mutts that are about 2 now. We had a problem with them fighting if separated, sick, or injured when they were a year old. We left them with my parents who have two dogs as well, and we have not had the same problem since.

Recently, we were at my mother and father in-laws house and a fight broke out. Our more dominate of the two snapped at her cousin for trying to hump her. The less dominate of my dogs leapt at her sister and started a fight. We were able to stop the fight immediately and calm them within a few minutes. We then distracted/reintroduced the girls by making them do tricks for treats.

I have also noticed the less dominate dog snap at her sister if she acts out at strangers who she has already accepted.

We have put the alpha dog techniques into place and they have helped a great deal but we need a little extra help now. Any suggestions?
Posted by luckypenny
Jul 16, 2008
HELP HELP HELP! They did it again. This time the "less dominate" started a fight because the "more dominate" was throwing up some grass she had eaten! I thought this had stopped. We are trying to start a family and we CAN NOT have this happening! I am afraid we will have to get rid of one of them! HELP HELP HELP!!!

Can anyone recommend a trainer who can help with this in the Northern Virginia area? HELP
Posted by Todd
Jul 17, 2008
Hi there and thanks for the post.

This sounds like a bit of a challenging one. This is a classic interdog aggression issue. This will take a lot of time, a lot of effort and a lot of feeling mean to be corrected.

First things first if you are at all worried about your, the dogs or anyone elses safety you need a muzzle for each dog. This is a huge safety net and will make things a lot safer and easier to manage.

If a fight breaks out you need to be very careful about how you break it up. I know of a lot of people that have been mauled by dogs redirecting there aggression so please be very careful.
When a fight breaks out you need two people to properly break it up. The easiest and safest way is to grab each dog by their hind legs and pull them back. If they have their jaws locked on wait until they release a little then pull.
If the dog starts to turn at you swing there back legs around so you circle and keep away from the mouth.
After you have stopped the fight take both dogs away from each other and confine them for 10 minutes.

The other important thing is to on the look out for signs that a fight will break out. If you spot these also separate the dogs.

The work you have been doing with the alpha work is ideal. Has everyone in the house been following the same rules?
I will quickly go over some things to make sure we are on the same page

1) When they are sleeping in a hallway or doorway make sure to move them out of the way. Stepping over or around them will only lead them to think they is higher in the pack.

2) You should always walk through doorways first. Make your dogs sit and wait. You can even walk around the house with them on the lead to reinforce this.

3) They should always eat after everyone else in the household and never get food from the table.

4) When you get back from work or being out leave both dogs alone for 15 minutes. Wait until they are calm and relaxed and then go see them.

For the next few weeks both dogs need to be separated at all times. During this time you need to work very hard on their obedience. Start with short 10 min sessions twice a day on sit, stay and come.
Obedience is really important in aggressive dogs, as well as exercise. A fast 30 min walk once a day can help reduce problems greatly.

After a month of these we need to slowly reintorduce the two. Remember everything is on your terms.....not theirs! Any misbehaving no matter how minor or major from a growl, a bark, a bite or a lunge needs to be told off. They need a quick, strong reprimand with a loud GRRRRR or AHHHHHH as well as a yank on the lead, a squirt with a water pistol or throwing a blanket over them. Then take each dog away into a quiet room and they need a 10 min timeout to "reflect"

It is important with dogs that are aggressive to each other to not enforce one dog's dominance, but rather make it clear that they will both be rewarded for displaying socially acceptable behavior.

After a month the following controlled exercises may help:

1. Firstly muzzle the more dominant of the two, then put both dogs in a sit near you. Pet one, and then feed that one. Then, feed the other one for tolerating your interactions with the first one. At first, this is best done with a second handler, but after the dogs become better at self-restraint, you can do this alone.

2. Sit on the sofa and call the dogs over. Ask one dog to sit or lie down. Make a fuss over Dog 2. Reward the sitting/downed Dog 1 for tolerance and remaining in place. Then reverse this: put Dog 2 in a sit or down position and make a big fuss over Dog 1. Reward Dog 2 for tolerance and staying. Again, you can do this by yourself if you have confidence that a brawl won't break out. Otherwise use a second handler to keep an eye on the sitting/downed dog. This exercise is best practiced on leash.

3. Remember that if you take one dog for a walk, leave the other one behind and kennel the walked dog on return. When things are calm for 5 – 15 minutes, get both dogs out and put them in sit and down together for a treat (never facing each other). Then allow them to interact, if you think that it is safe to do so at this point in training. Follow this advice when you work the dogs as well. Kennel one dog, and work the other dog. Then trade, kenneling one and getting the other out to work. After a 5 – 15 minute rest period, get the dogs out and carefully work them together. You may need two handlers for this also.

When it comes to meal time you should encourage the two dogs to eat at the same time near each other. Do not put their food bowls down until they are both sitting, listening and behaving. Be prepared for them to show some aggression, if one dog moves towards the others food or growls, reprimand them. The methods above are great for reprimanding the dogs. You really want to reinforce that food aggression is not acceptable. If at any stage one of the dogs misbehaves take its food away and put it into a quiet room. Wait ten minutes and then try again with that dog.

Over the next few weeks you can slowly move the dogs food bowls together. Do this slowly and always watch them. If they misbehave go back to the step where they tolerated each other. You should over time get them to the point where they can eat side by side.

Feeding the dogs side by side from your hand is a great way to reinforce their friendship but be very careful and only do this when you fully trust them. It will take you weeks to get to this stage.

Make sure both dogs get heaps of toys when they are learning to behave. Make sure you teach them to play together and again reinforce good behaviour. Once they will play together then you can try and leave them with the toys, but always keep an eye on them.
Posted by Todd
Jul 17, 2008
All the while you need to praise any good behaviour as well as reprimand any aggression.

You may want to talk to your vet about getting some medication for the two for a while. Some mild sedation for a few weeks may take the edge off the aggression and allow the training to kick in.
There are some natural products like DAP and Sedapet that can also do the same sort of thing but in a milder form.

You need to be very gradual with things. The whole time they cannot be left together without you watching them (preferrably with leads on) until you can totally trust them.

Please email me how things are going and ask for help whenever you need it
You are very committed which is the most important thing you need. Good luck