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Thread: Bitch turned aggressive to dog, what can we do?

  1. #1

    Default Bitch turned aggressive to dog, what can we do?

    First off, Very sorry for the text organization, typed up in word and it did not come across the same.

    New to this forum, as I am looking for advice.

    I am a 29 year old male who lives in my own house with my wife who is 27, and new born baby. I have a 5 year old intact male purebred English staffy(Caesar)(Papers, from registered breeder), and a 17 month old spayed female purebred English staffy(Gypsy)(no papers, not registered breeder). Dogs have been together since the female was 8 weeks old slept together, ate together etc.

    Just recently our bitch has become very aggressive towards our male, they will be just walking around like normal and all of a sudden, stiff postures, straight tail, hair bristled (bitch only) and then the bitch initiates and a substantial fight occurs. It always appears initiated by the bitch to us, she is the one death staring, pushing around and bullying the male.

    I am not talking a tussle, I am talking a fight that can only be stopped by physically pulling the dogs apart. There is blood, fairly deep wounds, skin tears, these dogs would not stop until one of them died if left alone. All injuries have been vet checked and dogs looked after accordingly just fyi.

    We are in regional NSW, no cities or anything nearby so “behaviourist” or anything like that is located nowhere near us. We have had a local staffy breeder, who also trains to come over and have a look at their behaviour, now she is not “trained” or “Professional” nor does she do it for a living, but it was the best we could do in our location.
    Her thoughts are that as Gypsy is starting to come into maturity and as she is now actually taller than Caesar(he was the runt) she is challenging him, and would like to be “top dog”. And her standing over him has become like this due to her new size (growth spurt). Now this makes a lot of sense to us, Gypsy appeared as if she grew overnight, and that her being submissive even during play has completely stopped.

    Our initial thoughts were the recent arrival of our new baby, which was around the same time (not exactly). Though the size thing really makes sense and fits.
    Either way, regardless of the cause, we have two dogs that we cannot have together. We have given many chances and just can’t give anymore; it puts the dogs in too much danger (and us).
    These dogs are like our children, fed raw diets, allowed inside, always loved. Washed every weekend, no expense spared. My wife and I are very upset by this and do not know what to do, we cannot come to grips with rehoming Gypsy, she is a beautiful dog, well behaved, no aggression at all other than that mentioned, and Caesar is the same.

    We also feel that as hard as it is, we may have to rehome her so her and Caesar can live a happier life without all the tension. We just don’t know what to do, as even with professional obedience training etc. we have found(and been told) you can never be sure if they will be ok.

    We have Gypsy placed in a meshed off area under our house, which is still part of our backyard(dog in kennel can see the whole yard). The dog roaming the yard can approach access the outside of the kennel.
    This kennel is 3.2m long 2m wide and 1m high, has water well shaded etc. I have been swapping which dog is in the kennel over, so Gypsy gets to run around the yard aswell.

    Now my question is, what should we do?

    I have been researching a lot about this, and have found something called “crate and rotate”.
    Basically keep one dog in the kennel, make the kennel a happy place, (pool, toys etc). Rotate which dog is in there daily. The kennel is not punishment. A lot of people with pitbulls seem to do this from what I have read. Now, we have never tied up these dogs, never caged them unless only for a couple of hours if we have visitors with kids(they just knock them over by accident not biting).

    Would keeping both of these dogs and keeping them separated be worse for the dogs than rehoming one?

    Both dogs are incredibly loving, follow us everywhere, and crave attention.
    I have suggested this to my wife and she insisted we seek to find out if this is a bad thing to do, or if this is actually ok. The dogs cannot be in the same area at all now, and if living together will have to be ALWAYS separated.

    Is this cruel and selfish? Or is this better than sending one of these dogs off to a new home of strangers?

    Will the rehomed dog be sad and looking for us?

    We honestly don’t know what to do and are facing a very trying time right now, we love both of these dogs dearly.
    Thank You for spending the time to read this if you made it this far, any help/advice is much appreciated.
    If any further questions please ask, I may not have got our story across as I wanted it to be.

    Thank You

  2. #2
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    Hi Phorkz

    Just curious but do the papers from your registered dog say "English Staffy" or "ANKC registered Staffordshire Bull Terrier".

    If they have the words "English" on them - I'd suspect the breeder of a kind of Fraud.

    But that doesn't have much to do with your problem.

    Training your dogs to be happy in a dog run would be good for everybody and dogs' safety. Even if it's only until you find a new home.

    I'm not sure (based on internet distance) if your dogs have any hope of getting along nicely. I'm also not sure how responsible it is to rehome a dog aggressive dog. You'd have to be really honest about that and make sure that any home you choose is well fenced and does not have any other dogs. And if you use gum tree - I'd put some price on her to deter people who want dogs for fighting or profit. And I'd check the home out myself. But I'd probably try to rehome the good dog and deal with the "bad dog" myself.

    Some people travel to see a behaviourist. That might be an option. You could also video what's going on and post that so a behaviourist / dog trainer could make some suggestions on the net...

    I think I'd keep the dogs separated always - the dog run rotation thing looks like a good idea. If I wanted to attempt retraining - I'd keep the female on lead and as soon as she got the first signs of discomfort and upset and way before she tried to lunge / latch on - I'd be removing her from the room at speed. Without yelling or scolding - just really purposefully out the door and into a crate where she can't do any harm (if she's crate trained).

    I don't know if it's a phase she's just going through but the more often she gets to repeat the behaviour the harder it will be to stop in the long run. And if you scold or hit her or "alpha roll" her for doing it - she may blame the other dog for the punishment and unpleasant experience and get worse.

    If she can get rewarded for calm behaviour (on lead) around the other dog - that might help. But be really careful not to reward calm behaviour that comes immediately after upset behaviour, because this may result in a dog that will act upset then calm (back chaining) to get the reward. My dog was really fast to learn this. And it's hard to counter train.

    If there is no possibility of retraining the bitch - it might be kinder and safer to get her put to sleep.

    Note - I'm no expert either.

  3. #3
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    Here's the thing - is the bitch actually initiating it or is the dog staring her down and she's reacting back? Its sometimes not what it seems. The arrival of the baby can also be a catalyst, as can her maturity.

    You can separate them not a problem as long as you are careful. In fact you can find it makes life easier as they never have to be in the same space and the dogs settle to a degree. My rottweiler and Dogue stopped getting along when the rottie was almost 18 months old and were separated from then on. We had barriers in the house and did one inside/one outside when we were not home. They settled a lot when we separated and were a lot happier.

    Saying that you still need to look into what is going on. I would contact Pet Resorts Australia at a start and see if they can help you with someone that either travels or is close to you that you can visit with the dogs. Pet Resorts Australia
    http://i24.photobucket.com/albums/c11/Mali_nut/K9LOGO.jpg

  4. #4

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    Thanks for reading.

    I will reply to both posts in the one here.

    Hyacnith:

    I am not sure what is written on the papers would have to check, what i have written is not something i read on paper its just how i thought to get the exact dog i have across to you guys.
    I have rang a behaviorist and have not got a return message, i will follow that up more than likely.
    If i was to re home her i would most definitely let them know the situation, and ensure they had a good yard and no dogs just incase. Have had a few close friends that are more than willing to take here and look after her but they already have dogs so i have turned them down for now.
    I am not sure if we will go the retraining route just yet as the tension of having them out together will still be fairly high i would imagine, and we will probably use muzzel and lead if we do so.

    Nekhbet:

    To be honest i am not exactly sure, it always seem that the bitch starts it, but before hand both dogs are stiff and staring. What makes us think that it is her is:

    -She is always trying to lean over him.
    -She has this thing with toys, the pool, us, that it is like a little kid, you know another kid grabs it, "thats mine" sort of thing, staring him down at the pool or near toys. He will then not get into the pool and stay away from it, when he is alone he is always in it. Also with the top of the stairs where they lay, he is always there when he is alone, when she is out(back when they were both out at the same time), she would be at the top, him downstairs. Normally they would both be up top together untill this started, or maybe a week before the fighting started.

    general:
    The current situation of swapping which dog is in the cage is fine at least for now, so we are not in a hurry to re home her to just anyone.
    Dogs are talking to each other through the fence just fine, and i am treating them for both sitting either side of the fence with me there with no incident.
    Though a weird thing happened yesterday, i put the females food probably 10 metres from the cage, she walks over to the bowl, then start running towards the cage bristled and growling, i called her back and she stopped, it was strange. The male locked up didn't growl or do anything when i put her food down, so not sure why she did it.
    Last edited by Phorkz; 10-28-2014 at 09:23 AM.

  5. #5
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    Hi Phorkz

    That "what's mine is mine and what's yours is mine too" is called "Resource Guarding" and you can do some training to alleviate it (depending on the dog).

    I think you should keep the dogs separate when you can't be training or supervising them
    I think you should do some training with each one alone and when they're each good at some impulse control and listening to you eg can both hold a good drop stay, then maybe do some training with them together but both on lead and under control so they can't get to each other - but sufficiently far away from each other that one can hold the drop stay (and cannot approach ie is being held on lead).
    and the other - also on lead - is being trained and rewarded for good behaviour.

    If either dog gets the slightest bit stiff - then stop and move them to separate spaces again until next time.

    I think you should do some training or your problems will only get worse. Even if you can only train them separately, one at a time.

    Resource Guarding is "self rewarding" the more she's allowed to do it, the more she will do it and the more severe it will come.

    If my dog so much as curls a lip about some object or food she wants, she loses the food/toy - it gets put away and she might get put away as well. So she knows that as long as she shares and is patient - she will get what she wants eventually.

    So I work on this with a lot of trading - starting with something that has value but not much - easy to give up for the dog and trading for something of higher value... and gradually mix it up so you trade anything for anything and the dog will be ok with that. The main idea that you want to get across is that if the dog gives up what it has to you (or even the other dog) then this dog will get something good or better and that if the dog guards food or toys - the food or toys go away ie there is no gain for doing it.

    So you get this by offering something better and rewarding when the dog gives up what it has. You don't get it by trying to take the thing away - that can get you bitten. Eventually you can put a cue word on for giving the thing up eg I use "give" - some people use "drop" and other people use "out" for "spit it out". I use drop for lie down and out for leave the room or space so "give" the toy food works better.

    And I have another word for permission to eat "on special"
    and another word for "get the toy" or the thrown treat - "geddit". I also use find it - for when I've dropped something but she needs to look for it.

    So with something the dog doesn't care much about eg a rope toy - you can ask her to give it up for a squeaky toy - if she likes those better...

    Or around dinner (be really careful) - you can put down kibble and then offer her some roast chicken... might not try taking the kibble away at this time. Actually I never do that to my dog. Once I've given her permission to eat, I only interrupt her if I want to put something better in. But I will interrupt her if she's started without permission... and make her wait for permission again...

    Expecting some self control before a dog is allowed to eat their dinner is a really good idea.

    I would make sure that only one dog is around to play the give geddit games - you want to be really confident about your dog being comfortable with this before introducing the original threat/distraction.

    Another good game - so long as you're sure she won't try to chomp your hand off - and with her only ie other dog is not in the room... is to play a game called "its yer choice" or "leave it" where the dog has to figure out that they have to leave your hand full of food alone to get some. Ie no stealing and no snatching, lots of self control. I like "its yer choice" because it's all about the dog making the choice and figuring out what to do on her own. Which can lead to good decision making later.
    a Susan Garrett student with two of her dogs.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LJS9KJ2xRzQ

    and Kikopup
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pEeS2dPpPtA
    Last edited by Hyacinth; 10-28-2014 at 11:39 AM.

  6. #6
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    I have a friend who had a similar situation. She had an Akita/lab mix from a BYB that has she grew started to become aggressive to the older male despite being fine as a pup. The older male was a smaller dog but no way he was going to back down as the bitch started to assert her dominance putting him at extreme risk. The bitch had a suspect temperament and in this case my friend who did not have the resources to deal with this situation and with a young child, made the decision to euthanaise the Akita X. She interviewed a number of people who were interested in adopting the dog but she didnt think any of them were equipped to deal with the situation.

    If it were me I would talk to a professional. I had to do a 1000 km round trip when I once had a problem dog to see one as I live rural and after she had seen the dog and assessed the situation I communicated via email.

    In terms of rehoming a dog that could potentially be a problem I think it is important to understand the problem and perhaps even look to people experienced with the breed to help out.

    I currently have 2 male herding dogs that as they grew decided they dont like each other and had several fights and vet visits. I never leave them together unsupervised and I keep and eye on their body language. However it is not quite as extreme as what you are experiencing. My bitches are not involved in any of this, it seems to be just between the 2 boys and I suspect it is a bit of power play, with pushing and shoving. The bitches will sometimes lean over each other when they play but it never escalates.

    Good luck, it is never a pleasant situation to deal with.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hyacinth View Post
    Resource Guarding is "self rewarding" the more she's allowed to do it, the more she will do it and the more severe it will come.

    If my dog so much as curls a lip about some object or food she wants, she loses the food/toy - it gets put away and she might get put away as well. So she knows that as long as she shares and is patient - she will get what she wants eventually.
    That I find interesting. You have only one dog, right? Would you do that also with two dogs involved? None of our two are resource guarding towards us - ever. I can take a bone out of their mouth and they won't protest. And they're usually pretty good sharing with each other too. If one claims something, the other one will stay clear of it. But there are occasions when one approaches something the other one isn't yet ready to give up or share. Then there is growling, lip curling and sometimes a warning bark - and the other one backs off right away. This works both ways and can involve bones, toys or sleeping places. E.g. Rox is very protective of rabbits she caught and Nero of bones...

    I never interrupted that behaviour because I thought it's good for them to learn and respect each others boundaries. Are you saying this could create difficulties though?

    (apologies for hogging this threat - it's my personal nightmare to have two dogs who hate each others guts. I have a friend who has to keep her two dogs separated permanently. There are cuddle schedules and crate schedules - I don't think I could cope with something like that)
    Last edited by margoo; 10-29-2014 at 09:14 PM.

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    I dunno Margoo

    My dog really doesn't like sharing her yard any more - she used to be nice but she's way out of practice now. I've been retraining her to get the idea that the front yard and the street do not belong to her - so she has to sit calmly at the front door before I open it. Before - she'd come out barking and lunging and I didn't realise the challenge I was creating because I thought she was just excited but still friendly - yeah right - too excited to think straight more like.

    It's been much much better. If she spots another dog on our street or a stranger - and starts to growl and carry on - I drag her into the back yard or back through the front door - what ever is quicker. The second she starts acting calm - I stop and wait, and if she stays calm - we can go back and watch the people and dogs go by.

    At the park I have treats and I sometimes have five dogs all lined up ... if any of them including mine - acts the least bit grumpy - nobody gets anything. some of them don't get anything anyway because their owners don't want them to. And the treats I try to be random as possible.

    If a new dog approaches - happens a lot, especially at the beach - the treats go away before that dog arrives and that dog doesn't get anything - unless its owner gives my dog a treat without asking. sigh. She's a master at cadging treats off anyone who has them and she knows who has them. And she remembers who has them too.

    If the other dog owner gives mine a treat - I get their dog to do a sit or act calm or show some sort of impulse control... and give it a treat... sometimes we get a few minutes into a game of "its yer choice" before I hand over anything. If my dog shows up and starts acting possessive or the other dog does - all the treats go back in the bag and the bag gets zipped up and I walk away. You gotta be fast about this.

    At the beach, I've had my hand holding the treat bag get chomped by a Labrador puppy nearly full sized, with no bite inhibition or any respect for his owners. I saw him one more time at the beach and then never again. The owners had no ability to train him to stop him from being really dangerous. I didn't see that dog coming the first time - he charged flat out from far behind me.

    I know lots of people say "just let the dogs sort themselves out" but I really don't like that approach. My brother insisting I let my dog sort his groodle rescue out - she sorted him just fine - but it lead to her thinking every other groodle looking dog needed the same treatment. To be repeatedly driven away with very forceful nips and growls. Not so good at the park - especially with curly coat poodle x that have done nothing to deserve it (tho some do).

    I don't know what the best thing in your situation would be to do. If the dog knows that a growl will make the other dog back off - that's good. You don't want a warning growl suppressed - but it would be nice if the other dog didn't approach in the first place. And what if the dog with the bone/rabbit was sitting across the entrance to the house and the other dog needed to go in or out?

    I guess I'd allow as long as the behaviour didn't "escalate". Ie if the dog with the whatever - only need to curl a lip for the other dog to back off - that would be ok but if it was escalating to getting up and chasing the other dog off - then I think all resources would go away and the dogs would be separated - because I'm really paranoid about that too. Allowing my dog to chase another dog off - has not been good for us. But I'd still protect her from being harassed by the other dog - hence both of them losing something. Ie the actual bone and the potential bone.

  9. #9
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    LOL at her remembering who has usually treats. Smart girl! I'm with you on handing out treats causing them to fight. It has never happened with ours but I agree. If I'd give them some treats and they start growling at each other nobody would get anything. It's amazing how they can count though isn't it? We had a ritual before leaving the park of giving each dog a treat when they leads were clipped on. Each person had a treat for each dog... and they knew exactly if one person skipped one dog! In any case I had to drastically reduce giving out treats when we're out anyway because Nero would stop doing whatever he was praised for the nanosecond I said 'good boy' and sat down in front of me waiting for the treats to come out. Sometimes in the middle of the road!


    I guess the reason why I'm thinking 'they need to sort it out themselves' is because I just think they are able to read each others signals much better than I can. So I fear interfering too much could potentially cause more damage.

    Like sometimes it's a game and sometimes it's serious. I'm sometimes having difficulties telling the two apart but they always seem to know. I can give them two rawhide bones, one each. But within seconds one of them will lie around ignored while they both want the same one. Usually it's Rox who wants Neros. So she'll stalk him until he doesn't pay attention for a second and off she runs with it. Then it's his turn to stalk her. It's a game between them. But then on other occasions it's serious and then a growl or a snarl results in the other one retreating immediately.

    We didn't have a situation yet where they seriously got stuck into each other. The only near fight we had was when Nero was getting carried away ripping his blanket apart and accidentally knocked her on the head. Man, she was pissed off! She doesn't like him playing with his blanket since and if we play tug of war with it, we can only play secretly until she notices what's going on because she'll come running to break up our 'fight' by nipping whomever she can reach.

  10. #10
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    I think there is sorting out and sorting out. My BC resource guards his food but only if one of the others is serious about grabbing it. My old matriarch tried it once and my young BC floored her instantly and then went back to his food. The old girl wasnt hurt but never tried that again and the BC and her remain friends. None of the other dogs are remotely interested in his food as they dont want trouble. I let that incident go as I didnt feel the need in that case to interfere.

    So there are times when I let them sort stuff out but I will step in with authority if I thnk things are going to escalate where there could be a serious fight. With my 2 males I know they will escalate quickly so I am on them like a tonne of bricks at even a barest hint of trouble and they respond quickly to me, knowing full well that I am not impressed. I separate them if I am out.

    However my dogs are not particularly problematic and will respond to me quickly. I use treats where I think it is appropriate but I am careful to think about what I am actually rewarding. My dogs know when I am pissed off with their behaviour LOL and they quickly smarten up and try and be good LOL anf they get praise which they seem to like. They will all line up for treats and they had better mind their manners as I dish them out one by one. Even my resource guarder doesnt try any funny business in the line up.

    However I have had a dog once with issues and it is hard work to try and work out the best course of action. My current dogs are easy in comparison.

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