Our expert says:
Dog Behaviour Expert
Hi Mark, nice to hear from you.
A situation like this is always distressing and a forum is really not the place to deal with it. A situation such as this has to be seen in the home environment.
The majority of times, situations such as yours can be resolved, but you will definitely need the help of a professional.
What you do have against you in this situation is that the terrier breed can be reactive to other dogs and serious harm can result when fighting does break out.
In addition to what you have said sets the female off, there could also be a hierarchy challenge happening, and another factor would be if the dogs are intact or sterilized and how you and your wife interact with them, and if the fights only take place when you or your wife are present.
What I would seriously suggest is that you call in a professional behaviourist as soon as possible. In addition to desensitizing the female to lawnmowers and other noises (if applicable), they will bring in House Rules to raise you and your wife up in the human/canine hierarchy, which will relax the dogs and lessen the stress.
With a breed such as this, it is vitally important that you are both strong, benevolent leaders and that the dogs respond to you immediately. This will also help to stop the reactive behaviour as the dog feels you are in charge and preventative measure can then be brought in. The person will also show you how to recognize the dogs body language and distract/prevent a reaction and redirect the dog onto something else if the signs show that aggression is about to happen.
I would also recommend TTouch to lower the stress levels.
When you say she reacts to the male when other dogs present - I am not sure if you mean the other dogs that go past the gate, or if she reacts to other dogs when out for walks? If the reactive behaviour is happening at the gate when other dogs walk by, this is redirected aggression caused from frustration and the easiest way of solving is to remove the dog from that area. If on walks, the behaviourist will help you to desensitize her to other dogs.
The trouble with separating the dogs is that it often tends to heighten the reactive behaviour!
Good luck and if you need help getting in touch with sombody, just contact me, thanks Scotty
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