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Question
Posted by: Mark | 2011/05/12

Brother &  Sister Staffie Problems

I own 2 Staffies, Jock (male) and Chloe (female) who I have had since puppies, they are now a few years older. Most of the time the 2 of them get along with each other very well.They love each other so much are licking each other and sleeping together on their pillow. They also crave human affection. The problem is every once in a while Chloe (female) gets really agitated by things such as lawnmowers or other dogs barking and takes out her frustrations on her brother Jock who defends himself.

The fights are really bad. They just recently had another fight while we were away on holiday and Chloe received bad wounds to her legs, she is still at the vet cause they can''t stitch up the wounds yet. This is about the 4th time in as many years that they have had a fight where we had to take them to vet.

We don't know what to do now, we can't leave them together and are worried the next time they fight they may kill each other. So we are faced with the hard decision of either finding Chloe a new home or separating them between the front and back garden during the day, and letting them in the house together at night.

We are worried though that if we separate them during the day the may want to fight when we let them together at night or if they ever get into each others garden.

I really don't think they hate each other, I just think that Chloe gets so agitated she loses self control and takes it out on Jock. They are such loving dogs and such a big part of our family, they are like children that this is a really hard decision.

Chloe is also a very dominant dog and Jock passive, she controls access to the feeder I have for them, my mistake, I should never have fed them like this, they should have had separate bowls and fed apart. They also require more walks I have been told. Your advice appreciated

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Our expert says:
Expert ImageDog 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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Our users say:
Posted by: Dog Behaviour Expert | 2011/05/12

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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