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Question
Posted by: Kate | 2009/11/27

German shepherd female attacking old male

We' ve got a German shepherd female that' s just been on her 3rd heat. She' s 18 months old now. She' s suddenly after living in peace with our old gsd male (14 years and neutered), decided she hates him and will attack him violently for no apparent reason. It started in her 2nd week of heat and she' s now been off heat for a week. We have another 3 year old gsd male which she doesn' t seem to mind. She did not behave like this during her other 2 heats. She' s always been more dominant than the other dogs. Is this a case of hormones, and will this hatred towards the other dog go away after a few weeks? Or is there such a thing as younger dogs targeting old and weak animals? In other words they' re not welcome in their pack anymore? The old dog is also blind and deaf and we' re thinking of putting him down because it' s causing great stress and fear in him.
I' ve tried searching the internet, but can' t find any definate answer as to why a female will attack a male? Also nothing definate on older dogs being kicked out of a pack?
The problem is that we' d like to replace him in the future with a new young dog, but we' re worried that the female will just target a new dog too?

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Our expert says:
Expert ImageCyberVet

Dear Kate

It can be that the older dog is not well and she is trying to eliminate him from the 'pack'. She may also be trying to show her dominance to the others. Treat her as the top dog, food, attention etc first and the to the others, this may eliminate the behaviour.

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Our users say:
Posted by: WR | 2009/11/30

Yes, it could be that she feels he is a weak link in the pack. You as the " pack leader"  should however give him the opportunity to have a relaxed old age - seperate them and make sure she can' t get to him.
And I agree that you need to get her to some form of training/behavioural school as she is not acting like a " normal"  female. It is one thing to be dominant - but true dominance is not vicious - or rather, a truly dominant dog is not vicious - it could be that she feels this is her only way of establishing dominance - but I don' t agree that you should treat her as the dominant dog - you should however discipline her calmly but firmly when she shows any form of aggression to him. It could be a tad late - but for her future well-being make sure she knows that you will NOT stand for any form of aggression towards the old boy.
Another thing - try and not baby him or her in front of each other - this could cause jealousy from her side. Make sure he is away from her - and give him some social interaction with the other male - if they get along.
If they are house-dogs - allow all 3 inside - but the moment she starts with her hissy-fits - give her a FIRM " NO!"  and take her outside. In this way you will show her that only calmness will be tolerated.
If the old boy is not in pain - leave him be to relax and enjoy his old age.
But there is a time to say goodbye...

Good luck.

Reply to WR
Posted by: Cybervet | 2009/11/30

Dear Kate

It can be that the older dog is not well and she is trying to eliminate him from the 'pack'. She may also be trying to show her dominance to the others. Treat her as the top dog, food, attention etc first and the to the others, this may eliminate the behaviour.

Reply to Cybervet
Posted by: Chill | 2009/11/27

I suggest you get a behaviourist involved in this - the possible dynamics of the situation are too complex for remote analysis.

One thing I can say is this: if you have an unusually dominant female, it may well prove hard for her to relate to other dogs without aggression. Some dogs are just better off on their own.
Spaying her might help stabilise your dog' s behaviour, but it' s not guaranteed.

I feel sorry for your old dog, who has probably done nothing to deserve this, and is now possibly about to be deprived of his serene old age.

Reply to Chill

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