Posted by: Lea | 2004/10/27

Young dog keeps bullying other dog

Dear Karen,

I have to Jack Russells (one male, one female). The female is almost a year and a half old and the male is almost nine months old. The male will be neutered in December.

The problem is that the male constantly bullies the female. He bites her on her back, neck, ears or hind legs. When I see him doing this, I tell him "no" and clap my hands to make a loud noise. Sometimes he stops, just to do it again two seconds later. Sometimes he just continues biting her. The female is now so depressed, that her tail is always tucked between her legs. It also seems as if she is trying to hide from the male.

I live in a small town where there isn't something like obedience classes or an animal behaviourist. I really need to solve this problem urgently. Can you please give me some advice?

Kind regards,


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Our expert says:
Expert ImageCyberVet

Hi Lea
If I were you I would have the male castrated as soon as possible and not wait until December. If the bitch is not spayed then I recommend you do this as well. If she has been on heat during the male's life then this will definitely have influenced his behaviour, which has turned into plain dominant bullying. She has become the "victim" and is probably gaining your attention from it.
Make a point of ignoring the fights completley, even walking out of the room. If thing get a bit nasty, you can intervene, but with as little interaction as possible. Don't make eye contact, shout, talk, cuddle or punish either of them, but calmly separate them for a few minutes, putting each in a different room with a chewy toy. (Imagine you are a machine, not a loving "mommy".) After a few minutes open the doors calmly and ignore them both again. They will soon learn that they can only play with each other when they are gentle. When you are out separate them if he bites her then.
Only pay them attention when one dog comes at a time and is calm. If the other one interrupts, then ignore both dogs and turn away. They will soon learn that they will only get your attention if they are calm and not competing with each other. Give them each a few minutes of complete focussed love and cuddles each day, perhaps grooming them or calmly massaging them. Especially work on building up the bitch's confidence by encouraging her and not by feeling sorry for her.
Karen Gray-Kilfoil

The information provided does not constitute a diagnosis of your condition. You should consult a medical practitioner or other appropriate health care professional for a physical exmanication, diagnosis and formal advice. Health24 and the expert accept no responsibility or liability for any damage or personal harm you may suffer resulting from making use of this content.

Our users say:
Posted by: Acineth | 2004/10/28

I have to say I'm surprised the older dog doesn't snap at him. I have a puppy too, and when he becomes too much for the older dogs, they let him know. He never gets hurt, but he's in no doubt that he should back off.

Reply to Acineth
Posted by: Chill | 2004/10/27

The dog's just a puppy, he wants to play, and he will outgrow this behaviour.

Meantime I would provide him with lots of toys, and play with him a lot, to help get rid of some of that energy.

Normally dogs are mature and start settling down at about 18 months, so you're about halfway through!

Reply to Chill
Posted by: Acineth | 2004/10/27

There was a similar question recently. When you say no, and he starts up again almost immediately, put him outside for about 5 minutes.

Reply to Acineth

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