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Canine Behavior/Female Dogs Fighting



I currently have tow female dogs that fight every couple of days.  The fights are not bad and end in minor injuries, scratches and small cuts.

Sophie was my first dog, she is older 10 years old.  She is a mixed breed, pit and shepard.  She was an only dog for a long time and than I met my husband and he had a dog Rocky.  Rocky was a puppy and he and Sophie got along very well, but since Sophie was older she did not want to play as much as he did.  So we decided to get another dog so he could have play time a lot more. We rescued a pit bull when she was four months old.  Panda had been abused but she was very loving and kind.  Her and Rocky became friends, but Sophie from the start was very stand off-ish towards her.  While she was a puppy there was never any fighting, but Sophie would growl at her from time to time.  We did correct the behavior, telling her "no" and making her have time out.  

Now Panda is a year old, and the behavior between Sophie and Panda has gotten worse.  They have started fighting in early September and have fought at least once a week since then.  When ever Panda is around Sophie her posturing is always stiff and the hair on her back rises.  Even if Panda is not showing any aggression.  Most of the time Panda is trying to play with her, or is licking her face and wagging her tail when the posturing from Sophie begins.  Sophie also does not like when Panda gets really excited when other people are around, and that will general start an altercation as well. It seems that when Sophie begins the posturing, it does not take long for Panda to follow suite.   

I am working with Panda on her level of excitement when guest arrive. They are also feed separately, and treat's and toy's are monitored to make sure then is no aggressive behavior with them.  I walk them together with no issues, and they will nap and sleep together like they are best friends.  

My main concern is that one of them is going to get hurt really bad when my husband and I are not home.  I would also like to correct this behavior before we start our family.  

Any help you could provide would be great.



So it sounds like Sophie just never really accepted Panda. Regardless of how each act around each other, I want to make sure all the dogs are aware that you are still the alpha of all. Because right now, Sophie is making her place as alpha and, even if she is with the dogs, she needs to understand that any action/reaction should never come from her, but only from you.

There are steps to take to conform a happy household that I like to call "earn and reward." This process acts as teaching them every single thing that is given is done as a reward. In turn, it maintains your status as alpha.

Basically, for each and every thing that is done, they (especially Sophie) must do a command and stay in that command before given food, treats, attention, walks, etc. And make sure you hand out the reward, giving Sophie hers last. To this day, and my rotte is 10 yrs old now, I still make her sit and wait for the okay before she eats her meals.

For when Panda gets excited when people come to visit, I would settle Sophie before you know when to expect Panda to start reacting and maintain calmness with Sophie until Panda calms down. And if you're not, completely ignore Panda until she calms down as the worst thing you can do with an anxious dog is make them more anxiuos.

Keep me posted on this as it may turn into a trial and error situation.  

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Melissa Burg, RVT/Behavior Consultant


I have experience with multiple obedience issues, including anxiety, different types of aggression, introductions to a new pet and basic obedience situations, such as housebreaking, excessive leash pulling and excessive barking. There are several approaches to each behavior issue, depending on the animal's environment, as well as the breed, sex and age. I can also help you decide whether the problem sounds medical or behavioral.


I recently graduated with a Veterinary Technician degree with an emphasis in behavior and obedience training. I spent 5 years working in animal shelters where I trained shelter dogs in basic obedience and corrected behavior issues and educated adopting owners how to continue the training at home.

"Pawfect Pets;" a weekly column on canine and feline health and behavior tips.

Associate's Degree in Veterinary Technology from Des Moines Area Community College in Ankeny, Iowa.

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