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Canine Behavior/3 bitches fighting recently

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Question
Hi, i am looking to see if u can give me any helpful tips & advise as how to deal wit my bitches fighting. I have a 4year Jack Russel whom i have since she was 6weeks old, a 3year old Labrador Cross who i adopt from a dogs rehoming organisation when she was 8weeks & a 15month old Pitbull whom i got when she was 3months old. Fairly recently between the last 2-3 weeks my Jack Russel has started fights with the Pitbull, ive tried correcting the behaviour but i dont seem to know what to do now. I cant notice the Pitbull doing anything that the Jack Russel might react to. And wen or if them 2 start my Labrador jumps in 2 stop it or protect one or the other. Neither of them have been hurt or bitten thank god, it doesnt go that far! My dogs are very well behaved apart from this but i cant help & also think i am not stepping up as their pack leader role properly? The Labrador & Pitbull are grand on their own with eachother but when the Jack Russel is there thats when it starts.Any advise is verymuch appreciated

Answer
At 15 months, the Pit is approaching first stage of adult maturation and this is the time for rank opportunism.  The JRT, on the other hand, is at full adult maturation and is most likely reacting to subtle body language you cannot see (or at least are unable to interpret, much like any language you don't "speak").  JRT's are tough, territorial little dogs that absolutely need to *know* their human cohabitant(s) are at the top of the social hierarchy.  This is done by positive reinforcement training and subtle signals of social hierarchy as the dog matures.

Unfortunately, when a situation such as this arises between bitches, one needs an expert to assess the actual cause and suggest remedies IN PERSON.  The possibility of this problem worsening is high (as the Pit matures further) and the JRT has no chance against this other bitch in full out "fight" mode.

I don't know if there are certified applied animal behaviorists easily found in Ireland but I suspect they are there (NO dog trainers!)  I suggest you begin with the organization below, which is international:

http://www.iaabc.org/

Because something IS setting off the JRT and I can't see it, I can't advise you.

Canine Behavior

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Jill Connor, Ph.D.

Expertise

I have spent my entire professional life rehabilitating the behavior of the domestic dog and I can answer any question regarding any behavior problem in any breed dog. I have answered more than 5,000 QUESTIONS on this site in the past (almost) eight years. If you are a caring, committed owner and need advice, I'm here for you. I am personally acquainted with my colleagues (Turid Rugaas, Ian Dunbar, etc.) who were members of an elite group in EGroups that I founded: K9Shrinks. THERE ARE NO QUICK FIXES for serious behavioral issues; not only is it unprofessional to offer same, it is also unethical. IF I ASK YOU SUBSEQUENT QUESTIONS, I NEED YOU TO INTERACT WITH ME. More information equals more credible answers and a more successful outcome. If you want ANSWERS THAT WORK, participate in any way I request. I'm quite committed to working on this site for YOUR benefit and the benefit of YOUR DOG. Help me in any way you can.

Experience

30 years of solving serious behavior problems in domestic dogs; expert in dog to human aggression; Internet columnist for ThePetChannel.com for 5 years; former radio talk show host, WHPC.FM, Garden City, NY "Bite Back" (1995 through 2000). List owner, international animal behavior experts, K9Shrinks@egroups.com. Seminar leader: "Operant Conditioning and Learning"; "Aggression in The Domestic Dog"; "Solving Problem Behaviors" -- conducted for various training facilities on Long Island from 1993 through 2000. Former clinical director of "Behavioral Abnormalities" in conjunction with Mark Beckerman, DVM, Hempstead, New York.

Organizations
Member, APDT (UK); Psychologists in Ethical Treatment with Animals

Publications
Harcourt Brace Learning Direct: "The Business of Dog Training" "The Fail Safe Dog: Brain Training, not Pain Training"

Education/Credentials
Ph.D., UC Berkeley

Past/Present Clients
Board of Directors: Northeast Dog Rescue Connection; The Dog Project; Sav-A-Dog Foundation; etc. Pro Bono counselor: Little Shelter Humane Society My practice is presently limited to forensics. I diagnose cause of dog bite, based upon testimony before the Court, for attorneys and insurance companies litigating dog bites, including fatal injuries. I also do pro bono work for bona fide rescue organizations, humane societies, et al, regarding such analysis in an effort to obtain release for dogs being held for death in municipal shelters in the US.

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