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Canine Behavior/Female dogs fighting


Hi, i have an a 4 yr old Rhodesian Ridgeback and a 8 month old Dogue de Bordeaux-both female. They have had a few little tiffs however the ridgeback has always been the dominant dog, however yesterday they had an aggressive fight which we broke up as I was concerned one of them could get injured. The ridgeback is desexed and I have not had the dogue desexed as yet, do you see the situation improving once the dogue is desexed and or could this be them sorting out who is the dominant dog? What do you suggest as I love them both and wouldn't want to rehome either of them?

Two difficult breeds requiring ownership by a highly experienced person who understands behavior based upon type: bad combination.  This eight month old is as described:
"Animal aggression can be a problem; most Dogues will not start fights, but they will surely finish them."

This breed AND the Rhodie both require strong, positive reinforcement training from day ONE; heavy socialization to other dogs, places, people from day ONE; a secure environment where the Human is perceived as high in social hierarchy and offers (by virtue of same) a structure that prevents (dissuades, if you will) interruption of that hierarchy.

Your Rhodie appears not to be the "dominant dog" despite your assessment; your Dogue is, on the other hand, stepping clearly out of "place".  I would not spay this adolescent until she has gone through her first estrus cycle.  The hormonal influence of one estrus cycle can stabilize her behavior, but not change her temperament.

You need the eyes on, hands on, of a certified applied animal behaviorist.  These two, having begun this "tiff", might very well continue (probably will) to the end result of serious physical harm (to one or both, and to you as you attempt to intervene), or death.  Once two bitches begin to "fight on sight", there is NO rehabilitation possible.

While we (you, I, and everyone else) might be highly attracted to certain breeds for our own reasons (some of them subconscious, allow me to add), we (you, I and everyone else) must absolutely UNDERSTAND the breed characteristics and demands of ownership of those breeds or breed types to whom we are attracted.  "We" then have the further responsibility of locating a responsible breeder, a person who is breeding for TYPE AND TEMPERAMENT, with obedience, search and rescue, field, and other titles readily apparent in the FIVE GENERATION PEDIGREE provided for any puppy.  It is almost always best to choose opposite sex when one plans to have two dogs.

My resources for Australia are limited but I offer you the following links.  You have no choice at this point but to have a certified applied animal behaviorist (NOT a dog trainer) evaluate both your animals and yourself and make a determination for behavior modification and the creation of a clear and secure social structure:

MEANWHILE: Carefully and studiously sit down and write out, in their entirety, what you know about the "tiffs" between these two:
*  Do you have any idea what set these off
*  What did YOU do when they occurred
*  Is there a problem regarding food or resources
*  Has either been unwilling to disengage from the other when confronted by you during a "tiff"

Purchase an air horn: readily available at most hardware stores.  Keep it ready.  IF any such "tiff" develops, sound the air horn.  Keep house tabs (short leash without handle) on both your dogs.  IF you need to sound the air horn, remove the adolescent (Dogue) first, put her behind a closed door; remove the Rhodie next, put her behind a closed door.  Do not get angry; breathe, do not show your fear; after about 30 seconds to one minute, allow the Rhodie back in, then the Dogue.  Observe closely.  What you will ultimately have to do is:
A.  Allow the Dogue one estrus cycle
B.  Have an expert evaluate both dogs for temperament
C.  Put in place a professionally designed behavior modification and positive reinforcement program for both dogs
D.  Remain vigilant

Dog to dog aggression CAN BE a predictor of dog to human aggression.  DO NOT ATTEMPT to get between two dogs who are clearly, visibly fighting (to injure), you will be hurt, you may be killed.

I seriously discourage ownership of very tough breeds by anyone who does not have the experience to properly manage them.  This is, in no way, a judgment of you.  MANY people don't understand the need for experience.  Do this right: find a CAAB, and soon.

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Jill Connor, Ph.D.


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.


30 years of solving serious behavior problems in domestic dogs; expert in dog to human aggression; Internet columnist for for 5 years; former radio talk show host, WHPC.FM, Garden City, NY "Bite Back" (1995 through 2000). List owner, international animal behavior experts, 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.

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

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

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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