Canine Behavior/aggression

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Question
Hello, I have 2 3 year old Staffordshire Terriers siblings (male and female). I rescued them when they were 10 weeks old. We have not had many issues with these dogs, the normal rough play no biting extremely lovable dogs. Just recently they have become aggressive with each other. I have only seen it twice... once with play time which consisted of socks that they are allowed to have for play. In this instance the aggression was instigated by the female. She wanted the sock that he had and pounced on him. Next, I brought in a new dog bed for them to share (which they do frequently) the male instigated this episode. He did not want her to get on the bed. She got on the bed when he went away and he pounced on her. They do play rough which is something that we control and don't let get out of hand. In both episodes of aggression they did immediately stop when I said stop. In the second episode my male dog did scratch the female on the head..deep enough to cause very minimal amount of blood. In both instances they growled and barked.

Answer
Siblings (direct siblings and the product of future breeding by same pair) are a problem.  The male "should" acquiesce to the female, but it isn't always so.  In this case:

Remove everything that produces this rank opportunistic aggression between these two dogs.  No more socks; beds in separate places - perhaps even three beds in one place.

You need to determine who is who in this relationship.  I'm assuming the bitch is spayed and the dog is neutered?  If not: neuter the dog, first.

In order to determine their self perceived struggle for social hierarchy, you really need an expert.  I can't see anything from here.  Find a Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist (NOT a dog trainer!):

http://certifiedanimalbehaviorist.com/page6.html
http://www.animalbehavior.org/ABSAppliedBehavior/caab-directory

Can this situation be rehabilitated?  YES!  Eyes on, by a real professional, will instruct you on which dog is actually "defending" its true "social rank".  You will then be instructed on how to deal with both dogs: what to reward, how to intervene, what to avoid, etc.  If I were to come into your home, I would put both dogs on Nothing In Life Is Free (NILIF) with the more clearly identified "higher up" in social rank first.  I can't give you any protocol because I can't see your situation.

Put house tabs on both dogs (lightweight leash, handle cut off).  If you see a problem developing, remove the dog that appears to be the instigator (watch body language) by simply picking up the house tab, and redirecting that dog to another room for a "sit".  Even suggesting this is questionable because, should you so restrain the "wrong" dog, you will be adding to the problem.

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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