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Canine Behavior/New aggression in one of my dogs


I have have 2 dogs 8yrs Staffy cross and 9yrs Blue heeler x Border collie. The 8 yr old is currently recovering from surgery and must be kept in an enclosure for another 4 weeks to minimize movement/excitement. My 9yr old keeps having moments where she approaches the enclosure and growls resulting in the 8yr old growling as well and it is hard to get he 9yr old to move away from the area.  The 9yr old also snapped at the 8yr old during a toilet break. What is going on? and how can we improve the situation?

The obvious physical disability in your Staff X appears to be causing high anxiety in your Heeler X; the social hierarchy is being disrupted.  The Staffy X might also "smell" differently (medications) and her absence from the home (for surgery and after care) combined with her (now) confinement is creating some difficulty.

You must re-introduce these dogs carefully to one another once the Staff X is able to be free of confinement; re-post using FOLLOWUP well before you do this.

As for the Heeler X: put an indoor leash on her (lightweight leash).  If she approaches the confinement area and makes direct eye contact with the other dog, pick up the leash and remove her from the room: circle her in another room a few times, left, right, left, to change brain function (thought process or fight/flight process), ask for "sit", drop leash.  If she approaches the confinement area and begins to growl, remove her from the room (using the leash) and put her behind a closed door to the COUNT OF TEN.  Then, bring her out, circle as described (including "sit") and drop the leash.  Do this every single time you see any sort of direct eye contact menace (your Heeler X will "give eye", meaning drop her head and focus intently: immediately interfere) or growl.  This won't necessarily prevent a serious disruption in relationship when the Staff X is allowed out of confinement, but it should diminish (hopefully extinguish) the Heeler X from lock-on and menacing.

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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

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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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