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Dogs/Needy dog causes fights with other dog


Sasha & Tobey
Sasha & Tobey  
We have 2 rescue dogs about 3-4 years of age.  We have had Tobey for 3 years and Sasha for 1 1/2 years. We are pretty sure Sasha was abused in the past.  She is still skittish of abrupt movements but settles down right away.  She is a very needy dog in that she needs constant attention from us and Tobey.  Whenever we give Tobey attention, Sasha comes over and tries to move between Tobey and the one petting him.  Tobey sometimes gets frustrated and goes to lie down in his kennel.  I try to give them "Sasha time" and "Tobey time". Sasha also tries to get attention from Tobey.  Sometimes when I let them out, Sasha will move with Tobey keeping him pinned to the house / deck railing and not letting him off the deck into the yard.  She also will sometimes move between Tobey and the furniture as he tries to come over for attention.  I reprimand Sasha and she will stop.  Overall the dogs get along well with each other and often they will start licking each other.  However, there are also times Tobey gets fed up with Sasha and snaps at her.  The have had 2 major fights requiring veterinary care for one or the other.  The first time Sasha had one ear injured with multiple punctures.  This last time, Sasha pinned Tobey down and really got him good.  He has multiple lacerations and punctures, needed stitches for a laceration on his jaw and staples for a laceration on his leg that didn’t quite cut through his skin.  I am grateful my daughter was home and able to distract the dogs by throwing water on them.  Tobey’s injuries could have been so much worse.  My husband wants me to get rid of one or the other dog.  The teenagers prefer to keep Sasha.  I have put an ad out to re-home Sasha, but really want to keep both dogs.  What can I do?  The next time one of them could be killed.

Hi Susan,

    I am sorry to hear about your situation. It is always tough to make the decisions you are faced with now. I have thought about in-depth answers to your question, because I really do like to be thorough. However, in this case if you want to keep both dogs safely (and I certainly still think you can based on your description) you will need the help of a qualified trainer in your area that specializes in behavior. Having a trainer visit you in-home might be more expensive, but many are very reasonable and not nearly as much as vet bills you may incur from dogfights. Check out the APDT website  ( ) to search for a qualified trainer. Make sure to call around and don't be afraid to interview them to find one that will best fit your needs.
    In the meantime, get your dogs on a feeding schedule if they aren't already on one. Food offered, if they don't eat, food taken and not offered again until next meal time. Make sure they are getting a lot of exercise...mental as well as directed physical exercise. Work on simple obedience cues (sit, down, etc.). Reward (praise, petting) anytime you catch them interacting well together. Reward Sasha anytime she doesn't act skittish in situations where she usually would. The trainer can teach you how to further reduce her anxiety/skittishness to help both dogs become less reactive/aggressive. Separate them during times when they are prone to getting overexcited or nervous (strangers over for dinner, thunderstorms, etc.). That should hold things together until a trainer can work with you. Best of luck, I hope all goes well and both dogs become happy roommates!


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Teri Abshier


I can answer questions regarding dog training, nutrition, grooming, and pretty much anything in between. I am also happy to answer questions regarding dog/puppy selection, choosing a pet professional (dog trainer, groomer, veterinarian, sitter, walker, etc.) care, handling, and product reviews. In regards to health questions, I can answer minor health/home care type questions, but in no way can give veterinary advice or diagnose illness. If you have concerns about your pet's health, please seek the advice of a veterinarian.


Owner/Trainer at "All Things Pawsible" Dog Training/Problem Solving. Certified Dog Trainer with 5 years experience using reward-based training techniques. Certified Dog Groomer. 4 years of college studying Animal Science/Psychology (will receive B.S. in Psychology in Jan 2013). I was also a 3 year veterinary technician at both a small animal and large animal facility.

Animal Behavior College Alumni

BS/Psychology University of Phoenix. Certified Dog Trainer through Animal Behavior College. Petsmart Academy graduate - Dog Training. Petsmart Academy graduate - Dog Grooming. Certified Animal Care Technician, Bakersfield ROC. Relevant (dog-related) college coursework completed includes: Animal Nutrition, Companion Animal Care, Animal Emergency Surgery and Nursing, Animal Diseases.

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Animal Behavior College - Honors Graduate University of Phoenix - Honors Graduate

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