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Jane Lefler
Jane Lefler, Animal Behaviorist
Category: Dog Training
Satisfied Customers: 17019
Experience:  Dog breeder/Trainer and Behaviorist 16+ years
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we have 5 1/2 month old littermates - they are male mini Australian

Customer Question

we have 5 1/2 month old littermates - they are male mini Australian Shepherds - they have been neutered - they are aggressively fighting and we have tried many approaches but none are working - do you think E-collars are the way to improve this?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Dog Training
Expert:  Jane Lefler replied 1 year ago.

Hi JaCustomer,

.

My name isXXXXX have been working professionally with animals especially dogs in both health and behavioral issues for over 18 years. I have over 14,000 satisfied customers. It will be my pleasure to work with you today.

.

In order to supply you with the best information, I do need to ask for some additional information. Once I receive your answer, it will likely take me about 30-45 minutes to type up your response. I hope you can be patient.

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What obedience training have you done with them?

Do you walk them daily?

Does one seem to be the aggressor or does it vary?

What exactly have you tried so far?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.

They start the day with a 45 minute walk and then some running in the backyard. They walk and play in the backyard without fighting. Every afternoon they run while I bike for at least 20 minutes straight. I am not coordinated enough to have them to do this together. Then they get another walk together in the evening.


 


The fighting occurs in the house or on our deck. We have not figured out the trigger. It is not toys or affection as we are very careful with both. There is a 2 second interval between intense staring and a full out fight. It is scary. For about a week now, we have been separating the fights and then holding each dog down on their side until they are calm. I have learned this from the Dog Whisperer. We are doing our best to be calm and assertive. However, I have been bitten 3 times breaking up the fight. And this morning I was bitten pretty badly on the arm after about 8 minutes of holding one down. He was being very stubborn and not willing to calm down. Even though they are littermates, one is much larger and he is the one who bit me today. He is the one that I think is the problem. The other one seems to be fighting back out of fear. I now find myself afraid to have them together after the bite this morning and I know they will sense my fear.


 


We also have 2 older pugs. Each puppy is wonderful with the pugs as long as the other puppy is not around. One pug (female) intervenes in the fights without success. Vinny actually had her face in his mouth this morning when I was bitten. We have 3 cats and the puppies do not bother them.


 


We have done 6 weeks of obedience school with each pup. They were aggressive with other dogs and the trainer said "something is wrong with them" as Aussies should not be aggressive.


 


They have some strange love/hate thing going on. They cry and cry if we move their crates. If their crates are next to each other they are very happy. And they cry when they are in separate rooms. However, they fight when they are together.


 


My husband, kids, and I have done everything we can to make this work. After the event this morning I feel as if I cannot win and we must re-home Vinny. This makes me very sad. We have already invested so much love, time, and money into both of them.


 


I would really like to know if we should try e-collars. Or should we just realize that there are red zone dogs and we cannot handle 2 of them?


 


Thanks!


 


 


 

Expert:  Jane Lefler replied 1 year ago.
Hi Carole,
.
Thanks for the additional information. It is helpful. I want to address a few different things here. First, what you see on TV is not necessarily the right thing to do. A dog that willingly submits to their human master is a submissive dog. If you need to physically force a dog onto it's side, it foster ill will. It also teaches a dog that you are perfectly fine with physical reprimands since you are physically reprimanding them. The only form of physical reprimand that a dog has is a bite. Thus when you physically reprimand them and they do not approve of what you are doing, they will reprimand you with a bite.
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Now dogs that are fighting do frequently bite owners when they try and separate them. The aggression may not necessarily be directed at the human, but the human gets in the way. Even professional trainers sometimes forget and get bit once in a while.
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When you have littermates, there is usually one that has established their dominance over the other at an early age. However, as they reach sexual maturity, they will start testing the other dog to see if that dog is indeed the most dominant, strongest dog which can lead to fights. The largest dog is not always the most strong willed and that can lead to dominance fighting.
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Many owners will allow dogs to work this out among themselves if there is no blood shed. However if there is blood shed or injuries, you can not allow it to continue. You can help though with strict obedience training and supporting the alpha dog in their role as the boss. To support them, you feed them first, show them affection first and allow them to eat first and go outside first. This lets the more submissive dog know that you believe that dog to be the top dog. This helps keep the pack order stable and can help prevent fights.
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Additonally, the obedience training can help you control them. When you see that a fight may be brewing, you can command them to obey a command and reward them for their obedience and thus relieve the tenseness. If you see the submissive dog attempt to take the alpha dog's food, or toy or even try and push the other dog out of the way, reprimand that dog. The alpha will see that you are taking reprimands out of his hand and be less aggressive toward the submissive dog.
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The following site is helpful for teaching you how to train your dog. Be sure and click on the link to the page on obedience at the bottom. and links on subsequent pages leading to detailed instructions.
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Training works best if you train at least 30 minutes a day (two 15 minute sessions). I would start making your dog work via the Nothing in life is free program (NILF). It is outlined below.
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Both dogs should be leashed and if one dog even looks at the other dog, a correction should be done. Any sign of aggression including a prolonged look, hair raised on the shoulders, a growl or even a stiff legged walk, should be corrected. A correction is a quick tug of the leash and a firm low toned "NO". Once you have done this couple of times, you should notice the dogs ignoring each other. When that happens, you will want to reward them for the desired behavior. Again, use tasty treats like the hot dog slices. This teaches the dogs that you WILL not tolerate fighting in YOUR pack.

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I also want to give you sites on body language so you can stop aggression before it breaks into a fight.

http://www.apdt.com/petowners/park/body-language/

http://www.pawsacrossamerica.com/interpret.html

http://www.aspca.org/pet-care/virtual-pet-behaviorist/dog-behavior/canine-body-language

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The leashes will help you separate them if necessary. Also keep a hooked style cane handy. It can allow you to hook a collar and pull dogs apart if necessary and if the leashes are not easily grabbed.

.

As to your actual question about shock collars or remote training collars, they are not designed to be used in cases of aggression. If you read the training manuals they will tell you somewhere in there that they are not effective for aggression. What happens is the dog is aggressive toward another dog and you give a shock and the dog associates that discomfort with the other dog or a person and feel it is an attack and it makes the aggression even worse.

.

So I do not recommend an e-collar for this purpose. E collars are a handy tool and great for long range recall. I have used them for that purpose. I know that there are some trainers that feel e-collars can be used to stop aggression, but those are seasoned trainers and none that I know of would recommend an owner use one to stop aggression.

.

The methods I have suggested have proven over the past 15 years to be effective for this situation. I do not feel you have dogs that can not have their behavior corrected. I just think you need to increase any obedience training you are doing, start the NILF program and catch the behavior before it starts. Start rewarding the desired behavior as well. It shouldn't' take that long for them to settle down especially if they were neutered in the last 30 days or so.

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I hope this information is helpful to you and you are satisfied with my response. If you would like any additional information or have more questions please don’t hesitate to press the reply to expert or continue conversation button so I can address any issues you still have .

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If you have questions in the future that you wish me to answer, you may go here http://www.justanswer.com/pet/expert-jane-lefler/ and bookmark the page or make it a favorite. It is best to put my name "JANE" in the question as well. Please recommend me to your friends and family members if they have any problems with their dog as well. I would truly appreciate it.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.


I will check out all of those sites. Should we allow them to be in the room together all the time? Should we muzzle them when they are together to help with our fear of them fighting? You said to keep them on leash and we will.


 


What do we do with them after a fight? We will stop the physical submitting. Should we just put each one in their crate to cool off??


 


Right now their crates are next to each other - are you okay with this?

Expert:  Jane Lefler replied 1 year ago.
Carole,.They should be allowed in the room together but you need to monitor them and be quick to stop any aggression BEFORE it starts if possible. The leashes can help with this. If muzzles will help you feel more comfortable, use them, but they should be basket muzzles and not standard ones. .Crating as a time out can work and some people use that to their advantage. An end to time with the owners is a strong motivator for many dogs. So crating is acceptable. I'd separate the crates. The crates are their own places and should be separate so one doesn't feel the other rules their place. 3 or 4 feet between them should be enough room.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.


why is it that they do not fight while on walks or playing together in the back yard?


 


do you know where to get basket muzzles?


 


we will buy the basket muzzles and put them on them during family time - we will keep them on leashes and look for signs of aggression - we will do a correction if we see any signs - if they fight we will separate and put in crates for 30 minutes - we will move their crates to 3-4 feet apart - and we will try to remain hopeful


 


we will also start to recogize Vinny as the leader of the dog pack


 


this plan makes me feel much better than trying to force them to submit...

Expert:  Jane Lefler replied 1 year ago.
Carole,
.
Most fights among dogs of one family usually happen when they are around their humans. That is because, as humans, we tend to not acknowledge the pack leader and send mixed messages to the dogs. The dogs want to please the human but that may conflict with the alpha dog's wishes. On walks, dogs are confronted with other dogs and people and this helps them bond together as a common group against outsiders so about the only time you will see fights amond dogs walked together is if one dogs want to attack something and is unable to. Then you will occasionally see them turn that aggression onto the other dog.
.
I think at most you will have a couple of months of altercations before it settles down, but with training and putting my suggestions into affect, I think it will stop much quicker.


Jane Lefler, Animal Behaviorist
Category: Dog Training
Satisfied Customers: 17019
Experience: Dog breeder/Trainer and Behaviorist 16+ years
Jane Lefler and other Dog Training Specialists are ready to help you
Expert:  Jane Lefler replied 1 year ago.
Hi Carole,

I'm just following up on our conversation about your pet. How is everything going?

Jane Lefler
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

We have started to treat Vinny like the alpha - he is let out of his kennel first, he eats first, etc. We are also implementing the "nothing in life is free" approach. They are doing GREAT outside - they are walking together without any growling or dirty looks. And after a walk or bike ride they play in the back yard and have a great time. I am no longer even anxious outside.


 


Inside the house is another story. We had 2 attempts to let them hang out together yesterday. Both ended up in a fight but it took over 15 minutes for the first fight to start. The second fight started right away. It may be in my head but it did seem like the intensity of the fight was not as high as it had been in the past. We tried to use an air horn to stop the fight and of course that did not work. But we grabbed their leashes and it was much easier than grabbing collars.


 


We have not had them out together in the house tonight. Their crates are in our great room where we hang out so I have been alternating one in and out of his crate every 30 minutes. They both had LONG bike rides earlier this evening and they ran like crazy!


 


I did notice last night and today that Chief is afraid when we are taking him in the house from the outside. He will plant himself and we have to pull him to the door. Of course, Vinny is always somewhere else when we bring Chief in but it does make me sad that Chief is afraid in his own home...


 


We are not giving up yet...

Expert:  Jane Lefler replied 1 year ago.
Carole,.I'm glad that you are seeing some improvement which is very good considering it is only a couple of days. Remember to pay attention to the body language. If necessary, hook the leashes around 2 different human ankles so they can not get to one another without tugging on a person first. This will allow you to have both out at one time and still give them a little room to move around but only under a watchful human. It isn't an overnight cure but will take time. Still, I'm glad you are noticing some improvement.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Should we be concerned about Chief being afraid to enter the house? Or is this actually a good thing because it means he realizes that Vinny is in charge?

Expert:  Jane Lefler replied 1 year ago.
carole,

Sorry about that. He is worried because he doesn't know where Vinny is and doesn't have his permission to enter. It might be easier on him, if he could see Vinny or come in right behind Vinny. That way he would know that he had Vinny's permission to come in.

However, as the dogs see the humans as the ultimate boss, chief should be less hesitant to come in the house. Try not to worry about it as that will worry him as well. Try having a tasty treat in your hand as you approach the house tempting him and as soon as you get to the door and are passing through it, give him the treat. If there is a different doorway you can use, you might try that as well. That entrance may seem like a good place for an ambush attack and thus have chief a little worried. Just remember to reward him getting inside and it should ease up over time.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.


Thanks so much!! You have been a fabulous resource for us!!!

Customer: replied 1 year ago.


Well, we had a big fight outside last week that took me by surprise. I ended up with another bad bite on my leg.


 


After that fight we decided to re-home Vinny. He is currently with one of my friends and so far doing okay. She has an 11 year old male lab who has cancer and a 7 year old female bulldog. Vinny spent a few hours with them for 2 nights in a row and then "moved in" on Saturday. On Saturday he tried to fight the famle bulldog and she sat on him and quickly put him in his place. Now they are all great friends and playing like crazy. Vinny apparently needed some leadership that we just could not give him. But I think the female bulldog is up for the challenge!!


 


The only problem now is that he is urinating in their house and he was fully house trained with us. Hopefully this will improve. My friend loves him and will keep him forever as long as he gets the house training under control.


 


We are happy and sad. We are sad that we could not keep them both. We love Vinny very much. But he will be happier in a non-threatening environment and Chief is also SO much happier now. He is like a different dog.


 


We should have never adopted littermates and we will never make this mistake again. Also, we are very thankful that my friend wanted a new dog and also fell in love with Vinny. Hopefully he will get the urinating in line so he can stay with her.


 


Thanks,


 


Carole

Expert:  Jane Lefler replied 1 year ago.
Carole,.I'm sorry you had to rehome him, but if he is happier in his new home and their dog is keeping him under control, then that is for the best. I'm very glad Chief is so much happier as well.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.


Well, Vinny is back in our home. He started fighting with her 11 year old male lab with cancer. The lab was afraid of him and was hiding in their home.


 


I do not know what we are going to do.


 


In your professional opinion, is there any chance of him mellowing out over time?

Expert:  Jane Lefler replied 1 year ago.
JaCustomer,
.
Dogs do usually mellow over time and after pack order is established. This can take several years though and he is still very young. However, Vinney seems excessively aggressive for his age. I would definitely have his thyroid levels checked to ensure he doesn't have hypothyroidism if you still haven't done that.. That can cause aggression.
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Some dogs just need to be in their own household without other dogs though another strong willed owner may be able to bring him under control. I would likely not put him in another home with dogs. He may come up on a dog that isn't going to tolerate his fighting and possibly get hurt or hurt another dog.
.

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Jane Lefler
Jane Lefler
Dog Trainer
17019 Satisfied Customers
Dog breeder/Trainer and Behaviorist 16+ years