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Jane Lefler
Jane Lefler, Breeder,Behaviorist, formerVet Asst
Category: Dog
Satisfied Customers: 19771
Experience:  Former vol Vet Assistant.Breeder 18+ years Dog trainer / behaviorist
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Do dogs attack other dogs when they become sick or lame

Customer Reply

Customer: replied 9 years ago.
Our younger dog has attacked our older dog since th eolder dog''s health has eroded.   Is this a natural instinct for weeding out the weakest in a pack? We have some small children so we are tryign to figure this out.
Expert:  Jane Lefler replied 9 years ago.

Are both dogs females?
Did you get the younger dog as a pup?
Customer: replied 9 years ago.
The older dog is male. He is about 15 years old.   He is a yellow Cocker Spaniel.

The younger dog is female. We got her when she was 5 months old.   She has never attacked a person, let's the children climb on her, and is a cuddler. She is a good dog guard. She does not allow people to come on the property without warning them with barking. She also gets mean if men approach my wife or daughter and I am not present.

We have heard from other people in similar situations where normally perfectly controlled dogs have attacked sickly older dogs.
Expert:  Jane Lefler replied 9 years ago.

Traditionally, male dogs are the alpha in a multi dog household. When you got your younger dog, the older male was automatically alpha since he was male and an adult. Now that he is not in good health, she feels she should be the alpha since she is healthy and young.

However, the older male will not voluntarily give up the boss position, so fights occur. If the male was to submit to the female, then the fights would stop. So to answer your actual question, dogs will attack older, sickly animals in order to move up in the pack order.

The only thing you can really do is attach a leash to her and be prepared to give the leash a short tug and low toned NO anytime she even looks at the older male. In this way, she will learn that you are not going to allow that behavior. You, as the real boss, are the one to stop this behavior. I suggest that you enroll her in an obedience class at a minimum. Before you can get into classes, the following site at the bottom has links to specific basic commands which have pictures so you can see you are doing it correctly.

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.

If nothing else works, you may have to separate the two dogs to help prevent injury to the older dog. I hope this information is helpful to you.