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My 11 yr old rescue is a heeler and we know she likes to herd and be in charge. In the past when she'd get annoyed with one of the other dogs she would snarl but never snap. 2 years ago we adopted a 1.5 year old staffordshire mix and they were 'sisters' from the start, playing eating, vying for our attention by pushing each other away, small snarls but nothing major. My eldest son adopts a dog (another female) and the three love each other, get excited when they hear each others names and play and run when together. Last Christmas though, the 11 yr old snapped at my then 3 yr old dog and their snarls became vicious under the table. We thought the 3 is a crowd scenario but they did not snarl at my son's dog, just each other. Fast forward...4 weeks ago we adopt 6 chicks. The 2 dogs are wonderful chicken mommas and both good at herding the baby chicks. One day I even caught my dogs looking at the chicks, walking over to each other, tapping noses, then back to each side of the kitchen to round up the chicks...like they were communicating a plan to round up the chicks. But that aggression came out in my older dog one day 3 weeks ago while I let the baby chicks out in the yard and both dogs were doing their jobs. The older dog pushed the younger dog out of the way and the younger dog gave a small growl, like siblings talking back to each other but then the older dog went after the younger dog, biting her in the leg and drawing blood!! We separated the dogs. (note: the younger dog has a habit of finding secret ways out of our fenced yard for 10 to 20 mins at a time and sneaks back into the yard and the older dog scolds her!).

So 3 days ago my middle son adopts a puppy. Yup, another female. and he lives here at home for another few months. The dogs were initially great with the pup. Following her around and my son was great with my 2 dogs who were going to be jealous because they see my son as 'their boy'. Today in the yard the pup is beginnning to be comfortable and is trying her best to run with the older two and she, as a pup, goes after their tails. The younger of my dogs got puppy bit on her tail and snarled at the pup in the way to say, hey that's a no, but my older dog went nuts on her and tried to bite her again.
We put the older dog in the house and continued to let the pup and 3 yr old play. a few hours later the older dog comes back out and now she is pushing her way inbetween my younger dog and my son, my sister (visiting) and the pup and snarling with teeth. Now that you heard the background, its this normal? Is this her age? Is he not well? I'm quite upset because we have never had this type of aggression before. And it is always focused on her 'sister'. Both get a lot of attention. I'm looking forward to hearing suggestions but as always, be kind....I'm trying to help these 2 figure things out and live harmoniously. And yes, all our dogs are rescues. TIA.
 

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So, to clarify my understanding, there are 4 dogs - #1 = the 11 yo, #2 = the 3 yo, #3 = the one your son adopted sometime before the Christmas incident and the new pup.

Does dog #3 live with you but is not involved?

Sadly when two females take a dislike to each other, it often is always there, either bubbling under the surface or permanently on show. It does sound like there are trigger points though, when your younger dog #2 snarled at her over the the chicks, or at the puppy.

So, trying to figure out what is in your older dog #1's mind is key. Does she think your younger dog shouldn't be expressing herself maybe?

You could try making sure there are never, ever, any trigger points that would cause friction between them, but there may come a stage where a particular place on the floor one day is the trigger, so that could be tricky.

You could also muzzle train both, using positive methods to desensitise them so they are happy in muzzles - that is really just for damage limitation.

I'd also suggest a pheromone product - these come in collars, diffusers or sprays for blankets and replicate the hormones of a lactating bitch, and have a calming effect.

If worst comes to worst, you may have to keep them separate, preferably with two closed doors between them in an airlock setup.

 

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For clarification, there are 3 dogs in residence with me. The other 4 yr old, my oldest's dog, doesn't live here but she is here quite often. I really appreciate the advice. I know I can get a lot of opinions/advice here and I can figure out what works best with my pack. My neighbor works with rescues and she gave some advice about making sure only the alpha dog has the responsibility of the younger dog but that didn't seem to work, at least it hasn't yet. Again, thank you. I look forward to more advice. And they do otherwise like each other. They already established their own ground rules with each other and get upset when they are separated. Just add that extra element and the older get dominate and my younger dog is submissive, but like a teenager, she has to have a lot to say to the older dog before she backs away.
 

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UPDATE: It's not fairytale perfect by far but the girls are figuring it out by themselves. The puppy is a royal pain to the older 2 girls but the fighting between the older 2 has definitely lessened significantly. The three are now playing more and more with each other, the puppy trying her best to keep up with the older two. She, the puppy, is so brazen she actually growls back at the older two when they are trying to put her in her place. She gets whacked with a paw several times a day but that doesn't stop her from wanting to teeth on the older two or just plain annoy them. Us humans figured out that Gabby is not a morning dog and needs her beauty sleep until 9 or 10 am before she is ready to play or interact with the puppy. The oldest dog learned to get up on the couch and out of the reach of the puppy but the puppy has gravitated towards the oldest dog as a mother figure and when not annoying her will try to cuddle with her. They are all sharing toys and bones even though we tried to buy 3 of everything and keep them segregated. It didn't work, they kept stealing from one another. Its a long way from complete harmony but it's definitely heading in that direction. Thank you for your advice!!! Now I am posting a legal question for my son and his dog. Help, we really need advice. Ive put that post into the other category
 
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