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The female puppy is almost a year old and will bite and shake on our older male dog's neck and ear for basically no reason. She does not growl to warn him and will go straight for the attack. This has happened many times and the latest attack required stitches. They are now separated since the puppy fixates on the dog so I use a leash to walk her by. The puppy has been living with the older dog since birth.

They would sleep in the same bed at night fine, spend time in the backyard with no issues, but random indoor biting occurs for something as simple as myself walking by the older dog.

This is only towards dogs and there are NO signs of aggression towards people. If this dog was in a single pet home, you would think she is the most lovable lapdog and have no idea how she could be so aggressive.



The older dog is a bit shorter in size and pretty much sleeps all day. He does not do any aggressive actions and moments before being attacked, will lower his head away from the other dog and show other signs he does not want any trouble. He has never started the attack and is too weak to defend himself.



Some reasons why I think this may be happening. The older dog used to steal her food but has since stopped since being attacked (bite and shake) and the puppy has been attacked by a cat at about 4 months of age. These situations may have implemented bad behavior.


What would you recommend to do if obedience/behavior training cannot solve this issue? Shelters will not want her because she can be unpredictable in her biting behavior. I would not want her euthanized since she would do fine as a single pet in a home.






both dogs spayed/neuter/vaccinated
 

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Obedience training is a good idea in cases with aggression, but the obedience training itself doesn't help. Behavioral modification is separate from obedience training.

Have you taken steps towards behavioral modification? What methods have you tried? Are you working with a trainer?

I would highly recommend involving a professional in a case like this. It kind of sounds like you haven't involved any yet and even maybe like you haven't been doing any behavioral modification training? If the dog is not displaying warnings you can see before she attacks (no growling/barking), then it is probably she is displaying much less obvious signals that a professional would notice (calming signals, whale eye, tense body language). Because you mention that there are no warnings, I think blood work and a check by a vet is a good idea just to rule out medical problems causing aggressive behavior. If the dog is truly not displaying ANY warning signs then it is almost definitely something medical.

Counter Conditioning could be helpful in this situation, although it does sound like she's already pretty bad and it doesn't sound like a great situation for either dog, especially the older one being attacked. It will be a long, hard road to recovery for her.

With counter conditioning, you're working to change her emotional response to the things that trigger her to act aggressive. All work is done with the dog below threshold, meaning that your goal is to never have her snap at the other dog. You have someone hold the other dog at a distance she is comfortable with and keep it calm/focused on the handler, usually this can be done by distracting the other dog with food. You then hold the problem dog on a loose leash and feed her for looking calmly at the other dog. Every so often, the other dog is moved out of sight and the feeding stops. Slowly, the other dog is move closer and starts doing more stressful things (like walking, then moving quickly, etc). Below is a video of a trainer counter-conditioning 2 bulldogs who have attacked each other in the past:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-9e4fcRJ6Eo

Stay away from trainers that implement dominance based methods. I would advise avoiding aversive/correction training methods (involving ecollars), and know the risks before using a prong collar. The largest risk of these methods is the risk of re-directed aggression from the trigger (other dog) to the handler. Other risks include escalation (either becoming more aggressive or more reactive or moving from just being reactive to being aggressive), as well as shutdown (essentially they have "left the building" and stopped reacting to stimulus because they are overwhelmed, not because they have somehow learned not to repeat the behavior), and learned helplessness (which, scientifically, means that an animal consistently exposed to an aversive has come to think that it's behaviors and the outcome- the aversive- are independent and it no longer does anything to escape the aversive because it sees it as inevitable).

The vast majority of cases can be resolved by behavioral modification. Cases that cannot be resolved usually have something to do with medical issues.

Euthanasia is really a super last resort and usually something people choose only after extensive attempts at behavioral modification, if the dog is truely dangerous to people or other dogs and managing it indefinitely to minimize risk would lead to a very poor quality of life.

Rehoming may be an option. I think that it is irresponsible to do so without first trying to address the problem yourself. Be aware that rehoming may have consequences in the future: a lot of breeders and shelters will be weary of giving a dog to someone who has a history of re-homing animals that have problems. I'm not saying they would be right to be weary, but that they may be. Have you actually tried contacting shelters? There may be shelters that would take her. A lot of shelters will take dog-aggressive dogs (even very dog aggressive ones). What they will not take are people aggressive dogs. You could try finding her a home yourself, as well, being very open about her extreme dog aggression. If she is not a very small dog, though, she will likely have trouble finding a new home. A very dog aggressive large dog is not something most people want. I question how responsible it would be for you to re-home her until you have tried very hard at behavioral modification training, though.
 

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Management. Restriction of the dog from places/scenarios in which they may fight. Since your dog is fighting in your home, with your other dog, that will likely mean something like this: Pit Bull Rescue Central . Personally, when I've had dogs that needed to be kept separate, I used the crate(s) minimally, as my dogs respected gates when we were home and were closed in separate rooms when we weren't home. I would confine in rooms if it can done safely rather than crates if possible, though if dogs chew doors they need to be crated for obvious reasons. It may be possible with training for your young dog to eventually learn to leave your old dog alone under direct supervision, but there will always be the possibility for something to trigger a fight when they are together.

The lack of blatant warning signs (growling, etc) before fighting is not entirely uncommon with dog aggressive dogs that are not fearful- they want to fight, so their behavior is typically geared toward provoking a physical conflict, rather than avoiding it. You have to protect your older dog, as it's obvious he can't protect himself (which isn't a bad thing in and of itself, as it's much harder to break up a fight between 2 willing participants). Also, each fight that your young dog gets into is more practice, and they do get better/faster at it, as you can see by the increasing level of damage that is occurring. Since you can't prevent fights from occurring when they are together, the safest thing for everyone is to separate at this point. You can and should bring in a trainer and try to increase your young dog's tolerance level, but it is quite unlikely that they will ever be "friends". Even if they do become friends, they will always be friends that could become mortal enemies at the drop of a hat.

I also would not allow the pup to fixate on your older dog when on leash passing by. Either keep her focus on you via toys, food, or obedience, or make sure there is a vision barrier to prevent it. At this point, my goal would be to have her view him with as much interest as a piece of furniture, rather than as her designated victim. Based on your description of his behavior before she attacks him, he is probably quite stressed when she is around, and needs to feel safe.

It certainly can't hurt to have her examined by a vet to rule out a medical cause, but dog aggression is rather common in some breeds, and certainly possible in any. If she is fine with people and you can keep her safely, that is probably her best bet, as homes for dogs like this are few and far between and it could be a liability to place her (it could be to keep her as well, but at least you know if you are taking correct steps to minimize risk).
 
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