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Please help. All opinions needed.

2015 Views 12 Replies 8 Participants Last post by  Jax08
I brought home Kara my new SchH3 female (5 years old) GSD and introduced her to my 4 other dogs. 1 Labrador Retriever(female)(6 years old), 1 Australian Shepherd(female)(4 years old), 1 German Shepherd(female)(3 years old) and 1 German Shepherd(male)(5 years old). The Labrador and Aussie are both spayed. The three German Shepherds are unaltered(this might matter). Anyway, everything went well. Kara got along well with all my dogs with no problems. They played, slept, and did everything together. I just got done taking all the dogs on a walk together, and when I got home, I gave Kara her tennis ball. My Aussie went near her and out of nowhere, Kara attacked her not in a dominate way, but in a very aggressive way. I managed to separate them, thank goodness no dogs were injured. The next day I did my usual routine and let all the dogs out together. As soon as Kara and my Aussie saw each other, both dogs got into another huge dog fight out of nowhere. I thought to myself, what is going on. So me and my husband put each dog on a leash and took them to a quiet spot away from all the other dogs. We noticed alot of aggression from both dogs as they got close to each other. I have no clue what had happened. I have tried to show them both it's ok, but every time they would see each other, or get near each other, they would always try to fight. I now had to keep them separated. So another day when I took just the 4 dogs on a walk, Kara and my other female shepherd suddenly got into a huge fight. Same thing that happened with my Aussie, happened now with my other female German Shepherd. I now have to keep them separated. Another day I had Kara in the front yard while the other dogs were in the backyard. Kara managed to escape into the back. As soon as she saw the Aussie, they got into another fight. The other female German Shepherd jumped into the fight only attacking the Aussie. My female Labrador and male shepherd stayed away. I broke up the fight. As soon as things calmed down and when the Aussie and other female German Shepherd (Kia) met again, they never fought or never showed any aggression towards each other. They play like they always have. But every time Kara see's or get's near the Aussie or other female shepherd, will go crazy and try to attack them. To this day, I cannot get Kara to get along with the Aussie and other shepherd. Kara is totally fine with the female Labrador and male shepherd and has never had any fights, or showed any aggression towards them. The male shepherd sadly has passed away, so the only dog Kara can play with is the Labrador. They get along so well and have never had any fights, and Kara has never attempted to fight her. When it comes to the two other dogs, Kara will do anything she can to get a hold of them. Also now she is very aggressive with other big dogs. When Kara meets a small dog, no problems at all. She LOVES small dogs and only loves the Labrador. I understand Kara being highly trained in protection might be the problem, but I still don’t understand. This is a weird situation and I just need your thought on it. Thanks.
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Wow, that's a lot of bitches in one house. I am not in the least surprised that you are having problems bringing in an intact adult bitch into your home with three other adult bitches, one of which is intact. I'm sure you've heard the phrase bitch fight? There's a darn good reason for it.

I do not think there is any chance of your new dog getting along with your other dogs at this point and you will have to keep them separated at all times. Didn't you check to see if they could get along before you brought her in?
How long have you had her? It sounds like you've had her awhile or did your male shepherd suddenly pass away when you got her?

I agree with Elaine. It sounds like a dominance issue between Kara and your Aussie. Kia is jumping in with a pack mentality. You'll have to keep them separated.

Schutzhund training is not the problem. Can I ask why you bought a Sch3 dog? Were you planning on competing with her? Is she a higher drive dog? Were you aware that she was a dominant dog prior to buying her?
The being trained in protection has nothing to do with it. Some dogs are more prone to same sex aggression and the rest is basically up to her personality.

My SchH3 male is dominate by nature. He gets along great with puppies, females, and very submissive males. Not with other males. Challenges can be very subtle...too long of eye contact, a slight forward shift in body posture...and then it's on.

The tennis ball could have a been a very big part of her training and she could have been taught to be very possessive of it. She may have been resource guarding and it's been my general experience that once 2 dogs take to fighting with each other it's difficult to get them to stop...they sort of know who their target is.

The transfer to other big dogs is concerning. I have another dog that had too many bad experiences as a puppy and tends to get tense when he's around strange dogs that are in his comfort zone. This tenseness means that any quick or forward movement by the other dog and he's pretty sure he's in for it, so he tries to be proactive. He never goes after other dogs, doesn't bark or lunge when he sees them. Can lay in proximity to them. He's great with the dogs in our house that he is comfortable with, including another intact male. But I cannot allow him to interact with strange dogs.

Really it's sort of hard to know exactly what's going on without seeing it. I would try and find a reputable behaviorist in your area and understand she may just not be the kind of dog that likes everyone else. That's not particularly unusual in my experience with GSDs.
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I don't think that the SchH is to blame. I think it's just the fact that they're girls.

"Males fight for breeding rights, females fight for breathing rights."
i'm sorry you're having issues. It does sound like dominance issues. My female Zena is a very dominant girl. She's one to beat the other dog to a bloody pulp if she percieves a challenge. It is possible for them to get along but i wouldnt count on it. Beyond tons of training, have a behavorist come in and see what they think. Given you have that many females in the house... keep them seperated at all times. Something you could try is crate them next to each other and gives lots of treats to both dogs. That can help show them good things happen when they behave around the other. Victoria Stillwell did and episode that involved reducing stress training and getting the dogs to learn to relax and get along. I wish you the best in figuring this out!
Kara got along well with all the dogs at first. Once the first fight started, that's when things changed. She is such a sweetheart when it comes to people, just not torwards the two other dogs and some other dogs. We still do compete with her, and she has no problems at all when it comes to taking her to shows. She has a VERY high ball drive. When we first purchased her, things were totally fine. That's were I don't understand how her behavior changed. :/

The male shepherd had passed away due to bloat and a twisted stomach. It's the saddest story. But his death has nothing to do with Kara.

Kara is now 8 years old. I have had her for awhile now and still her dominance issue has not changed. Do you think there is anything I can do?
rehoming dogs sometimes takes time for them to settle in before the behaviors come out.

The high ball drive may have triggered the fighting between she and the Aussie, but many girl-girl problems do not need any help.

I would not rule out your Aussie having been the original aggressor. Dogs tell other dogs they are higher on the totem pole in very suttle ways sometimes. Dogs understan it for the most part. Just going for that ball, may have been an outword show of dominance.
I have never heard of bitches getting along once they hate each other.
I agree, once there is blood between bitches, you will either have to have them separated all the time, or step up training, exercise, leadership, and practice constant vigilence. When ever you are not there, and idealy, two adults are not there, the bitches should not be out together.

It is not easy to separate two girls who are trying to KILL each other on your own.

I have heard horror stories about people coming home to find one bitch dead and the other in need of euthanization.

Dogs fight, and one usually cries uncle, and normally it is over then. Bitches either NEVER cry uncle, or they do not care if the other one does. I have heard of people letting their dogs figure it out, not bitches. I don't think spaying will help, though it could reduce the cycles, and sometimes aggression is increases during heat or pregnancy or while raising a young litter. So, removing those aspects could make a difference, or it could simply remove breeding/showing capabilities.

A friend of mine had a litter out of her bitch and ended up with two of the female puppies. When I met her, pups were three years old and the bitch was six. Every so often she is at the vet, her girls had gotten into it again. These bitches were 90 pounds easy, so separating them was no joke. But it sounds like they were able to have them together again, so long as they could break anything up quick if need be.
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Same sex aggression (SSA aka Interdog/Interbitch aggression) is a fairly common issue in GSDs, especially in bitches and not uncommon in Aussies. It is not really a "dominance" issue, many SSA dogs will attack even if the other dog offers appeasement gestures or doesn't fight back. It is a genetic temperament trait, just like shyness,drive,protective instinct,etc. Usually when two same sex dogs develop these sorts of problems, there is really no going back. The fights only tend to escalate in severity the more often they occur. No matter what some people try to claim, you can't bully these dogs into all happily living together. At best, things will always be tense and stressful between them, at worst they (or you) will become seriously injured during a fight.

Your best option at this point is either "Rotatodog" (crate and rotate - keep the new GSD bitch away from the other bitches at all times: separate house time, yard time, walks, everything). Or rehome the dog who is the biggest issue, which I would guess would be the new GSD bitch. I'm really surprised and disappointed that her breeder wouldn't have warned you about bringing an adult bitch into a home with multiple other adult bitches - GSD and other herding breed bitches no less!

FWIW spaying does not seem to decrease SSA in bitches the way it sometimes does with males. In some forms of SSA, spaying actually can increase aggression towards other bitches.

Some info on SSA:
Interdog aggression can strike with deadly consequences - DVM
Interdog aggression: What are the warning signs? - DVM

Crate and Rotate:
Pit Bull Rescue Central
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Thank you to all for your wonderful opinions and thoughts on this. This has helped me better understand things.

Thanks Again :)
I"m sorry for the loss of your boy. :( It's truly tragic when we lose them before their time.

I would say that since this has been going on for 3 years that the chances of 'fixing' it are slim to none. I agree with AgileGSD...you can't make them like each other. You might make them comply while you are looking right at them but you'll never be able to trust them to not fight.
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