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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
My almost 11 month old female GSD Tess has been going after my 5 month old female Cairn Terrier, Maisie, out in our backyard. She will not allow her out in the yard for some strange reason. This behavior started about 3-4 days ago. If Maisie follows Tess outside in to our yard, Tess turns around and starts knocking her down and getting very rough with her.

We have a very large fenced in yard with lots of room for both of them to run around and have fun. They use to go out and chase one another but lately, and it's only in the yard, Tess has changed her behavior toward Maisie. In the house, Tess shares everything with Maisie, it's Maisie who doesn't always share with Tess. She's always been pretty gentle with Maisie, in spite of Maisie's jumping up and nipping at her all the time. I am currently working with Maisie on this behavior.

I try to let the dogs work out their issues without getting involved, but the other day when Tess was outside and Maisie tried to go down the deck stairs, Tess grabbed Maisie by the side of the head and proceeded to run around the yard with her. Thankfully, I had a lead on Tess and immediately corrected her for doing this, I was horrified. I'm pretty sure it scared Maisie too. Maisie is usually not afraid of anything, she'll go after Tess with no fear whatsoever, a trait known to get Cairn Terriers in trouble, they just don't back down from confrontations, but a couple of times, when Maisie attempted to follow Tess outside and Tess turned around, Maisie just ran back in the house.

I guess I'm hoping that someone on this board has dealt with issues like this and might be able to give me some advice on how to handle it. Lately, I do not let them out in the yard together and if I do, I am out there with them and have a prong collar and long lead on Tess, for Maisie's protection.

Any thoughts on what this might be happening? There use to be a time when Tess got rough with me out in the yard, but since we have bonded a lot more and Tess has matured somewhat, she has stopped this behavior.
 

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Have not had any experience with your problem, hopefully someone will come on later and have a answer for you. I do know that GSD's play very very rough. My lab is a year older than my boy and outweighs him by about 6 lbs but my shepherd knocks her around and mouths on her very roughly. Is it possible that your girl is playing and that she is just being very rough with the smaller dog?
 

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Nothing really is going on, except that your Tess has grown up a bit and started to demand more vigorous games more typical for adult dogs. She wants to play a new game and your Maisie doesn't want it. There's sort of a talk between them:
- Maisie, run away from me, let us pretend that I'm a big wolf and you are my prey. Pretend you are a deer!
- No, Tess, I don't like to be a deer...
The best thing to do in situation is to divert Tess attention to her ball and play with her, don't allow her to abuse your smaller dog. To satisfy her needs - take her to the doggy park, where she can find companions according to her body weight category, she, probably, is in quite need for a rough play
 

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Find a good trainer before your little dog ends up dead, either by accident or design.

Build pack behavior, positive training. None of us are there to witness this so we can't say if it's play or if Tess is maturing and has decided to be territorial.

And please don't take her to a dog park if she's displaying these behaviors towards a dog she knows. That is just a recipe for disaster.
 

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That doesn't sound too playful, especially if you were horrified. Good thing you had control with the leash! Do you have crates for both of them? If you leave them alone, it might be a good idea to crate them both, because this might start to happen in the house, too.

I had stumbled upon the Leerburg website and got turned off by some of the stuff I read there, but I've since found some really helpful info on it, especially their "pack structure" theory. YOU are the pack leader, and determine how they can and can't interact together - maybe leaving them to sort it themselves isn't the best idea any more. You decide who comes into your yard, not Tess. She may be justifiably fed up with the nipping, but as you've described it, she's not responding to nipping at the time, she's acting like the boss. I'd want to nip that in the bud (sorry, couldn't resist ;))

I think you can watch the video live streaming rather than waiting for delivery, or there's a lot of free ebooks and articles that might be helpful to your situation. Good luck
 

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Find a good trainer before your little dog ends up dead, either by accident or design.

Build pack behavior, positive training. None of us are there to witness this so we can't say if it's play or if Tess is maturing and has decided to be territorial.

And please don't take her to a dog park if she's displaying these behaviors towards a dog she knows. That is just a recipe for disaster.
^ this. If you aren't sure what you are seeing, get someone in who can explain it you and help you work through it.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Tess has a trainer and he trains mostly GSD's, in fact, he has a large dominant GSD, his name is Rommel (says it all). He has been advising me to work with Tess on her long lead, working especially on her recall and he also has been advising me to stay on her. I like him, he's been really good at helping with Tess' training and his mother, who is also a trainer, takes Tess out once a week on wildlife adventures, where she swims and interacts with a few other dogs her size and smaller, who also go on these adventures. I'm wondering if David Taggart hit the nail right on the head and that Tess is looking for more vigorous play, as she's getting use to playing with larger dogs, i.e., GSD's, Dobermans, Boxers, etc.

I was hoping that there were some on this forum who may have gone through similar experiences and wanted to hear how they worked on it. For now, I am afraid to let Maisie out in the yard with Tess, so have been taking them out at different times. I live in MA and we have been stuck in this awful heat wave with very high humidity for the past three weeks, so it's been hard working out in the yard on behavior issues. I don't want to subject Tess to too much heat, so I haven't been using her flirt pole or teaching her to play fetch lately and I'm sure she's really bored. Maisie can occupy herself for hours playing with her toys, where Tess has a very short attention span and appears to get bored with her toys pretty quickly. I'm sure this isn't helping with her issue.

Both Maisie and Tess have their own crates, which they both like, especially Tess, she will go in her crate without us even asking her to.

I hope I answered everyone's question and if there is anyone who has gone through this experience, please let me know.
 

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Yes, I've experienced similar behaviors with my female GSDs. The culmination of which was a dog fight in which I got injured. So my recommendation to work on it with a trainer still stands. It's not a risk I would be taking with a large-small dog combo personally.

For us, the behavior started when Holly first came here at 5 months old and is largely due to her fear and Raven's more controlling nature. They successfully lived together and were friends after a lot of bond building and focused training until Holly turned 2 years old where it started all over again. Currently, we don't make it a priority for them to spend a lot of time together. They have very structured interactions that are closely monitored but really, Holly prefers to not be with the other dogs.

Playing with other dogs out on adventures is completely different than sharing home with another dog. You cannot compare the interactions. There are plenty of dogs that live with other dogs but aggressive to others outside the family just as there are dogs that don't want to share their home but are good with dogs out and about.

There are lots of mental activities you can do with Tess inside to keep her mind occupied and tire her out when it's too hot for physical activity. Nose Work is always fun for the dog or just working on training and playing.
 

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You have two bitches (not always a good thing).

The Cairn's 'puppy license' is starting to expire. Your GSD now sees her as a maturing female and that can cause some serious bitch fights.

It has NOTHING to do with dominance. It has to do with owning two females.

In some cases multiple females can get along with no problem. BUT, when they decide NOT to get along it can end up being very bloody and potentially deadly.

If the GSD bitch is not spayed I would do that now. It might not make a difference but it might help.

I would NEVER leave them alone unsupervised.

There's a saying in the dog world:

Males fight for breeding rights. Females fight for BREATHING rights.

I speak from experience. I came home one day many years ago to a house that looked like someone had filmed a horror movie while I was gone. There was blood splattered EVERYWHERE - floor, walls, ceiling - and furniture overturned.

My oldest bitch was in the kitchen, hiding from me. The younger one was under the overturned couch - with multiple puncture wounds all over her body. Rushed her to the vet and she ended up with stitches and drains everywhere.

I had not noticed the subtle signs from my oldest girl that she was not happy with a younger, intact female in the house.

I was able to have them in the same room together with no problems (my oldest respected my authority) but when I wasn't home they were separated by at LEAST two doors.
 

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I agree with the trainer, keep Tess on a leash and continuously work on a command like "be nice" or the like which is a warning to tone down the play. Failure to comply means an immediate time out and all fun stops for at least thirty seconds or until the dog in time out has calmed down.

Tess will learn and the leash will keep Maisie safe. Be firm and consistent and you should see improvement

I had to deal with a large high energy puppy living with two small dogs, a feisty poodle who has NO tolerance for playing with larger dogs and a small yorkie who is old and frail. Needless to say, from day 1 he was taught to respect them. Now I can leave them unsupervised if I'm in the same general area (same floor) or outside for a few minutes with the door cracked or window open. I will never leave them totally alone unsupervised for years to come however. They're both crated when I can't watch them or we're out of the house. It is manageable but it does take effort, my situation has nothing to do with female/female or male/male, simply size and temperament differences
 

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Not only owning two females, but you have two dogs of disparate sizes. There is always a very real possibility that your GSD will injure your Cairn unintentionally when playing just due to the sheer difference in size and strength. Compare the size of a Cairn's bones with a GSDs. I would keep them apart.
 
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