Since you were so good with that, I had to write this post and ask you all for some advice for my sister, Paint Girl. Many of you are not only equine lovers and owners, but those canines have a huge spot in your hearts, as well.
My sister is struggling with one of her dog's behavior right now. She has two dogs. Bailey is a 2 year old 3/4 Australian Shepherd, 1/4 Border Collie. He is the friendliest, loving family and farm dog. He is just a joy of a dog to have around. Goodness, he is always Mr. Happy Waggy Tail! Well, he doesn't really have a tail, just a bobbed stump with hair!
Bailey adores me and I call him "my dog." He doesn't have a mean bone in his body.
A little over a year ago, my sister had to put down two of their beloved aged dogs at the same time, one due to severe hip dysplasia, and the other due to a blown out knee. To keep Bailey young and in good company, they began the search for a new puppy and responded to an ad for purebred Australian Shepherds. My sister wanted a blue merle female and found one in the litter of 8. This little one was also one of the tiniest puppies in the litter. My sister put a deposit on her at about age 7 weeks, then visited her every week until she was ready to be weaned. They named this puppy "Sadie" and she came home to live on the farm with Bailey, the cats, goats, and the horses about a year ago in August.
Sadie when she was brought home an innocent fluff ball puppy; her big brother Bailey protectively watching her in the background.
Ever since she was brought home as a young pup, and more noticeable around the time that Sadie was spayed, she began to display some alpha female aggression. She would growl and occasionally attack Bailey for no apparent reason. Then, the aggression was turned on my sister. At the advice of a cousin who had experienced similar issues with her female Cattle dog, my sister eventually pinned Sadie to the ground and held her until she submitted, and the problem seemed resolved. Sadie and my sister were best friends for a while.
However, the problem with Bailey continued. They would play like best buddies one minute, then Sadie would get territorial about the garage, or some unknown thing, and turn on Bailey. Bailey would never fight back. He would often cower or hide behind the car or in the corner of the garage if Sadie walked in. My sister tried positive reinforcement techniques that she learned from watching The Dog Whisperer, and these seemed to help lessen the issue for a while. A month would go by with little problem, it would soon resurface again. My sister said it almost seemed mental. Sadie would just go crazy for no apparent reason. After a full day outside and playing, resulting in one very tired dog, she would get really cranky and even more growly and aggresive.
Bailey finally found his backbone. This non-aggressive dog had had enough. He began to fight back! My sister's boyfriend had to tear the dogs apart during a few of their fights. Once Sadie was yelping in pain because Bailey had a hold of her ear so tightly. The last fight, this week out on the property during horse feeding time, Bailey got a cut on his nose that almost required stitches.
Bailey and Sadie are still good friends some of the time, too!
We can not solve the mystery of the aggressive female dog. My sister's fear is that Sadie will turn this aggression onto neighbor dogs, children, the other farm animals, or, human friends and visitors to the farm. My sister is not sure this dog can stay part of their family. She loves Sadie dearly as she has raised her since she was a little pup, and she has her sweet moments. However, she feels that it is unfair to have Bailey live his life in fear of being attacked. One just never knows what will set her off. My sister has even considering having her euthanized. Her reasoning here is that it is unfair to place a known aggressive dog into another home. Although Sadie has never "attacked" a human, you do not want a misunderstood dog to end up in the wrong hands, only to end up passed around, abused, or possibly at the shelter down the line.
This is tearing my sister apart. I have recommended that she seek the advice of her trusted veterinarian, who should be able to suggest a behavioral therapist for dogs or a possible cause. Has anyone out there ever experienced anything like this with dogs? Any ideas for a resolution?