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Hello, I'm new to the site, and need some advice. Our family dog Brie is a 7yr old Jack Russell Terrior. We have had her since she was a puppy. A few years ago, we got a mixed Chihuahua. Brie has always been a very sweet and loving dog. Her and the Chihuahua "Dottie" get along great, until recently. 99% of the time, Brie and Dottie are best of friends, always running around together. But recently Brie has started completely snapping and attacking Dottie. It happens very randomly and at first was every few months, but her aggression is escalating and happening more often. She never does any serious harm to Dottie, but it just shakes Dottie up. The last time it happened was a few weeks ago, and then tonight, the dogs were fine, and suddenly Brie started attacking Dottie right in front of us, for a reason we couldn't see. One minute they're laying together, the next Brie snaps. We punish her and put her outside and things seem to go back to normal with the dogs. But I feel like its getting out of hand, and we don't know where to go from her. The dogs are seperated, and I'm not comfortable with putting them together. Its just difficult because the majority of the time, Brie is the sweetest dog. We don't know calling in a trainer is even worth it, or if we should just give her away to a family with no other dogs. Please any advice or similiar situations would be helpful. Thanks
 

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Sometimes if one dog is sick, other dogs will get aggressive towards them, even if it is something that you can't see on the surface. Something about the different hormones/etc. makes other dogs upset.

So perhaps having a checkup for Dottie would be an option?
 

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Hello, thanks for your response. Dottie was actually at the Vet last week getting a check up, shes in good health. It's a hard situation, because its not like Brie is normally aggressive at all with Dottie or other dogs. So its difficult to train her for aggression when it happens completely randomly and other far apart.
 

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I'm just wondering if when the dog becomes aggressive, if you are actually reinforcing the behavior by putting the dog outside. It's something you might want to look at and maybe try changing the way in which you break the fight up, or the punishment. Maybe instead of punishing, try redirecting the behavior to something different. I'm thinking, the way you explained it, the bad behavior is being reinforced by you putting the dog outside, which might be where he wants to be and now has a way to get there. Usually there would be 2 reasons for a behavior to escillate, one is mentioned above, medical issues, the other is being reinforced.
 

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This sounds like it can be a pretty complex issue. I think it is worth bringing in a trainer before rehoming Brie. Rehoming is usually the last resort when dealing with "sibling rivalry."

A checkup is a good idea, but I would have your vet take a look at Brie too. Aggressive behavior can be a result of discomfort or pain. I recently saw a dog that had starting snapping at people and noticed a limp that ended up being due to a painful hip.

While you are not seeing a reason for Brie's outburst, there is one. One of the most common causes is conflicts over possessions, food, space, or people. It may be worth getting the family together and trying to find a common thread. Try going over where the dog's were in relation to each other, where the humans were in relation to the 2 dogs, and also if there were any items lying around. I've seen dogs that fight over dropped tissues. And yes, it's not uncommon for dogs to guard things from other dogs and not from people.

Last, I agree with Lonewolfblue. Punishment is not really a good approach. First, your punishment might actually be reinforcing in this case. Second, punishment is not going to address the underlying cause of the conflicts. You need to find that cause - a good trainer or behavior consultant can help you with that.
 
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