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With 2 female dogs, one of them will take the role of lead bitch. It usually helps if both are spayed from my experience.

One of the many, many advantages of spaying/neutering is it evens out temperaments.

(Unrelated note: Since I discovered this blog in Vienna and primarily read it at home in the Netherlands, and rarely comment, I'm tickled at the chance to comment while sitting on the couch of a friend...in Cape Town.)

Spaying will definitely help calm her down a little, but Rotties and Staffies can be protective of their food.
Has she had any kind of schooling since you adopted her? Is there perhaps a trainer who can give you some tips on handling food time?
With our guide-dog pups, we teach them from day one that they may not eat until they are told "okay", and then we practice taking the food away and giving it back so they understand the food belongs to their human, and to make sure that should a child put their fingers in the bowl while they're eating there's no aggression.

Yes! Get her spayed. 2 male dogs are fine together if they are not neutered. A male and a female are fine together if not spayed/neutered, but 2 females, ESPECIALLY if they are not raised together, will be aggressive. Usually at least one will be the aggressor. The sooner the spay gets done, the better. Will take a bit after the procedure until hormones are out of her system though. Good luck! :)

I am no help on the spaying issue and agree that if there is serious aggression involved in the food issue then it is likely worth getting professional help (especially aggression that extends to people; if Shelley is submissive, then the dogs may be OK with their roles; I have one who defends his food from the other -- not actively aggressive about it but protective when dog 2, who eats faster, wanders over -- and they do fine, touch wood and all that. Dog 1 barks/growls if Dog 2 gets too close while Dog 1 is eating, and Dog 2 backs off. They are otherwise good friends (both neutered males)).

But -- I will say as a kid we had a rescue dog who had been starved as a puppy and (no aggression, though some greediness/grabbiness) always gulped his food like it was his last meal. We always joked (gently) about how his early days had shaped him. And then my mom got a dog that was a purebred, intentionally bred and raised and never went hungry a day in her life, and she was exactly the same way. So there could be some personality aspects to what you are seeing.

I agree that it would definitely help to get Fluffy spayed. Found a very helpful answer from Cesar http://www.cesarsway.com/askthevet/doghealth/Heat-and-Aggression . Think it is important to get it done as soon as possible, before the aggression becomes a habit and not just a hormonal side-effect.

We also adopted a dog and looking at her teeth the vet told us that she was clearly starved during the first weeks of her life. She is however very calm about feeding times, so think it has more to do with personality. But she is also our only dog, so there is no "competition" over food.

Definitely get her spayed. Not just from the hormonal/bitchy standpoint, but also because unspayed dogs are prone to mammary tumors and ovarian cancer.

As to the food aggression, how do you handle things when Fluffy is grumbly toward Shelly? Be VERY sure you are not inadvertently reinforcing the bad behavior by trying to "calm" Fluffy when this happens (speaking in a soothing voice - e.g. trying to convince her to behave nicely - petting to get her to stop growling, etc.). The dog will view this as affirmation of the bad behavior, and it will only ramp up. I have been involved with dog rescue for 2.5 years now, and have dealt with all manner of behavior issues. I'd be happy to give you tips, if you want to know how to resolve this. Be forewarned that NOT addressing her food aggression (with Shelly) ASAP may cause it to carry over to her behavior with humans. And that would be a Very Bad Thing.

Get her spayed, definitely, but it's also a training issue. Dogs with dominance issues need structure, and a clearly defined pecking order. Two is the right age for this to come up because she is now fully adult, and so will see herself as entitled to status that she wasn't entitled to before. Being consistent with identifying one of them as top dog (pick the better behaved one) will reduce these problems. It's really easy to do, you just give everything to the top dog first (greetings, toys, food, affection, etc.).

My dog was abandoned and rescued some months later, after nearly starving to death. She's been with us three years now, and she is still very food defensive. I wouldn't expect her to get over the memory of being hungry for so long, and I don't think she will. I know that some people have success training that out of dogs, but it can be very hard.

My two females happen to be cats. Due to unfortunate timing, the young one reached maturity just before to the older, dominant one's health started to decline. Much bitchiness ensued until the younger one took charge. Both cats were spayed during kitten-hood. The third one, a neutered tabby boy, just looked on puzzled by all the noise.

Hubby's aunt is a noted dog writer who always makes herself the 'Top Dog' and leader of her Pack. The animals must follow her, obey her, eat on command etc. As a cat owner, I find it all quite mystifying.

Also, mention to the vet that will spay her that she has become bitchy. she might have a tooth ache or some other ailment that is irritating her. S/he should give her a good "once over" while she is unconscious.

We have two labbies, from different breeders. George's litter were all fed in individual bowls, and he eats like a gentleman. Cilla's litter were fed together in one long tray, competing for food, and she still (at age 8) eats like an industrial strength vacuum cleaner.

Spaying should make fluffy's moods more even, but I don't think you can guarantee that they won't be evenly grumpy...

You've lost most of the health benefits of early spay re: mammary tumors (spay has to be before second heat), but as she's reached sexual maturity, that's probably why you're getting the moods. Spaying will help but probably not fully abate the issue. Two female dogs are hard, as others noted. A trainer may help on the food issue, but I've never had much luck with that one with my dogs with a history of food issues. We fed those dogs separately if another dog was inclined to challenge but mostly the other dogs knew to steer clear. We always kept the kids away at mealtimes when they were small. Now they are old enough to know to leave a dog alone when it's eating.

Hi Tertia, try slowing down Fluffys eating - see http://www.wantitall.co.za/Dogit-Go-Slow-Anti-Gulping-Dog-Bowl-Blue-X-Small__B0035H39AS for example - these are dog bowls specially designed to slow down fast eaters (I'm assuming that she eats her food quickly lest Shelley wants to 'steal' it).

Please, please have her spayed. Going through heats are not going to do her any favours. She should have been spayed as soon as it was allowable/appropriate by the vet.

They say that you should never have two similar sized dogs of the same gender, because eventually there will be a challenge for which one of them belongs at the top of the pecking order. My parents made that mistake and one day one of them tore the other one's ear off, even though they got on fine as puppies. A dog trainer explained that you must treat one of them as the dominant dog and feed them first etc. Then there is no question in their minds, and they are more peaceful!

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