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Thread: Help .. My Two Females Are Fighting

  1. #1

    Default Help .. My Two Females Are Fighting

    I have two female shih tzu dogs (both desexed now). They are both around 4yrs old and I have had them for about 2-3yrs. They originally started having dominance issues when they were both entire. I had them desexed about 8mths ago and have had virtually no problems since. About a month ago they started again and it is getting worse daily. I have absolutely no idea how to stop this behaviour and I'm at my wits end. I do not want to rehome one of them, but if I cant stop this, I'm afraid I will have to. I had a dog trainer come and help me last time they did this and it didnt really help. Both dogs are fairly obedient until they start at one another, then selective deafness creeps in, and they just dont respond. Can anyone help or suggest something ... I'm desperate!!

  2. #2

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    This is the unfortunately side to a)having dogs of similar ages (possibly litter mates?) and b) having two bitches especially two bitches you waited to desex until 3 years old.

    How bad are the fights? Ie: have they required vet treatment? Is there any injuries to either dog? Or no injuries at all? What is the trigger to the fights? Ie: Is is always inside/outside, around food, around you or someone else, in a confined space, during high energy play? How are they normally when they are not fighting ie: do they avoid each other? Do they play together? Do they sleep together? What is their relationship?

    Depending on the severity of the fights and the reason/trigger for the fights and what their general relationship is like it is hard to give you advice on how to fix the issue.

    It may be that you cannot fix it (sometimes 2 bitches will hate each other and it just cannot be fixed) and you might have to work on a rotational system which shouldn't be hard with two small dogs. My dogs spend most of their time being rotated and they both are 30kg dogs, the only time they get to spend together is when they are supervised and preferably outside the house as they have had a few spats inside but in general have an ok relationship ie: will play together, don't avoid each other and I know that the older dog is aggressor.

    At this stage until you either work out what the issue is and make a plan to try and fix it or get a behaviouralist in I would be separating the dogs for a while.

  3. #3
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    having dominance issues
    Just wondering what you mean by this - apart from they fight.

    I agree with K&P - we need more information about why they fight and when they fight (is it only when you're home?). And what you do about it?

    I don't know what kind of behavourist you got in last time but if she or he didn't teach you how to manage the dogs which is not the same as "curing" them of the problem behaviour, then it won't fix the problem long term.

    If they are siblings - it may be very hard to fix as they would have been competiting against each other to survive since birth.

    I would also suggest crate training them and keeping them separated when you are out or unable to supervise. If they're fighting over access to you - a valuable resource to them, then you won't be able to let them out together when you are around to supervise either.

  4. #4

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    They are not siblings and I got them both about 6mths apart from different places. The main trigger seems to be me, but having said that, any visitors will cause them to fight. They do not injure each other, they mostly just growl with a bit of barking, it seems to me to be mostly to gain dominance. They get over it relatively quickly, then sleep side by side and often lick each other. The annoying part is they just keep doing it. I'm guessing that its because I'm a bad mum and they dont see me as 'their pack leader'. I have tried to rectify this, but not having much experience in this field, I'm obviously failing at it. If I just ignore them and walk away they get over it much quicker than if I try and stop them.

  5. #5
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    I wouldn't call growling and barking fighting. If you suspect they do it to get your attention, the best thing is to get up immediately and leave the room. Dogs can be a bit like toddlers, as in that any attention is better than no attention at all.

  6. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by spirit123 View Post
    They are not siblings and I got them both about 6mths apart from different places. The main trigger seems to be me, but having said that, any visitors will cause them to fight. They do not injure each other, they mostly just growl with a bit of barking, it seems to me to be mostly to gain dominance. They get over it relatively quickly, then sleep side by side and often lick each other. The annoying part is they just keep doing it. I'm guessing that its because I'm a bad mum and they dont see me as 'their pack leader'. I have tried to rectify this, but not having much experience in this field, I'm obviously failing at it. If I just ignore them and walk away they get over it much quicker than if I try and stop them.
    Domestic Dogs are not Wolves, they do not live in "packs" they live in families like we do. Actually research proves that wolves also live as families and not as packs. Mum and Dad are in charge and the rest are "children" as such. Then children grow up and leave to start their own families. This is also true for wild dogs.

    So do your dogs actually bite each other? Because your description just sounds like they growl and bark but do not actually make contact?
    If that is the case then you dogs are not fighting as such and there is no need to panic.
    When they are growling and barking at each other what else are they doing? It is really hard to interpret the meaning of their barking and growling at each other without seeing their body language. Barking and growling to dogs is either a way of getting another dogs attention to then use body language to communicate or as a warning. So without being able to see the body language it is really hard to tell you what exactly they are telling each other.

    It may just be posturing, it may be a warning, it may be the build up to an eventual proper fight.

    To start with I would crate train them. I would then be crating them both when people who set them off come over. If they start this ritual when it is just you, I would time them both out. Ie: Mark the bad behavior with something like "too bad" then pick them both up and put them in their crates for 2 minutes or until they are quiet if they are barking in their crates.
    Before you use their crates for timeouts please make sure you crate train properly, here is some info on how to make your dogs crates a comfy, happy place and how to train them to love their crates.
    American Dog Trainers Network -- How To Successfully Crate Train Your Puppy

  7. #7

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    Wow, there is obviously so much to take into account here. Thanks for all the info so far.
    They do fight and they do grab each other with their mouths, but they havent injured each other. I was told that sibling often do this while ascerting who is the most dominant. They dont actually hurt each other just threaten alot. One usually ends up standing over the other until she is quiet then they the more dominant one does thi body arching around the other one. Then its all over and they settle until something else sets them off. I have noticed that doorways, hallways and any other confined area is usally a good trigger too, so I am trying different ways to get them to come inside etc. Sometimes I have success and sometimes I dont. Mostly at this stage, I just walk away from them as this seems to end it fairly quickly and with less agression. I guess I'm not sure if this is the right thing to do as they seem to be doing it more and more often and I dont know if I'm contributing to it by walking away from it.
    Kiera & Phoenix, I know that crate training is a big training aide in America and probably Australia too, but I'm not a big fan of it. I also know that it appears to have improved/solved alot of dog issues, I just seem to have trouble convincing myself I like the idea. I do however, believe in the 'time out' thing.

  8. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by spirit123 View Post
    Wow, there is obviously so much to take into account here. Thanks for all the info so far.
    They do fight and they do grab each other with their mouths, but they havent injured each other. I was told that sibling often do this while ascerting who is the most dominant. They dont actually hurt each other just threaten alot. One usually ends up standing over the other until she is quiet then they the more dominant one does thi body arching around the other one. Then its all over and they settle until something else sets them off. I have noticed that doorways, hallways and any other confined area is usally a good trigger too, so I am trying different ways to get them to come inside etc. Sometimes I have success and sometimes I dont. Mostly at this stage, I just walk away from them as this seems to end it fairly quickly and with less agression. I guess I'm not sure if this is the right thing to do as they seem to be doing it more and more often and I dont know if I'm contributing to it by walking away from it.
    Kiera & Phoenix, I know that crate training is a big training aide in America and probably Australia too, but I'm not a big fan of it. I also know that it appears to have improved/solved alot of dog issues, I just seem to have trouble convincing myself I like the idea. I do however, believe in the 'time out' thing.
    Yes dogs have a very complicated language based mostly on their body language, it can take a lot to learn it/interpret it because it can go down to the tiniest little movements such as a flick of the tongue, twitch of an ear, where they are looking etc.

    Walking away seems like the best solution at the moment. It sounds like they are posturing and making a lot of noise but are not trying to do damage. Possibly for your attention. I would continue to walk away if they start carrying on, then do not give them attention if they seek it out from you, wait until they are calm before going to give them pats/cuddles.
    Yes often confined spaces will trigger issues is as will doorways/hallways etc. I would try to get them to sit and wait before opening doors, this way instead of being in their emotional brain they are in their thinking brain and less chance of over arousal/fights.

    To each their own. What is it about crates that you do not like?
    My dogs love their crates, they each have their own crate, and their crate is their "den" a safe haven away from me, visitors and each other, if they need a break they can go to their crate and no one is allowed to disturb them when they are in their crate. You don't have to lock your dog in a crate except in the circumstances of time out, or separating from each other whilst you have visitors or after an incident. During the day you can leave the crate doors open so they can come and go at their own pleasure.

    Yes crates certainly help solve issues and help prevent issues, here and overseas

  9. #9
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    I was told that sibling often do this while ascerting who is the most dominant.
    Who ever told you all that - you need to block your ears and sing next time they tell you anything about dogs, dog behaviour and training.

    Crates are not prisons for dogs, they should be calm places of refuge for the dog, their own personal territory where good things happen and they don't have to fight for their good stuff - like the parent's retreat in a big family home.

    Misconceptions of the Mythical Alpha Dog | Dog Star Daily

    On crate training - if your dog ever needs to stay over at the vet or spend a while under rest and recuperation or even if you take your dogs on holidays and need to leave them safely somewhere - a crate and a dog that is happy in their crate - is the best thing. My dog loves going her crate - and so do several other dogs because they all get good things in there.
    Crate Training : The Humane Society of the United States

    Shaping your dog to love his crate - Clicker Training Tutorial - YouTube
    (or do a search of youtube for "crate games")
    And if you need help doing it, get Susan Garrett's dvd "Crate Games".

    Susan Garrett's Crate Games

    I just walk away from them as this seems to end it fairly quickly and with less agression.
    You need to be really self observant and notice anything you do that your dogs find encouraging when they fight. Do you talk to them, look at them, give them any kind of attention at all? All that - a dog will seek out.

    It may help, in addition to the crate training - to manage what attention you give each of them. eg if you have to train two dogs and one is sitting out while the other is working with you, the one that is sitting out - should get roughly twice as many treats for sitting out (calmly) as the dog you are training gets.

    To get some control back - you may want to investigate TOT and NILIF at Steve Courtney's website and if you decide you need another trainer in - read his article about how to choose a trainer and maybe send him an email and ask him to recommend one in your area.
    Dog Behaviour Articles FREE! K9 Pro The K9 Professionals
    read triangle of temptation, nilif and 10 reasons to crate train

    It may also help if you are very fair in the way you greet your dogs - to give them some certainty about what they're getting eg always greet your first dog first and your second dog second ignoring the other dog until you're done. If either dog growls - withdraw all your attention and walk away - no eye contact, no scolding.

    Ideally you should be able to pat both dogs together but at the moment, they're getting something out of growling at each other.

    Do they get walked? Sometimes exercise helps a dog achieve a calmer attitude.

  10. #10

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    To tell you the truth Keira & Phoenix, I have absolutely no idea why I dont like it. I have only ever read good things about it too. I will read the articles in the links posted by Hyacinth. I will also definately check out Steve Courtney's website as well. I'm pleased at least that for the moment anyway, you think I am doing the right thing by ignoring them and walking away ... it certainly way defuses the situation.
    Thanks so much for you insight and I will do some more research on the crate training and have a look at Steve's website as well. Thank you thank you.

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