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Having a semi-emergency with my dogs...need quick advice

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 

I have 2 almost 5 year old dogs (spayed females). They are EXTREMELY close, to the point that we call them "the twins." One is border collie/cocker, the other shar pei/schnauzer and both are the same size (about 30 pounds). I've had them both for 4 years with absolutely NO problems.

Tonight, out of the blue, Katie (the border collie X) sat under my computer chair and when Sally came in she began growling and snarling. It is not unusual for Katie to be under my chair, although Sally is definitely the alpha female. This went on for about 5 minutes off and on and suddenly they erupted into the worst fight. Sally quickly had Katie down on her back, grabbed her throat and was shaking her. Saliva and blood began flowing and I was useless to stop it. I even turned my big leather computer chair over on them to try and stop it.

Sally finally let go for a split second and I told her to "come" and she amazingly obeyed. I separated the two of them for 90 min, and they whined and cried for each other as they always do when they are separated. A few minutes ago, I tried simply going downstairs with Katie as usual but as soon as I opened the baby gate to reunite them they got all stiff and the growling started again. I knew a fight was brewing again. Right now they are separated and crying for each other again.

What do I do? Any thoughts or advice??

Thanks in advance.

post #2 of 12
Oooh, yikes. I am sorry to hear about the fight.

It's odd that the girls have lived together for four years with no problems, and then such a serious fight happened. I wonder if your first step might be a vet visit for both dogs -- just to make sure there are no health issues? It sounds like this behavior is extremely uncharacteristic.

Best wishes to you.
post #3 of 12
Thread Starter 
Y, definitely a check up is in order if it doesn't clear up immediately. Luckily, they are both due for a grooming on Monday, so will be at the vets all morning and they will be able to work them in if needed. I even have to have them groomed together as they are despondent if they are home alone.

Well, I went downstairs a few minutes ago and got the treat bucket and put them both in "down/stay." Thank GOODNESS we have taken the time to train them as this really has come in handy tonight!!!! Anyway, I tossed them some treats and got them in a friendly mood again. Then I did the cat trick of vanilla on nose and butt and took them both outside. There was a bit of grumbling that I'd immediately put a stop to with a "Cesar Milanish (dog whisperer) ssssssssssshhhhhhhhht" and an order to get into "down" position again. After a few minutes they were relaxed enough for me to leave them downstairs in the dark together. I check in and give them some orders every so often so they will see me as the "ultimate alpha." They've been sniffing butts, so hopefully they'll realize they are sisters again very soon.

Any other advice is still welcomed. I'm totally caught off guard by this.

post #4 of 12
for me seems that you are doing everything just right. Vet check, of course, and You as a very strong alpha. If it is just beheivior thing, you only as alpha can establish peace. Keep an eye on them but actually it is nothing unusal - bitches can fight really hard, worse than boys; that is the reason why I do have one female and two boys. Boys do fight too, but for me seems that they take it more easy, more like a joke.
post #5 of 12
I would take them to the vet and then call a behaviorist. I find it is almost impossible to reunite two dogs once they have drawn blood. I'm sorry this had to happen to you. I would never leave them alone unattended ever again. Get a pro to help you. That is the down side to having same gender dogs. I hope all goes well.
post #6 of 12
Wow, I'll have to keep it in mind - Keno's female and the only dog

I would keep them separated in crates when you are not around. Also one might be having something internal going wrong so a vet check up is in order. Dogs usually sense things wrong medically that we can't tell.
post #7 of 12
Hyperthyroidism can also cause aggressiveness in a previously laid back dog, so yes, do get the vet to run a check and make sure it isn't anything medical. I too wouldn't leave them alone together until you find out what is going on. My dog forum also says that female/female fighting is almost impossible to stop once it gets going, so you don't want to give it any opportunity to get any worse... I hope you get to the bottom of it soon .
post #8 of 12
Thread Starter 

Things are better. We really cracked down on anything remotely aggressive--dirty looks, a grumble, stiff-legged posturing while walking. In addition, both girls were groomed and seen by the vet yesterday and no problems in either one and they spent the whole morning in a small cage---together--while waiting to be groomed. The groomer was aware of the issue and said there was absolutely no problem all morning.

There was one grumble in the backseat on the drive home and I stopped the car and put them in "down/stay" and we made it home ok. Later in the afternoon, I did some reading on Bach flower essences and to my great delight, found I had the correct formulas on hand. They've each had several doses of that and there's not been a single incident since. This morning they were licking/grooming each other as usual.

I don't by any means feel we are completely out of the woods. I'm going to make sure both girls get plenty of exercise (run them beside my bike) and are plenty tired because I strongly believe in the saying that a "tired dog is a good dog." However, I think we can get through this with a little more work.

I've always had all female dogs. Never have had a single problem until now. Even growing up as a kid we had all females. Again, no issues. I think it really must depend on the individual dog. In our case, the border cross is very emotional and needy (she had been left for dead as a puppy) and seems to have more issues than most. However, things like this are to be expected when you rescue pets.

Thanks for all the advice.

post #9 of 12
Aside from going ahead with a vet check, it almost sounds to me that there is an issue of dominance. I only say this because recently, I had 2 male mixes stay where I work. These guy's are twins to a T. Came from the same litter, and look exactly alike, raised together, and both are about 3-5 years old. They were having their "playtime" together, and started huffing and puffing at each other. They began circling each other, growling, and nothing would distract them. Luckily nothing physical happened, but they were sprayed with a water hose. One of them was taken back to his room, and I still had his brother, and he sat there and whined the whole time until I took him back to his room. As always, there is a story with everything. We called their mom, and as it turned out, her b/f, husband, whichever, they were actually his dog's, and he left her, and left the dog's with her. Their alpha wasn't around anymore, so it was concluded they were trying to find out who was alpha between the 2 of them, because she hadn't yet. We recommended a dog whisperer to her, and she called us to say they are doing a lot better now. Just a similar story here I wanted to share that could help. Good luck with the pups!

Edited, because I wanted to add, the point I was trying to make is take a moment and see if there have been any changes in "their" environment that might have caused the sudden aggression between the 2 of them. Dog's and cat's alike can be just as emotional and tempermental as us. ^.^
post #10 of 12
Thread Starter 
Y, I believe I know what has caused this. Sally, the alpha has a leg injury from when she was abou 1 year old. It occasionally flares up and she limps a bit. She'd been limping for a week or so, and I think that Katie felt it was time to make her move because she saw the alpha as weak. That's my best guess...who knows what goes on behind those fuzzy faces. Cally
post #11 of 12
Dogs live in the here and now. They can be best buddies, repsect you and STILL have the occasional tussle.

You have gotten some good advice so far about a vet check. If one dog feels out of sorts thet will be more likely to react in a bad way if the otehr dog looks at them funny.

Beware of too much simplistic Cesar Milan" type of back of the envelope canine behaviorism. He totally overemphasizes dominance and "alpha theory" and a lot of the time dog behavior (or misbehavior) has nothing to do with dominance issues.

If you think it might be dominance then can you say which of the two is more dominant over the other?
post #12 of 12
Thread Starter 
Sally has always been alpha. I'd had Katie 5 months before Sally came along. Sally was boss within days. Walked in like she owned the place, despite having an infected spay from Humane Society that split open the following day. Sally drapes her head over Katie, "bite nibbles" her neck, humps her, cuts in front of her going thru doors, etc etc. There's never been a doubt who alpha is and we've supported it likewise by leashing Sally first, feeding first, etc.

Things continue to go well here. I'm still using the Bach remedies and watching the twins like a hawk.

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