Sisters fight. At other times they are best of friends

Published by Theo Stewart on

Their two adored and adorable Cockerpoo sisters fight – but also get on fine much of the time. Lulu tries to control Elsie. Pushed – Elsie stands up for herself.

About six months ago occasional squabbles between the two began to develop into full-blown fights which now are regular, even sometimes drawing blood.

sisters fight sometimes

I could sense there is an undercurrent and that something could erupt with little notice. One dog surreptitiously eyeballs the other. They circle one another.

Calm dogs unlikely to fight.

Underpinning everything is keeping stress/arousal levels as low as they can. Too much of anything, whether it’s attention, fuss, exercise or play, causes stress of sorts. Arousal primes the two dogs so that the smallest, most insignificant thing then tips them over and can trigger an explosion. Just a look, even.

The couple’s own demeanour will make a big difference, so they will try to keep calm and hang back a little from giving too much physical fuss.

Each day the dogs go to daycare where they mix and play happily with other dogs. The daycare lady calls them the ‘fun police’. I read into this that when play gets too exciting, it triggers an aggressive response from Lulu or Elsie.

Then, when one Cockerpoo is aroused she will either redirect onto the other, or the other will try to sort her out. So, then the two sisters fight. Daycare people have to break them up and have received bites in the process.

Management

Management is the first thing to put in place. Each time the sisters fight,  another fight becomes more likely. This will mean getting into the way of separating the two dogs for certain things like food and anything involving a valued resource. They will part them at those times when there could be a trigger.

A gate in the kitchen or sitting room doorway is essential. They can put a barrier between the two dogs in the crate where they sleep because sometimes they grumble at each during the night. Hostility could brew and erupt the following day. They will find a way of separating the dogs in the car – sometimes the sisters fight when the man picks them up from daycare.

The couple will find positive ways of interrupting tension and do so at the very first hint of trouble (erring on the safe side) and well before anything develops. They can call one or both dogs and then divert them onto something else. They can use a ‘positive interrupter‘ as explained by Emily Larlham.

If they now do certain things with each dog separately, treating her as an individual, it should help them to have Lulu and Elsie on remote control. For example, teaching each to respond instantly to her own name and some separate walking.

It’s likely that day-care is incubating some of the behaviour with excitement not curtailed soon enough for these particular little dogs.

The sisters fight; also best of friends

Keeping things as calm as possible is key when sisters fight. One can sense the start of trouble. Immediately one or other can be called away and distracted. The couple will give their two dogs more in the way of healthy brain work and enrichment. Lulu and Elsie can work for their food – risk-free with each dog a different side of the gate.

Fighting is something that has developed as they have got older – they are now two-and-a-half.

I feel they have caught it in time.

NB. The precise protocols to best use for your own dog may be different to the approach I have worked out here. Finding instructions on the internet or TV can do more harm than good sometimes. Every dog is different and every situation is different. If you live in my own area I would be very pleased to help with strategies specific to your own dog (see my Behaviour and Support page)
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