Hormones? Two Entire Females That Fight

Are hormones to blame?

fighting females and hormones

Dylis

For nearly a year the two dogs had been the best of friends. They had their first spat around the first time when both had come into season but everything settled down again.

The family adopted Tibetan Terrier Dylis about a year ago to join Sybil, a Goldendoodle, age 4. Over the past six weeks the two dogs have become increasingly aggressive towards one another with the younger Dylis the instigator. Around the same time Sybil had another season but it’s unclear whether Dylis did also. Very possibly her hormones are troubling her. Continue reading…

Don’t Want Their Females Fighting

Females fighting – nipping things in the bud before they escalate to something worse

Rosie

Rosie

I have just been to another family that really pulls together where their dogs are concerned.

They have a situation with two females – a Labradoodle and a Rottie, both a year old.

The two dogs got on very well to start with, but as they reached maturity what was a bit of bullying from excitable Rosie, the doodle, became rougher as she jumped on the more placid Missy.

Predictably there came a time when Missy had had enough and she retaliated. It escalated to growling and snarling with each dog held back on leads as they reared up on their back legs. Now, to make sure there is no chance of their females fighting, the two are kept separate except on certain walks which have to be fairly carefully managed.

It’s a large family with members ranging from their twenties down to three years old. The older teenage girls do most with the dogs. Labradoodle Rosie belongs to the seventeen-year-old who had worked hard with her, teaching all the basic training cues.

Things aren’t so good now for Rosie. The dogs have just the fairly small kitchen area and utility room. The more peaceful Missy lives in the kitchen with people coming and going and Rosie spends all the time she’s not out on a walk alone in the conservatory. She doesn’t seem to expect to come in, but she occupies herself by chewing things. She goes out into the garden for short periods, but due to her digging and eating things they don’t leave her out for long.

Missy

She’s a clever dog and she is very bored.

The people don’t know what else they can do. She does have two quite long walks every day. One walk is Rosie alone with her 17-year-old person. The walk is largely spent chasing a ball thrown from a chucker to tire her out, but she doesn’t come home from this walk tired out and satisfied.

I have asked them to leave the ball thrower at home. She doesn’t need it. There is a belief that the more you can tire a dog the better it will be. It can be the opposite – see here. A hyper dog anyway, she needs activities that stimulate her brain and allow her to unwind a bit, not the opposite.

Her second walk is interesting and works better for her. They take both dogs. One daughter has a head start with one dog followed by the other dog some minutes later. They meet up at a field with a pond. The dogs run around off lead and the situation is controlled with the ball chucker. At the first hint of any trouble they throw the ball into the pond and Rosie, who loves water, runs in after it. Missy hates water and thus the dogs are parted.

They walk home together and all is fine.

After the walk, having been hosed down the two dogs are left briefly together in the utility room. Someone watches them through a window. After a shake-off one dog will usually lie down. It takes a very short time before the other dog jumps on top of her and the conflict starts. They are immediately parted and Missy returned to the kitchen.

I see this couple of minutes as a window of opportunity – a time when both dogs are briefly sufficiently calm and already together. They can build on it. The girl can stay in the utility room with the dogs after the walk. When, having shaken off, one lies down, she can ask the other to do the same and reward them both. She can work on a short ‘stay’ before letting Missy out into the kitchen in a controlled fashion. Over the days the duration of the ‘down-stays’ can be extended.

Instead of waiting for the conflict to start thus daily further rehearsing the behaviour, they can be taught a desirable behaviour instead.

When the family has made some progress I will be going back. We will take things to the next stage. It needs to be carefully stage-managed.

Meawhile, the girl has considerably more work to do with Rosie if they are to get these two dogs back together in harmony. While Rosie is so frustrated, stressed and bored, she will lack the self control required. Because she seldom goes into the kitchen, she is understandably extremely aroused when she does so and in the totally wrong state of mind required for getting together with Missy. Both must be calm.

The girl is going to swap the dogs over for a short while each day and give Rosie some quality time in the kitchen – doing ‘clicking for calm’ and other games that require some brain work and some self-control. People will be coming in and out of the room which is necessary for her continued socialisation.

Finally, there is the big question of whether both dogs would be more likely to get on if they were spayed. People have strong feelings and reasons of their own regarding neutering their dogs which I respect and must make their own decisions. I have suggested they have a chat with their vet.

Once the dogs do have one full-blown fight there is no coming back from it – particularly in my experience if it is females fighting. It can’t be undone.

NB. For the sake of the story and for confidentiality also, this isn’t a complete ‘report’ with every detail, but I choose an angle. The precise protocols to best use for your own dog may be different to the approach I have worked out for Rosie and Missy. Finding instructions on the internet or TV that are not tailored to your own dog can do more harm than good particularly if aggression of any kind is involved, as the case needs to be assessed correctly which it’s hard for someone to do with insufficient experience and living too closely to their own situation. One size does not fit all. If you live in my own area I would be very pleased to help with strategies specific to your own dog (see my Get My Help page)

 

Beautiful Beagles

The two girl Beagles used to be the best of friends ad still sleep together Beagles Tilly and Cassie are both exactly the same age – two – but not sisters.  They play together and sleep together in harmony. Up until about a month ago they got on famously.

Then they had three very scary fights, with blood and leaving scars.

It seems that hormones were to blame for the dogs’ general change of attitude towards one another – both were due to come into season, and over-excitement and stress on each occasion caused things to boil over.

Cassie, the darker and more confident one, was previously in charge. Tilly has subtly been challenging her. It’s not by chance in the photo on the right that she has her head resting on top of Cassie.  Pip, my Lurcher, will sometimes stand over one of my other dogs for a moment, like he’s saying ‘just remember you are down there, and I am up here”! Then he lies down again. He will often lie with his head on the back of one of the others, just like Tilly’s head is over Beagles hiding behind dad's legsCassie.

I think where Tilly had accepted Cassie’s dominance before, she has gradually been turning the tables on her. The first fight was over a couple of bones. Bones had never caused problems before. However, against this hormonal background, family had been visiting. They did lots of excited playing with the dogs and probably overstimulated them.  Already thoroughly excited and stressed, what might previously have been an agreed swapping of bones will have suddenly flared into a battle.

Cassie is usually the actual instigator, but working backwards, something Tilly is doing seems to cause it. Tilly is a more nervous and jumpy dog, and this in itself can cause problems for another dog.

The second fight came very soon after the first. They were reunited too soon – still in a state of high arousal with people around who had been hysterical and screaming over the blood of the first fight. Now that it had happened twice, it’s like a door has been opened. The final fight, coming in an atmosphere of excitement, erupted more easily.

The question I was asked before I came was whether spaying one or both would do the trick. They might like to breed from one of them. How would it be if one was spayed and not the other? How would it be if neither were spayed and one had puppies? We know already that things would be a lot more relaxed if both were spayed, because they have had a hormonal injection. It will gradually wear off over four weeks.

So, with behaviour work and spaying I’m sure the problem will resolve and they will be back to their old selves. With behaviour work and no spaying, or if only one were spayed, it’s a gamble. At best the people would need to keep on their toes.

I can help you, too, with these problems or any other that you may be having with your dog.