Sibling Rivalry With Dogs


By Catherine Forman

A member of the ThriftyFun community mentioned a relatively recent problem between two dogs in the same house:

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I really need some help with the Pack Order in my house. Everyone is miserable, people and dogs. Any advice would be greatly appreciated. My vet did not have any. The only two girl dogs I have, (both have been spayed), came from the same mother and father, different litters. I rescued them from across the street. Mother was English bulldog and father was black lab mix. Both very sweet dogs.

After 4 years of getting along great, last month these two girls decided they hated each other and now can not be in the same location. After a $500.00 vet bill and surgery on one of them, I am exhausted. It is hard to continually keep these dogs apart. One of the dogs actually tried to take the other out of my arms. How about muzzles for both? Would that work? I actually gave one of them away and she almost grieved herself to death, (so did we). I had to go and get her. Please help.

Thank you so much.
Lisa

Lisa, your problem may be a case of sibling rivalry. Two dogs of the same age (or from the same litter) can be great companions. But if the dogs have too much in common, they may have trouble deciding which one is the dominant (or alpha) dog. Often the worst fights are between two female dogs!

Without realizing, we humans can make things worse. It is too easy for us to screw up the pack order by "protecting" the weaker dog or not showing enough preference to the alpha dog. If the lower-ranking dog feels like she has a shot at taking over, you may see some fights break out. Or, the true alpha may feel like she has to put the other pup in her place every so often.

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Keep a squirt gun or spray bottle handy for when fights break out -- a quick spritz in the face should be enough to break up a scuffle. If you're not fond of the water idea, you can try breaking up a fight with a loud noise -- a tin can full of coins will make a nice loud clatter when you shake it, or get a set of training disks at your pet store.

Remember that dogs are most comfortable in a hierarchy. Determine which of your dogs is more dominant, and treat that dog like the Boss Dog she is. Give Boss Dog her food first, greet her first, let her out the door first, etc. It's not easy to play favorites, but remember that this is how your dogs are most comfortable.

Since splitting up your girls permanently isn't an option, you should try to give them as much separate time as possible. Walk them and play with them separately, if you can. Feed them in separate rooms. If you crate them, keep them in separate crates.

Answers:

Sibling Rivalry With Dogs

If you still have no relief, contact your local humane society, animal shelter or animal control facility at petfinder.org

Most have an animal behaviorist on staff that will try to find solutions to problems with pets for free so that you don't have to relinquish your pet. (05/12/2006)

By Petfinder

Sibling Rivalry With Dogs

When it comes to multiple dog households, there is no such thing as "alpha dog." There is only "alpha human." You need to be boss, not the dog. Treat them both the same. When one starts growling, grab some loose skin at the neck and give a firm shake while saying "no" in a low growly voice. This won't hurt the dog at all. Never hit the dog with anything, that will just make things worse. Don't stick your hands anywhere near their heads while they are fighting. Grab a tail instead.

Dog fights are a horrible thing to break up, and dealing with 2 dogs that fight is even worse. I have 2 males that are this way. They are fine when they are both calm, but once one gets worked up about something, it can be a nasty situation. Hope everything works out! (05/13/2006)

By Megan

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