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Discussion Starter #1
Sorry in advance for the long winded post but I don't want to leave out any info that might hold clues/answers...

I have a 3yo and 2yo, both females, both not spade (for medical reasons) who have been raised together from 6 weeks of age. They have never been more aggressive towards each other than the occasional playful growl during game time.

Two weeks ago a friend asked to crash on our couch, and unbeknownst to us he brought his English bulldog that is an unfixed male. Now the way our house is set up, our babies have full freedom inside except there is a door up to the front rooms that they cannot go into. This is where my friend stayed and it has its own exterior entry into the front yard. Our pups enter and exit the house through the back door only and if we are going for a walk we exit through the back yard's gate.

Everything was going smoothly until one day about a week ago I had our puppies playing in the back yard when our friend brought his dog out into the front yard, not knowing we were outside in the back. My 3yo immediantly went into defensive mode staying at the gate and barking/growling. The 2yo was completely unfased. When I walked up to the 3yo to tell her to go inside (the 2yo is on my heels always) she immediantly turned around, saw the 2yo and ATTACKED. My spouse heard the commotion and together we were able to separate them and once everyone was inside it was all roses and daisies, complete attitude change ...

We've watched them more closely during play time without incident until today. We were outside for playtime when I stepped inside the door to get tissues (left the door open and never lost visual of them). When I stepped back out, as soon as I crossed the threshold the 3yo turned on the 2yo. Again it both of us to break them up by wheelbarrowing them apart and as soon as we got them inside growling stopped, barking stopped, they both just plopped down and panted while giving us complete nonchalant looks of 'What are y'all amped about?'. I'm not really sure what triggered her today ... Was it me coming back out?

I'm worried they will truly hurt each other one day, but I'm unsure of what her trigger is. We had believed the first attack was just a redirection of her angst because she could not get to the dog in the front yard. But today's attack was just us in a place we've been almost every day, doing the same things we've done almost every day. To complicate matters I'm scheduled for knee surgery next month so if we can't get this to stop it'll only be one of us trying to separate two very large and upset dogs.

Any suggestions?
 

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First, forget the 'pup' label that makes it sound less serious. Second, smart to put the cards on the table. You have two adult female GSds and they have been fighting. Their ages are typical for this to occur; full maturity. I can almost guarantee you that it won't stop and actually will only get worse. One or both can get killed. Don't blame the visiting dog; she may have been the last straw.
What to do? Keep them separate for life in the home, which is unlikely to work for 100% or re-home one. I would re-home one and keep the one you have bonded with best.

This is gonna be tough.
 

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Yeah, it sucks. Could be hormones? Are they coming into heat... could be the presence of the intact male bringing out some hormonal jealosy. Certainly the first was redirection- she saw her chance and took it. Now she saw that same "picture" at the door, and attacked again. It's going to happen again, I'm sorry to say, unless you take some immediate steps- now, to stop it.

It's not fun, and they are just at the right ages to start this nonsense. I went through similar with my pregnant 2 year old and 7 year old female. It was the worst, and I was alone to break it up. And I have to admit, it is super scary, and super stressful, for all involved. Pregnancy hormones or heat cycle hormones absolutely can bring out aggression (in males and females), but the second time it is most likely more of a habit thing- they kind of liked the workout of the fight- and not just hormonal. It's a really tough problem to tackle.

The main "fix" is to see the dog just thinking about attacking, and correct her- harshly. Correct both of them. Make it exceedingly clear that fighting is a really bad option. This probably will need to happen more than once. The problem of course is that it may be dark, raining, you're distracted, and so on and you don't have a chance to step in. The other problem is if you step in too late, you could actually make it worse by triggering a fight. Or not correct strongly enough or in the right way if you don't know what you are doing.

Greyhound-type muzzles or Baskervilles are a really good idea to use at least for now. They are light and easy to put on. I know I hated the idea of a muzzle at first, but it will keep everyone safe for now.

I want to recommend that you find a good trainer to work with, rather than do this on your own, but it has to be a really good trainer, and they are few and far between. If you post your general location, this board is usually very good about directing you to the good ones.

I will also say that, for the next six months or more- maybe life- , you need to be VERY aware and safety concious. Muzzles, control at the door, etc. This isn't just going to "go away" now that they've done it twice. It's not just a simple thing, you have two intact girls very close in age... and unless you get on board with a great trainer and do everything they say right, you may be looking at seperation or rehoming. FI am always, always careful in any situation where fight could happen and I have gotten the message across fairly well that fighting is a bad idea... bitches will be bitches.

Not something that can be solved on line, you really need a trainer. Just wanted to give you the foundation of fixing this, please don't take any chances until you've spoken with a good, experienced, trainer!

This is one of the hardest things to deal with - emotionally too for the owner - we like to think our dogs make up one big, happy family. Unfortunately, they are still animals, and don't think that way.

I would also recommend spaying both girls now. At 2 and 3 the benefits of spaying now outweigh the negatives. Pyometra, and mammary cancer are real health risks in older intact girls that are not bred. Maybe it won't make a difference with the fighting, but it really might. In my experience, hormones play a role in triggering aggression, in both males and females, in dogs that are prone to it, and taking away those hormones may help make the problem easier to solve/deal with.

Feel free to PM me. I'm not going to get into any more details on a public forum because this is a truly dangerous and tricky issue.

It really must be dealt with under advisement of a good trainer.
 

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Separation or rehoming is what most people do. There is a lot to correcting this issue, and it is a lifetime thing and a lifestyle thing. There is a LOT to it, and if you don't have a lot of dog experience, and great reflexes, and am ability to size up a situation and read a dog quickly, it's going to really challenging and dangerous. The fights WILL get worse each time- if you allow them to keep happening. And if you were alone next time, you could get hurt or the dogs could do some serious even fatal damage to each other.

I just wanted to make it clear how serious this is, in case it wasn't in my first post on this thread.
 

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Bitches are great. Until they're not
I can't see this getting better. Crate and rotate, absolute control, muzzles. Get a good trainer.
If they were boys your chances would be better but it's rare for a bitch to let it go once the feuding has started.
Echoing what others have already said. This is a serious and potentially deadly situation. Do not take it lightly.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Thanks Muskeg for your offer of PM. I might change over to that once I get to a computer instead of just my phone.

As far as hormones go I'm sure they are playing a part in this. I've scheduled appointments with our vet to discuss whether it's worth the risk of a spading surgery now that they are acting out like this. [Both of them were medical rescues] Unfortunately I believe they would be very difficult to re-home if that was the final answer as most people would balk at their ongoing medical bill and upkeep.

If anyone knows of a great trainer in the Charleston SC area I would love a recomendation. We tried a couple different ones for the 3yo when she went through an early disobedient phase and was very unimpressed.
 

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Yup, I worked with the mentorship and input of a great trainer I respect, and the time and commitment is astronomical... by far the best thing is to never have allowed fighting, and once it's started, it is like Pandora's box and very hard to get back to the way it was. Sorry, this is really not a fun situation.

I'm in the same boat where rehoming is simply not an option. It is very worth at least six months of trying and training, and then a re-assessment, see where you are, I do not think this is hopeless, I do think it will take a huge change and ton of good work to get back to where you were. Just the way of things, sadly. In the meantime, safety is priority.
 

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What are the medical issues?
 
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The 3yo has a congenitive heart disease. The 2yo has terrible hip dysplasia. We ended up have to do a total hip replacement on the right side when the bones were rubbing bad enough it started to fracture. ... Both were advised against any surgeries unless direly necessary. Heart for obvious reasons, hip because it was a rough recovery and they are very concerned about her rejecting the new one.

Both will be getting updated tests when we see the vet to see if anything has flared recently, but it's just odd that they've both been through very upsetting times together and never reacted badly towards each other before. When the 2yo had her hip surgery the 3yo even ferried toys and food to her one kibble at a time so that she wouldn't have to get up.
 

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I am sorry that you are going through this, and with your own knee replacement surgery coming up. Ugh.

Unfortunately it could just simply be a matter of maturity. Hitting age 2 is a common age to reach it for GSDs , and relationships can change when they are grown. I am going through something similar with a pit mix I rescued hastily at 4 months old and the GSD I purchased a few months later. They were 5.5 (GSD) months and 9 months (rescued pit) old when I added the GSD to the home. I knew it was a *possibility* they would not get along forever. And that pups that grew up together can have a relationship go sour at adulthood. Well, it did. I have always had a backup plan for the rescue, a good friend who only wants one dog, lives in a wooded area, and hardly ever goes into social/crowd situation (pit has nerve/fear issues with people but is dominant with other dogs). So I am not in a bind like you are, but I have seen it happen for no apparent reason aside from maturity. My father and uncles had lots of GSDs growing up and some bitches definitely go off each other and then BOY is it forever.

Definitely get the trainer in, ask here for recommendations under a new thread so your area gets members attention. Until then you need to mange, crate and rotate religiously. It can get very bad unfortunately :(
I also feel for you with the "difficult to rehome" situation.

Good luck, and keep us posted.
 

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I could see both sides of the spaying debate, but any conflict between my personal pack bitches and dogs has been at least triggered by hormones that would not have been there, were they neutered/spayed. It's something that we shouldn't discount- some bitches in heat can get very same-sex aggressive, and especially pregnant females. I wish I'd known about increased aggression in pregnant females- I hadn't seen it before and when I looked into it I found out it was very common.

I believe based on experience that sterlizing dogs does tend to reduce conflict within the pack, as long as done after the dogs are mature, from roughly 18 months - 2 years and up. If there is no other reason to keep the dogs intact, I would lean toward spaying. Don't forget the health issues of keeping intact, unbred females. It's unnatural for an intact female not to be bred, and serious and fatal (if not treated) conditions often result as the dogs age.

I would certainly agree, though, that spaying alone won't solve this issue.
 

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Aside from precautions others have mentioned, If you are going to have them together really watch for body language and make note of the circumstances. Some body language is easily read and some can be subtle. Know what's being communicated this way can help defuse problems before they escalate.
 

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It also makes a lot of sense to put some advanced OB on the dogs that is a bombproof as possible- down at distance, heel, and some sort of Knock-it-off-now type of command. Something that makes all dogs involved change what they are doing and look to you for guidance immediately.

It's not easy, but with time and consistency can be addressed. The trick is never making a mistake especially as you begin the process.
 

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A breeder I know of recently had two of his females get into a fight and they had him boxed into a corner. He shoved one of the dogs out of the way so he could escape and was bitten so badly it broke his hand.

Please don't take these two females fighting lightly. IMO, you have been given a warning. This most likely will not go away.
 

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I have two males that I have chosen to keep seperate. The older dog was about two and the other one was around 8 months when they began having altercations. Their aggression wasn't extreme, with professional help we might possibly have kept them together, but I tend to be a worrier and for my own peace of mind, I decided to keep them apart. It was annoying (especially at first), but once we got used to the idea and the process, it wasn't that big of a deal. I keep one dog upstairs and the other in the lower level of the house (or one outside and the other inside). After a few hours, I switch them around. My husband works week days, and I work weekend nights, so someone is almost always home. I think the hardest part for me was giving up the idea of seeing them play together. We have a large fenced-in yard and I used to love watching them run together and play. Oh well. They had other ideas. I hope that a good trainer can improve your situation. Please keep us updated on your progress.
 
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