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Old March 9th, 2006, 09:14 AM
kwlorax kwlorax is offline
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Location: North Carolina
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Question 2 female lab mixes in house - HELP!

Hello, I happened to find this board while looking for some advice/information about a situation in our house that really has my husband and I at a loss...

Here's the situation. We have 2 female (both fixed) dogs, lab/sheppard mixes. They are currently 15 months old. They are sisters, and have never been apart. Biscuit has always been the more fiesty of the two, a typical puppy. Snickerdoodle on the otherhand is much more laid back. There has never been an obvious alpha, they seem to each take on alpha roles at different times. Snickerdoodle will put up with Biscuit's antics (ie: nipping at her face, mounting her, trying to push her away if she's getting any attention, etc) and then reach a point where she will growl and snap at Biscuit, then it stops. For awhile. Recently, the dogs have been fighting. Almost daily. Hard core, down and dirty, drawing blood fighting, which begins as play fighting that Biscuit innitiates. This has me very concerned, because yesterday, Biscuit bit Snickerdoodle right under her eye, and almost caused some serious damage. It drew quite a bit of blood. Myself or my husband break up the fights, because we are afraid of what might happen - I don't know how far they will take it. They do not stop when we yell or call their names... it usually requires one of us to throw something in their direction to distract them. We then have to separate them.

Biscuit has also become much more aggressive with our children (11,7,5). She has never growled at them, but she has taken to biting on them, pulling at their clothes, chasing them when they are playing in the back yard. I am very worried that it may progress into something more.

We are considering removing Biscuit from the home. Any thoughts or suggestions? We love the dogs very much, but we can't let our hearts make a decision that may not be right in the long run. Help!!!!!
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Old March 9th, 2006, 09:29 AM
kwlorax kwlorax is offline
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Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: North Carolina
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one more thinng about Biscuit

I wanted to add too that neither dog has an issue with dominance over my husband or I (although, one evening my husband tripped over her while she was sleeping and she woke up and tried to bite him - I believe that was something different than a dominance thing). She allows us to pet her while they are eating, I've removed toys from their area, they are not allowed on the furniture or in our bedroom, and they are both housebroken. Biscuit will allow us to back her, and she will lower her head and tuck her tail if corrected.

Now with the kids, she does show dominance - she tries to push them while playing, and when I said she bites on them I meant that she play bites, mouths them I guess. They correct her by sternly saying no, but she doesnt' really listen to them. It's only when my husband or I correct her does she listen. We do NOT allow them to bother the dogs while eating, just in case.

They are indoors in the evening, and outside in our fenced backyard most days. They are very protective of the house and yard, and will bark at any stranger or animal that comes near.

Thank you for any advice you may have!
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Old March 9th, 2006, 09:42 AM
Prin Prin is offline
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I don't know if this applies to kids or not, but in my experience with other dogs, if there is a little one that can't defend itself enough, and I step in and tell my dog not to bug it, my dog will stop. It's not only the role of the alpha to be able to take stuff away; it's also about deciding who will be allowed to play within the pack and who will be bullied. If you tell your dogs consistently that they can't act that way to your kids and correct them firmly every time, they'll get the message. Don't depend on a child to set things straight. You are the leader.
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Old March 9th, 2006, 09:56 AM
Lucky Rescue Lucky Rescue is offline
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You have siblings, who are both females and spayed. Just about the worst combination you can have, and the fierce fighting for domination is going to get worse.

I don't know how far they will take it.
In a case like this, one might actually kill the other or both may be gravely or fatally wounded.

You are going to have to keep them separated, or find a new home for one of them.

Big dogs fighting fiercely is a very dangerous atmosphere when you have kids around.

It also sounds like you are pretty lax with the dogs. I notice you say things like "She lets us"...."She allows us." YOU are supposed to be the boss, and if you aren't, then for sure the dogs are happy to take over that position.

If you rehome one of them make sure you take the other to obedience school so you can learn how to train and get control of a dog.

If you rehome Biscuit, you must find an experienced adult home.
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Old March 10th, 2006, 10:44 AM
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tenderfoot tenderfoot is offline
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Location: Boulder, Colorado
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I think I am with Lucky on this one. Because you have small kids and we can't trust this dog with them - the dogs life will be too isolated and she doesn't deserve that.
I hate to encourage anyone to rehome, but we need to think of the children and the other dog too. Biscuit is too willing to use her teeth and she needs some very strong - one on one - leadership. I am not sure you are up for it with so many small children.
Better to rehome now before something worse happens, and she is still young enough to be of interest to someone.
Love Them & Lead Them,
~Elizabeth & Doug
Dog Training the Way Nature Intended
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Old March 10th, 2006, 01:06 PM
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mummummum mummummum is offline
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Ceili and Bridie are sisters and large dogs. Like yours they would get into some fearsome battles which ended only when they were pulled and held apart. It took several years before a clear Alpha role was established. Over time, with age and as Bridie established herself as the Alpha the frequency and severity of the fighting decreased. As they matured, they were also better trained and more responsive to commands so ending the fights became a little easier. Now, at 6 yrs they will still start in on one another (and they actually do try to rile each other, get the other one in trouble with Mum etc.) and maybe once a year they will fight and have to be separated. When I speak with friends and other dog people who also have sisters they have had the same experiences so I guess it's a "sister-grrrrl thing". I can only tell you that Ceili and Bridie's relationship has improved but not without the help of a lot of behaviour intervention and training. If you want to make a last effort, I would hire (and they are not inexpensive) a behaviour specialist for an in-home consult and then come to a decision.
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