Sisters now fighting

Posted by Chipper
Apr 7, 2008
I have had 2 pit bulls for 3 years. Honey is the oldest (3) and Reba is 10 months younger. They have been well behaved and a joy - up to this past winter. Reba was 9 months old when we got her and she had been neglected and abused. She is reasonably well adjusted, although she still has a fear of anything new. My problem is that they have started fighting with each other. First it was just aroung me, just indoors and only occasionally. Now, I can't permit them to be together inside, outside, with me or with anyone. In the past 4 months, it has escalated to the point where one spends the day in her crate. The next day, they change places. I've tried exercise and dominence from me. I don't want to put one down, but I am running out of options. Anyone have any suggestions on how to overcome this. One person told me that once they get throught their teen years, they'll come out of it!! I don't think I believe that one!!!!!!
Posted by MaxHollyNoah
Apr 9, 2008
Hi Chipper.

I am sorry to hear that Honey and Reba can not get along. It must be heart breaking for you. And it sounds stressful to keep them separated by crating one another every single day.

I have a similar situation. Not with my dogs but my foster dog gets so aggressive towards our cat. We have a metal gate to separate upstairs (cat quarters) and downstairs (dog quarters) and shuffle them around from time to time.

Anyway, I think there are only 2 options (putting down should never be an option):

1) try to get the two dogs get together little by little under your supervision and control. I think being forced to be separated can sometimes create more aggression to each other. (same in my case, my foster dog is so interested in the cat but cannot come closer and it frustrates her and make her more aggressive to the cat). The actual method needs to be considered carefully and you will have to allow you a lot of time and patience.

2) find another home for one of them. If they can get along with most of other dogs but cannot just each other, it might be better for them to live separately. It might be hard for you but dogs can get adjusted to new situation easier than we think (through my fostering experience).

Sorry I just threw in my quick thought. If you choose 1) can you think of any situation/activity that they can be together without starting a fight even for a short time?
Posted by puppylove
Apr 9, 2008
Hi Chipper and Welcome,

My first question for you would be ..... how often do you walk them and for how long? Pit's tend to be high to very high energy dogs. They need to be walked every single day, they need to be walking either behind you or right next to you at a heel for a [U]minimum[/U] of 45 minutes at least 1-2 times a day. Never allow these dogs to walk in front of you. You can even intensify their walk by adding doggy back packs with a few water bottles inside them.

My second question is..... have you ever noticed who seems to start the fight? Who gives who the look? Who's body language changes? What else seems to be happening right before the fights break out? Do they fight over toys? Food? Your attention? Try to figure out why the behavior is happening by watching them together. Maybe have someone else there with you to help investigate how each dog is acting right before a fight breaks out.

Keeping them separated will not do any good, they will only stay aggressive towards each other. Maybe look into hiring a dog Psychologist. You also need to establish yourself as the alpha or pack leader. Have you read through the sitstayfetch down load? There is some really go information in there that might help you.

Hopefully Todd will come around soon and can give you some more advise.

I hope things turn around for you and your girls soon, good luck!
Posted by Chipper
Apr 10, 2008
Thanks for the replies. I know about the energy level. We live on a narrow, busy country road, so walking can be challenging to say the least. We have 2 acres, mostly field, so I opt for playing or running/walking the perimeter. I tried the new home thing for Reba, but they brought her back the next day and said I'd never be able to give her away. I thought she had attacked them or something, but she just cried the whole time they had her, so they gave up! The actual reason I have 2 pits is because no one was going to rescue Reba, and she was about to be put down. Finding a home is very, very difficult in this area. Finding professional help isn't going to happen either. There isn't any within probably 500 miles or more. Obedience classes around here are a farce. I know crating them is by no means the best solution, and hopefully is only temporary. I also have invisible fencing (which I have had for many years and solidly support) so they are able to get good workouts without constraints. They are both very obedient individually, just not together.

I have just purchased a treadmill and am hoping to train them to run on it. I have located a pet supply store a couple of hours away, and will be heading there within the next week to see about buying the cage type muzzle. I don't want to try to get them together without one. They do draw blood! Their crates are side by side so they can sniff each other without fighting, but occasionally they try to attack through the crate. They eat in their crates and have NEVER had a problem in this area. If they are muzzled, at least that would be one less worry, although a paw in the right (wrong!) place would soon rip it off.

I had thought Reba was the instigator, but the other morning with Honey fenced in one room (with no view of Reba or the door), I quietly let Reba out of her crate to take her outdoors, when I heard a growl and the gate crash. As I have one arm in a sling at present, Reba & I made a very fast exit. The only thing I can come up with that they are fighting over is ME. I have had Shepherds, mixed breeds, Labs, a 5 lb poodle and most recently a Rottie. Except for the poodle, these are the only ones I have failed to dominate completely. But I'm still working on it. It's not the first time I've had more than one at a time, but is the first time both are the same sex, if that makes any difference (which I really don't believe in).

I need more ideas to try. I would love to have professional help, but as I said, that just isn't going to happen - unless the Dog Whisperer wants to come for a visit!
Posted by Chipper
Apr 21, 2008
Quick update. We had both dogs outside - TOGETHER- yesterday. At first I kept a close watch on them, which wasn't working. But when I stopped, they got the pecking order worked out and the next thing I knew, they were lying beside each other watching me! A wonderful 4 hours later, I had hope. They had a fight as soon as we went inside, but I was able to quickly break it up. I can still see where all things are possible. Thanks for all the advice.