View Full Version : My girls are fighting

20th May 2009, 01:31 PM
Hi, Thankyou for your welcome.:)

As i said in my introduction, i am having a problem with fighting between my two female cavaliers. Piper is 5 and Lillie is 2.
I have had them both since puppies, Piper has always been very attached to me, we did obedience training and passed to silver level but could not pass gold level because she would not allow me to leave the room for a down/stay!!! Pipers only problem is barking at every and any noise she hears, particularly in the garden!!

I introduced Lillie 2 years ago and have done basic training with her.

At first all was fine but for several months, she has been fighting Piper. It started over food. (they kept trying to steal from each other bowls, also attempting to guard human food) I began separating them to eat and caging them while the children have food. This worked. But now she randomly fights with Piper. It starts with a growl and then almost immmediately she launches. For some reason always when my neighbour comes round and when i am in the room somewhere in between them. Most of the time they are fine together, playing, sleeping and seem to really love each other!! Piper is always the one underneath screaming despite the fact she was the first dog here and the biggest. They are happy to both sit with me on the sofa, although Lillie will jostle to be the one closest to my face. (climbing over Piper, sometimes annoying her so that she gets down)

A bit about Lillies personality... she has to be in on everything, she follows me constantly and licks whenever she can. So if my legs are bare she will lick as i walk, and everytime i come down to her level to do chores etc she will lick me. Piper can be in the room and allow Lillie to have sole attention, but Lillie will not allow this for Piper. Basically Lillie demands attention constantly. If i manage to leave a room without her, she goes wild when i come back in as if i have been gone for weeks!!

Other things are she yelps in excitment when she sees the lead but then continues it throughout most of our walks (people keep asking me what is wrong with her!!!)I can't trust her not to get up on the kitchen table, or pull the rubbish out. I know i need to be more vigilant with keeping stuff out her way but sometimes with rushing round after 4 children i forget!!
She displays very submissive behaviour to humans, infact i usually know when she has done something she should not before i see what it is simply by her body language!

Sorry this has been so long, yesterday they had five fights and i got bitten while trying to separate them, i am at my wits end.

I am not sure which dog is causing the problem... could it be Piper giving Lillie 'the look' which causes her to attack, or does Lillie just want it all to herself (attention, food etc) I love them both and want a solution but I am starting to think would it be kinder for Lillie to be in a home where she gets 1 to 1 attention? But would that be cruel to Piper? Or would Piper be happier having the sole attention back? I am SOOOO confused http://www.victoriastilwell.com/phpBB2/images/smiles/icon_confused.gif

Thankyou for reading this epic!!

20th May 2009, 04:56 PM
A beginning would be to separate these two whenever problems start. Hard to interpret who "starts" it so equal solutions. If there is behavior when you are sitting with them put both down on the floor,etc. Never get between a dog fight with your body-try water, pulling tails, etc. because they may go happily on their way after as you go to the clinic. Competitive over food is not abnormal for your pups-just need to be strict with separating them during food time.
My dtr. got between 2 of her dogs who were fighting and ended up in surgery for a puncture at the elbow-meanwhile the dogs were best of friends again.
I think sometimes dogs get in a pattern of arguing and just won't stop without bigtime supervision telling them this is not acceptable.
I think if you put all the "stops" in place then you'll be better able to evaluate if these 2 are compatible. :xfngr: for you.

20th May 2009, 05:17 PM
Agree with above. Also you very much need a professional trainer at this point or you risk a seriously injured dog and their fighting would pose a serious risk to kids if they accidentally end up in the middle. A fighting dog is not noticing a human intervention and can seriously harm a human -- even a small dog -- unintentionally. And would then risk being PTS. I'd only opt for an APDT or CPDT positive methods based certified trainer (listed on their websites) if you opt for this approach. Punishment/correction methods tend to make this type of problem far worse.

yesterday they had five fights

This is a VERY serious level of aggression. I would keep them separated unless you are right there managing them.

Are these two spayed? If not, that will almost certainly be a major contributor to aggression but not the main problem as they have now settled into a behaviour pattern of aggression, which is very hard to break. Also -- bitches tend to be more aggressive to each other than males anyway. Cavaliers tend to have this issue less frequently than many other breeds but it happens. Generally trainer advice is always to go for one of each sex if you opt for two dogs. Many of us disprove that rule but i general, there are far fewer problems with one of each sex.

It may well be (and I think it would be the case) that these two would be far happier in separate homes (no it would not be cruel and if anything I think it is potentially cruel to leave them as is). I would seriously consider how much time you would be willing to put in to manage these two carefully for the remainder of their lives and also give them a good quality of life -- equal but separate attention, daily -- and juggle a family. It's a tough decision but to be fair on you and the dogs, I think you'll have to make a very honest assessment.

Margaret C
20th May 2009, 05:53 PM
It is so sad when this happens.

I had this with two dogs. It is very distressing, both sweet loving dogs to humans, but one in particular would just launch himself at the other. I got bitten trying to separate them.
Eventually one had to go to another home where the new owners agreed he would be the only dog.

I have known a few owners that have had this problem with bitches. It often ends with one bitch being very unhappy and apprehensive, because she never knows when she may be attacked. The usual outcome has been that the owners had to keep the pair permanently separated, or rehome one of them.

Margaret C

21st May 2009, 01:49 PM
Thankyou for your advise everyone. Yesterday they did not fight but i was in and out busy all day. The behaviour only ever occurs when i am in the room or over food. I am very careful to keep food out of the equation. They have never had a fight when on their own, they just seem to really love each other. They are not neutered.

I took them both for a walk with a guide dog trainer last night, he watched what was going on and says that Lillie at all times is trying to dominate Piper (the way she follows her running and trying to put her head on Pipers back etc although it looks likes play there is more too it) Also he thinks that is why Lillie has mounted Piper from an early age. He thought that although she is generally submissive to me she is not recognising me as the leader because she is defiant and will openly do things she knows she should not. When we walk on the lead her focus is everywhere but on me, he says this is her way of dominating me..having it her way. as is the constant licking. He suggests that i concentrate on training Lillie to know her place. Things like.... she must not walk through the door before me, not try to get out of the car until i invite her and also always allowing Piper first. Making her sit and be calm before i smooth her. It is all things that Piper does anyway. He thinks the fighting will stop when Lillie knows her place.

I have read things that say you cannot put dogs in the pack order that you want, a dominant dog will always dominate. There seems to be much conflicting information.
Any thoughts would be appreciated.

21st May 2009, 03:10 PM
Good for you getting an outside observer. You know you are already the leader for your dogs when you provide food and shelter and getting Lillie to recognize this is part of the equation. I've seen many older dogs returning to basic training when I've taken a newbie-guess we all can use refresher skills.
The phrase "not in My house" seems to occur at least once when I've taken on a new dog and, it must be the tone, because it seems to settle who's in charge forever.
Their acting out in your presence isn't abnormal but somehow needs to be diverted to acceptable behavior for attention. I doubt you can change a dog's innate personality, however you can change their interactions because you are the "boss". I do believe that dogs are more comfortable if they know who's in charge and the basic rules.
You have an interesting challenge and I wish you well :xctly:

21st May 2009, 04:07 PM
I meant to add that you might find reward in "Nothing is Free" for both dogs-lets them feel good about accomplishment and instills that you are in charge.