First of all, let’s talk about facts and statistics. MOST issues with dog vs dog aggression happen between females. It is possible, of course, to have issues with a male and female or even two males, but the percentage drastically increases with females. This is one of the reasons why I, as a trainer, tend to choose having one male and one female in the home when I have two dogs. Females butt heads more.
You must be far more structured with two females from day ONE. The success rate in rehabbing two fighting females is roughly 57%. That means that you can greatly REDUCE the problems but never get rid of the issues entirely, once they start. I realize that sounds glum, however it shouldn’t make you give up by any means! You can GREATLY reduce problems by more than half and reduce them hurting each other with a little work!!
If you are thinking about adding a dog to your household, it is important that you know to do some things right from the beginning. I’ve met with a family who got two new female pups the same time. They are not siblings, however. They are both GSD (German Shepherd Dogs) and they are about a month apart in age. They are roughly 5 mos and 4 mos old. Right from the start, when you bring a new dog into the home, or two at the same time, you establish one of them as the leader of the other; a sort of natural pecking order, if you will.
In the cases of aggression where one dog has been in the home and another dog is brought in, 74% of the time it is the younger dog or newer dog that starts this issue. Most of the time the dogs get along great and then something happens that surprises the owners and the younger dog (or newer dog) goes after the older one. In 39% of those cases, the owner had no idea at all what the trigger was and were completely surprised. That is even more unsettling for owners – when we never saw it coming, it is baffling and scary. WHAT HAPPENED??
What happened is that the younger/newer dog was not taught right from the beginning that we were going to defer to the other dog ALL the time and that if it was patient, it would always get its food, treat, reward, toy, love, attention, as the next one in line. No need to fight, it is coming when it is your turn. We inadvertently reward, pet, acknowledge a different dog first randomly and we create pack confusion and set up a situation where this competition issue manifests.
In these extreme cases, where they fight very aggressively, you should get a trainer involved to help you!
TEN PERCENT of cases report the owner needed medical attention for trying to break the dogs up, during these skirmishes!
FIFTY PERCENT of the time, the other dog needed medical attention!! That is very high and can be greatly reduced in cases where the fighting has already begun. In cases where it hasn’t, you can DRASTICALLY reduce the odds that it ever will by setting these CLEAR boundaries and rules.