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Canine Behavior/dogs fighting

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Question
Have 2 pit bulls they are sisters.Less than yr old
Have always gotten alone.Now both are in heat & are fighting.Have to wear muzzles & now separate cages at night.Will they fight from now on?What can I do?There mother is also in house & they play with her fine.Friend brings her 17yr old Collie also female they get alone fine with her.Fight was bad enough last night,one went to vet this am.Please help.Thank you

Answer
Two bitches from the same litter: bad idea.  They are struggling for placement in social hierarchy, probably quite close in temperament.  They should never be "caged" together, should not have been to begin with.  Once a dog/bitch is house trained, crates should be by CHOICE but, at this point, these two cannot be allowed alone together FOR ANY REASON.  The muzzles help you, and they prevent what might be serious injury.  I say "might" because when two dogs "go at it", it can look and sound much worse than it actually is.  Despite the muzzles, apparently one got the best of the other.

At this point, SIX WEEKS after first estrus cycle is over (count day one, if you know it, and add ten weeks), both should be spayed.  BUT....which one first?  I can't see anything from here.  EVEN if you were to bring in a Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist, it is going to take an awful lot of work for you to rehabilitate the relationship between these two.  I don't know if there even is a CAAB anywhere near you in your State, but here is a list of same:

http://certifiedanimalbehaviorist.com/page6.html

http://www.animalbehavior.org/ABSAppliedBehavior/caab-directory

Were this a simple "rough and tumble", it might be easier to resolve.  But it has escalated.  Generally, without professional help, two bitches who have reached this place in their relationship cannot be rehabilitated together.  Even with help, it will be tricky.  They may very well "fight on sight" even after the estrus cycle has resolved.  

So: find a CAAB to do in person evaluation of both your adolescent Pit Bulls and give an opinion.  Or: observe the two, try to determine whom is most likely going to wind up being higher in social hierarchy (this is not an easy thing to do) and place THAT bitch in a new home WITHOUT ANY OTHER DOGS AND WITH NO CHILDREN.  Now: placing a Pit Bull or its breed type is very tricky business requiring a great deal of screening, interviewing, checking references, AND visiting the home of the person you have chosen.  Never keep two pups from the same litter and spay the dam, do not let her breed again.

PS:  due to the complexity of this situation and the heartbreak (both to yourself and the bitch you re-home, at first - ultimately she might be much happier if you are fortunate enough to find the right new owner) I would like you to copy/paste MY answer, and re-ask this question WITH MY ANSWER, of Jody Epstein.  Her collaboration will bring another "eye" to the problem.  As a professional, to have another on the site with me whom I respect (although I don't always agree with her) is a good thing.  Tell her I sent you for a second opinion and by sure to copy/paste my answer in your question to her.  Thanks.  Report back if you wish to do so.  

Canine Behavior

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Jill Connor, Ph.D.

Expertise

I have spent my entire professional life rehabilitating the behavior of the domestic dog and I can answer any question regarding any behavior problem in any breed dog. I have answered more than 5,000 QUESTIONS on this site in the past (almost) eight years. If you are a caring, committed owner and need advice, I'm here for you. I am personally acquainted with my colleagues (Turid Rugaas, Ian Dunbar, etc.) who were members of an elite group in EGroups that I founded: K9Shrinks. THERE ARE NO QUICK FIXES for serious behavioral issues; not only is it unprofessional to offer same, it is also unethical. IF I ASK YOU SUBSEQUENT QUESTIONS, I NEED YOU TO INTERACT WITH ME. More information equals more credible answers and a more successful outcome. If you want ANSWERS THAT WORK, participate in any way I request. I'm quite committed to working on this site for YOUR benefit and the benefit of YOUR DOG. Help me in any way you can.

Experience

30 years of solving serious behavior problems in domestic dogs; expert in dog to human aggression; Internet columnist for ThePetChannel.com for 5 years; former radio talk show host, WHPC.FM, Garden City, NY "Bite Back" (1995 through 2000). List owner, international animal behavior experts, K9Shrinks@egroups.com. Seminar leader: "Operant Conditioning and Learning"; "Aggression in The Domestic Dog"; "Solving Problem Behaviors" -- conducted for various training facilities on Long Island from 1993 through 2000. Former clinical director of "Behavioral Abnormalities" in conjunction with Mark Beckerman, DVM, Hempstead, New York.

Organizations
Member, APDT (UK); Psychologists in Ethical Treatment with Animals

Publications
Harcourt Brace Learning Direct: "The Business of Dog Training" "The Fail Safe Dog: Brain Training, not Pain Training"

Education/Credentials
Ph.D., UC Berkeley

Past/Present Clients
Board of Directors: Northeast Dog Rescue Connection; The Dog Project; Sav-A-Dog Foundation; etc. Pro Bono counselor: Little Shelter Humane Society My practice is presently limited to forensics. I diagnose cause of dog bite, based upon testimony before the Court, for attorneys and insurance companies litigating dog bites, including fatal injuries. I also do pro bono work for bona fide rescue organizations, humane societies, et al, regarding such analysis in an effort to obtain release for dogs being held for death in municipal shelters in the US.

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