Sisterly “love”

Our happy b family has hit a snag- our youngest b’s- sisters- have decided, after 4 years of smooth sailing, that they hate each other. While my husband insists the aggression is one sided, I see the looks both girls shoot at each other... as a girl, if my sister shot me a look like that, it would be game on too... so I disagree with him.
Our vet has given them a clear bill of health... and recommended spaying for all the girls- which I am against because she insists it must be all the girls and our eldest is 12 years old. I just don’t feel right putting an elderly dog through that.
Currently doing the double pack thing with the ladies taking turns in their “caves” but am not sure that this is feasible for the rest of their lives.
A behaviourist was also recommended- Does doggie therapy really work?
Looking for help from the experienced experts.

As we say in the Breed.... it works till it doesn't. Chances of getting bitches like this back together is (in my opinion and experience) slim to none, sorry to say. And I doubt that spaying would help. Trying a behaviourist can't hurt to try, however

I agree with Pat. IMO, the fact that you've had 4 peaceful years is a gift, I've only been able to rely on 2 years.

I would never depend on them getting along nicely, but sometimes convincing them that YOU are still alpha might help. Ways to do this:

Hold yummy treats in your hand, give a bite to the one that seems most in charge, insist the other wait. Then switch. Keep doing this until your hand is empty. When trouble starts, games over, no treats. Try to always end with the alpha.

Try walking them on a leash, maybe with your husband. I find 2 that are not best friends seem to find the different world so interesting, they sort of ignore each other. Doing it often enough will maybe help them to realize they don't always have to be hating the other.

When they are fed, do it in crates. Give the alpha hers first.

Hopefully the girls will decide that alpha is alpha. Like I said I'd NEVER trust them together, but maybe you all can get to the point that they aren't going to try and kill each other.
I've read, and experienced, that dogs are most at peace when who is alpha is known. they're not like kids, don't care if one got more, as long as they get some too. So, pick an alpha and treat her as such.

I have 2 that a few years ago hated each other, to the point of bloodshed if given the chance. Now, when one walks through the room that has the other in a crate, it seems to be more fun than hate to run up to the crate (guarded by an ex pen layer of protection) and then run along. Both girls do this. I envision someday actually being able to have them in a supervised room together, but we'll see.
(Their mothers absolutely wanted to kill each other. They both had totally different personalities and outlook on life, that they just couldn't get along.) These 2, it might be possible. I've been working on it for years and they are 12 and 14.

Behaviorist won’t hurt but from my experience excercise and leadership are the keys. My dogs had a rough winter before last, two fights and they were both serious fights. First fight in four years before that. This last winter was fine but we changed things up a little. No problems at all during the summer when they get lots of excercise.

Firstly I'm so sorry that this has happened! I do agree with Tanza. However I have managed to 'reunite' sisters who have taken against each other but only by taking immediate action by keeping them side by side (in their crates but covered), feeding them side by side, and walking them together for several days. It is essential that during their enforced 'apartness' all aggression should be reprimanded. When all antipathy has settled down I went back to normal and no further aggression occurred. Unless you feel that you can do this the other alternative is of course total separation. If you decide to try the behaviourist route please make sure that the person is experienced in treating Basenjis or other primitive dogs. In my opinion spaying won't work.

No personal experience at all but breeders with extensive experience do indicate that, as Tanza has mentioned, repairing a rupture like the one you're describing is an uphill battle which you are likely to lose.

From what I've read, the science indicates that, contrary to popular belief, spaying is not an Rx for aggression. Moreover it's hard to understand the recommendation to spay all the females. Like all professions, vets fall into a normal curve, which means that half are below average (not that this is the case, just raising the possibility).

That said, you might want to spay your older female to protect her against pyrometra. Just have to balance the risks.

Our best friends had a sister to ours.....if they ever got together it would have been to the death. However we eventually got a half sister to our girl and the absolute love and loyalty was amazing. About 6 years ago we got a pair of sisters from brat. All was wonderful..until about 10 yrs old. I stepped out for a while and when i came home there was blood on my porch and smeared all over the door and sidewalk. It was awful. A stitch here and there and a short time later you would never have known it happened until it did again. This time i was in the room, no rhyme or reason and the battle was on...after 30yrs of basenjis, i stuck my arm in to break it up.....well you learn something new everyday don ya? Sadly one is gone now, but you just have to be careful with closely related girls. Sometime it makes sense, wolves dont allow any one but alpha female to breed, and if someone disobeys the rules she will pay mightily for it. Wild dogs also. Perhaps spaying might help and it sure would not hurt. Good,luck to you..always be vigilent.

spaying will NOT help. In the wild they would have to frequently at maturity, have to establish leadership. so it is hardwired power and control. most of us NEVER place same gender together. another concern would be if the 12 year old is deemed unnecessary to the pack, they could gang up on her.

If you find a behaviorist, find one familiar with primitive dogs but I would not be optimistic of it helping.

I'm so sorry to hear this has happened between your girls.

I recently received the following article from Whole Dog Journal that you might find interesting. Not all might be applicable to basenjis, but there might be helpful nuggets, or maybe there's something in the Comments section that could be helpful. I hope the link comes through.

https://www.whole-dog-journal.com/issues/13_4/features/Dog-Fighting-Behavior-Aggression_16214-1.html?ET=wholedogjournal:e303235:2609391a:&st=email&s=p_Grabbag052018

I agree with others that a good behaviorist may be helpful, and am doubtful that spaying them would solve the problem. (Why aren't they already spayed? Just wondering.)

I've always said: "They are called b*tches for a reason." (Smile)

I have managed to get sisters back together. It wasn't easy but with patience it worked.

The sisters were about 5 and 6 years old, not siblings - same Dad. We had sunshine and light all those years and within the pack which fluctuated up and down around the 6 mark. But someone came into the garden through a gate and sparked off a humdinger of a fight. One girl was hanging from the back of my hand, tearing flesh and ligaments so I needed stitches.

We kept them crated in the kitchen, within sight, sound and smell of each other until their wounds healed. Then I would get one girl out and take her down to the road, out of the garden while Marvin brought the other. Outside 'their' property - it is always best to do things on neutral territory - Marvin handed me the second girl and I walked them a few hundred yards at first then longer, one in each hand and taking care not to let them come too close to each other. When we got back to the garden, Marvin would take one girl and, each holding one, with lots of voice encouragement and treats, we'd let them approach each other. At first they were firmly on leads and were escorted back to the kitchen and their crates.

We did this four or even five times every day.

Over time, we found they would actually sniff the same blade of grass while on the walk and behave, even off lead, back in the garden.

So we took a deep breath and let them both back into the house without leads. And back into the pack - no longer crated.

It never occurred to me that I would fail to re-integrate them and as for spaying either of them, NO WAY !

They lived in harmony thereafter - one making 10.5 years and the other 16.5.

My hand healed nicely too !

@pawla
Good question, Paula. If I had had my way the girls would have been spayed years go. My husband had bred his first pair (their parents who are still with us) and wanted to breed the girls as well. I haven't been as supportive of the idea... he still agonizes over whether the first set of puppies went to their perfect homes (they were good, loving homes, but were they perfect?) and I keep imagining two litters and the agony homing would bring him. I fully expect we would end up with at least 2-3 puppies remaining with us and going through the love/hate thing all over again.

Finding the right home for an adult rescue is hard enough - finding the perfect home for a baby b would be, as you said, agonizing. I salute the good breeders who are able to do it. I've never had a b puppy (only rescues 18 mos or older) - I don't know if I'd want to go through raising a puppy! I hope you can get your girls to forgive and forget. I think slow, steady and patient persistence building new positive experiences will bring success.

It might be that The Girls are duelling over who will rule the roost now that your 14 yr old is settling into 'retirement'. Fortunately they're fighting with each other and not her--females are not respectful of age and I've had first person experience of two elder females injured so badly by younger females that euthanasia was required, and one--mine--where an old girl was beaten up and pushed down the basement stairs (!) In two of the above cases, all females were spayed--so spaying is not a panacea.

Honestly, I really doubt behavioral therapy will help long term--you're up against centuries of instinct, after all; And it could hurt by lulling you into a false sense of hope and security, resulting in an epic battle causing real injury. Depending on the method used, it could even redirect aggression towards your senior girl--whatever you decide please, please ensure she is separated from the others when you can't supervise directly. I gated mine in the master bedroom when I was away from the house; If she 'leaks', a plastic drop sheet placed over the bedspread and pillows and with a large, cozy bed on top will keep things dry.

If re-homing becomes necessary, remember that good, experienced homes ARE available--maybe even nearby, where you could visit. You just never know which members of an online forum or FB page are looking for a pack newbie. Good luck!

last edited by YodelMa

Try to remember - and to reinforce the concept in the minds of the dogs,, that YOU are the Alpha. They can squabble all they want to, but the boss is, was and always will be - Mom

@joan-duszka said in Sisterly “love”:

Sometime it makes sense, wolves dont allow any one but alpha female to breed, and if someone disobeys the rules she will pay mightily for it. Wild dogs also. Perhaps spaying might help and it sure would not hurt. Good,luck to you..always be vigilent.<<

Long dispelled observation, only fit confined packs.

https://io9.gizmodo.com/why-everything-you-know-about-wolf-packs-is-wrong-1664301968.

https://www.whole-dog-journal.com/issues/14_12/features/Alpha-Dogs_20416-1.html

Nor am I glib on spay/neuter. Will it help? Probably not. But go inti it eyes open:
https://www.dogsnaturallymagazine.com/long-term-health-risks-benefits-spay-neuter-dogs/

last edited by DebraDownSouth

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