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Yesterday morning my two bitches had a serious fight, I've never experienced such aggression between two setters before, or any other dog for that matter!  It started over a treat, I gave them both a treat, as done many many many times before, however one dropped theirs and the other one went to pick it up and then all hell broke loose.  They really tried to hurt each other, neither my shouts or pouring cold water over them did the slightest bit of good.  In the end I had to pull them apart by their collars and they were still trying to get to each other.  I put them in separate rooms until it all calmed down.  One bitch had puncture wounds on the neck, leg and side, the other no marks.  When I reintroduced them to each other it was as if nothing had happened.  Has anyone experienced this before and do you think its just a one off?  They haven't had a treat together since!

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So now you know that food is a flashpoint and you have two girls who will fly.

Do manage your girls carefully over the next few weeks til the air has cleared. Think if both are neutered, both or one is not, what the age difference is? Is there a dynamic changing around them?

What I would say is that girls are real dirty fighters and they do hold a grudge sometimes!
I'm being really careful with treats from now on. There is only 3 weeks between them, they are both nearly 4 years old, neither are neutered and nothing new has gone on recently. I'm just hoping this was a one off and it won't happen again.
Hi Deborah
they are very close together in age and are reaching full maturity at the same time. Just keep watching for other signs of "one upmanship"

Whose goes out the door first, into the car etc. Are they edging each other a little bit?

Watch and learn
Thanks for that Ossian, I am certainly watching them very closely!
When were last seasons? Is one of them near false pregnancy time (8-9 weeks after a season)? Could be hormonal and one thinks she has puppies. I usually have 5 bitches together at all times and have only once had a problem when two oldies had a go at each other. One had not eaten properly for a week thinking she had puppies and suddenly got her appetite back and the other piggy tried to pinch her tea. Within minutes they were back lying on the sofa together and never did it again. I got between someone elses fighting dogs once and got bitten so vowed I would never get between fighting dogs again.
Hi Angela
One of them is due in season in a few weeks the other not for a while. I really didn't want to get between them either but had no choice in the end. I'm very glad I didn't get bitten!
Hi Deborah

Bitches are often quite 'bitchy' (hence the word!) in the few weeks before coming in season. It is not unusual for bitches of same age, sexual status and similar character to become aggressive toward each other once they reach 'social maturity' (around 3- 4 years of age). This does not mean they will now fight all th etime but maybe over things that each of them considers important. In this case it was food, it could also be a toy, a bed or even being close to you.

As Ossian says you will need to be aware of what is going on between the two of them and try to determine which of the two is top dog - if any. Once that is clear to you, you should keep that hierarchy in mind when fussing, feeding, playing with them. Quite often we humans can inadvertently cause fights by giving priority treatment to the dog lower in rank, hereby giving cause for fighting.

It may be a good idea to ask for specialist opinion from a qualified dog trainer. Once they have had a real fight you will not feel at ease and may need help to set things straight.

I have found thrwoing a big blanket or heavy coat over two fighting dogs will help get them appart rather than going in there with your hands!
I never thought about a blanket! I always have a large water dish which is almost always full of fresh cold water.That stops the boys because they are usually all posture and noise.
I am really lucky I have a top bitch in my house and she will stalk over and stand over anyone getting out of line. Woe betide the fool who decided to answer back!

Somehow though her reputation has preceded her and there is seldom a problem/
The girls are less tolerant of "weakness" I find. Presumably the pack doesnt carry passengers and I have seen one old bitch being driven out/ The people who had this situation said she spent her last year in the dining room but that proved to be a lot easier than having her patched up at the vet.
Males much prefer to posture - probably laziness!! Nah its a man thng!!
I have had two bitches in the far distant past that would fight over food.
This happened during false pregnancies and as they both came in to season within days of each other...so they both had their "pretend"- litters at the same time.

I had three big fights all i all, but kept a very tight controll over the situation after the first fight. They were not even allowed to look at each other in a challanging way.
Yet nobody can controll all food situations, how ever hard you try.
One of them was sick and the other thought that she would have a taste of this wonderful meal that was suddenly presented...(yes dogs are quite disgusting at times). And away they went...second fight...I tried my best to stop it with a garden-hose, but that was totally useless.
I just ended up with two wet and angry dogs...

Third fight was over a bucket of bread put on the other side of the fence for the chickens...I never saw this one develope but they were both guarding the same food that was of course not available to either. I tried getting them apart but gave up. I tried lifting the agressor (I thought) by its hind legs...(you have all seen the drawings have you not?) well the result was that the one at the bottom thought it was great that I was on her side so she charged up and attacked. I gave up and went indoors...

These two were 4 years appart and I sorted it out though obedience, but it was hard work being so focused. I think that once they have tried to settle things through a fight, they will probably try again.
Thanks for everyones advice and thinking about it one of my bitches has started barking at the garden gate, something that was my Great Danes job, he died a month ago. He was top dog in everyway, ate first, chose the best bed etc etc. So after studying them I think now that top dog has gone they are competing for that role. I have 4 bitches in total but only two are asserting themselves. Its a shame this situation has risen as my husband has said if they fight when my four year old daughter is in the room one of them will have to go.

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