What it has boiled down to is obedience, hyper-vigilance and separation.
If one of them is inside, the other is out. If they are both inside (it has been bitterly cold) then they are separated in different areas of the house. When they are in the same room they are both dragging a leash.
My primary objective is to remove any incentive for fighting. Prevention is key. Watch the body language (stiff legs, raised stiff tail, hard stare etc...) when I see something I do not like, I distract their attention from each other and onto me.
It is E.X.H.A.U.S.T.I.N.G.
They both know the jig is up and Mom is going to lower the boom on their heads - and they are united in watching me for any sign of correction. I am also working with all four (separately) of them in many different things like obedience, perch work, contacts, jumps and other things to keep their minds engaged and focused on me as the source of all things good.
When I see Beth giving the ole stink-eye to Bonnie - I correct her (sharp 'Beth, knock it off"). If I see Bonnie heading straight toward Beth - like a moth to a flame - WHAMMO I correct her (grab her leash, or call her to me - or removal from the room).
I have been watching them like hawks. I still not entirely sure what the heck is going on. Beth has been avoiding Bonnie. Averting her head when she is in the room, hiding behind the couch etc. In general Beth doesn't want to be any where near Bonnie. She is receptive and and affectionate to both Ranger and Brynn.
Bonnie on the other hand can't seem to get enough of Beth, and seems to want to 'suck up' to her constantly. She wants to smell her, sniff her, lick her face.
Saturday morning dawned clear and cold, so John and I bundled up and took them all to the river.
Both Beth and Bonnie started out on leash.. We slowly let them go (dragging leashes) when it became apparent that Beth had no interest in starting any type of fight with Bonnie.
Beth was not deterred by her leash, nothing diminishes her pursuit of the all mighty ball.
The dogs took turns playing off leash away from each other at first.
If Bonnie got to far ahead of me, I called her back. A simple task, she is rarely more than 10 feet away from me.
Have I mentioned in this post how much I love my new camera?
I have been playing with the manual settings. Now if I can just get it all in focus, shutter speed and the lighting figured out I will be doing good. I actually love this picture. I love the ball is in focus, but the dogs behind are not. The composition sucks..but I still love it. I digress...
Can you tell Beth is addicted to the ball?
Ballaholic. I wish she had this same passion for sheep.
When things became apparent they were not going to rip each others face off the leashes slowly came off.
It seemed that Bonnie wanted to appease Beth. Beth pretty much just ignored her.
She even ignored her when Bonnie kept doing this (see Bonnie's tongue stuck to the side of Beth's face below?). It was VERY HARD to not correct this or jump in.
Bonnie is licking Beth's face.
Finally when they were good and tired....we saw them start to relax a bit.
I saw a scene I never thought I would see again. All of them together. No one bleeding.
Beth and Bonnie - in the same frame - fur not flying.
I cannot afford to relax or become complacent. We are still going to be working with Packworks next weekend and a behaviorist to make sure there is not something more going on, or more I should be doing.
For now, this makes me smile.
Now, for something fun.
Do you notice something in this picture? Look closely (click on picture for larger view) in the trees above the dogs.
Our eagle friend met us on our walk again. I forgot the lens I needed to get a really good shot. So you will have to be happy with these.
Looking at the dogs below
Looking at me.