Even though Sasha and Bella are best friends, when their hormones start kicking in during heat cycles, they could turn into temporary enemies. Keeping dogs who are in estrus together elevates tension, as dogs in heat can be moody. If you have an intact male dog around who won’t leave them alone, you might need to separate him, too. Or else you could wind up with a litter of unplanned puppies.
The Baby Gate
Investing in some high-quality sturdy baby gates is one of the best ways to keep your hormonal hounds separated. This way they can stay inside and have them both in your line of vision. You’ll just have to rotate who gets to sit with you and who gets to hang out in the other room with some toys. For example, let Sasha be in the kitchen with you while you’re making dinner. Afterwards, put Sasha in the separated room and let Bella be with you. You're giving them equal attention, except at different time periods.
Anytime you leave the house, or if they're able to jump over baby gates, keep your dogs separated by crating them. During the heat cycle, you might have to crate your girls separately in different rooms, if they’re not getting along or growling at each other. The crate should always be a positive place, like their own little houses. Never put your dog in the crate as a punishment, even if she picks a fight with her fellow pack member. Otherwise she’ll start to dislike it and won’t want to go near it.
Rotate Outside Time
Depending on the weather in your region, you might be able to leave one canine outside, while bringing the other one in. Give Sasha her dinner out on the back porch and let her run around for an hour or two. Then bring her in and let Bella do the same thing outside. Usually they’re used to playing with each other out there though, so they might get bored being alone. Pop out there a couple times for a game of fetch; and leave each one with several interactive play toys to keep them occupied.
When It’s Too Late
In some cases, your pups may get into a fight before you had a chance to separate them. Most fights aren’t serious and only last a few seconds. Don’t panic. If growling and biting occur, don’t reach down and separate them -- you could get bit. Instead, divert their attention. Clap your hands, shake a can filled with pennies or bang a pot with a metal spoon. In more severe cases, you can throw a large blanket over the dogs, spray them with water or dump a bowl of water on them, or separate them with a flat object, like a baby gate or piece of plywood. Then once they’re distracted, toss treats in separate directions and then go over and put a leash on one of them and take her out to cool off.
Melodie Anne Coffman specializes in overall wellness, with particular interests in women's health and personal defense. She holds a master's degree in food science and human nutrition and is a certified instructor through the NRA. Coffman is pursuing her personal trainer certification in 2015.