Fighting Females

Bitches fight. Dogue de Bordeaux cross attacks excitable Springer Spaniel.All went very well indeed until one day about six months ago. The two dogs would share the same bed, play and walk together. They fed in the same room and there were absolutely no problems until, seemingly out of the blue, Dolly went for Flossie out in the garden.

The two girls are both two and a half years of age and American Bulldog/Dogue de Bordeaux cross Dolly came to live with Springer Flossie earlier in the year. They had played with each other since they were puppies – Dolly having lived with the daughter. Unfortunately she and one of the daughter’s older dogs became arch-enemies so Dolly went to live with Flossie.

At the time of the first incident the family were there including young children. Dolly suddenly roared and leapt on Flossie, grabbing her by the throat. So much noise and panic ensued that neighbours down the road were asking what happened. Dealing with fighting females can be difficult and upsetting.

Poor Flossie hurt her leg. If Dolly had seriously intended to hurt her there would have been much more damage. Had the dogs been of equal size it may not have been serious at all.

When this happens once it all too often happens a second time, largely generated by the knee-jerk reactions of the humans. The second occasion was once again when family were there.

I believe Dolly,  like many dogs, is intolerant of extreme excitability or instability in another dog. She generally likes to assert herself. She is ‘in charge’ of petting and attention, getting it whenever she demands it, but gets ‘jealous’ when she sees people giving attention to Flossie. At the time of the second attack Flossie was being fussed.

The two fights have each taken place against the background of a stressful or exciting day, with several people about including youngsters. While Flossie gives in to her and is submissive, there is no trouble. When stressed, Flossie is probably sending out subtle signals that are challenging to Dolly – ‘asking for trouble’ if you like.

The other very important feature is that both times Dolly was hormonal – the first she was coming to the end of her season, and the second she had just been spayed with a phantom pregnancy at the same time. She was understandably less tolerant and even more bossy. Often hormones play a part when you have fighting females.

For the past five months the two dogs have been kept separated. They rotate between crates and gated kitchen.

Each dog must now associate the other with good stuff as it will take a while to erase the panic and anger generated by the two encounters. They can earn some of their food. Whenever one dog looks at the other dog, reward one or both dogs. When Dolly walks past Flossie’s crate or Flossie walks past Dolly’s, reward both dogs. This should scotch any growling. If the dogs are nose-to-nose at the gate – reward both of them.

Everything must be done to maintain a calm environment. The dogs must realise that nothing they want to do takes place until they are calm, whether it’s going for a walk or getting their food.  Calming Flossie down will make life a lot easier for Dolly.

Each time two dogs have a set-to it makes another time more likely, so they must simply not get the opportunity for a while. There is a lot of work to be done before very careful short get-togethers can take place at home – when nobody else is about and everything is calm.

Unlike some female dogs that fight I go to where things are past the point of no return and they truly hate one another, I feel that, handled carefully, these two can be friends again. Their crates are beside each other and the dogs are relaxed with that. They can even be together out on a walk.

NB. The precise protocols to best use for your own dog may be different to the approach I have worked out for Flossie, which is why I don’t go into all exact details here of our plan. Finding instructions on the internet or TV that are not tailored to your own dogs can do more harm than good, most particularly where any form of aggression is concerned. One size does not fit all. If you live in my own area I would be very pleased to help with strategies specific to your own dog (see my Get Help page).

Controlled Using Dominance. Mixed up Dog

He was controlled using dominance

Dads

They said at the rescue, ‘if you can hold him you can take him’.

I feared that huge American Bulldog Dads may be a 9-stone time-bomb waiting to go off (but the story has a very happy ending – see end).

Controlled using dominance

The young man already had 5-year-old Dads for a year before his partner moved in with her gentle but nervous Labrador/Springer cross, Jamie. Dads’ owner uses dominance-based methods without which, frankly, Dads would probably have been uncontrollable without an expert, and he has certainly improved over the past couple of years, whilst the lady with her Springer Jamie has undoubtedly spoilt him whilst training him positively using a clicker.

The dogs have been fighting – with Dad’s kicking it off. The lady is eight months pregnant and they are worried. Understandably.

The gentleman is very firm with them and uses dominance techniques to get them to do what they are told.

Dads and Jamie

Dads only recognises a strong, authoritarian approach – the man with confrontational body language will click his fingers and point in order to be obeyed. This must have come as quite a shock to Jamie. If the lady tries it, Dad’s not happy! She is dis-empowered because he simply doesn’t respect her.

Both dogs have lost too much

Just as big a problem is that both dogs have, in a way, lost everything over the past few months. All toys have to be put away because Dads may become possessive and it could start a fight (and Jamie loves his toys). They can’t be given bones or anything to chew unless they are separated which may cause problems afterwards (and bones could be something to occupy and de-stress Dads).

Since they moved in together Dads isn’t walked much any more, and the lady can’t do it. Not only is she pregnant but he’s just too strong and pulls like a train. Neither dog gets the long walk that he used to. In order to make the house better for a baby, the dogs no longer have access to the garden – just a small paved yard for toileting. Consequently the dogs no longer play together, there just isn’t room in the house without causing chaos. Jamie will be missing being his lady owner’s ‘baby’, with her all the time.

Redirecting his frustration onto Jamie

Unsurprisingly, Dads has been redirecting his frustration and anger onto Jamie. Tracing back, and not surprisingly, it seems that these occasions follow a build-up of stressful incidents. Dads is also eyeballing Jamie – Jamie knows not to move. Sometimes Jamie stands up for himself. So far there has been little blood drawn but it’s only a matter of time unless their humans dramatically change their approach.

Dads appears to be slow and calm, but I fear he is a seething mess inside. He could also be depressed. He has simply no way of venting and no freedom to make any decisions of his own – little exercise, no brain games, nothing to chew and too much being controlled.

The couple can now see the connection between stress and inactivity, and the attacks on Jamie – along with Jamile’s own instability.  Hopefully they will have the stamina to to turn things around.

I am so THRILLED to have just received this email: Yes our little girl arrived on the 3rd 🙂 We have been getting used to a new routine and sleepless nights!
The dogs have been absolutely amazing since the day we brought the baby home.  For the first couple of days, I stayed upstairs with the baby. The dogs seemed to know something was going on, yet they were so well behaved, not even baking when our parents came to visit us (upstairs). When I did come down stairs a couple days later, the dogs gave me a good sniff and Roxie a little sniff, then that was it!!
Dads takes no notice of her what so ever, he doesn’t even wake up when she’s crying lol, he might come and give her a sniff ‘hello’ in the morning, but that’s only if he can be bothered to get out of his bed 🙂 Jamie is very gentle when he comes to ‘snoze’ her with his nose (snoze = kiss)
Both dogs have been brilliant with all the visitors we have had. They wait in the dining room, with the stair gate open still, and once our guests have been seated, the dogs are invited in, they give our guests a sniff them settle down on their beds in the living room with us all.
We have brought a door bell that chimes a tune which has stopped all the barking as no one knocks at the door now and the dogs haven’t connected the door bell tune to the arrival of visitors yet lol
Keith had been taking both dogs out for their walks, but now I am able to potter round the village, I have been taking Jamie, I tie his lead to the pram. He only got run over by it twice lol but now he walks beautifully by the side of it. He then gets to play ball on the green on the way home.
Keith has been taking Dads up the field for a run and a game of ball, he has however started to put him in the back of the truck to take him to the field, which Dads is getting a lot batter at. (He used to be a nightmare in vehicles!) Dads also loves having his feet bathed afterwards (he’ll do anything for a biscuit!) Keith also used biscuits to allow him to put drops in his eye.
So overall, the dogs seem happy and have accepted our new arrival. We are just taking everything one step at a time as Roxie won’t stay this small and motionless for long!! But so far so good!

American Bulldog and Another Postman Incident

American Bulldog was friendly whilst keeping an eye on his ownersAmerican Bulldog Bruno with his ballBruno is a seven-year-old American Bulldog – quite a large dog. The story is a bit similar to the dog I went to a couple of days ago.

He, too, is protective and territorial. He is absolutely fine with other dogs, but people approaching the house or walking towards him or his owners can set him off barking, hackles up and even shaking.

I was expecting something very different when I arrived. Because of what I had been told over the phone I was expecting a dangerous dog and I took all the precautions, so when I was seated the other side of the room, I asked the gentleman to bring Bruno in on lead. Soon it was obvious that this wasn’t necessary at all! Bruno was absolutely lovely – friendly and calm (whilst also keeping a careful eye on his owners).

They have always known that Bruno was protective and have been careful, but in one careless moment when their concentration was elsewhere, Bruno was out the front as the postman walked towards the house. To his credit he didn’t actually bite – though a tooth caught the man’s skin. Bruno did all in his power to chase the man off – he reared, barked, lunged and jumped at him. His hackles were up and he sounded ferocious.

What he got for his efforts was serious trouble.

Life must seem so unfair to a dog sometimes.

At home and alone with the family, Bruno is affectionate and a wonderful pet. But – they do everything he asks and his every wish is pandered to. He eats when he wishes, he is given treats when he asks and never has to to earn anything; he has been sleeping where he wants, he gets all attention and play upon his own terms, and so on. In order to show Bruno that they don’t need protecting, they will have to show him that they are not his ‘charges’. It has to be the other way around.

It is about understanding the dog better, what makes him tick and what to do about it in ways that he understands. They absolutely adore their beautiful dog, and I know they will go that extra mile for him.

Just ten days later: “A vast improvement in Bruno’s attitude to people: Just back from a weekend down the coast with all the family. Bruno was a star! He was calm, even though our 2 year old grandson was forever stroking and talking to him. We took him out along the beach, and he never pulled once. There was a funfair and fete on the cliffs, and he walked through all the people without the slightest concern. We even had someone walk past our caravan, and he barked once, but left it to me to investigate. So the work we’re putting in is really helping him.”.
I can help you, too, with these problems or any other that you may be having with your dog.