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).

Hand Shy. 8 Months Old and Left With the Vet to be Put to Sleep.

hand shy The young Staffie/Dogue de Bordeaux had been dropped off at the surgery anonymously with a story of his owners splitting up and no rescue centre willing to take him. Fortunately the veterinary nurse, a past client of mine, took him home with her. She found him a new home with friends.

Frankie is hand shy

His new family of three days, a lovely couple with their two daughters, have called him Frankie.

Frankie is in good shape physically but he is hand-shy. He has air-snapped at a couple of people who have put their hand out to him. This has been preceded by growling but because this was ignored the ‘go away’ warning was naturally stepped up a little. Then he was scolded. A mistake. Warnings shouldn’t be discouraged. We should listen to what the dog is saying and deal with the underlying reason – usually fear.

Frankie has quickly got used to his new family but he is becoming increasingly growly and fearful with other people who come to the house. He is much better out in the garden where possibly he feels more free – so long as he’s not approached with an outstretched hand.

Very wisely the new family have called for help early on, so hopefully we can nip in the bud behaviours including being hand shy which may have caused him to have been abandoned in the first place.

I myself demonstrated how to teach Frankie first of all to relax with me, and then to come to my hand instead of avoiding it; within a while he had changed from growling at me to happily touching my hand when I held it out in front of him and even above his head.

They will need to work on this with family members to start with. It needs to be taken slowly and gradually. He needs to associate people with nice stuff. He also seems to have some problems with being left alone and he pulls on lead. These things can be addressed with patience and understanding, two qualities his new family have.

Frankie is a clean slate at the moment and they are slowly getting to know him as he settles in and displays his real self.

Dogue de Bordeaux Mix Puppy

Dogeu de Bordeaux cross is a large twelve week old puppy At just twelve weeks old, BlahBlah is already the size of a Cocker Spaniel! In deciding whether she should be jumping on sofas and over people, one needs to consider the size she will eventually grow to be! Look at the size of those feet!

Also, because she is already so big, it’s easy to expect too much of her. At twelve weeks old toilet training is ‘work in progress’! The seven-year-old son said something very wise: how can she know what words mean if she’s not been taught (perhaps he knows the feeling!)?

I feel there is a big difference between a ‘command or order’ and an ‘invitation or request’. If they wanted their boy to come to them, would it be a command or a request? If they wanted him to bring them something or put something down, would it be a command or request? Would they not say thank you? Puppies respond so well to gentle requests once the action has been taught, and a thank you by way of a small piece of food for doing it. BlahBlah already had learnt Sit in the week since they have had her, but she was fast learning that it was Sit Sit Sit that was the actual command! In five minutes I had taught her Down (with no pushing) and had her Come, Sit and Down all with single gentle requests, with a treat ‘thank you’ BlahBlah playing with a plastic bottleafterwards. She is a clever girl!

While I was there she was nibbling at the cane garden table.  A harsh ‘No’ sounds cross but she doesn’t understand. If shouted at she may even shout (bark) back! With a very young child one would gently say ‘no’ or ‘uh-uh’ or ‘don’t do that’ and immediately either distract or praise for stopping. She went back to nibbling three or four times, just to check, and now this is another thing she has learnt not to do in her new home. Nibbling and chewing is a natural puppy thing and also a way of exploring, so they need a lot of legitimate things to use their mouths and teeth on. The kibble in plastic bottle is always a fun and noisy distraction (see photo)!

So, we are setting everything off in the right direction for BlahBlah and her family, and I shall go again in a few weeks when BlahBlah is ready for the next stage. So far it has just been my ‘puppy visit’. I shall continue to be there for them with other visits and help as their puppy grows to maturity.

BlahBlah must be nearly 8 months old now! “Just to let you know that Blah Blah is doing very well. Everyone always remarks on what a pleasant dog she is and she is fantastic around other dogs and children. I believe that it was the time you spent with us that allowed us to get off to such a great start and for this we are very grateful”.
I can help you, too, with these problems or any other that you may be having with your dog. Please just check the map and contact me.
 

Big Baby

Today I had a treat.

I went to see a fifteen week old Dogue de Bordeax called Porter. He is a very big puppy and he’s going to grow into a huge dog! His owners want to make sure that they start off the right way, so that he grows up to be a well-mannered friendly dog who, though will bark if he hears something, won’t assume the role of guard duty or be a threat in any way.  He is also going to learn to walk nicely on a loose lead.Dogue de Bordeaux, a very large puppy

At just fifteen weeks old he is already a little wary of people coming up too close to him and he may bark at them. We are working to make sure he grows up to be confident and self-controlled. It is so tempting to play exciting and rough games with a puppy like this, but tug games not done properly encourage mouthing, grabbing and biting, and chase games encourage a puppy to run away or even to get scared if cornered – and this invites aggression.

He is unusually lazy for a puppy, he is house trained already, he doesn’t jump up and he doesn’t chew much – apart from socks – when they have feet in them!

I can help you, too, with these problems or any other that you may be having with your dog.