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Dogs Not Getting Along

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Dogs Not Getting Along
  • My girlfriend and I have two dogs: Bodacious a 50#, 2 year old male lab/beagle mix and Bella a 20#, 1 year old Manchester Terrier/Min Pin Mix and my sister that lives with us and has a 2 year old male Bull Terrier named Diego that is about the same size as Bo but slightly shorter and heavier and a lot more muscular.  Diego is fairly new to our house as my sister rescued him from a poor situation a couple months ago and we have had Bo since 10/1/2006.  Bella is also fairly new as she was an emaciated stray we took in late in October of this year, but she really insn't involved with the problem I am having with the boys.

     

    The problem is that Bo and Diego do not really get along very well.  Whenever Diego comes close to Bo, he starts growling really low and sort of stalks him (stares him down, walks slow and stiff, etc).  Diego is very playful and doesn't have a mean bone in his body, and I think he thinks that Bo's growling is an invitation to play because sometimes when Bo is growling, Diego will get behind him and kind of prod Bo in the side with his nose which makes Bo even more mad.  Bo is definitely the aggressor.

     

    When we come home from work or anything, the dogs of course are excited and happy to see us, and usually Diego and Bo will wrestle around and Bo growls the whole time and Bella will usually bark at Diego and bite at his back legs, but I don't see it as aggressive and more of a "Hey, I'm little but play with me too" kind of thing.  During this time Bo will be growling somewhat playfully and will nibble on the back of Diego's neck while they run around and jump on each other and it has never sparked a large outburst.  However, when there is a toy involved, things get nasty.  Usually when Diego gets a toy, Bo will take it from him and then walk across the room, put it down and stand over it while growling and staring at Diego or he will lay down in front of where we keep the toys in order to guard all the toys from him and will growl when he gets close.  Sometimes Bo will lunge at Diego if he gets too close to his precious toy and an all out brawl will start.  Usually they are easily broken up by yelling and there isn't much damage to either dog besides a scratch or two, but on New Years Eve they got into it and Bo had ahold of Diego's face and neck and Diego had ahold of Bo's right leg.  The yelling didn't stop the fight and I had to hold Bo down on the floor to stop him from trying to get at Diego, and once he calmed down he started yelping very loudly and I noticed several cuts on his leg and he couldn't walk on it.  This required a $140 trip to the vet to get a staple in Bo's leg to close the wound, antibiotics, and some pain meds for a damaged pad on his paw.  Diego's face and neck were pecked with puncture wounds from Bo's teeth but didn't require any medical attention.

     

    Does anyone have any good ways to keep the dogs from fighting with each other?  I really want to stop the growling from Bo anytime Diego comes near so we can avoid these scuffles.

     

  • I'm sure others will be along shortly and will have more/better advise.  Bo not letting Diego get near the toys is resource guarding, there's a book that is usually recommend name 'MINE: A guide to resource guarding' (or something like that, I know the first word is definitely MINE). 

    Also having a behavorist evaluate and help you would probably be a good idea, esp. since this last event required a vet trip, obviously the issues are escalating.

    The only other thing I can think of is management.  If these dogs just aren't going to get along it maybe better just to keep them seperated (as it is they should ALWAYS be seperated if they are unsupervised)  

  • Are both males neutered? That's the first step.

    I would do NILIF with them all, too . 

  • kanthony30

    The problem is that Bo and Diego do not really get along very well.  Whenever Diego comes close to Bo, he starts growling really low and sort of stalks him (stares him down, walks slow and stiff, etc).  Diego is very playful and doesn't have a mean bone in his body, and I think he thinks that Bo's growling is an invitation to play because sometimes when Bo is growling, Diego will get behind him and kind of prod Bo in the side with his nose which makes Bo even more mad.  Bo is definitely the aggressor.

     

    If I were telling someone to go away, and they started hugging me, I'd be pissed too.

    I dunno. I'm not saying Bo is faultless, but Diego isn't totally innocent. It sounds like the two are struggling for power, and neither is willing to give in. Diego isn't being "sweet" when he bothers Bo while he growls. He's being a brat. The fact that Bo's growling and toy guarding don't cause Diego to step back suggests that Diego isn't willing to let Bo make the rules.

    Bull terriers are intense and tough dogs. They don't give up easily. I think you are underestimating him, and over estimating his "niceness." You could just as easily see the situation as "I really want to make Diego respect Bo's growls so we can avoid these scuffles." Do you think you may have been undermining Bo and encouraging Diego without knowing it?

     

  • kanthony30

    The problem is that Bo and Diego do not really get along very well.  Whenever Diego comes close to Bo, he starts growling really low and sort of stalks him (stares him down, walks slow and stiff, etc).  Diego is very playful and doesn't have a mean bone in his body, and I think he thinks that Bo's growling is an invitation to play because sometimes when Bo is growling, Diego will get behind him and kind of prod Bo in the side with his nose which makes Bo even more mad.  Bo is definitely the aggressor.

     

    If I were telling someone to go away, and they started hugging me, I'd be pissed too.

    I dunno. I'm not saying Bo is faultless, but Diego isn't totally innocent. It sounds like the two are struggling for power, and neither is willing to give in. Diego isn't being "sweet" when he bothers Bo while he growls. He's being a brat. The fact that Bo's growling and toy guarding don't cause Diego to step back suggests that Diego isn't willing to let Bo make the rules.

    Bull terriers are intense and tough dogs. They don't give up easily. I think you are underestimating him, and over estimating his "niceness." You could just as easily see the situation as "I really want to make Diego respect Bo's growls so we can avoid these scuffles." Do you think you may have been undermining Bo and encouraging Diego without knowing it?

     

  • Usually when the growling starts, I just say HEY! really loud and both dogs will look at me and Diego will usually turn around and walk away.  I don't really encourage either of them I don't think, I just want Bo to not growl but rather play with him like he plays my mom's dog, my other sister's dogs, with all the other dogs at the park, etc. but I'm not sure if its possible.  Is there any way to get them to be buddies or do some dogs just never get along?

  • why don't you just put all the toys away? that seems to be the only trigger for "real" fights. Best way to keep peace in a multi-dog household is to not have things lying around the dogs might fight over. Are you sure the stalking/growling isn't play? many dogs play that way.

  • mudpuppy

    Best way to keep peace in a multi-dog household is to not have things lying around the dogs might fight over.

    Amen to that. Our toybox sits up on top of the dryer where the dogs can't get to it. All toys get put away when I get home from work (the dogs aren't together during the days when no one is home) and maybe later in the evening I'll dole a couple out in a situation where I can supervise. We had to work up to that though, it did not happen instantly that the two dogs were able to each have a toy in the same space and one of them wouldn't get snarky and try to start thieving from the other. Last night though they each had a stuffed bone and were happily chewing facing opposite directions with their butts touching. But that comes after a year and a half of carefully managing their interactions with all resources.
     

  • kanthony30

     Is there any way to get them to be buddies or do some dogs just never get along?

    Unfortunately -  some dogs just never get along. Your situation sounds similar to mine though, so don't lose hope. I have 2 females and after several fights (they started as small spats and escalated to serious fights), we no longer allow them to be together when we're not here and we never allow them to eat or have treats near each other, unless we're right there monitoring it. It's not as fun as having a pack that never has problems, but it is possible to manage.

  • It is true that some dogs just never get along, and if I had been asked, as a trainer, if you should add a two year old male Bull Terrier to a household with another 2 year old male in it, just on the face I would have said no.  Not that two same age males can't get along, but you increase your chances for success in multi dog households when the dogs are opposite gender and spaced a bit in age.  I agree with mudpuppy that you should NEVER leave toys or food lying around with these dogs.  With males, I would make sure that both dogs are neutered.  (Just FYI for the lurkers, when you adopt a second dog, do not just bring the new dog home - first, have the dogs meet on neutral territory to see if they get along.)  It also helps to train both dogs (NILIF) so that they have more respect for you and the other humans in the household, as opposed to paying more attention to one another.  That way, it becomes easier to ask one of them to "leave it" or "come" when things get tense.

  • Well, things were going good for a while.  We had been keeping toys picked up and separating them at the first sign of aggression.  They were having a great time last night playing and getting along.  Bo had this little stuffed pink bone and was running with it in his mouth and Diego was chasing him and Bo would turn around to show it to him and it was the cutest thing.  They were having such a great time, no growling or aggression at all, just playing.

    Then after we ate supper, me, my girlfriend, and my sister went to the living room.  My girlfriend and I were on the loveseat and Diego was in front of us and Bo was standing beside him and I noticed he was very tensed up and not moving and just staring at Diego.  Well, little did we know there was a toy between the loveseat and the ottoman and Diego was standing over it.  I said "Heyyyyy" and pushed Bo away with my foot and they both went at each other.  They were reared up on their hind legs going at it and I literally had to grab Diego and carry him away and my sister had Bo pinned to the ground.  It was pretty scary because they kept tryign to get back to fighting each other.  Then after the dust had settled, Bo was yelping and sure enough, a huge 3" gash on the inside of his leg.  We took him to the vet this morning to get stitches. 

     We just decided no more toys at all no matter what when they are both home together.  It sucks, but these fights suck even more.

  • The added danger is that even without toys or other resources to fight over, they may still decide they don't like one another.  If one dog is injuring the other, the offender, and maybe both dogs, should be muzzled.  These fights aren't just costing you money, they could escalate and cost a dog its life - a three inch gash that goes through a jugular vein would be no laughing matter...  My advice is to engage the services of a qualified behaviorist - to find one you can go to the Animal Behavior Society web page, or call your nearest vet college for a referral. 

  • kanthony30
    I said "Heyyyyy" and pushed Bo away with my foot and they both went at each other.

    I don't mean this as a criticism because I too had to learn the hard way, but sometimes reacting as you did can propel a fight into motion. If the tension is already heightened, the best thing you can do is distract them as calmly as possible and get some distance between the 2. I totally agree with Anne in regards to finding a behaviorist. You will learn if it's even possible to manage these 2 dogs together and if it is, how to do it safely.