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Dog Rivalry Confusion

May 21st, 2005, 10:57 PM
I could use some advice on how to handle a transition in my home between my two dogs. The original is a 2 year old female English Bulldog and the newcomer is a 3 month old South African Mastiff. Mostly, they get along OK, now. But the younger one is getting bigger and stronger and more confident. He will eventually be much bigger, but for the meantime isn't as strong or coordinated as the older one. So, tonight everyone was playing with their own toys, until the puppy got bored and tried to take the squeaky ball away from the older one. This has happened many times before, and usually, she growls and engages in a keep-away game. Tonight, she growled a bit, but then went straight out to bit him on the lips! He screeched in pain, and I put the older one in the crate because I thought she was being a bully. Did I do wrong? After a few minutes, I let her out, the younger one was quite timid of the older one, and the older one was almost worse - not biting, but keeping him from entering rooms, and trying to mount him, etc.

So, I'm confused as to handle the impending transition for when the puppy gets bigger. I don't want him afraid of dogs, so thought I should show him I could protect him by putting the older one out of reach. But maybe that made the older one feel like she needed to step it up??! Do I let them "work things out" to an some extent, or do I constantly try to step between them when I see potential trouble? I mainly want the puppy to like other dogs and not be fearful or aggressive because he doesn't feel safe, but maybe he was asking for it, by going for the toy? What do I allow as normal, and when should I intervene? As you can see, I am major confused, and appreciate your help!

Lucky Rescue
May 21st, 2005, 11:17 PM
English Bulldogs, like all bull breeds, can be dog aggressive, and letting them "work it out" could result in serious injury to the puppy.

Keep toys and treats away when both are together, and you need to teach your bulldog that you will not permit her behavior - the mounting and blocking doorways. For her to be this rough and aggressive with a 12 week old puppy is not a good sign. She may never like him, but she must learn she cannot attack or mount him in your presence.

Pay more attention to her than to the new puppy so as not to encourage resentment and rivalry. Praise her when she is good around the puppy and do not give the puppy free run of the house.

Never EVER leave them alone together.

May 21st, 2005, 11:20 PM
The older one is trying to keep his status as the dominant dog. You can't punish him without punishing the puppy too. The puppy has to learn not to bug his "elders". You have to decide which one is dominant for now and then assert the roles in your home. In my opinion, the older one should be the dominant one, so he should be fed first, let out the door first, allowed to drink first, etc. If you let the older one assert himself a little now (under control and super supervision as Lucky said about the Bull breeds...), chances are the puppy will accept his position for now.

When the puppy is between 1 year and 2 years, he'll start testing again, only more aggressively. You'll have to reassess then who should be alpha. One will simply do the job better and more naturally than the other.

You have to also assert your dominance to them both. If they ever fight or argue, you have to be able to be strong enough to separate them and show them that they are not allowed to fight for alpha status, because you are it. You also have to set a level of aggression for both dogs that you are comfortable handling and stop any behavior that goes above that point. Like if you want to stop it before growling, then as soon as one growls you remove him from the situation. For most people I know, growling is the easiest point of escalation to decipher.

Some people say the dog growls when he plays, so how do you tell when it becomes aggression? My answer to that is to stop it all as soon as there is growling, playing or not. This way, the dog will learn consistently that growling is wrong. You can't allow some growling-- to a dog, it means you allow all growling.

I hope it helps. I am sure Tenderfoot has other advice to add too... :)

Oh and of course, getting the second doggy neutered EARLY will help a lot too. The older one is not neutered right?