betterxthanxnew

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We are desperately in need of some help and advice.

Some of you may remember everything we went through earlier this year obtaining Josie. She was re-homed to us via Craigslist (for free) by a young man who stated that he had already had her checked for a chip. He found her tied to a pole outside of his apartment complex where she was left for several days out in the cold with no food/water before he brought her in. This was in February. We later took her to our vet and learned she had not 1, but 2 chips- and one of them was registered to someone. We located the original owner & learned that they were not allowed to have dogs. As such, Josie had been kept in the backyard of a friend of hers. She hadn't seen the dog in months. The original owners wanted Josie back stating that they "had paid too much for her" to just give her away. We offered several different re-homing fees to her until she finally caved & told us they would take $1500, as that was at least half of what they paid for her & they had planned on breeding her. Needless to say we did everything we could to raise the money & purchase her from the original owner. We had about $700 of our own money & raised the rest through a Go Fund Me campaign. Thanks to the kindness of many friends and family we were able to keep Josie. We have now had her for 8 months. We also had her spayed. According to her paperwork she just turned 2 years old on October 11th. We love her so much- she is one of the most affectionate dogs! She is also full of energy & much more agile than any bulldog I've ever seen. She has been through so much, and we were so happy to finally give her some consistency in life.

Our other girl, Effie, has been with us since she was 9 weeks old. She will be 3 in January. Effie has slowed down quite a bit over the last year, but she is still a very happy & playful girl. Until recently...

We've ran into a huge problem with sibling rivalry/inter household aggression. We have tried everything, and I mean EVERYTHING. It's not just one of them starting fights, it's both of them & the circumstances always vary. Originally they fought over toys/high value treats. So we put them on a strict toy ban & only gave them their bones and such in their crates. Then they started fighting over human attention & space in the house. We live in a condo, it is not very big to begin with! Yesterday my husband was at work & I was home with them when a fight broke out right under my feet simply because I was wiping Effie's butt after being outside. My arms are so sore today from trying to get them apart. My sister came running down from her room & helped me pull them apart. There is no way I could have accomplished it by myself & I fear that they are going to kill one another. We had a behavior trainer come to the house several months ago when the problem first started. She was adamant that we "weren't going to be able to click our way out of this one." She highly suggested prong collars. Let me say right off, I HATED THE IDEA but I thought she was the professional & we ought to listen to her because the alternative would be re-homing Josie- and that was just heartbreaking. So we used the prong collars & things calmed down in the house almost immediately. We went 2 whole months with zero fights. You could just feel that the stress & tension was gone. Well, my parents came to visit mid September & were here for 2 weeks. During that time frame the dogs began to fight again-almost daily. We got fed up & put them on a rotation schedule using their crates. We first thought that maybe they were acting out again because of the changes in their routines & the extra people in the house. After my parents left we attempted to reintroduce them to each other & get life back to normal. Well now they are fighting over seemingly nothing. It's gotten more and more aggressive. They are tearing each other up so badly. Typically, we both grab them from their back hips & try to pull backwards but often they are so clamped down on each others faces that they just scream out in pain when we do that but yet they won't let go of one another!!! We've tried going back and using the prong collars but that isn't working anymore either. They got into a fight with the collars on & Josie's teeth were stuck in the links of Effie's collar to the point that Effie was screaming/gagging/and basically suffocating to death. We were barely able to get them apart that night.

We are at our wit's end. I don't know what to do. My heart is breaking. My husband and I are so stressed out- we just sit around crying. We don't want to give Josie up, but this is no life for ANYONE. Not us, and definitely not the dogs. I'm so scared that Effie will not come back from this. We can't even enjoy our dogs anymore. My favorite part of the day used to be coming up and playing with them. If we are outside they are fine with each other. When we travel they are fine with each other. They are fine with one another on walks, at dog parts, etc. They both love other dogs. The trainer originally told us that what we are experiencing is territorial aggression. I'm sad & disheartened that we went 2 months with ZERO fights & now we're back to square one. And now I'm TERRIFIED to use the prong collars because Effie literally almost died!

I feel like in my heart it is just a matter of time before we have to re-home Josie. I can feel it coming & I can feel my heart breaking apart. I just wanted to see if anyone has any other options for us? Our house is small. Keeping them separated is nearly impossible without confining them to their crates & alternating their time out of the crate. To me this is no life for them either. If anyone can make any recommendations to us we would be so grateful...
 

2BullyMama

I'm not OCD....now who moved my bulldog?
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Tasha... if I remember right, they are not litter mates, but you rescued Josie after she was tied up somewhere, right?

Not in all cases, but in most females just hate each other and one day for no real reason they start fighting.

Few questions-- does every one in household follow all the same rules/commands with them? Have they been checked for any health or pain issues... thyroid levels? How bad / often are the fights?


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betterxthanxnew

betterxthanxnew

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Virginia Beach, VA.
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That's correct- they are not litter mates. They're roughly a year apart in age. Josie was found tied outside of an apartment complex. The young man who found her said she had been there for several days before he brought her in. The original owner didn't even know she was missing & hadn't seen her in several months because they were keeping her in a friend's backyard. Or so we were told. Effie & Josie both got along really well for the first several months after bringing Josie home. They get along just fine when we are not at home (travelling, vets office, dog parks, etc.) But if they're at home....they fight. Every single day. Excluding the months of July through Mid September when we had it under control & the fighting stopped. My parents came to visit Mid September during which time the fighting resumed & we haven't been able to get it back under control since. If they are out of their crates together, there is a 95% change that there will be an incident. Sometimes we can blow an air-horn or shake a can of pennies to shock them before the fight happens. But, if we don't catch the signs quickly enough, then the fight breaks out. Once it's escalated to that point it doesn't matter what you do, they just won't stop. If you look at the bottom of my posts you'll see a sweet picture of Effie with her head resting on top of Josie's. This was taken back in March- when they seemingly got along just fine & had zero problems. The trainer said that this is typical for territorial aggression.

Our vet hasn't been overly involved in the process. She's done blood work & examinations & hasn't found anything out of the norm. Josie is on Apoquel for environmental allergies. Other than that they are both healthy girls. Our vet is the one who recommended the behavior training to us. As far as the rest of our household goes, everyone follows the same rules. My sister & her boyfriend live with us, but they spend almost all of their time upstairs in their room & rarely come downstairs where the dogs are except to use the kitchen. When they are downstairs they know to follow the rules that we have in place. Truth be told, they don't interact with our dogs much at all.
 

Lalaloopsie

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Did you try Putting water on fighting dogs? Usually it helps. I don’t know if at this stage it could work, and how quick they start a fight, but usually the best option is to suppress the fight in the very beginning, like if you see them just look at each other with evil eyes and you shout NO, and may be even give them both a preventative smack...
 

oscarmayer

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Your two dogs do not like each other and this will only get worse. Re-homing Josie for the health sake of both dogs is your only option. We see this type of behavior all the time. It mostly occurs with females but can also happen with male on male and female on male. I would expect that Josie will end up in a one dog home. She's had it pretty rough from what you've described. She deserves and WANTS all of the attention.
 

Dollys Owner

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I went through this with my 2 female bulldogs, and I ended up having to rehome the English bulldog after 8 months of trying everything. My smaller older Frenchie ended up getting her legs chewed up pretty bad from the younger English bulldog, and luckily neither got their throat ripped open. My Frenchie now will fight any dog she sees on street probably because of fear aggression. It's not fair to either dog to continue this. Probably if you established that you are alpha and were home all year round it MIGHT work, but then if someone else looked after them the whole thing would fall apart. I totally agree with Chip- bite the bullet now and rehome Josie.
 

2BullyMama

I'm not OCD....now who moved my bulldog?
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[emoji29]... not good for any of you. So sorry, but it seems a rehome will be necessary.
[MENTION=15364]oscarmayer[/MENTION] may have some contacts in your area to help. If you make the decision to do so. Chip she is in Virginia Beach area


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betterxthanxnew

betterxthanxnew

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Virginia Beach, VA.
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Effie & Josie
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I am trying to prepare my heart for what I feel like is almost certain to happen. My husband doesn't think we've tried everything we possibly can. We sat around most of last night crying & trying to decide what we should do. We are going to bring the trainer back in for some more sessions. We're also going to refocus with enforcing Nothing in Life is Free, to try and assert our own dominance & hope that helps with their fearfulness. We're going to practice taking them on walks together to help enforce the pack idea as well.

It's so mind boggling that they seem to love one another most of the time. They love to play with each other & rough house. They sleep curled up together in our bed with us at night. They frequently bathe one another. It just seems like there are certain parts of the house that Josie is guarding. Namely- her crate & the dining room where her crate is. We did move her crate last night into a more open area- we'll see if that makes any difference at all. I know that Effie guards toys & bones, so from now on they will only be getting those in their crate or when we have the rooms separated with baby gates. Period.

The last several months had been so peaceful & I really thought we were well past this problem. I honestly think having my parents in the house triggered it again because they were vying for the attention. Plus my sister & her boyfriend were spending A LOT of time downstairs while our parents were here too. So that's 6 people sitting at my dining room table, directly where Josie's crate was also located- in an already small area. I've noticed that once they have a fight, they are EXTREMELY fearful of one another, for several days really. This makes them 10x more likely to get into another fight. I'm trying to research & learn as much as I possibly can. If anyone has any other ideas we should incorporate I would love to hear them. If we can't get this back under control soon then we really won't have a choice but to re-home Josie, as much as it breaks my heart.

The trainer originally told us that it's a good thing that it's territorial aggression, because it can be solved...not easily, but it can be. I'm trying to hold onto that- but ultimately we've got to keep our dog's safety in mind first and foremost. If we can't control this, then we may have no other choice.
 

oscarmayer

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My suggestion would be to manage the situation by keeping the dogs separated until a suitable 1-dog home can be found. Family and close friends would be best and be sure to fully disclose that you've been bitten trying to break up fights. The biting of a person(regardless of circumstances) is the one thing that limits us, as a rescue organization, from taking in the dog. The liability risk is too great in today's society of sue-happy people.
 
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betterxthanxnew

betterxthanxnew

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I've talked to just about every family member and close friend that we have....everyone already has dogs or is not in the position to take her. My mom would love to take her, but she's got a tiny female chihuahua. I wouldn't feel confident sending Josie to another house where there are other dogs & could potentially end up in the same boat. I am at a loss for what to do. Neither of our dogs have bitten us DIRECTLY at all...but when you go sticking your hands down in between their faces to break them up, I guess injuries are bound to happen. My only hope was to find a local rescue willing to take her, because I would trust that they could find her a safe home. I'm terrified of trying to re-home her to strangers myself. I'm just totally heart broken with the whole situation. The idea of getting rid of her makes me feel like I'm giving up on her- and after the hard life she's already had, I can barely stand the thought.
[MENTION=15364]oscarmayer[/MENTION] do you think it's likely that even when we are able to get them to stop, it will always re-arise like this? Is there nothing we can do to make them get along? The trainer seemed so confident that territorial aggression can be trained away.
 

2BullyMama

I'm not OCD....now who moved my bulldog?
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I've talked to just about every family member and close friend that we have....everyone already has dogs or is not in the position to take her. My mom would love to take her, but she's got a tiny female chihuahua. I wouldn't feel confident sending Josie to another house where there are other dogs & could potentially end up in the same boat. I am at a loss for what to do. Neither of our dogs have bitten us DIRECTLY at all...but when you go sticking your hands down in between their faces to break them up, I guess injuries are bound to happen. My only hope was to find a local rescue willing to take her, because I would trust that they could find her a safe home. I'm terrified of trying to re-home her to strangers myself. I'm just totally heart broken with the whole situation. The idea of getting rid of her makes me feel like I'm giving up on her- and after the hard life she's already had, I can barely stand the thought.
@oscarmayer do you think it's likely that even when we are able to get them to stop, it will always re-arise like this? Is there nothing we can do to make them get along? The trainer seemed so confident that territorial aggression can be trained away.


So.. not direct biting or attempts to snap or lunge at humans in the home? The bites were due to you going into the middle of them?
When is the trainer coming over to work with you/them?
Keep in mind, if you are on edge or nervous so will they be... you have to try (all humans) to be calm and no show fear or anticipation of a fight... when they sense uncertainty they will feel the need to protect themselves and could add to the fighting.
 
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betterxthanxnew

betterxthanxnew

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[MENTION=2894]2BullyMama[/MENTION] No absolutely no direct biting or lunging at us whatsoever. The injuries were superficial, and most likely attributed to teeth grazing vs. actual biting. Neither one of us lost chunks of skin- they look more like scratches, no puncture wounds. Truth be told, we don't even know which dog did it! They were laser focused on each other. Even when I tried to stand in between them, they would just go around me, but never came at me. You're so right too about controlling our emotions. I can tell that the dogs pick up on it so easily. My husband cracks worse than I do- he gets really nervous & he shows it. I keep telling him that if they sense our fear, then their fearfulness heightens too. Right now I think both of us have lost confidence in ourselves to control the situation & that is actually making the situation worse.

I actually just called our trainer & she is going to come back to the house Friday evening to work with us some more. She still thinks it's territorial & thinks that they need much more obedience training (she isn't wrong). We will see how it goes....lord knows things can't keep going the way they're going for much longer.
 

2BullyMama

I'm not OCD....now who moved my bulldog?
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@2BullyMama No absolutely no direct biting or lunging at us whatsoever. The injuries were superficial, and most likely attributed to teeth grazing vs. actual biting. Neither one of us lost chunks of skin- they look more like scratches, no puncture wounds. Truth be told, we don't even know which dog did it! They were laser focused on each other. Even when I tried to stand in between them, they would just go around me, but never came at me. You're so right too about controlling our emotions. I can tell that the dogs pick up on it so easily. My husband cracks worse than I do- he gets really nervous & he shows it. I keep telling him that if they sense our fear, then their fearfulness heightens too. Right now I think both of us have lost confidence in ourselves to control the situation & that is actually making the situation worse.

I actually just called our trainer & she is going to come back to the house Friday evening to work with us some more. She still thinks it's territorial & thinks that they need much more obedience training (she isn't wrong). We will see how it goes....lord knows things can't keep going the way they're going for much longer.


OK.. get yourselves back to calm and leadership minded... take them on walks to pack up and get energy out of them. As Chip stated, this usually ends up in one being rehomed.. not because you haven't tried, just that they never go back to liking each other.
Keep us posted on the training and how it goes Friday.

How are they around other dogs when out and about?
 
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betterxthanxnew

betterxthanxnew

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[MENTION=2894]2BullyMama[/MENTION] We are going to try our very best. I actually took them for a good walk earlier this week & we had zero issues with them that evening. They were both tuckered out. They walked side by side, as good as could be. We don't do it nearly often enough & I hope that a decent evening walk together will help. They used to love playing with one another, and would rough house and wrestle all over the place. For whatever reason, after their first fight, my husband wouldn't let them play. Every time they start to rough house he breaks them up. Even though the first fight was actually over a bone- nothing else. I've told him time and time again that he needs to let them play. But he says that it makes him nervous, so he jumps up yelling NO and pushes them away from each other. Anytime they even go near one another he does this now. I can't help but think it's adding to the issue- that they're sensing the fear. They still bathe one another, they still occasionally try to play, they still sleep together. I want to believe so badly that we can fix this.

As far as out in public they get along with other dogs & each other beautifully. They love going to the dog park & playing with other dogs. From the outside looking in, you'd have no clue that they are the way they are at home. When we are travelling- which we do often because I have no family living in the immediate area- they are angels. They get along with dogs at my parents house, my siblings home, my aunts home. They get along with each other really well at the hotels. The trainer said that this is very typical in territorial aggression. She said that when they aren't in their territory all of the fear & aggression goes away....
 

oscarmayer

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[MENTION=2894]2BullyMama[/MENTION] No absolutely no direct biting or lunging at us whatsoever. The injuries were superficial, and most likely attributed to teeth grazing vs. actual biting. Neither one of us lost chunks of skin- they look more like scratches, no puncture wounds. Truth be told, we don't even know which dog did it! They were laser focused on each other. Even when I tried to stand in between them, they would just go around me, but never came at me.
Until you get a better handle on this behavior keep a short lead on both dogs. Use an older lead and cut it back to about 40" or so. It will come in handy when trying to separate them.
 

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