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Canine Behavior/English bulldogs fighting all of a sudden


Hank and Lola
Hank and Lola  
I'm really hoping you can give me some kind of insight on this because I'm puzzled as to why it's happening.  I have a 1yr old male english bulldog "Hank". We've had him since he was 6wks old. We currently rescued a female english bulldog "Lola". She is 3.5yr old.  We actually are Lola's 3rd home. She was rescued from a puppy mill almost 2yrs ago. The lady we got her from had adopted her and had for about a year. The lady had a french bulldog in the house which was best of pals with Lola. They would lay together and everything. The lady said she never showed any sign of aggression. She also had her crate trained.  
When we brought Lola home hank wasn't sure what to do. They kind of tip toed around each other for a week and then they slowly started getting close with one another.  Playing and laying with each other.  This went on for a few weeks.  Hank is not crate trained so I leave them both out when my boyfriend and I go to work. Then all of a sudden Lola flipped like a light switch! She stated jumping on hank for no reason. Nasty fights where their hurting each other and cutting each other up. Their both stubborn so neither want to back down.  I've been having to seperate them and walking her on a leash when I take her out.  I was so concerned that I took her to the vet because I didn't understand why she changed all of a sudden. Test from blood work and all came back fine. The only thing that showed up was she has a lil hip displaycia and her spine is deterrenting. He put her on some medicine and she's feeling a lil better I can tell. But she only wants to play with me or my boyfriend. She really wants nothing to do with hank now. It breaks my heart.
We having been taking them on walks together on the afternoon and they do really well. They walk beside each other with no problem. They've bumped into each other and there's no conflict.
Please help me to understand why she acting this way all of a sudden. The girl I adopted her from can't believe it. She said Lola never showed any aggression!

Thank you so much!!

The "girl" you adopted her from is LYING.  What reason does she have for dumping one of her dogs if both her dogs got along SO WELL (unless she dumped the other one too due to unforeseen change in living circumstances: foreclosure, etc.)

Just from the photos you sent I can see the problem.  Both dogs ear sets are back, not flat back but back and that means "hesitancy" and "Insecurity" between them.  Lola is (I HOPE) spayed but she comes from a terrible set of circumstances and her last "home" was ONE OF THEM, I almost guaranty it.  Do you think for one moment that "girl" is going to tell you the truth?  She's just glad she got rid of this dog.  You're seeing the reason.

Because you can walk both dogs parallel to one another without problem, this is quite promising for the rehabilitation of their relationship.  Hank is just plain confused, Lola is responding to something I CAN'T SEE FROM HERE.  IF she's "acting this way all of a sudden" there is a very good reason.  Her orthopedic pain might be a contributing factor: if a dog gets up in response to another dog and feels pain, the first dog immediately associates the pain with the second dog.  But I'm just guessing here.

You need a certified applied animal behaviorist (NOT a dog trainer!)  This is someone with educational credentials and experience in dog to dog aggression who will come with veterinary references and professional references from other clients (CHECK THEM ALL).  Do not leave these dogs alone together and this does NOT mean crating the female, it just means putting them in areas they cannot access one another (like different bedrooms) with Buster Cubes (toy that dispenses a portion of food when the dog rolls it around) and a radio or CD playing such as:

Lola is ignoring Hank as a STATEMENT OF SOCIAL HIERARCHY, this is not something you need to "feel sorry" about it is NORMAL.  Hank would most likely have given total acquiescence to Lola but Lola is so badly socialized and has had such a harmful history that she is not functioning in a normal way, psychologically.

Continue to walk them parallel to one another.  Feed them separately.  Keep both dogs (especially Lola) on short house tab (lightweight leash) you can use to pull them apart.  Do not "discipline" either one until you have had the benefit of an in-home evaluation by a CAAB.

You can find a CAAB by calling the veterinary college in your area or from the following sites:

There are medications (especially hormonal treatments for short term use, which are benign) available but without seeing the dogs and with no veterinary record I can't suggest any.  The real deal here is:
* Lola has nowhere else to go.  You are her last stop.
* Hank, at age one (a juvenile and the only dog so far) has established his place in your social hierarchy; Lola has interrupted it and he understands this.
* Both dogs are fully capable of doing serious injury both to each other and to YOU if you get in the middle.  Buy a canned "horn" (the type the 18 wheelers use) and use it if they mix it up again: this is a works-once and should stop the fight immediately so you can use the tabs to remove the dogs.
*  In future, DO YOUR HOMEWORK before acquiring ANY breed or even any first generation breed hybrid.  The English Bulldog has become a huge behavior problem due to its sudden popularity and production by puppy mill and backyard breeders, and they SHOULD NOT BE.  One strong tendency of this breed is intolerance of other dogs unless heavily socialized to them FROM VERY EARLY puppyhood.

Treating this problem won't be cheap but it is do-able, I believe.

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Jill Connor, Ph.D.


I have spent my entire professional life rehabilitating the behavior of the domestic dog and I can answer any question regarding any behavior problem in any breed dog. I have answered more than 5,000 QUESTIONS on this site in the past (almost) eight years. If you are a caring, committed owner and need advice, I'm here for you. I am personally acquainted with my colleagues (Turid Rugaas, Ian Dunbar, etc.) who were members of an elite group in EGroups that I founded: K9Shrinks. THERE ARE NO QUICK FIXES for serious behavioral issues; not only is it unprofessional to offer same, it is also unethical. IF I ASK YOU SUBSEQUENT QUESTIONS, I NEED YOU TO INTERACT WITH ME. More information equals more credible answers and a more successful outcome. If you want ANSWERS THAT WORK, participate in any way I request. I'm quite committed to working on this site for YOUR benefit and the benefit of YOUR DOG. Help me in any way you can.


30 years of solving serious behavior problems in domestic dogs; expert in dog to human aggression; Internet columnist for for 5 years; former radio talk show host, WHPC.FM, Garden City, NY "Bite Back" (1995 through 2000). List owner, international animal behavior experts, Seminar leader: "Operant Conditioning and Learning"; "Aggression in The Domestic Dog"; "Solving Problem Behaviors" -- conducted for various training facilities on Long Island from 1993 through 2000. Former clinical director of "Behavioral Abnormalities" in conjunction with Mark Beckerman, DVM, Hempstead, New York.

Member, APDT (UK); Psychologists in Ethical Treatment with Animals

Harcourt Brace Learning Direct: "The Business of Dog Training" "The Fail Safe Dog: Brain Training, not Pain Training"

Ph.D., UC Berkeley

Past/Present Clients
Board of Directors: Northeast Dog Rescue Connection; The Dog Project; Sav-A-Dog Foundation; etc. Pro Bono counselor: Little Shelter Humane Society My practice is presently limited to forensics. I diagnose cause of dog bite, based upon testimony before the Court, for attorneys and insurance companies litigating dog bites, including fatal injuries. I also do pro bono work for bona fide rescue organizations, humane societies, et al, regarding such analysis in an effort to obtain release for dogs being held for death in municipal shelters in the US.

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