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Canine Behavior/Will my two female dogs be able to ever get along again?


Hello my name is diane, I am writing to ask you questions on if my two female dogs will ever be able to get along again?   The two dogs are a  two year old Boston terrier that is spayed and a 5 year old Pitt/lab mix that is also spayed.  These two dogs are my girlfriends but last week the dogs got into another bad fight n I just can't do it anymore so I wanted to reach out to see if I could get some help with this because I know my gf will not b able to get rid of either of the dogs.  So she has had the Pitt/lab mix since she was a baby, and then about 2 yrs ago she got the new little Boston terrier as a puppy.  Things were fine between them until about a year ago, they were playing with a toy and the Boston terrier like bit the Pitt/lab and the Pitt didnt like it and like bit back and really injured the Boston terrier, almost popping her eye out and killing her.   She made it through and recovered great only thing is now they can NOT being in the same room ever, they are separated when we are not there and also when we are there. At night the dogs are also separated and get to alternate every night with who gets to be in the bed that night with us.  I also have a Boston terrier that just recently has came into the house, but both females love him and he gets along with both of them but still the girls can not be together.  It told my gf that we needed to try something as far as training before one of us gets hurt or one of the dogs do which of course we don't want.  When they have fought, it is always the little Boston terrier that will go after the Pitt and bite her and won't let go and the Pitt will try so hard to not do anything until she gets hurt n then fights back, but I just feel the Boston terrier is the one that does the looks, or starts it because the Pitt is very much a lover and tries to avoid the Boston terrier even when we are switching she makes sure to not leave the room till we pick up the Boston terrier......   I tried having the Boston terrier in the room ans my dog and the Pitt locked up in the master bathroom with a baby gate so the girls could still see each other and next thing you know the Boston terrier is looking and then running to the gate and then jumped on the gate, opening it and causing another fight.   What do i do? Please help

The Boston Terrier appears to be the problem but, the reason, I cannot see from here.

Rule of thumb: when two bitches fight on sight, it's pretty much impossible to rehabilitate.  However, having said that, I have to somewhat disagree.  What is needed here is a highly experienced eye: a certified applied animal behaviorist who can read dog body language, evaluate temperament, observe communication between/among, etc., and then determine how (if at all) the balance of power in social hierarchy can be re-established.  Now: the Boston Terrier seems to be in fight/flight mode; this might be rank opportunism and it may also be coupled with a conditioned fear response, seeing as how her injuries were so severe.  It's a complex situation and I cannot adequately address it in a text box.  Given your statement regarding how attached the owner is to both dogs, and given the fact that it's almost impossible to safely re-home any Pit mix and that even the Boston Terrier, at this point, is a very high risk candidate for casual re-homing, I suggest you have only one real option.  That is: to find a CAAB (NOT a dog trainer).

I see you are in CA.  I know it's a large state, but in Berkeley you have Dr. Ian Dunbar, one of the world's premier veterinary behaviorists.  I'm certain he knows where the CAABs are and his office will most likely be able to direct you to the appropriate professional.  I urge you to start there: contact his office and ask for referral.  If you are within range of his services, anyone trained by him and on his staff is an exceptional choice.  Here is contact info:

None of this will be cheap.  There is no alternative.  You can't fix this yourselves.  It will get worse.  The smaller dog is most likely at great risk only because of her size and the fact that she is, ultimately, no match for the larger Pit mix when push comes to shove.  I don't think you have an option here.  You must acquire professional help.

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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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