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Canine Behavior/Male & Female English Bulldogs


We recently (2 days ago) adopted a 4-6 yr old  female english bulldog from a rescue group. She was used for breeding and was quite neglected. She has a very gentle and sweet spirit around humans. However, that gentle spirit quickly turns when she gets around our 2 yr old male bulldog who is twice her size. He is not currently neutered and becomes very excited when he sees her. He is also gentle with humans but gets very aggressively excited around other dogs.
She just recently got fixed and we plan on getting him neutered in a couple of weeks. Today, she was on top of him growling. He laid his head down and was submissive. However, when he got up she attacked him and I assume bit him on the eye causing it to bleed a little. She was placed in a foster home for a couple of months before we adopted her. She had no problem there and they had 12 other types of dogs.
Was this just establishing dominance on her part? Do we need to be concerned that it will be an ongoing feud? What can we do to help them be peaceful with one another? Is this behavior typical for bulldogs?
We are trying to keep them separated and the meetings controlled. We love both dogs and want to make it work.
Thanks for your help.

You know that your dog gets "aggressively excited around other dogs"....right?  So introducing these dogs needs to have been done carefully before determining whether or not your home was suitable for another dog.  Too late now.

Chemical neutering is what I suggest for your male ASAP: a course of progesterone will reduce his testosterone levels.  He should have been neutered a long time ago (when his testicles dropped).  In his mind he will remain "intact" even when physically neutered and will retain whatever behaviors are fueled by testosterone.  Putting him in pain (physical neutering) while he is attempting to adjust to this new member of the household is the wrong approach.  Any veterinarian who knows what s/he is doing can easily prescribe a regimen of medication.  It will act faster than physical neutering and will demonstrate more quickly what behaviors will be minimized without the physical pain which he WILL associate with the bitch if she interacts with him in a manner that causes the pain.

He is acquiescing (as any "good" male should).  She, on the other hand, is not behaving "normally" in response.  When he goes "down" or "belly up", she should be satisfied and walk away.  The fact that she did NOT and instead chose to continue her "attack" tells me she has had a great deal of trauma with males.  You most likely have never been present when two dogs were deliberately mated.  It is not a pleasant experience for the bitch, even when she is "flagging" (giving obvious signals that she's ready); dogs "lock on" and can be "stuck" together for some time.  Unfortunately this breed has become popular and so all the wrong people are breeding the wrong dogs for the wrong reasons: money.  This bitch is reacting due to some acquired fear response from her past.

I can't see anything from here.  I think you need the eye of an expert to evaluate body language, temperament of each dog individually, and determine whether or not this is do-able.  Two days is virtually nothing in terms of habituation.  It will take her (probably) months to fully habituate to her new environment.  Your male already has a history of poor socialization to other dogs or, at least, a misunderstood response to them (very common, people often misunderstand signals and interpret them incorrectly).  This "rescue" group did not do its homework.  You should have been fully vetted and that includes an interview with your present dog, a meeting off your premises between these two, and a specifically targeted type of home for the bitch in question.  They apparently did none of this.

If you want an answer with perfect clarity, you need a professional eye, on site.  I suggest you find a certified applied animal behaviorist (CAAB) who can help you to do the most possible for these dogs to develop a satisfactory relationship, and I suggest you do it ASAP.

If you cannot find one in your area, call Dr. Ian Dunbar's office (Berkeley CA) because I'm certain they know who is who on the west coast:

Meanwhile: supervise all interaction.  If she demonstrates aggression and your male acquiesces, that should be sufficient.  Keep her on house tab (leash with handle cut off) so you can use the tab to remove her should she continue pursuit of him after he has shown submission.  I think as his fervor resolves, she may relax; but his fervor might not resolve so easily since he is not terribly dog friendly to begin with (from your description) and since she is, so far as he is concerned, an intact bitch.  Do not intervene unless you see trouble coming (she gets up to pursue him).  In that case, without comment to either dog, pick up tab, lead her away, circle her left, circle her right, stop, wait for her to LOOK AT YOU, pop food treat into her mouth.  In this way you won't be rewarding her motive for "attack" but will be rewarding her cognition (thought process) and you won't be necessarily coming to his "rescue" either (pay him no attention during this exercise and REMAIN CALM.)

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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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