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Canine Behavior/Bulldogs fighting


HELP ME!  I have two female bulldogs.  One is a mixed Lab and Red Nose Pit that I was given as a puppy at 6 weeks old.  The other is an American Staffordshire Terrior who is deaf.  The deaf dog was a stray and given to me at about a year old.  Both dogs are approximatley the same age which is currently five years old.  The dogs used to get along wonderfully until my ex moved out.  The first dog fight occurred when the dogs were about two years old, the ex came by and had allowed the deaf dog up in the chair with him.  I told him to not allow her on the furniture and right about that time my other dog walked by the chair and the deaf dog jumped on her.  The fight lasted about two minutes before being able to separate them.  The hearing dog would defend herself but not instigate the fights and would at first walk away from the fight.  The fights over the past three years have been off and on but have grown longer in duration.  I live by myself and trying to separate two bulldogs in a blown out dog fight is very very difficult.    

After the course of several fights I invested in a dog trainer (who was excellent) and in muzzles.  I can no longer afford the dog training but still use the training techniques on the dogs (sit, heel, etc.)  

The muzzles had worked great up until a few weeks ago.  I had both dogs (like normal) leashed up and getting ready to take them out to the bathroom.  They started fighting right there at the back door WITH the muzzles on.  This time it took me 15 minutes to get them apart.  And the only way I was able to do that was by shooting my gun into the yard.  Obviously the deaf dog did not hear the shot but the hearing dog did and I was able to separate them.  The deaf dog had several puncture wounds around the neck and ears.  The hearing dog had a hole punctured through her ear.  Obviously the hearing dog no longer backs down in a fight.  

I have built a separate pen outside so that when I go out to do yardwork they are no longer together in the same pen.  I have always kept them separated when I am not home and they are in their crates at night.  I have recently invested in the Baskerville (basket) muzzles and have slowly reintroduced them with these new muzzles.  Everything seemed a little better and I had a bit of relief knowing they could not get to each other with these new muzzles.  

Well last night the dogs got into a fight, again with the basket muzzles on.  I was able to separate them within 2 minutes or so and no one received any wounds except for a few scratches.  

I have been told to get rid of one of them or to euthanize which I will never do unless health reasons dictate.  I cannot get rid of either of them because of this history of fighting and I don't want to get rid of either of them.  I WANT TO MAKE THIS WORK.

It appears that the fights are usually started by the deaf dog by watching her body language etc.  But there seems to be no clear cut reason as to why she picks the fights.  I am sure most of it is dominance especially with them being the same ages but I am at my wit's end.  I just don't know what to do.

Is there anything you can help me with?

From this distance, I cannot help you.  A deaf dog already has a strong disadvantage but (most likely being born that way) she is relying even more heavily on sight, and dogs read body language quickly (in an instant, even the shift of an eye in another dog means something) while we cannot (no matter how hard we try and how well trained we are).  When two bitches fight on sight or in situations involving thresholds, trophies (toys, treats, persons, special places), this is a serious affair.  Basket muzzles are humane but a dog cannot eat with one on (even though the dog can drink but under duress of the confinement).  They are not a cure all.  A dog trainer is not my first choice since many of those are rank amateurs who can call themselves anything they choose and have no credentials.  Even a trainer who is a member of certain national organizations may not be a true professional, but merely a dues paying member.

Eyes on by a Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist is required in this situation and yes, it is expensive.  Shooting your weapon out the door is not acceptable for two reasons: first, you don't know where that projectile is going and have no idea of where it will stop (a person walking past, etc.); second, the hearing dog is immediately shocked by the sound and receives a strong "correction" and the deaf dog does not (although the smell of gun powder will have an effect as well), so the deaf dog attributes the immediate fight/flight response of the hearing dog to her own actions.

You can't afford NOT to do this.  To find a CAAB in your area:

These aren't "bulldogs" they are Pit Bull hybrids, there's an enormous difference.  Re-homing the HEARING dog (and doing it VERY VERY CAREFULLY) is the other option.  The deaf dog cannot and will not make an adjustment.

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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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