Ask the Trainer

Ask the Trainer: Two Dogs in the Same Home Don’t Get Along

english bulldogsDear Kevin,
I have two male English bulldogs, a father and son. I did not neuter the son in time and he began to fight with his dad so I had both neutered in hopes the fighting would stop. They still are fighting, they live separated in my house.
How can I get them to get along? I see it’s behavioral now. 
Thank you,
Brenda

 

Hi Brenda,

It can definitely be challenging when you have two dogs under the same roof that aren’t getting along. What I am going to recommend doing is going to take a little bit of time to work. The first thing you need to do is decide which one the “aggressor” is. It sounds like it’s the son. He is the main one that needs to be worked with. I want you to then find something that he absolutely loves. (e.g. hot dogs, string cheese, turkey etc.) Once you’ve got those two things, you’re ready to get started.

What you’ll need to do is get both dogs in the same area. You may want to start this outdoors. You’ll want to have someone hold the father on leash while you work with the son on leash, or tether the father to something sturdy. You’ll want to have them far enough away so that neither dog is reacting to the other.

When you have found that distance I want you to start to give the dog (son) a piece of the high value object you chose every time he looks at his dad. The goal is to get a ton of repetition in of him looking and getting rewarded. With repetition of this, what happens is the sight of his dad becomes a predictor for his favorite treat.

With all the repetition he will start to view the presence of his dad as a good thing because every time his dad is near he gets his favorite things. When he is doing good at the original distance from his dad, start to slowly get him closer. As you’re getting closer, if he shows any unwanted signs, back up and increase the distance a tiny bit. Believe it or not you’ll actually want to give him the food regardless of what his reaction is. I know that sounds contradicting but what we are doing is building an association, not training a behavior. With the repetition of being rewarded regardless the unwanted behaviors will decrease in frequency.

When you are not working on training protocols I would highly recommend that they stay separated. The goal is to eliminate any of the unwanted behaviors from happening. After lots of repetition of the afore mentioned protocol, you’ll be ready to start letting them be together. (this could be a couple weeks, or a couple months into it.) When they’re together make sure to praise them and let them know they’re doing the right thing. Continue to do the reward the son for looking at the dad. If and incident does occur, remove the aggressor for a period of time to allow things to relax. I also recommend bringing in a Certified Professional trainer for assistance.

Thanks for the question. Stay patient and consistent.
Kevin Duggan CPDT-KA

Kevin is a Certified Professional Dog Trainer through the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers (CCPDT.org)  and is a Canine Good Citizen Evaluator through the American Kennel Club. He currently resides in Ohio with his dog, V, a six-year-old Shepherd/Lab mix, where he operates All Dogs Go To Kevin, LLC, specializing in helping build positive relationships between humans and their canine companions using clear communication, not pain and fear. For more training tips and tricks, and to meet his amazing dog, V,  follow him on Facebook by clicking here.

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