Dear Miss Behavior,
A few months ago I adopted a second Bulldog. I thought she’d be great fun for my 6 year old Violet. But they don’t even like each other, Daisy attacks Violet and it’s hard to get them apart. I would feel very bad returning Daisy to the shelter. What do I do?
Just like not all people get along, not all dogs will get along. That doesn’t mean you can’t keep Daisy. It just means you’re going to have to work a little. First, you need to make sure they’re both healthy; if Daisy has arthritis it may be Violet is accidently hurting her and triggering a fight. Second, make sure they’re getting enough exercise. As medium-size dogs, they need a good long walk every day. However, because they have short muzzles, just be sure you don’t overdo it in hot weather. You also need to make sure they have plenty of mental exercise so they don’t get bored. Last, you need to make sure they understand that YOU are the one who must be obeyed!
This means starting a NILIF (Nothing in Life is Free) program for both dogs. Though I’ve heard it called “No love for the dog” that’s not the case. You can love your dogs as much as you want. You just have to make both of them earn their daily rewards. Nothing in Life is Free is just requiring the dog do something to get something. When you feed Daisy and Violet, have them sit or lie down and stay as you put the food down. They need to remain there until you release them. When walking give them a few opportunities to sniff and potty, but then make sure they walk with you and not pull or sniff. Do a daily down-stay, just because. If one of the dogs happen to be laying in the doorway or in you path, make them move instead of walking around them. When they need to go outside, have them sit at the doorway and then have them sit before they get to come back in as well.
For now, keep toys up and away from them. You don’t want a toy to become the trigger for a fight. They can play with toys daily, but just don’t leave them lying around for them to claim and guard.
Last make sure they get a daily training session. You can work on obedience or tricks just make them do a little work. Another good command to teach them is “Leave it.” You can tell them to “leave it” if you see them eyeing each other. You can also then begin practicing some of the training with both of them. Though Daisy needs to learn a lot of self-control, it won’t hurt Violet to practice as well.
Taking both dogs through an Obedience Level 1 class will help them both become more responsive to you. They’ll learn to come when called, leave it, sit and down on command, stay when told, and to walk without pulling you. Check out the Greater Lincoln Obedience Club‘s website for classes.
Thanks to this feature goes to Greater Lincoln Obedience Club, who ran the Miss Behavior Dog Advice Column in their newsletter. Appreciation also is extended to Marcy Graybill, a trainer at GLOC and the expert behind this column. She also hosts her own blog, Dog Log, where she talks about training adventures with her dogs.
If you have a question for Miss Behavior, please post in the comments below and we’ll feature it in a future column.