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Hi, I am new to this forum and was hoping someone could help!! I have one very bossy, stuborn English bulldog that craves human attention and one younger english bullmastiff who is incredibly obedient and quiet. We give them sufficient excercise and training. These two have been very happy together - eating, sleeping and playing - up until now. Today they showed aggression towards eachother for the first time which I assume is due to asserting dominance (First occasion was when I returned home after taking the bullmastiff to the vet, bulldog got excited when we got home and the bullmastiff started to play fight which led to the scrap. Second was when the bullmastiff found his way onto the couch next to us while the bulldog was at our feet) Anyway I know the bigger stronger dog is usually the one in charge, the only problem is the bullmastiff is MUCH easier to control, does not have possessive issues over toys like the bulldog, and does not seek as much attention as the bulldog. So should I go with head strong or share physique?
 

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Hi stoogeska48. My advice would be to treat them as equals. Be a benevolent leader and patient instructor to them both. Do not use praise and treats to encourage any aggressive, assertive behaviorin either of them. If one dog is being pushy or bossy, treat and praise the OTHER dog. Withyour guidance and management they can be excellent friends or...at the very least...coexist together without fighting. Dogs are very fluid in their packs. There aren't leaders, per se and size does not matter. Temperament does. A dog that can get away with the best spot or eating all the food, will. but not because it is the leader. It will simply because it CAN. In my opinion, dominance theory has been thouroughly debunked. Check out some of the stickies at the tops of the sub-forums here and read some of the new ideas that are out there. I dare say, they may make more sense to you. I especially enjoy the non linear dog (website) and beyond ceasar Milan (another site) with "the 100 silliest things people say about dogs" by Alexandra Semianova (I may have spelled her name wrong).

The "science" (and I use quotes here because the theories and studies as so very flawed) used to spread the idea that dogs operate on a dominant hierarchy was based on one man's short study of captive wolves...Schenkel was his name i think....and even HE has said the study was flawed and never should have been transferred to domestic dog behavior in the first place. Dog's (and wolves for that matter) live in families. Yes, dogs will correct undesirable behavior and have disputes but never with too much force or one dog always taking over. they live as a fluid unit, coming and going as they please, sleeping, eating, learning, teaching and travelling together and not with one dog always in the lead, taking cahrge, disciplining or eating first or getting the best or highest nap spot. They are highly social animals that tolerate their own and other species as part of their pack with great alacrity but when they live with humans, we tend to put all these erroneous ideas of alpha dog upon them when what we should be doing is treating them like students. Teach them how they should behave in your home, and if you are consistent and kind about it then you will have a model canine citizen.

I call it the Mary Poppins approach. Kind but firm.:) good luck
 

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I would forget the whole dominance paradigm. Its not terribly helpful, and can lead you to confronting your dogs and creating more conflict and stress for everyone.

Instead, focus on reducing the stressful situations that give rise to the conflicts. If they fight over toys, only give them toys when they are separated or when they are less likely to have a spat, such as after a good run when they have gotten their pent up energy out. If the issue is the couch, then don't let anyone on the couch.

Generally, it works out better if the human does not raise the whole level of tension in the house, but rather anticipates when problems might arise and diffuses tension. You can "change the subject" by calling a dog to you with a happy voice and asking for a "sit" then giving a reward, and so forth. If you stay light and relaxed around them, it will do far more good than if you get all upset with either of them and try to enter into a dominance game. From their perspective, this just becomes "human aggression" added to their own inter-dog aggression.

Turn off Nat Geo... or where ever you are getting these ideas of dominance. ;)
 

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Have a read of our dominance sticky.
Dominance as it is often applied to dogs is totally erroneous and false - disproven by over 40 years of observational research.

Dominance means priority access to resources. In our house, that dog is whoever is best behaved. For example, getting let out into the yard - whoever of ours is sitting nicely and quietly first gets first access.
In this way, you create an understanding that good behavior gets the dog what he/se wants, and you increase self control.

Giving resources to the largest/pushiest animal first is, to me, like giving candy to the child having a temper tantrum. You are teaching them that 'bad' behavior works.

I should add here though, that heirarchy has little or nothing to do with the fighting you've seen. Check out the resource guarding sticky. :)
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