My boyfriend and I each have a dog, he has a Amstaff, and I a GSD. Both are spayed females, the GSD is 8 years (owned since birth), the Amstaff (adopted through LEASH) is approximately 7. Bella, the GSD, has a extremely submissive temperament, with all dogs and people. Lilly, the Amstaff, is definitely more dominant, and has had issues with other dogs. She sometimes becomes obsessive and has attacked three seperate females. One a pitty who attacked her first, another an old and sick golden retriever, and the third a two year old medium sized mix dog.
Until recently, we have had minimal problems with Bella and Lilly. If Lilly wants something of Bella's, Bella allows her to have it. If Lilly pushes her out of the way, Bella moves. They played together (friendly games of chase around the backyard, Bella chases Lilly after Lilly initiates) and have cuddled on their beds and on car rides. They had a spat a year ago over bones, so we don't allow them to have bones. (Bella hoarded all the bones and growled at Lilly when she approached, Lilly pinned her and walked away).Another time, Lilly became stiff and body language told me that she was becoming aggressive when we introduced new rope toys, so we don't allow them to have rope toys.
We have lived together in peace at my house for about a year and recently moved into a house that Lilly once lived with my boyfriend. We have spent prolonged periods of time there previously, with no issue.
Last week, in a moment of excitement when a guest came in the house unannounced, Lilly attacked Bella. Bella, being submissive, went limp, did not fight back. We were able to pull Lilly off, kept Lilly in the kitchen, and Bella in the living room. After a time out period, Lilly came back into the living room, and lay down on her bed.
A few nights later, before we were able to take them on their after work walk, I sat down on the couch, Bella took the bed next to the couch, Lilly came over and jumped onto my lap, I told her down (I don't allow either dog on me) and she immediately rushed around the coffee table to attack Bella. This fight was more intense, and although Bella did not fight back again, Lilly did put a few good puncture wounds in her neck. We separated them, and due to my own personal nerves, we brought Lilly to her regular sitters, the neighbors.
This week we have been taking them for hour long and vigorous jog/ walks daily, side by side. Yesterday we let Bella off leash, and they seem to be back to normal. Bella becomes very excited to see Lilly each time, however, I reward her for staying calm so she does not overwhelm her. At home, Bella has been very depressed and often paces around the house, which appears as if she is looking for Lilly.
We are planning on bringing Lilly home Friday after a long walk together.
We have made the following changes in the house:
-no beds beside the couch
-decluttered areas for more moving space
-cleaned all dog beds
We are making the following changes to our lifestyles:
-Strict walk and feed schedules
-Vigorous exercise in both morning, and after work
-Rewarding good behavior with treats (Bella is well trained and responds well to verbal praise, Lilly responds to treats)
-Start clicker training
As Lilly is part of the family, rehoming her is our very last option which we won't consider until we have exhausted all our resources and abilities. That being said, we want to be sure we bring her home in the best way possible to avoid further stress or conflict. We previously never separated them when we were not home, however, I keep reading that we should not keep them loose together unsupervised.
-Do we have them in the house separated while we are home, or continue as we have the past year and a half?
-Do we crate Bella (Lilly is not crate trained, Bella is) while we are not home? Will this create tension when we let her out?
-Do we muzzle Lilly (with a cage muzzle so she can still drink) while we are not home?
-If we put Bella in a separate room, will she become "room" possessive?
-If we notice Lilly is on edge (posture, body language), is the best thing to do, distract with treats, take for a walk?
As we had a bad experience (and conflicting information) with trainers, we are hoping to receive some feedback from the PitBull community before we bring in another professional.
Thank you in advance for your support and assistance.