I have 5 year old spayed female English Bull Terrier - not a bad bone in her body. Getting along with all sorts of animals and any human she meets... but...

Few years ago (she was maybe 2yo) she started growling, hiding, walking on "egg shell" trying to be very quiet, head down. We went through entire raft of examinations (MRIs, bloods, USGs..just name it). As we had a boy, a year older than her, she could not stand him! Even hearing him walking was setting her off. She was never aggressive nor went for him. We went through vets, specialists and behaviour clinic who gave her some hormones thinking that she was spayed too early and hormones did not completely level out but at this time she was getting better.

Fast fwd to here & now. We have a 7 months old male pup and she is 5yo now and she's reacting the same (although not as severe as the last time). She was super happy having a companion (previous boy unfortunately passed away). They were playing day & night and now she is hearing him walking, she's standing up, growling and being anxious. Her entire body is super tense and she is clearly unhappy. Again, all tests are back fine, no issues but I don't know how to help her and what to do.

Any ideas?

  • I'm not a dog expert, but I do know 6 months is around the time most dogs hit puberty, so if she was previously playing with your puppy but now all of a sudden acting aggressive towards him, him finally going through puberty could be the reason why.
    – user25771
    Commented Apr 26, 2023 at 15:49
  • Thats what we thought about too. Vet said that when puppy will be 1yo he can get an implant. It definitely ca be this but the first time it happened it was when the other dog was about 3 yo. We think that there might be something left behind after her being spayed which might cause this. God knows.. we are trying everything possible...
    – Axx
    Commented Apr 26, 2023 at 19:09
  • I read somewhere that 2 years is the age when dogs go from being adolescents to full-blown adults, maybe the changes associated with that triggered the behavior with the 3 yo old dog (I'm assuming he wasn't new and she had been fine with him before). Like I said I'm not a dog expert and more into cats, but if nothing else you could try to re-introduce the pair as if they were cats and see if she becomes less fearful towards him.
    – user25771
    Commented Apr 26, 2023 at 19:21
  • Never heard of this before but that makes a lot of sense and definitely will look it up. No, he was 1 when she arrived as a puppy then that's all she knew, him being there. When he died she looked very upset and lonely thats why we got another puppy. Love cats too, we have 3
    – Axx
    Commented Apr 26, 2023 at 21:18
  • 1
    Is she being restless, always leaving the room when the dog comes in or always hiding when she hears him, even when he ignores her? Or does she only growl and lower her head when the other dog actively tries to interact with her? Are there still occasions when they both play or maybe even lay down close together? And maybe most importantly: where did she grew up before you adopted her? Could it be she was a street dog or at a hoarder or puppy mill together with a lot of other dogs?
    – Elmy
    Commented Apr 27, 2023 at 5:48

1 Answer 1


As a workaround I suggest you separate your home into 2 distinct territories, one for each dog. You write in a comment that you already "take her to your office where she has a bed to get her out of the 'situation' and let her relax." My suggestion is to make that a semi-permanent arrangement.

You should have one room for each dog that is their dedicated "bedroom" (it can be any room like your kitchen or bathroom, but the dog has their bed, food and water bowls in that room). Each dog should not be allowed into the other dogs bedroom. This is their safe space where they can relax and won't be bothered by the other one. The dogs will only be fed in their respective bedroom with the door closed, so that the other dog cannot enter and eat their food. At least your female should also sleep in there with the door closed so she won't be disturbed at night.

One room like the kitchen or living room should be "neutral ground" where both dogs can enter, but neither of them should have any "personal items" like beds or food bowls there. This is to offer them both social contact with the family.

You should also walk both dogs simultaneously, if possible. That's a psychological trick to make dogs accept each others presence. In nature, only dogs belonging to the same pack walk in a group. So if you can manage to take your walks with them both, they should feel like part of the same pack. You should also have them play together if they both enjoy it. Anything to make your female happy in the presence of your male.

My family had a similar arrangement for 2 cats that didn't like each other. One is very confident and the other is very sensitive. The sensitive cat always fled the room when the other one came in, but the other cat followed the sensitive one, so she never had any time to relax. We had to give her 2 rooms where the other cat wasn't allowed to enter and after several years of this arrangement she is much more balanced and relaxed and can now tolerate the confident cat. I do realize that dog psychology is different from cat psychology, but I still think this solution can work for you.

  • Thats a very good idea, thank you. Yesterday the female came 2ce to the living room and jumped on the sofa, small thing but this brought a tiny bit of normality. I think this is a mixture of something physical (hormones- hers or his or something else) & mental as she working herself up. Last time this happened, almost overnight it disappeared
    – Axx
    Commented May 7, 2023 at 5:16
  • @Axx Please take a look at the tour to see how this site works, it only takes a minute. If this answer was helpful, I'd be grateful if you could mark it as accepted.
    – Elmy
    Commented May 8, 2023 at 4:46
  • I think this is something to do with the puppy (he is 7 months). We separated the girl for day & night and she was good as gold but when came back home, 5 min and back to growling. Is he going through puberty? If so, obviously she can smell his hormones. Will this "smell" stop when puberty ends? There's hardly any info online.
    – Axx
    Commented May 8, 2023 at 18:27
  • 1
    The male will not stop producing hormones unless you neuter him. If you consider this, please speak to your vet about different options like an operation or chemical castration. Usually dogs have a hormone spike in spring (mating season) and whenever he can smell a female in heat. Younger dogs produce more hormones than older ones ("horny teens").
    – Elmy
    Commented May 8, 2023 at 19:48
  • We spoke to our vet but he said that the puppy needs to be at least 1 year old to be considered for the chemical castration... 5 months to go... I hope something will change as this is affecting both dogs and entire household. It is heartbreaking seeing her that way and him not understanding what is he doing wrong... 😢 💔
    – Axx
    Commented May 10, 2023 at 20:10

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.