Dogs Fighting in Your Household

A challenge of having two or more dogs in the same house is the possibility of your dogs fighting and having to defuse that situation. If your dog is suddenly aggressive to your other dog, or attacks other dogs in the house seemingly for no reason, here is how to get your two dogs to get along.

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DOGS FIGHTING IN YOUR HOUSEHOLD: WHAT TO DO

1. Manage your dogs’ environment so that they don’t have the opportunity to antagonize each other.

2. Identify your dogs’ stressors and eliminate as many as possible to keep them further from their bite threshold while you modify behavior.

3. Seek help from a qualified positive behavior professional if you are in over your head. An aggressive dog is a serious matter!


Knowledgeable dog people are quite aware that not all dogs get along with each other, despite the fact that canis lupus familiaris (domestic dog) is a social species. Hey, we humans are a social species, and we certainly don’t all get along! Two dogs fighting within the same household is unhappily common in our world. As a professional behavior consultant who works with aggressive dogs, I probably see more than my fair share of it. By far the most difficult and most distressing presentations of tension between dogs are interdog aggression cases: dogs in the same family who aren’t getting along with each other.

How to Stop Dogs Fighting in the House
Sarah Richardson

I’ve had a spate of these clients in recent weeks. Even our own Lucy and Missy, a Cardigan Corgi and Australian Shepherd who don’t always get along seamlessly, seem to have experienced an increase in relationship tensions this winter. I can’t give you a tidy explanation as to why, but I’m beginning to put more stock in the explanation jokingly offered by my colleague, Jennifer Swiggart, CPDT-KA, PMCT, at Loudon County Animal Care and Control, when she called it “snow aggression.”

Why Do Dogs Fight?

Why do dogs attack other dogs in the house? Far from a case of dog sibling rivalry, when one dog attacks the other in the house, the reason is stress. With the very rare exception of idiopathic aggression – at one time called “rage syndrome,” “Cocker rage,” or “Springer rage” and grossly overdiagnosed in the 1960s and ’70s – aggression is the result of a stress load that pushes a dog over his bite threshold.

You can compare it to incidents of “road rage” in humans. When you read about the man who pulls out his .38 revolver because someone cut him off on the freeway and blows away the unfortunate offending driver, you can bet there was more going on for him than just a simple traffic violation. This is the guy who was likely laid off his job, lost his retirement investments, had his wife tell him this morning that she was leaving him, and just got notice in the mail that the bank is foreclosing on his home. Getting cut off on the freeway is simply the last straw – the final stressor that pushes him over his “bite threshold.”

So it is for dogs. When tensions increase between Missy and Lucy, I need to look for possible added stressors in their environment that are pushing them closer to, and yes, sometimes over, their bite threshold. From that perspective, “snow aggression” is a real possibility: with recent record snowfalls reaching a total of 50 inches here, the resulting decrease in exercise opportunities as well as higher stress levels of human family members who aren’t fond of snow (guilty!) can be stressors for the canine family members.

To resolve aggression issues between your own dogs, you’ll want to identify not only the immediate trigger for the aggression – fighting over a meaty bone, for example – but also everything in your dog’s life that may be stressful to him. The more stressors you can remove from his world, the less likely it is that he will use his teeth – the canine equivalent of pulling out a .38 revolver.

Common Stressors for Dogs

Stress in dogs can happen anytime and be anywhere. Remember that it’s the sum total of a dog’s stress that push him over his bite threshold, so the more of these you can identify and get rid of, the more you’ll ease tensions between your canine family members.

When I sit down with a client for an interdog aggression consult we create a list of all the stressors we can think of for the dog or dogs in question.

After identifying stressors, we discuss possible strategies, assigning one or more strategies to each of the listed stressors. These strategies are:

– Change the dog’s opinion of the stressor through the use of counter-conditioning and desensitization.

– Teach the dog a new behavioral response using operant conditioning.

– Manage the dog’s environment to minimize exposure to the stressor.

– Get rid of the stressor.

– Live with it (most appropriate for low-level stressors). Next, I help the client make a management plan that will go into place immediately, to help defuse the tension until she is able to start work on behavior modification. Then we create action plans for two or three of the stressors on the list, starting with the one the client is most concerned about – in this case, the dog on dog aggression.

Here is a sample list of stressors we’ve put together:

STRESSOR STRATEGY
The other dog Change the aggressive dog’s opinion of the stressor through the use of counter-conditioning and desensitization (CC&D).
Passers-by outside the living room window Change dog’s opinion of the stressor through CC&D; manage dog’s environment to minimize exposure to the stressor (i.e. close blinds, close off dog’s access to that window)
Threats to resources (food/toys) Change dog’s opinion of the stressor through CC&D; use operant conditioning to teach dog a new behavioral response
Doorbell ringing Change dog’s opinion of the stressor through CC&D; use operant conditioning to teach dog a new behavioral response
Car rides Change dog’s opinion of the stressor through CC&D; live with it (most appropriate for low-level stressors)
Trips to the vet Change dog’s opinion of the stressor through CC&D; live with it (most appropriate for low-level stressors)
Nail trimming Change dog’s opinion of the stressor through CC&D; use operant conditioning to teach dog a new behavioral response; teach dog to scrape his nails on an abrasive surface
Thunder Change dog’s opinion of the stressor through CC&D; manage dog’s environment to minimize exposure to the stressor; live with it (most appropriate for low-level stressors); possible use of an appropriate anti-anxiety medication
Fireworks Change dog’s opinion of the stressor through CC&D; manage dog’s environment to minimize exposure to the stressor; live with it (most appropriate for low-level stressors); possible use of an appropriate anti-anxiety medication
Arthritis  Manage dog’s environment to minimize exposure to the stressor; ask your vet whether pain-reducing medication is appropriate
Recurring ear infections  Get rid of the stressor: explore medical treatment and your dog’s diet (ear infections can result from dietary allergies)
Underground shock fence  Get rid of the stressor
Prong collar Get rid of the stressor
Use of physical and harsh verbal punishments Get rid of the stressor
Owner’s stress Manage dog’s environment to minimize exposure to the stressor; get rid of the stressor

There are many other possibilities. My clients usually list 10 and 20 identified stressors. Be sure to include things that may cause even mild stress. The more stressors you can eliminate, the better.

Food Aggression in Dogs and Other Stress Triggers

It’s often relatively easy to identify the immediate trigger for your dogs’ mutual aggression. It’s usually whatever happened just before the appearance of the hard stare, posturing, growls, and sometimes the actual fight.

Tension over resources is a common trigger. Dog #1 is lying on his bed, happily chewing his deer antler, when Dog #2 approaches. Dog #1 tenses, signaling to #2 Dog, “This is mine and I’m not sharing.”

In the best of worlds, #2 defers by looking away, saying in canine speak, “Oh, no worries, I was just passing through.” When things go wrong, however, a fight breaks out. Dog #2’s approach was the trigger for #1, even if #2 had no interest in the chew item. Perhaps Dog #2 failed to notice or failed to heed #1’s warning. Remember that resources include more than just food; a guardable resource can also be a high-value human, a coveted spot on the sofa, or access to a doorway. The stressor in these cases is obvious: the dog is anxious over the possibility of losing or having to share his treasured possession.

Other triggers may be less obvious. If a dog is in pain, but not showing it, the mere proximity of a packmate who has inadvertently bumped her in the past could be a trigger. Dogs can be notoriously stoic about pain, especially slowly developing arthritis, or unilateral pain (where you may not see a limp). The undiagnosed arthritic dog may become defensively aggressive in anticipation of being hurt by a livelier canine pal, trying to forestall painful contact in what looks to the owner like “unprovoked” aggression.

“Status-related aggression” can result when neither of two dogs in the same family is willing to defer to the other. Note that this type of aggression is more about deference (or lack thereof) than it is about dominance. A truly high-ranking member of the social group, like our Scottish Terrier, Dubhy, doesn’t engage in scuffles – he doesn’t have to!

When you have identified your dogs’ triggers, you can manage their environment to reduce trigger incidents and minimize outright conflict. This is critically important to a successful modification program. The more often the dogs fight, the more tension there is between them; the more practiced they become at the undesirable behaviors, the better they get at fighting and the harder it will be to make it go away. And this is to say nothing of the increased likelihood that sooner or later someone – dog or human – will be badly injured.

How to Stop Dogs From Fighting

1. Dog Aggression Counter-Conditioning

My first choice with most clients is the first strategy listed above: changing the dogs’ opinion of each other through counter-conditioning and desensitization (CC&D).

CC&D for intra-pack aggression involves changing your dogs’ association with each other from negative to positive. The easiest way to give most dogs a positive association is with very high-value, really yummy treats. I like to use chicken – canned, baked, or boiled, since most dogs love chicken and it’s a low-fat, low-calorie food.

Counter-Conditioning Your Dogs to Get Along:

a) Determine the distance at which your dogs can be in each other’s presence and be alert or wary but not extremely fearful or aroused. This is called the threshold distance. If one dog has a greater threshold hold distance than the other (often the case), work at the greater distance.

b) With you holding Dog A on leash, have your helper appear with Dog B at threshold distance “X.” The instant your dog sees the other, start feeding bits of chicken, non-stop. Your helper will feed chicken to her dog, too, the instant he notices your dog.

c) After several seconds, have the helper step out of sight with Dog B, and you both stop feeding chicken.

d) Keep repeating steps 1-3 until the sight of the other dog at distance “X” consistently causes both dogs to look at their handlers with a happy smile and a “Yay! Where’s my chicken?” expression. This is the physical presentation of the dogs’ conditioned emotional response (CER); each dog’s association with the other at threshold distance “X” is now positive, so they can deliberately look at you to get their chicken, rather than staying intensely focused on each other.

e) Now you need to increase the intensity of the stimulus by increasing the length of time Dog B stays in sight. Continue to feed chicken when they are in view of each, occasionally pausing to let them look at each other again, and immediately feeding chicken when they do.

f) When length of time seems to make no difference to either dog – you’re getting a consistent “Yay, where’s my chicken?” response regardless of how long Dog B stays in view, increase the intensity again, this time by increasing Dog B’s movement. Have the handler walk back and forth with her dog, still at distance “X,” slowly at first, then with more energy, even adding in some other behaviors such as sit, down, and roll over.

g) Now you’re ready to starting decreasing distance by moving Dog A a little closer to the location where the Dog B will appear. When you obtain consistent CERs from both dogs at each new distance you can decrease the distance a little more, until both dogs are happy to be very near each other.

h) Then return to your original threshold distance and increase intensity stimulus by having Dog B move around more and more, as you gradually decrease distance and obtain CERs from both dogs along the way, until they are delighted to be near each other.

i) Now go back to your starting distance and increase intensity again, by having both dogs move more naturally as the distance decreases, offering CERs at each new distance before you come any closer, until they can be within six feet of each other, moving around, still relaxed and happy about chicken.

j) Finally, find ways for your dogs to engage separately in mutually enjoyable activities together. If they both enjoy car rides, take them for a drive, but be sure they are seat-belted or crated far enough apart to avoid any tension. If they love hiking, take them on “parallel” walks, one with you, one with your training partner, with humans between them at first, and eventually with dogs between humans when you’re sure their emotions are appropriate. Parallel swims, for dogs who love the water, can work well too.

When you feel the dogs are ready to finally interact with each other again, be careful not to undo all your hard work. You might first let them greet through a barrier, such as a baby gate or exercise pen.

It’s useful to desensitize both dogs to a muzzle over the period you’re desensitizing them to each other (in separate sessions), so the first time you’re ready for them to actually interact together you can muzzle them and be confident they can’t hurt each other.

The more intense the relationship between the two dogs, the more challenging it is to modify their behavior. The more negative interactions they’ve had, the more injuries, the longer the tension has been going on, and the stronger their emotions, the longer it will take to reprogram their responses to each other. If they were good friends at one time, it’s likely to be easier than if your dogs have always tried to fight each other.

Remember to seek the help of a qualified positive behavior professional if you don’t feel competent and confident about working with your dogs on your own.

2. Operant Strategies to Combat Dog Fights

The second option is to teach your dogs a new operant behavior in response to each other, using the “Constructional Aggression Treatment” (CAT) procedure developed by Dr. Jesus Rosales-Ruiz and Kellie Snider at the University of North Texas. (See “Modifying Aggressive Behavior,” and “Constructional Aggression Treatment“.)

In daily life, dogs learn to offer aggressive “distance increasing” signals in order to make other dogs go away. Every time this works, the “go away” behavior is reinforced. The CAT procedure teaches the dog that calm behavior can make the other dog go away, and as a result, the aggressive dog can ultimately become friendly and happy about the other dog’s presence.

A variation on the operant approach is the “Behavioral Adjustment Training” procedure (BAT) created by Oregon trainer Grisha Stewart, MA, CPDT-KA, CPT. BAT is similar to CAT, but uses a variety of environmental reinforcers rather than the location and movement of the other dog exclusively.

As in CAT, the BAT procedure reinforces behaviors other than aggression in the presence of the other dog. In this case, however, your repertoire of reinforcers is larger, including the use of food reinforcers and having the “subject” dog (the aggressive one) move away instead of the other dog.

If one or both of the dogs are ready to do battle on sight, they must be strictly managed and kept separate from each other except when you’re doing your controlled modification procedure with them. If the aggression is more predictable and situational, the dogs can be together as long as you can manage and prevent the trigger(s) from causing conflict.

3. Aggressive Dog Stress Trigger Management

What does it mean to “manage your dogs’ environment to minimize exposure to his stressors”? Simply put, it means making changes to your dog’s environment in order to keep your dogs away from the stimuli that stress them.

If the dogs are stressed by each other, of course, the first task is to keep them separated, through the assiduous use of doors, fences, baby gates, crates, and tethers. Smart positioning can help; locate the dogs’ crates or tethering area out of the other dogs’ sightline. Take them outdoors to potty separately, and separate them well before feeding time, to reduce tensions that arise when everyone is jostling to be fed first.

Next, try to minimize your dogs’ exposure to other stressful stimuli. For example: Say one of your dogs goes over threshold when she sees the mailman approaching your house through the living room window, and her barking display of aggression seems to agitate your other dog. Installing shutters on the window might work (to block your dogs’ view), but closing the door to the front room (to keep the dogs as far away from the sight and sound of the mailman) would be even better. Or you could move your mailbox to toward the sidewalk, instead of next to the front door – the farther from the house, the better. Be creative!

More Management Tools: Stress-Reducing Strategies for Dogs

There are a host of other things you can do to lower general stress in your dogs’ environment.

Exercise can be immensely helpful in minimizing overall tension. Physical activity uses up excess energy that might otherwise feed your dogs’ aggressive behaviors, (a tired dog is a well-behaved dog). Exercise also causes your dog’s body to release various chemicals, including endorphins and norepinephrine, helping to generate a feeling of well-being; an exercised dog is a happy dog! Happy dogs are simply less likely to fight.

Even the food you feed your dog can have an impact on his behavior. Poor quality protein can interfere with a dog’s ability to make use of the serotonin that occurs naturally in his system. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that helps regulate mood and sleep, and also affects memory and learning. Foods containing high-quality protein can contribute to your dogs’ behavioral health and physical health.

Basic training enables you and your dog to communicate more easily with each other (which is less stressful for both of you), and helps your dog understand how his world works, which reduces his stress. A good training program emphasizes structure and consistency, both of which make a dog’s world more predictable. Predictability equals less stress; unpredictability is stressful.

If you’ve ever had a massage, you know how calming touch can be. Dogs aren’t that different from us; you can calm and soothe your dog with physical touch, both through canine massage and TTouch. Combine your calming touch sessions with aromatherapy, by using a therapeutic-quality lavender essential oil in an electric nebulizing diffuser in the room while you massage your dog. Then you can build your dog’s “ahhh” association with the lavender scent to help him be calm in more stressful environments, by putting a few drops of essential oil on a bandana that you tie around his neck or on the bedding in his crate.

Other environmental stress reducers include: Comfort Zone (also known as Dog Appeasing Pheromone, or DAP). This is a synthetic substance that is supposed to mimic the pheromones emitted by a mother dog when she’s nursing puppies. Available through pet supply stores and catalogs.

Through a Dog’s Ear. This set of audio CDs consists of bio-acoustically engineered soothing classical piano music, which has been shown to reduce dogs’ heart rates.

Anxiety Wrap. This product helps dogs (and cats) overcome their fears and anxieties using the gentle technique of “maintained pressure” – similar to the effect of swaddling for a human infant.

4. Remove Your Dog’s Stress Triggers

Sometimes you’re lucky: it’s easy to either get rid of your dogs’ stressors or just live with them. Stressors you could get rid of easily include choke, prong, or shock collars (even those used for electronic containment systems); physical or harsh verbal corrections (punishment), and treatable medical conditions. Without these present in their environment, the dogs’ stress level will decrease.

We all have some stress in our lives, and it’s pretty near impossible to get rid of all of it. Just because you’ve identified a stressor for your dog doesn’t mean you have to make it go away. You probably don’t have enough time in your schedule to address every single thing on your list. As you look at your dogs’ list of stressors, the ones they can probably live with are those that don’t happen frequently, that cause only a mild stress response, and don’t appear to escalate over time. You can also refrain from eliminating your dog’s “fun” stressors, such as squirrel-chasing sessions. If you make your way through the rest of your list and still have time on your hands, you can always address the “live with it” items later.

Veterinary Checkup Required

A complete medical work-up, including a full thyroid panel, is indicated for any significant behavior problem, especially aggression.

Any medical condition that causes your dog to behave out of sorts is a massive contributor to stress. Trying to modify aggression while your dog suffers from an untreated medical condition is akin to pushing a behavioral boulder uphill.

You must rule out or identify and treat any medical contributors to your dogs’ behavior in order for your dogs to fully benefit from your modification efforts.

Last Resorts for Aggressive Dog Training

Dog on dog aggression in the home can feel overwhelming. In fact, it can be dangerous if fights erupt regularly and you try to intervene. Many times an owner has been bitten trying to break up fights between her own dogs. The stress that the constant tension generates can damage the quality of your own life, as well as your dogs’ lives.

When a situation feels beyond your ability to cope, your first best option is to find a qualified positive behavior consultant in your area who can help you implement appropriate management and modification procedures, to keep everyone safe and to start making change happen in your dogs’ mutual relationships.

A consultation with a veterinarian who is well-educated in behavior, or even a veterinary behaviorist, should also be on your list, not only for that all-important medical workup, but also for the consideration of psychotropic behavior modification drugs, if and when appropriate, to help your dog’s brain be more receptive to your modification efforts.

If you feel you’re done your best and peace isn’t in the cards for your pack, it’s okay to admit that some dogs will never get along, and you have had the misfortune to adopt two who don’t. If that’s the case, your options are:

– A lifetime (not just a temporary measure) of scrupulous management

– Rehoming one of the dogs

– Euthanasia

Some trainers say, “Management always fails.” In truth, management does have a high risk of failure, perhaps with potentially dire consequences. The risk is even higher if there are children in the home – not only because they’re more likely to forget to close doors and latch gates, but also because they are at greater risk of injury themselves if they are in the vicinity when a fight happens. Still, I know of several dog owners who have successfully implemented lifetime management protocols for dogs who didn’t get along, and felt that their own quality of life, as well as that of their dogs, was above reproach.

Rehoming can be a reasonable option, especially if the dog being considered for placement has no other significant inappropriate behaviors, and if he can be rehomed to an “only dog” home, or one with dogs he’s known to get along well with. Of course, it can be challenging to find an experienced, appropriate home for a dog with a known aggression behavior problem, but it may be possible, particularly if he’s otherwise wonderful.

No one wants to think of euthanizing an otherwise healthy member of their canine family. Still, if you’ve done all you can reasonably do given the limits of your abilities and resources, and you’ve not been able to create a safe environment for your family and one of the dogs can’t be rehomed, then euthanasia is not an inappropriate decision. It will be terribly painful for you, and you may always feel guilt and regret about not finding the solution to the problem, although perhaps not as much guilt and regret as you would if one of your dogs badly injured or killed the other, or worse, a person.

It’s now 43 degrees outside, and for the first time in many weeks the snow has melted enough I can actually take my dogs for a long hike around the farm. I’d best finish this sentence, turn off my computer, and take our dogs out to stretch their legs so we can all enjoy a very peaceful, aggression-free evening.

Pat Miller, CPDT, is WDJ’s Training Editor. Miller lives in Fairplay, Maryland, site of her Peaceable Paws training center. Pat is also author of The Power of Positive Dog Training; Positive Perspectives: Love Your Dog, Train Your Dog; Positive Perspectives II: Know Your Dog, Train Your Dog; and Play with Your Dog.

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WDJ's Training Editor Pat Miller, CBCC-KA, CPDT-KA, grew up in a family that was blessed with lots of animal companions: dogs, cats, horses, rabbits, goats, and more, and has maintained that model ever since. She spent the first 20 years of her professional life working at the Marin Humane Society in Marin County, California, for most of that time as a humane officer and director of operations. She continually studied the art and science of dog training and behavior during that time, and in 1996, left MHS to start her own training and behavior business, Peaceable Paws. Pat has earned a number of titles from various training organizations, including Certified Behavior Consultant Canine-Knowledge Assessed (CBCC-KA) and Certified Professional Dog Trainer - Knowledge Assessed (CPDT-KA). She also founded Peaceable Paws Academies for teaching and credentialing dog training and behavior professionals, who can earn "Pat Miller Certified Trainer" certifications. She and her husband Paul and an ever-changing number of dogs, horses, and other animal companions live on their 80-acre farm in Fairplay, Maryland.

38 COMMENTS

  1. Do you recommend euthanasia if the dog has killed one of the others? I have a friend whose mixed breed (approximately #45) killed their #4 Chihuahua. They had lived together for 6 yrs with supposedly no issues. Came home from work one day and found the Chihuahua in really bad shape. Rushed her to vet but she could not be saved. I recommended euthanasia, but they refused and now they have a Chi/ jack Russell mix.
    Dogs are now starting to fight. Larger dog is female ,spayed, the other is male, neutered. Again around 5-6 yrs with no “ significant” issues but is escalating quickly. She refuses to crate or lock up one or the other. Says it is cruel. How can I get through to her?

    • Hi Donna,

      I am not a Vet, but I am an experienced dog owner that is experiencing some aggression issues with my own two dogs. One is an eleven-year-old neutered male Doberman with outstanding temperament and the patience of a saint, the other is a one and a half-year-old 15lb spayed female Jack Russel Rat Terrier Mix. Lucy our Jack/Rat terrier has become very aggressive toward our Doberman and we are at the point where we may need to euthanize her or see if we can find the right no-kill shelter that will work with a dog like Lucy to find the right single pet home (no other animals), with full disclosure about her issues. Your friend needs to take this issue seriously and should have her dog vetted to see if there are any medical issues that are causing pain or other medical-related induced aggression. Barring any treatable medical conditions, and if the dog cannot be safely re-homed to a single pet household, I would euthanize the dog since it has already killed one pack member, and it is already fighting with another. Either choice is difficult, but the safety of everyone in the home is imperative. I would speak to her and liken the situation with her Chihuahua as a human child (how would she feel and what would she do if it was a child that was killed)? In the interim, the dog that is being aggressive needs to be segregated from the other dogs for the safety of everyone and she needs to get the dog to the vet immediately. If the vet deems the dog unsafe she should euthanize the dog (and be prepared to do so) at the same vet visit, if the dog can be re-homed, she should keep the dog segregated and find an appropriate no-kill shelter and be completely honest about the dog’s history and understand they may not take a dog that has already killed another pet. She should talk to anyone and everyone she can and do the right thing, whatever that may be and as hard as it may be. You are a great friend to reach out and ask for help on her behalf! Crating is not cruel by the way, it is natural for canines to seek a den (crate). She should not punish the dog by any means and leave it in a crate 24/7, but she needs to find a way to keep the aggressive dog separate from the others. I realize you posted in July and I hope things have worked out and you have been able to get her to listen to a professional or to read the article above.

  2. My two dogs suddenly became aggressive towards each other, a pitbull and jack russle and now they can’t be put toward because they always break out in a fight which is frightening.
    Please provide some advice as this is a serious matter.

    • Well there’s some solid advice in this article. If you’re still having problems, look into pack leader training. Dogs at the bottom of the pack are generally calm and low energy. It’s really effective and easier than most people think. There’s a great guide on this if you Google: ‘123 Recall Method’ – Takes consistency but worth it in the long run.

  3. I took my puppy from a dog foster home about a year ago. I love him to bits; he has a great personality, and I feel that he loves our family so much. BUT, whenever I take him for walks, we have problems. He hates other dogs and other people sometimes even growls at us. My husband and I were thinking about taking him to ‘doggy school’, but then again, it’s extremely expensive, and the nearest ‘doggy school’ is far away from us. Maybe you have some advice? THANK YOU!!!!

  4. My family and I were on vacation and my 1yr and 8 month old dane attacked my 1 yr. 4 month Presa. Now my Presa growls at my dane and my dane growls back. We keep them seperate now. I have an appt. To neuter my dane in 2 weeks. My husband refuses to neuter the Presa.
    Our trainer said both need to be neutered for her to help bc it wont work if not.

    Any help will be greatly appreciated!!

  5. I have three dogs: Rosie (14 y/o 25lb American Eskimo), Jazzie (7 y/o 12lb Maltese/Yorkie), and Sadie (4 y/o 40lb American Eskimo/Spitz). Jazzie and Rosie have been together since we adopted Jazzie in 2013 with no problems. When we got Sadie in 2015, things began to change. Sadie never got along with the other two so she was being separated from them with gates. In around 2017 she and Jazzie began getting along with brief, supervised integration. They were never allowed to be together alone, but if we were all watching tv or in one room they were able to be together with absolutely no problems. Whenever we left the house and the dogs were along, Jazzie and Rosie had full roam of the house, while Sade was in the kitchen with gates on the doorways. That was never a problem until August of 2018 when I came home to Rosie covered in blood and Jazzie with a bloody mouth. Rosie needed two emergency surgeries to fix the amount of damage Jazzie inflicted. The three of them are always separated when we leave the house, but again, if we are all watching tv or in the kitchen Jazzie and Rosie are together, or Jazzie and Sadie are together. Rosie and Sadie are never together, alone or supervised, because Sadie constantly wants to play with little bites or jumping and Rosie is too old, so we do not want to stress her out. But, when S&J or J&R are together and barking occurs Jazzie goes into a frenzy and jumps on the back of whatever dog she is with and begins biting and grabbing around the other dog’s neck. Rosie is too old and tends to just take it with nothing more than growling and barking, but Sadie is far from taking it. I do not believe Jazzie understands who she is messing with when it comes to Sadie. Sadie has always been a more aggressive dog towards people and other animals. So when Jazzie picks a fight with Sadie it sounds and looks horrific. I am always only steps away to pick Jazzie up and stop the damage, but to say those few seconds are terrifying is an understatement. We do not know what to do anymore because the attacks are only triggered by a dog barking and it is so random when one of the dogs bark we never know when it will occur and we feel awful having to separate all three dogs 24/7. Any suggestions are welcomed. We have been told medications may help Jazzie’s aggression, but I cannot help hating the idea of medicating my dog.

  6. We have two dogs one that is around 7 years old and one that is about 2 years old. They have lived with each other side the 2 year only was a few months old. The older is dominate and we know this. When we first got the puppy they would get in fights when the puppy would try and get on the bed in the middle of the night. This has subsided and has for a while. What is happening now all of a sudden it seems when I’m home alone and we are on the couch and something will startle the older one ie husband coming down the stairs or coming in the front door, the older one will attack and start a fight with the younger one. This leaves the younger one scared and avoiding her for an hour or so. They play together all day, eat next to each other, sleep in beds next to each other – I just am at a loss!

    • I have 2 older dogs have lived together for over 5 or 6 yrs and every once in a while they will fight they are both big dogs and it does it scary k do my best to separate them while staying back I have a piece of plywood that I used to force between there head and push them away. But I’m not always around that. My dogs actually got into it tonight the first time in over a year and I had to use my coffee table I know it sounds kinds mean but I also have 2 children 6 and 8 and I have to get it under control as quick as possible. I do have a plan with my kids in place for moments like these thank God my kids have not been in the room anytime this has happened which has been about 4 times over the past 4 yrs they r both over 8yrs old. Hower my male dog is fixed and so is my female. Im nor sure if they r having a lovers spat or what. I keep a dog kit with coconut oil and gauze and triple antibiotic ointment and other things u might need. I also give my dogs melatonin after they have been upset to that point to calm them down and let then relax. Dose according to the dogs weigh. I have pits so I use about 15-20 mg about what I would take. I’ve called about dog training and stuff but I’m a single mom in welding school at moment and money’s tight. Had the dogs as long as my kids and neither one of them would be right with someone else. So I have to take measurements and stuff and react fast when it does happen. I have seen this thing on fb looks like a remote and it makes a Ulta Sonic noise supposed to be good for any behavior correction need just press button and says it safe and don’t hurt them.

  7. Hello,
    We have 2 Boston Terriers females, 2yrs and the other is 6 mos (spayed 5 days ago). They have gotten along very well until two weeks ago. They started fighting when a neighbor came to house unannounced, and we guessed that was the trigger for them…but they have continued fighting. We cannot determine what the trigger(s) are..it seems to be so random…it doesn’t appear to be food or toys . We have resorted to keeping them in separate rooms until we can get a handle on how to move forward. The first few fights drew blood, but once they had calmed down, they seemed to want to soothe each other (licking, laying next to)…but now we are so afraid to even let them be in same room. They can see each other through the gate and they seem to be okay, but the vibe feels tense (even though one of their tails are wagging). We now crate the little one at night, because we are afraid something will happen. Any ideas or suggestions on how to move forward??

  8. You really suggested killing the dog because it doesn’t get along with your other dogs??? Are you serious?? Rehome it. You should NEVER kill a dog because you can’t control it. That makes me sick. And to read that on a journal all about dogs?? It’s disgusting.

    • To christina McRae. You are not reading the whole paragraph regarding “rehoming”. She said that if you’ve done EVERYTHING you can and you can’t rehome the dog, Euthanasia is not an inappropriate decision. What do you suggest? Throwing the dog in a shelter that will end up someone else’s problem, because a shelter will not fully vet the issues of this dog and most people are inexperienced with this that run to a shelter and impulsively adopt a dog, and very likely the dog will end up in a shelter again. So, again, what is your constructive suggestion?

    • The answer shouldn’t be euthanasia unless the dog has had significant treatment by a professional and still maintains a real threat to humans. Although I personally believe that any dog can be rehabilitated at least to be an only animal in an adult home, I know that sometimes a dog is ordered to be put down… this woman shouldn’t have gotten another dog, especially not a dog so similar to the deceased dog. She should now rehome one of them, and if she can’t rehome the adhesive dog then she has to get rid of the small one (by very rod of I mean rehome). A responsible pet owner knows that when they get a dog, it’s for life, and if the dog presents a danger to humans, there are places that take dogs like that and rehabilitate them. Make her understand that this dog and the new dog are both her responsibility. We don’t just euthanize a dog because it can’t get along with other dogs. You have to create a safe environment for both.

    • Christina McRae,

      I don’t think you read the article in its entirety. She said to re-home the dog if you can (meaning safely) and if you cannot, euthanization is not an inappropriate decision. I am dealing with this right now, I have 15lb spayed female one and a half-year-old Jack/Rat mix that is getting more and more aggressive with my 100lb eleven-year-old neutered Doberman that has been extremely patient with her. She has gone from grabbing him by the face with her entire mouth and not letting go as he walks down the stairs, as well as grabbing hold of his Achilles’ tendons and yanking them around like she has prey in her mouth (and I don’t mean playfully), to getting into to full-on fights with him, which I will not physically intervene in. He is growing tired of her and he is pushing back, but so far he has been defensive and not hurt her when it would take nothing for him to kill her as his head is the size of her body. Our smaller dog growls at him, snarls at him, attacks him without any provocation we can see and she may or may not be able to be re-homed. It is an agonizing decision and I have to think of the safety of both animals as well as my husband and I and frankly, she is lucky he has such an amazing temperament and he has not killed her. She has gotten nasty with me which gives me pause about rehoming her, but when she is away from him she is fine. Re-homing her weighs heavily on my mind as I was on the receiving end of owners that gave up their dog when I was a child (they had kids and it was a direct owner to owner transaction and they saw my sister and me there when we came to see the dog) and they knew it was aggressive and I had my face ripped open by the dog when I was sitting on the floor watching television and it was laying next to me, I was petting the dog and everything was fine and she lunged at my face without warning (no growl – nothing). I required plastic surgery when I was seven to repair the damage because they did not do the right thing and euthanize it. So, I respectfully disagree with you and believe there are instances when a dog should be euthanized, especially if it has aggression issues that cannot be addressed, which is basically what she is saying in the article. You may not like it, but some animals (dogs) are not safe to have around other animals or people. If you are not able to make the distinction and make difficult decisions such as possibly euthanizing an unsafe “uncontrollable” animal (we are not talking about a dog that needs obedience training), you may not want to take on all the responsibilities that come along with owning a dog.

    • Why not personally take on the challenge of rehabilitating aggressive pets around the world. You seem to have it all figured out. Dont deprive these animals of your wisdom and expertise. By all means take on every aggressive pet in the universe and fix them and return them to their owners. In case you were not aware it is quite difficult to rehome a pet with a history of aggression so thank goodness we have you and your infinite resources (I assume you’re a billionairess, because being a millionaire has not proven to be sufficient). You are clearly superior to everyone else ever. Thanks for having it all figured out.

  9. My husband and 2 dogs lost our home last November in a wildfire which put us all living in a 29’ travel trailer. High stress to say the least. I have a 8 year old lab and 4 year boxer/lab cross. The boxer accidentally ran into my labs hind end and she turned and attached him viciously. Then again the next morning when they saw each other. My husband was able to have them come together for the afternoon until I got home then my lab decided the fight was on again causing both of them to need medical attention. I then out muzzled on them and tried to engage eachother, my lab still went after the younger one. I don’t know what to do living in such a small space and will not choose between them. Can anyone help me?

  10. Caroline,

    I am so sorry about the loss of your home. The stressful situation is affecting all of you of course and I hope you are able to put your lives back together soon. Do you have a friend or family member that has an adequate size home to take one or both of your dogs in the interim to help reduce their stress levels? I am not sure if you are religious, but you will be in my thoughts and prayers as you navigate your way through this devasting event and rebuild your lives.

    Lynn

  11. I have 4 dogs.2 Staffordshire Terriers, a Black Lab and a Rottweiler/retriever mix. One of the staffies and the black lab were raised together. Got both at 6 weeks old, there birthdays are a month apart. The staffie is very shy and quiet, the lab is goofy and friendly. For the last week the staffie has been challenging the lab. She stands different than normal and stares at the lab. The lab will growl at her in warning but the staffie won’t back down and that’s when the fight starts. We separate them and they calm down and they go back to being friends. There isn’t any good, toys or treats involved, it happens out of the blue. Anyone have any ideas as to what is going on?

    • This is exactly what is happening in my home. Our two pitbulls have been together for 2 years and have never fought and have always been best friends. The aggression is coming out of nowhere. I can definitely relate on how stressful this is!

  12. Help!! I have two dogs, a cockapoo (10) (Ginger) and a goldendoodle (2) (Bear) they have always had it out for each other but this has gotten out of hand. They’ve gotten into two fights and broke skin. No one needed the vet either time and the day after they would be fine again. Bear was always the one starting it and she is significantly bigger. I don’t know if she just wants to kill Ginger or wants to protect me. The first time we were watching tv and stupidly we threw only one ball and so the one who didn’t get it, Bear, went crazy. The second time it was just them fighting for the sake of it and this morning, I woke up and like normal Bear was on my bed. Ginger started walking in and I greeted her. Right as I did that B started growling. I told her no and taped her muzzle but she wouldn’t stop. Before i knew it she lept of the bed and put all her effort in killing Ginger. Luckily I was right there so no body was truly injured but now I’m scared. I don’t know how to discipline B and stop her from doing that so she just got put her kennel getting “no!” and “bad dog” every time i walk by. I need help! i will not give one of them away but I can not have fighting!!!

    • Telling Bear “no” and “bad dog” will only make her feel more stressed. And as the article said, it is stress that leads to fighting. What kind of things stress her out? It sounds like she may be guarding her resources – you! How much do you exercise your dogs, especially Bear? Have you been to an animal behaviorist? Have you spoken to your vet? Can you put Bear in day care for a one or two days a week? One thing that this article doesn’t suggest, which surprises me, is medication such as Xanax and Prozac for the aggressive dog. I fostered a Westie rescue neutered male dog, Willie, age 6. My home dog is a 10 year old neutered male Westie, Ollie. I learned the hard way about how stressed Ollie gets over food, toys, and who gets the prime seating and bed positions. Ollie is no longer toy possessive, and he will now also eat in the same room as Willie without problems. I had to really up my game as far as exercising my dogs. My vet recommended, however, that we treat Ollie with Prozac to see if this will temper his anger issue with Willie. It has only been two weeks, so we don’t have any results yet. Prozac takes about 6 weeks to take affect. When I have given him doggie Xanax, he mellows out. He doesn’t act stressed and he’s nice to Willie. I only use Xanax when he starts to get surly. It is for episodes, not daily use. I do a lot of obedience work with them. I have games set up like Hiding treats in tall yogurt containers Set around the house. You might play with one dog at a time, either outside or inside, but keep the other dog in another room. I put peanut butter in a Kong toy and freeze it. The dog in the crate gets that. I don’t crate either dog for longer than 1/2 hour when I am home. I do NOT EVER leave them alone together in the house. But make sure to remove the Kong from the crate the minute you let the dog out. When Ollie starts to growl at Willie, I remove them from each other’s company. One goes into the crate, but I rotate who goes there. I don’t punish Ollie. He is already stressed, that’s why he is getting aggressive. Your dog isn’t being a “bad dog.” He is stressed. Punishing him will intensify the negative association with your other dog. You want to develop a positive association. The dogs do terrific on walks together. It takes a lot of patience, but I am hopeful we will get their issues worked out. Remember this – a tired dog tends to be a happy dog. The more of a workout I give my dogs, the better they get along. Good luck.

  13. To Christina McRae: I have a 9 year old Aussie (50lbs), born into our home, & 12 year old Lhasa Poo (8lbs) who have never gotten along but maintained distance; things escalated recently & after ‘treats’ a fight broke out which resulted in the loss of the Lhasa Poo’s eye. I have kept them mostly separate in the past month since this incident, but this morning they just fought again & now I am distraught beyond imagining. I love them both VERY MUCH but am concerned for general safety in my household. I’m not averse to rehoming the Aussie but she is fiercely loyal to me so, a few things: if she were to be re-homed locally, there is a chance that she may escape and come back and also I am concerned that she may react similarly to other small dogs. I can’t, in good conscience, send a fighting, potentially violent dog out into the bigger world, knowing she may do this to another dog. THIS is the ONLY reason I am considering euthanasia for this beloved pet.

    • Dear Annie, you should try your best to check with a behavioral specialist. Euthanasia should be the last resort and I think your loyal friend deserves a chance of a good life. Perhaps in another household she would have that. Some times we think that we provide to our fur friends everything they need but some times we don’t. I’m in a situation where I have my youngest of three, a 3 year old Pitbull mix attacked my older,13 years old, Lab mix, sending him for the fourth time to the hospital. Many thousand of dollars later working with trainers and the problem is still exist. I will hire one more specialist to see if can help me or I have to look for another home for her, but never put her down because if she is like this is because I didn’t do my job.

  14. Hello, there…

    My friend has three Briards, two of them are mother and daughter. The daughter joined the family after she had been in another home for several months, so she was like a stranger to her mother. The daughter is very mellow, the mother is high strung. The third Briard , unrelated to them, gets along with both mother and daughter.

    The daughter wanted to play with her mom,but something set Mom off and she went into attack mode. We had to rush the daughter to the emergency vet. They’re all back at home now. I have a soft muzzle on the mom when she is anywhere near her daughter. Otherwise, they are separated by a long running gate throught the house. It’s a hell of a way to live. Mom dog is on some calming meds, but they aren’t solving the problem. I don’t believe giving the more aggressive dog away is an option my friend would consider.

  15. We have two pitbulls-one 6 year old male and one 2 year old female. The 2 year old female had double ACL surgery a year ago. In December, we moved and then she hurt herself and now has to have knee surgery in March. Over the course of the past six days, the 2 year old has lunged/growled/etc. at the 6 year old every single day. This is so unlike her and it’s so heartbreaking to watch. It just comes out of nowhere-she isn’t doing it around meal time, treats or toys. The 6 year old does not fight back. We are in shock on where to go from here. Our vet says that her aggression is not due to pain but due to behavioral. How can it be when she hasn’t been aggressive her whole life? We are at a loss on how to proceed.

  16. Hi, I have a 6 year old female shepherd and a 1 year old female shepherd. Every time I try to take them out the older one Piper attacks Phoebe ( as she had done to our now deceased Boxer) to the point of blood. They are alone together all day, Sharon a water dish, and Piper cleans Her daily. Phoebe is afraid to go outside.

  17. We have three dogs, two full boxers(both male) and a female boxer mix(daughter of one of my males). My girl Savannah (110#) has been really aggressive with my Charlie (50#-tripod). She will attack him from across the room for nothing or go after him if he is walking by her. He is afraid of her, no doubt, and she is just a big horse. I am not sure what to do. I can’t afford expensive dog trainers. Charlie gets a little more attention at times than the others as he is a tripod. But each of them get one on one time with us. So far she hasn’t majorily hurt him but she is very difficult to get to release him when she has him. I just don’t know what to do with this.

  18. I have two older dogs (8 & 10) and there is a walking trail behind my house. They run the fence line and on most occasions will get into a barking match with each other – and are a little vicious. No one has ever been hurt, but it’s really rough sounding and nothing I’ve done can stop it. Any suggestions?

    One is a Treeing-Walker Coonhound/Lab mix(male) and the other is a rescue – no idea what she is.

  19. My Pitt bull mix .Had puppies. We kept 2 both males after two yrs
    . They have started fighting.to the point.We have to keep them apart. At all times %they can’t be together at all. What can I do.

  20. I have the same problem we have 4 dogs that have always gotten along great Play together sleep together Now the youngest female now 1 1/2 is lunging at the other dogs like litterly attacking going for the face and neck. At first we thought it was due to her hiding treats around the house and unknowingly the other dogs would go near her hiding spot But now we have changed the way we are giving her treats and not allowing her to hide and still she is super aggressive expecially towards my 2 year old male . All of the dogs are boxer/ pit mix This has been out of the blue butnis getting more and more aggressive We have tried crating her but seems cruel to keep her crated all day Also have her muzzled now because we are afraid she will really hurt the other dogs My 2 year old is much stronger but he is very patient and probably could hurt her also if he wanted to . She is the only dog showing this aggression. Any suggestions on how to make this stop or will I just have to continue to keep them separated forever.

  21. My 2 sister dogs can’t agree who is top dog since their parents died – previously the top dogs. This happened when they are 3 and before that they got on most of the time. Now as soon as they have access to each other they fight without stopping. We try break it up with varying success but have spent thousands on vet treatments. I tried to rehome the most aggressive one but she turned on the dog at her new home too. So she’s back and the other dog is being fostered temporarily with someone she knows well. We need to find a way to get them to get along again if it is possible. It’s very upsetting and unsettling and the rest. My only idea is separate fenced areas then muzzle and harness them if they may have contact. I don’t know much about dogs…HELP!

  22. I have a shi-chi (14lbs) and a dachshund (23lbs). They are only about 3mo apart in age, with the chi being the older. They are both male, neutered. We got them both as puppies and they have never really been separated. Even when we got them fixed they went together. They share a food dish, sleep in the same bed, and when we are not home they go into a large kennel together.
    We moved into a new home in August 2019. Prior to that we had a much larger home but no yard. Now we have a fenced yard that they can run around in. They are not well socialized with other dogs since our small town didn’t have a dog park until recently and only one of our neighbors had a dog before the move (a rotti mix). Now, we have pit bulls on either side of us. My doxie has never cared much for dogs other than his “brother”. He tolerates my parents’ Pekingese on occasion because she doesn’t put up with shenanigans from either of my boys.
    In the last three or so months I have noticed that the doxie is showing some aggressive tendencies. He urinates over anywhere the chi goes, he is completely unwilling to be introduced to other dogs, he is not very accepting of visitors (goes crazy when they arrive, will only calm down if they sit and stay put, going nuts the moment they move again). Especially kids. He also seems to pick fights with the chi, but he seems completely willing to let the chi be dominant. Up until now, the chi had established dominance over the doxie, although they both defer to me in every way. He also has always seemed to be an incredibly anxious dog, from the day we brought him home. I am just wondering if there is something going on, because I have never really seen a power play like this.

  23. We adopted what turned out to be an “Eskipoo” according is his DNA results. He is part American Eskimo, part poodle. He loves my husband and I to no end but does not like people. He does well with smaller dogs when we are on walks but can act aggressive toward high energy dogs. Our problem is when my daughter brings her Sharpei/pug mix to our home. She is a very high energy when she sees our dog and scares him to the point where he has bitten her and wehad to take her to an Emergency Vet. We now separate them and it becomes very stressful since we are afraid to let them both out in our backyard at the same time. When we first got our dog I had a behaviorist come in since he had bitten my daughter’s dog and showed aggressive behavior toward othe people. She told us he was not agressive but very protective. I would love to be able to have both dogs in the backyard at the same time and in my home without separating them, and I don;t know if our anxiety is causing a problem and maybe we just arent handling this very well, I get very envious when I see people that have adopted two or more dogs and never have a problem with them being together. Any words of wisdom??? My daugter has been coming overmore since the virus and she wants to get out of the city. The only stress is these two dogs!!

  24. Hello, We have 3 dogs: Ava a 4 1/2 yr old boxer we have had for almost 3 yrs, Bentley a 14yr old pit/lab that we have had for 12yrs, and we just rescued Otis a 2 1/2 yr old mastiff we have had since March. Recently in the past couple of weeks our boxer has attacked our pit/lab and then the mastiff will then attacked the boxer what seems to be to defend the pit, all of this for what seem to be for no reason. Our boxer and pit have lived happily together for the past 3 years and up until Feb with a 3rd dog a (rodegin ridgeback) that no longer lives here. At first I thought it was the mastiff that was causing the 2 to fight but after the last 2 fights I don’t think his is the one to start anything. We have been having some issues with the mastiff like marking and some aggression towards adults but he is getting better and we are waiting to get him neutered in the beginning of July. I am guessing adding the mastiff has stressed out the boxer who use to be shy and skid-dish but we have never seen 1oz of aggression from her until now. Now we have been trying to keep her separate from the other 2 but that usually means in her kennel. What can we do to stop the attacking on the pit which can barely move to beginning with?

  25. Hi
    We’ve had Nino ( English springer spaniel) & Enzo ( cocker spaniel) both since pups. There is a six month age gap. They’ve always lived happily together. Enzo was neutered about 10 years ago. Nino is intact. They are now both almost 13 years old. For the last year & 1/2 Nino has started to viciously attack Enzo. Sometimes for no apparent reason – Enzo can’t even get up to get a drink of water without Nino growling at him and poor Enzo is a quivering mess. Something he will start on him multiple times in one day, but then once it’s all calmed down they’ll cuddle up together… Nino testing his head on Enzo. When they fight Nino will often pierce the skin, leaving poor Enzo bleeding.
    Despite all this, Nino really is the most lovely boy… he’s been a wonderful dog all his life. Enzo has too.

    I have 4 young kids… they are becoming frightened of Nino – as obviously this happens in our home.

    Been to seek help with the vet twice – they’ve given us pain relief for Nino and suggested it’s aggression related to old age. We haven’t noticed this to be working though. Literally at our wits end.

    Re homing doesn’t feel the right option – we couldn’t bare to give one up.

    Could really do with some advice on how to cope.

    Have looked at conditioning behaviour techniques – but my husband can’t see this helping as for the majority of the day they get on just fine…. they sit/walk/play side by side and won’t fight… but then all of a sudden Nino can’t stand the site of Enzo.

  26. I rescued a Yorkie male he’s was neuted had two homes before me I pulled him out of kill shelter as last owner put him in after 4 weeks as was attacking resident dogs . my intention was putting in safe foster based rescue well he melted my heart I kept him . I have 2 more yorkies females for first year he was very aggressive towards them I trained him my self took that long know 2 years later he’s loveing happy boy he just needed re training as past owners never disciplined him .Just past it on don’t get me wrong they have odd fight but soon as I say no they stop female very dominant was my Daugthers dog I took her on . same age he just needed guidance patience understanding it takes time to re train dog with behavoure issues not overnight fix but worth it happy lovely boy wouldn’t be without him just needed right owner .

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