(Dog-Dog Aggression tip #1) Most common types of Dog-Dog Aggression


When you hear hoof-beats coming over the hill in Wyoming, think horses, not zebras. While it could absolutely be that there are zebras – or albino miniature ponies with pink ribbons in their manes – coming, the first and most obvious thing to rule out is horses.

When it comes to dogs who don’t do well with other dogs there are some common rule-outs that account for the bulk of cases. These are:

Dogs that come on too strong. They appear hyper-motivated and have coarse social skills. Then this type presents along with an impoverished play history, I’m going to refer to them as “Tarzan”.

  • Dogs that are sensitive to the proximity of other dogs. They may present with frank fearlessness or more subtly, as asocial animals that get snappy if a dog gets too close or makes social overtures.
  • Dog-dog resource guarding
  • Harassment, i.e. bullying or “hazing” of other dogs.
  • Play skills deficits – dogs that play but lack some of the features of normal play, causing frequent tipovers of their play into fighting.
  • Strong genetic predisposition to compulsively fighting

For more details on how to identify the specific aggressive behavior your dog may be exhibiting and ways to use behavior modification to retrain a dog, purchase Jean Donaldson’s FIGHT, A Practical Guide to Dog-Dog-Aggression.


Previous articleMaking Sense
Next articleAt a Dog Show
Nancy Kerns has edited horse and dog magazines since graduating the San Francisco State University Journalism program in 1990. The founding editor of Whole Dog Journal in 1998, Nancy regularly attends cutting-edge dog-training conferences including those for the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants, Pet Professional Guild, Association of Professional Dog Trainers, and Clicker Expo. To stay on top of industry developments, she also attends pet industry trade shows such as Global Pet and SuperZoo, educational conferences of the American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association and Pet Food Industry’s Pet Food Forum. As a regular volunteer for her local animal shelter, the Northwest SPCA in Oroville, CA, she fosters large litters of puppies and helps train wayward adolescent dogs in order to increase their chances of adoption. Nancy shares her life with her husband and two canine alumni of the NWSPCA, mixed-breed Otto (whose adorably fuzzy visage was incorporated into WDJ’s masthead some years ago) and Pit/Lab-mix Woody.