This post has received more responses and questions than anything else I’ve written which tells me it’s a big problem. It’s a big problem because 99% of the time dog fighting within your family is caused by lack of leadership on the part of the dog owner, lack of structure in the home, and lack of structured exercise of the dogs. So let’s take these one by one
- Lack of leadership: this does not mean dominating your dogs. This simply means that you understand how dogs think, what’s important to them and how do you, as the dog owner, control those things so your dog receives the things that are important to him on YOUR terms, not his. Training your dog using leadership is very much like raising a child, the child must understand that mom and dad are in charge, certain behavior is expected from the child and the child will get what it wants on the terms of the parents – not the child.
- Structure in the home: again, dogs are much like children. If you as the dog owner provide structure in your home, you dog will understand the expectations, what is allowed and what is not allowed. Everyone’s dog should at a minimum do a “sit” before their food bowl is placed in front of them and then be released with an “OK” to eat their food. Dogs must understand that you get to decide when they get pets and love – not them. Your dog does not get to act like a wild man in the house, bolting out doors, knocking you over to get in front of you etc.
- Structured exercise: this is something people do not think about. It’s very simple, wild abandon play outside leads to wild abandon behavior inside. If playing in the backyard, and running the fence and chasing squirrels is the ONLY exercise your dog gets then he does not understand this same behavior is NOT ok in the house. A structured walk where you control the walks is one of the best and easiest ways to practice leadership with your dog.
When these things are in place, a multiple dog household has structure. The message to the dogs is, We (the humans) are in charge, not you, things are on our terms, not yours and the “rivalry” between the dogs to figure out who is running the show between them is gone. Also – intact males release the smell of testosterone which affects the way other dogs (male and female) perceive that dog and you will have issues! And remember, a tired dog is a good dog. Get out there and take your dogs on structured walks, minimum once a day, even better is twice or WOW! 3 times a day would a happy dog make! Jim Burwell, Jim Burwell’s Petiquette