Dog fights amongst canine housemates continue to be a serious concern to peaceable owners. Today I just returned from a lesson with two cute female pit/mix pups – both just under 12 months of age. The initial call was that they had gotten into a fight causing a trip to the vet with punctures. This was the first of a couple of serious fights. Unfortunately the owner did not see it start and is not certain who started the fight and over what they were fighting.

Last week I completed another lesson with two somewhat recently adopted, older, more mature female dogs who had not previously lived together. When the larger of the dogs attacked the smaller one, I got a call from the new owners to sort things out and help them to understand root causes and how to proceed to fix the problem.

Here’s the commonality with the two households:

  1. No structure, therefore no leadership
  2. No consistent training, therefore no commands to which to redirect
  3. No consistent walking for exercise and leadership – constructive management of energy while also reinforcing leadership
  4. Constant dog-initiated petting and doting – all unearned
  5. Both dogs in each household were females
  6. A detailed evaluation of relationships between the dogs starting the fights and their respective owners revealed more attention to the larger dog than the smaller dog who received the brunt of the fight.
  7. A recommended test done in both homes mentioned above, indicated that when the “doting owner” in both households was not at home and the dogs were allowed to be free in the homes while the other owner was present, no fighting occurred. In fact, all got along peaceably.
  8. When the doting owners returned to their respective homes, the competition and the games began again. Fights reoccurred.

So, what’s the message here? Many fights between canine housemates happen in the presence of the owner – and sometimes guarding the owner as a resource. What’s the answer? Put structure back into your relationship with your dogs – you probably both need it and can benefit immeasurably from it. If you are not sure how to go about doing this, give me a call. Keep your dogs separated until you can put a program into effect – and during the program as well.

Remember, “Opportunity Barks!”

(C) Jim Burwell 2010

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