How could dog fighting between two brothers start in the home in the first place? Aggression amongst two canine housemates is one of the most difficult to fix and it can create unbelievable stress. If the fights weren’t stressful enough, try breaking up a bad dog fight before they kill each other and without you getting injured in the process!

Why did they fight?


Why Dogs Fight

What starts dog fighting between two dogs in the first place, especially if they have been together as siblings for 6-7 years? In the case of these two male terrier mixes, Buck and Roy it was a combination of situations:

  • No real structure in the home for Buck and Roy. They pretty much did what they wanted.
  • At 20 pounds each there seemed no need for dog obedience training
  • Very few rules and fewer expectations about personal space boundaries. They were pretty much on the couch and in a lap most of the time. What also went unnoticed was Buck would wedge in-between Roy and the Mom hogging all the love for him. At the time it seemed cute by their owner.
  • The death of the original older dog.
  • A move to a new city and home.
  • And finally, the catalyst, a third male dog that was intact and wandered onto their property and got adopted into the pack.

When I asked why there was no structure and no rules like sit to earn their food and to earn many other things, I got the idea that the lack of structure was because, like many owners, they got dogs for companions to satisfy their owner personal needs through companionship. They forgot what their dog needs and how their dog is interpreting each and every thing they get away with.

My client said, “When we added the third dog to our pack, chaos reigned.” While the dog fighting didn’t happen right away it was chaotic with three male dogs, two of which were very bossy types.


The fighting didn’t happen over night.

With the third dog, there was a honeymoon period that lasted about 4-6 weeks before the dog fighting erupted. And then surprisingly, it wasn’t with the new dog. It was Buck challenging Roy.

It’s amazing how the situations listed above begins to set the stage for an up and coming dog fight in this unstable pack with very little leadership. Even a move, getting a roommate and more can all add fuel creating issues with these two dogs. In fact, dogs can fight over ranking (pack status), your love and affection, and much more.

When things are, from the dog’s perspective, in disarray, the slightest thing, like a stare across the room can ignite a dog fight. Just like in an old John Wayne movie where there’s always a saloon brawl and a deliberate invitation by one to call out the other. Chairs and fists fly, mirrors are broken and before you know it everyone is involved!

If the potential for a dog fight is brewing and things begin to get “saloon tense,” learn what stresses your dogs out and what their challenges look like (being very still with a frozen stare for example.) Catch the dog fight before it erupts and put a stop to it. Crate one dog temporarily for a cool down period. Then begin to manage your dogs to prevent any fighting at all. Do not set them up to fail.

In any event, make sure you are prepared to handle a dog fight. You should have a baby gate, a strong wooden stick to pry their mouths open in the case of a bite and hold and a crate or crates to separate the dogs and keep them safe.

Seek the professional help of a dog trainer or behaviorist that has experience in this kind of aggression. If you catch it sooner than later you can prevent the dog fight. Prevention is always the best cure.

I’m always curious about your input – it’s important to me. Do you deal with this scary situation in your house?


“Together, We Can Raise a Happy and Obedient Dog”


Jim Burwell, Houston’s most trusted dog trainer for 25+ years, serving 8700+ clients, has a profound understanding of dog behavior and the many things, we as humans, do that influence that behavior – good or bad. Jim has the ability to not only steer dogs and puppies down the right path but to also train the owners to understand their part in having a great dog.

His Ground Rules for Great Dogs is your must have easy, step-by-step process to helping your dog. Your dog must and wants to understand what you expect of him. But you have to empower him to be able to give you the behavior you want and you must empower him to be successful at living in a human home. Ground Rules gets you there. Grab them now.