Can you tell me how to stop my dogs fighting?
The question should not be “how do I stop my dogs fighting.” It should be: how do I prevent my dogs from fighting in the first place.
You probably have at least two dogs who are confused about their pecking order in the home. The result of that confusion is trouble on the horizon, more potential dog fights down the road.
Here’s my take on that.
My belief is that your dogs have no problems working out the pecking order.
It’s your influencing interactions that can complicate matters and cause fighting between your dogs.
You might need to read that again.
First let’s look at the worst possible set of dog combinations that lead to potential dog fights. The worst first:
- Mother/daughter combination of dogs
- Sister/sister combo of dogs
- Two females – same or different breeds
- Two males – same or different breeds
Ingredients That May Cause A Dog Fight
The following are things to take into consideration so that you can prevent fights altogether:
- Where your dogs are physically. Meaning, their territory.
- Available resources one or the other may choose to guard. (food, toys, you etc.)
- What is their level of arousal when they begin fighting.
- Are you present and are you a resource to guard.
- If more than two dogs, which dogs are present at the time the fight starts.
How Dog Fights Start
You try to raise all your dogs as equals.
Disagreements and fights between dogs can happen if you do not recognize the hierarchy or status of each individual dog.
A hierarchy that your dogs have worked out naturally!
They may even sleep together on the same bed without problems when you’re gone.
Here’s How Your Problems Start
Let’s say you have a mother/daughter dog combination in your home. You are petting your older, mother dog that is sitting next to you.
Your younger dog enters the room and stares at your older dog. Your older dog takes this as a threat and growls saying to the younger dog, “Stay away.”
Here’s the rub:
You immediately reinforce the younger dog’s position by correcting the older dog for growling. This immediately raises the younger dog’s confidence about her status “when you are present.”
Dogs are Like Children
If that was confusing, let’s look at this using children as the example instead of dogs.
Your youngest son enters your oldest son’s room to play with his prized toys or computer game. Your oldest son now takes exception to his brother’s liberties with his stuff.
Your older son may attempt to threaten his younger brother to leave his stuff alone. Your youngest then comes to you and complains.
Here’s the rub:
If you then storm into your older son’s room and correct him for what he did, you will increase the conflict between the brothers. Your youngest will begin to take advantage of his older brother when you are in the house.
The better approach is to correct your youngest for going into his brother’s room without permission and playing with his stuff. End of problem. No more conflict.
An Ounce of Prevention is Worth a Pound of Cure
Eliminate and avoid conflicts altogether. Reinforce your bossy dog’s status by giving it preferential treatment doing simple things like:
- Putting your bossy dog’s food bowl down first
- Giving him/her affection first (always on your terms-when/where) and asking for a sit first. VERY IMPORTANT 2 POINTS I JUST MADE.
- Put his lead on first before going for a walk.
Giving one of your dogs preferential treatment over the other may not be natural for you.
Your dogs will enjoy living comfortable and stress free rather than being in constant conflict when in your presence.
Some of you will feel guilty and conflicted when you do this. I get it.
But, remember the old saying, “Every dog has its day.”
One day, as it often happens, your older dog may relinquish his/her status to the youngest.
Together We Can Raise A Happy and Obedient Dog
You got your dog for a reason. You wanted to share your life with a happy and loving dog. But now, your dog has big problems and life is not happy.
I can help you get that happy, well behaved dog back. We’ll work together at your speed and both you and your dog will have fun every step of the way.