Dogs Who Are Aggressive with Other Dogs in the Household

This is a phone call I am always unhappy to receive because there is often nothing I can do to solve the problem. Once two dogs in the same household decide to hate and mistrust each other, it is hard to change them. These problems most often occur between two dogs of the same sex, either male or female, who have not been neutered or spayed. They can occur, however, between any two dogs. Often they are struggling over dominance. When two dogs are of equal dominance, it is hard for that struggle to be resolved. It is heartbreaking when this problem emerges when one of the dogs reaches maturity at one to two years of age, as often happens. By then, the owners are attached to both dogs. Fights can result in injuries to both dogs.

Do not attempt to figure out which dog started the fight and punish him. You will not be able to read the subtle body language that occurs in these encounters. Sometimes dog-to-dog aggression problems are solved with good management and good training. Make sure both dogs listen to basic obedience commands. Don't throw one toy for both dogs to retrieve if they are competitive. Supervise playtime to make sure play doesn't escalate into fighting. Be careful about feeding times. Make sure nobody switches to another dog's bowl. Train your dogs to wait their turn to receive treats. Make everyone sit first.

Body Language Basics

Body Language Basics

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