Dog on Dog Aggression
Dog on dog aggression, especially in the same household, is dangerous for dogs and traumatizing for owners.
Why does it happen?
- Sometimes a younger, stronger dog will challenge the older dog because she is not reacting the way the younger dog is used to
- A change in the household or routine can cause dogs to interact with each other differently
- Dogs of the same sex are more likely to fight than dogs of the opposite sex
- Anxiety in one or both dogs
- Resources; food, dog toys, you
By nature all dogs will guard their territories, offspring and themselves. Strangely enough, dogs will also use the threat of aggression to keep the peace.
General dog aggression is fairly common and can occur because of territory, under-socialization, fear and/or pain. If you see aggression in your dogs for any reason, a trip to the vet is necessary to rule out any underlying medical issues.
Dog on dog aggression is not as common and should be handled immediately.
I don’t know how many of you have gone through this, but I have, and it was a couple years after bringing my 2nd dog home. They loved each other right up until they didn’t.
Tips to Avoid Dog on Dog Aggression
If you have multiple dogs you should always know where the toys are in relation to each dog. Even if everything has been fine so far, there can always come a day when it’s not, and that’s exactly what happened with mine.
We rescued Brooke when she was 5 years old and Riley was just 1. Even though Brooke was new, she became the dominant dog almost immediately. For a few years, Riley submitted in all ways possible. Then came the day when a Kong dog bone, and an owner who was not paying attention, collided. This is very common and explains why we need to pay attention to our dogs, and their toys, at all times.
- Don’t leave your dogs unattended with their toys, unless they are crated
- Always make sure you know where toys are. If there’s a bone in the yard that you were not aware of, it is guaranteed one of your dogs will find it, and that can equal trouble.
- Don’t give a toy to one dog and not the other. You can if they’re crated but that’s just mean. 😉
What happens when the dominant dog is getting older and the younger dog is taking over?
Most aging dogs can change interaction with other dogs without human intervention. If your senior dog has decided she is not up to playing like she used to, the younger dog should respect this. If you see that your younger dog is acting too rough with your older dog and injuries are occurring, professional help is needed.
- If your younger dog is causing fights or injuries to your older dog, get help immediately; keep your dogs separate until then
- Recognize when your older dog may need a break; your younger dog may not have realized this yet
- Don’t buy into the Alpha Dog theory that states senior dogs should always have first access to things like food, treats and attention. You do not need to keep the younger dog in place as your senior dog’s desire for these things may decrease on their own
- Let these changes happen naturally if they are not harmful to either dog
Your behavior has a direct effect on your dog’s behavior.
While we love to lavish praise and affection, there is an appropriate time and place for it.
Coming home and rolling around on the floor with your dogs sounds fun however this heightened state can shift into aggressive dog behavior quickly. This happens with ALL breeds.
Don’t ever mistakenly assume your dogs won’t fight.
- Do not pet or praise your dogs when they are together in a common area
- Wait for dogs to calm down before acknowledging either of them
- Give attention to both dogs separately
- When exercising your dogs on a leash, try to have someone with you so you can walk both dogs at the same time. If you are comfortable walking them together, feel free, however I don’t so I will not advise this.
You are responsible for your dog’s actions as well as your own. Be a good pet parent, role model, and stay proactive.
Remember, it’s always better to avoid a fight rather than break one up.
Check out my article about crate training your dog to learn a few good methods.