There are two main types of dog-to-dog aggression that you will come across as a dog owner. The first is the sibling rivalry that happens between dogs who live under the same roof. The second kind is what happens when you are walking your dog on his leash and he goes crazy when another dog walks by. Both types of this dog-to-dog aggression need to be handled very carefully and safely. Safety of your dog, yourself, and the other dogs around is key.
What may be causing this aggression in your dog? There are many factors that could be contributing. Your dog may be exhibiting one or more than one of these. Aggression caused by:
- Sexual Tension
- Taught Behavior
- Dominance Issues
- Poor Socialization
- Abusive Past
- Hunting Instincts (usually falls with dominance aggression)
I always like to recommend a trip to your dog’s vet if you are seeing a pattern of aggressive behavior. You want to rule out, or treat, a possible medical condition. If the vet gives your dog a clean bill of health, then consult (or locate) your dog trainer. A professional dog trainer can be a wealth of information on dog-to-dog aggression. Try to find a trainer that specializes in behavior.
*** If you are reading this information hoping to prevent dog-to-dog aggression the best place to start is socializing your puppy. Also, make sure that you are not giving your dog a pat on the head or a treat to stop their aggressive behavior. Make sure to take your puppy through all of the obedience lessons, as well as the behavioral lessons such as bite prevention. ***
How To Control On Leash Dog Aggression
You are out for a walk with your dog, and he spots another dog across the street. You instantly feel the leash practically rip out of your hand as your dog tries to dart across the street. This is a very dangerous situation for all that are involved. The dogs and the owners are at risk. While you are training your dog to control his aggression you may want to use a muzzle on his walks. If your dog did get loose, this would be safer for all involved. I would like to share with you some tips to help stop this situation from occurring.
Try and remain calm when you see another dog approaching. You do not want to send the signal to your dog that something is about to happen. As soon as you see your dog begin to display aggressive behavior, use one of your obedience commands such as “Heel” or “Stay.” You are offering your dog the chance to perform an alternate action in this instance.
Another very useful command is the “Look” command. I have not had the opportunity to go over this command wit you yet, so let me show you how to teach your dog to “look.”
- Begin training your dog the look command at your home, free of distractions.
- As with many of our training lessons, you will want to be armed with doggie treats.
- Put your dog on his leash, even though you are doing this exercise inside your home.
- Say “Buster (insert your dog’s name for Buster) Look!”
- When he looks up at you, and you make eye contact, praise him and give him the treat.
- After he masters this first action, you will want to add in other distractions and variables. Say “Buster Look” while you are standing behind your dog. Then try moving side to said and see if he will keep eye contact every time you say “Buster Look.”
Note: The key to the “Look” command is the meaning for your dog is to look into your eyes. It does not mean look at that rainbow over there as you point in that direction. Look = eye contact with you to your dog.
- The final test will be using the “look” command when another dog is around. If you are able to divert your dog’s attention away from that dog and at you, the importance of other dogs will soon diminish in your dogs mind.
If your dog gets to the point where he can have a friendly encounter with another dog, make sure to praise him and let him know that this makes you very happy.
How to Control Aggressive Sibling Rivalry
Dogs who are physically aggressive to one another, and live under the same roof, is a deadly combination. Serious intervention needs to occur in these situations. I recommend brining in an expert. If therapy and training doesn’t help, you might need to consider giving one of the dogs away to a good home.
Remember, if you are dealing with puppy biting and playing, this is not true downright aggression, but if your dogs are actually hurting one another, you need to stop it right away. I don’t see this occur very often, but it has happened on occasion.
More often than not, you will be dealing with some plain old fighting. You may be wondering why your dogs are fighting with one another. Chances are best that they are fighting over the alpha dog (or leader) spot in the family. Some other reasons can include competing for your attention, poor socialization skills, and breed type.
Once you have found what is triggering your dogs to fight, you need to work to rectify the situation when needed. I say when needed because sometimes dog siblings need to work it our amongst themselves. If no one is getting hurt, see if they can fix the problem without your interference.
If they have managed to select he alpha dog amongst them, allow that dog to stay the leader of the dogs, but not of you. You can feed the alpha dog first, walk him first, and give him a slightly more important spot in the family, if you feel that this is what the other dogs feel comfortable with.
If they continue fighting over the same thing and can’t resolve the issue, then it is time for you to step in. If you can, remove the object being fought over. If your dogs always fight over the same spot on the couch, you sit there. If your dogs fight over the same chew toy, take it away from both of them. You need to become the leader of the household, so they look to you and not each other.
In time the fighting should lessen. Just make sure that you never reward the fighting by giving your dogs a treat to break up the fight. This is one of the worst things that you can do.
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