This post will advise on how to minimize your dogs fighting at home and suggest ways to reduce triggers that lead to fighting. This is information you don’t want to miss if you are a dog owner concerned about your pets fighting with one another!
Dog Fight Prevention:
Puppies are sensitive to situations that may lead to fighting. Let your puppy know early on that you disapprove of fighting among pack members.
When you see him getting into a fight, take him away from the source of the fight in a loving, non-confrontational manner. The more he is exposed to fighting situations, the more likely he will get into fights. If one of the dogs is new to the household, introducing them slowly helps. Using baby gates and other room dividers to separate them initially can also make the introduction smoother.
Ensure that he always has plenty of time with his family members, especially if they have other dogs or cats.
If you have multiple dogs in your home, it’s important to be aware of your dog’s body language and how other dogs in the household can interpret it. Dogs communicate both verbally and non-verbally with both humans and other dogs.
An example of verbal communication between a dog and a human is a dog barking to get the door to be opened. An example of non-verbal communication from a dog to another dog is an arched back, growl, or teeth showing that he feels threatened.
If your dogs are often fighting, it’s important to research the body language they are using towards one another so you can react accordingly and intervene when necessary to avoid the fighting.
If you are unfamiliar with dog body language, an animal behavioral modification trainer can help you analyze the body language of your dogs to help you be able to tell how they feel about certain situations or when one may become aggressive with another. YouTube has many good free videos about animal body language if you don’t want to hire a trainer.
For example, your dog may be barking at another dog, which can signify some tension between the two. Observing this behavior and understanding why it is happening can help you avoid a fight before it happens.
Sometimes even after doing all of the above, fights will still happen. When this happens, you need to break up the fight as quickly as possible.
Stopping the fighting can be done using a water gun or spray bottle filled with water or air sprayed from a can of compressed air (if available) to separate the dogs. If these methods are not available, you can use anything that will cause enough commotion to distract them long enough for you to separate the fighting dogs. Do not grab a collar and try to pull fighting dogs apart. This is how people get bit. Plus, pulling fighting dogs apart can cause greater injury.
For people who have multiple dogs, the dogs may be drawn to one another and fight for position in the family. An older dog will often put a puppy in its place. This is usually helpful to teach the puppy some manners around other dogs as puppies can be very persistent in their relentless pestering of adult dogs. For the puppy, it is playtime. When an older dog has had enough, they will usually let the puppy know without hurting it. This teaches the puppy valuable social skills.
Ways to reduce triggers that lead to fighting:
1. Ensure that both of your dogs have places to go to be away from the other dog to enjoy some quiet time and some individual attention with family members.
When introducing a new pet, if they are aggressive at first, separate them. This is when you have an area set up that is enclosed on all sides. The dogs will see each other, but they are too far away for fighting to take place. You can keep them in the same room using this method by putting up baby gates or pens.
2. If there is a person that the dogs are fighting over, that person should get up, ignore both dogs without saying a word and leave when they start to behave jealously. The dogs both want the person’s attention, so if that is taken away when the jealous behavior begins, they will learn very quickly that jealous behavior (which leads to fighting) does not reward them with the attention that they seek and the fighting over the person will stop as soon as the dogs make the connection.
3. Make sure that your dog’s environment is balanced between indoors and outdoors activities. It may help put water inside an area where they both enjoy playing and ensure that it’s large enough for both of them to get into without having a hard time getting out again.
4. Feed them separately. If they fight over food, feed them in different rooms, use a baby gate, or close the door, so that they may eat without the possibility of having to fight to keep their food. When they are done eating, pick up the bowls. Dogs that fight over food cannot have bowls of food left out or even empty bowls to fight over.
5. Walk the dogs together. Walking dogs build a bond and help redirect their energy. On a walk, you are in charge, and they both follow you. Teach them to walk nicely without pulling. Spending time training both dogs (individually if possible) will make the walks more enjoyable for all parties.
6. If they fight over certain types of toys or chews but not others, remove the toys that cause fighting or allow them to play separately with them and then put the toys up and away when not in use. Please do not leave them out.
7. Monitor their playtime. If one dog plays rougher than the other, monitor them and redirect the rough dog with a distraction to give the other dog a break before they feel the need to defend themselves. When you intervene, the calmer dog feels safer, making them less likely to defend themselves because they trust you to keep things from getting out of hand.
8. If you have dogs that tend to fight, do not leave them together alone when you leave the house. Put up gates, pens, or crate them to separate them. You do not want to come home to an injured pet. This is rare with dogs from the same household — but it does happen. The risk is higher if one dog is significantly larger or stronger than the other.
9. Separating them and allowing them to calm down is important after a fight has occurred. When dogs fight, adrenaline floods their systems and makes them more irritable, increasing even more fighting. It takes a couple of days for the adrenaline to go back to normal. Every time they are allowed to fight, the brain is reinforced, and they will be quicker to fight the next time. It’s essential not to reinforce or reward the fight response. After you separate them, completely ignore them. Don’t talk to them — which reinforces unwanted behavior with attention. It is also important to remove the trigger that is making them fight. If it’s food, feed them separately. If it’s a person, that person should walk away when they start showing jealousy. If it’s a toy or a dog bed, remove it.
Dogs are social animals and thrive on having companions in their pack of humans and/or dogs, but sometimes fights among two or more dogs in the same home can break out. Minimizing them is critical to harmony and safety in the home.
As you can see, there are a lot of different ways to deal with dogs that fight. It’s important to understand why your dog is fighting in the first place so that you can address the specific issue. Once you know why they are fighting, you can remove the things that trigger the fights and enjoy a more peaceful home.