How to Stop Dogs From Fighting in the Same Household?
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Introducing a new dog to a household can be a big adjustment for both the new dog and the existing dog, and it can often take some time for them to get used to each other's presence. Dogs are social animals and like any other social animal, they have the potential to engage in conflict and aggression. Dogs may fight for a variety of reasons, including territorial disputes, resource guarding, fear, frustration, or dominance struggles.
In the following AnimalWised article, we explain why two dogs living together fight and provide tips on how to prevent these conflicts and promote happy coexistence.
How to know if my dogs are playing or fighting?
Dogs have a different way of expressing themselves and interacting than we do. It can be difficult to tell if dogs are playing or fighting because many of their behaviors can look similar. In fact, sometimes caregivers are startled by sudden movements and bites and try to separate the two dogs, thinking there is a fight going on.
Dogs have a rich and complex system of body language that they use to communicate with each other and with humans. Understanding dog body language is an important part of dog communication and dog training, as it can help you better understand their needs and emotions. Dogs use a combination of body posture, facial expressions, and vocalizations to convey their feelings and intentions.
Let us examine the behaviors and postures of dogs to help you determine if they are playing or fighting:
- Playful behavior: when dogs play, they often exhibit behaviors such as play bows, loose and wiggly body language, and relaxed facial expressions. They can also alternate between being the chaser and the chased, and can playfully bite and paw each other without getting hurt.
- Aggressive Behavior: when dogs fight, they often exhibit behaviors such as a stiff posture, erect fur, and intense staring or growling. They may also bite and attack with greater force and not retreat even if the other dog shows signs of fear or submission.
- Vocalizations: when dogs are playing, they may bark or growl happily in high-pitched tones. Conversely, when dogs are fighting, they may emit a low, aggressive growl or snarl.
If you are still unsure if your dogs are playing or fighting, play it safe and separate them. Even if the behavior seems playful, it's always possible that the situation will escalate to a fight, and it's better to be safe than sorry. If you are concerned about your dogs' behavior, you should contact a professional dog trainer or behaviorist who can help you assess the situation and give you tips on how to handle them.
If you want to learn even more about dog body language to better communicate with your dog, do not miss the following article about dog body language and its calming signals.
Why do my dogs fight?
There can be several reasons why two dogs living in the same household fight. Here are some of the most common reasons:
Territorial or resource guarding
Dogs may perceive the new dog as a threat to their territory, resources, or even their relationship with you and feel the need to defend these things through aggression.
Territoriality in dogs refers to the behavior of defending a specific area, such as the house or yard, from perceived threats, including other dogs and people. It is a natural instinct of dogs to defend their territory, and this behavior can be influenced by a variety of factors, including breed, sex, age, and socialization.
There is evidence that some dog breeds have a genetic predisposition to certain behaviors, including aggression. However, it is important to know that genetics is only one of many factors that can influence a dog's behavior, and that the dog's environment, socialization, training, and individual personality can also play an important role.
Lack of proper socialization
Socialization in dogs is the process of exposing puppies and young dogs to a variety of experiences, people, and other animals to help them develop appropriate social skills and behaviors.
The socialization phase usually occurs in the first few months of a puppy's life and is critical to the dog's temperament, behavior, and ability to interact with others. If one or both dogs have not been properly socialized with other dogs, they may not know how to interact appropriately with their new housemate. This can lead to misunderstandings and conflict.
Inadequate presentation between two dogs can lead to misunderstandings and conflicts that can end in fights. When dogs meet, they rely heavily on visual and olfactory cues to understand each other. Bring your dogs together on neutral ground, such as a park, where neither dog feels territorial. This can help avoid territorial conflicts and reduce the likelihood of a fight. Also, as the dogs get to know each other, make sure the leashes are loose. Dogs can sense tension in the leash and may become fearful or aggressive. Finally, be sure to allow sniffing. Dogs rely heavily on their sense of smell to understand each other. Allow dogs to sniff each other, but keep a close eye on them to make sure the sniffing does not escalate into aggressive behavior.
An impoverished environment can contribute to dog fighting in several ways. Dogs living in impoverished environments may have to compete for resources such as food, water, and toys. This competition can lead to tension between dogs, and fights may occur. In addition, dogs that do not receive enough exercise or socialization may become frustrated and bored, which can lead to destructive behavior, including fighting.
As you have seen, socialization is a very important part of a dog's life. Read the following article to learn how to properly socialize puppies and adult dogs.
How to stop my dogs from fighting?
If your dogs are living together and fighting, it is important to address the problem as soon as possible to prevent further escalation of aggression and injury to the dogs. Here are some actions you can take if your dogs are fighting:
- Separate the dogs: if the dogs are involved in a fight, it is indispensable to separate them immediately to avoid injury. Never try to physically intervene or grab the dogs during a fight, as you could get hurt. Instead, try to distract the dogs by making loud noises or throwing a blanket over them, and then separate them once they have calmed down.
- Consult a veterinarian: before addressing behavioral issues, make sure your dogs are healthy and have no medical issues that could be contributing to the aggression. Your veterinarian can perform a thorough physical examination and advise you on any necessary medical treatments.
- Consult with a professional trainer or behaviorist: if your dogs are fighting, it's essential that you work with a professional who has experience dealing with aggression in dogs. A trainer or behaviorist can help you determine the causes of aggression and develop a plan to solve the problem.
- Take care of the dog's environment: while you are working to solve the behavioral problems, it is important to manage the dogs' environment to prevent further fighting. This may include keeping the dogs separated when you are not home or when you cannot closely supervise them.
- Provide individual attention and training: in some cases, dogs become aggressive toward each other because they are competing for resources or their owners' attention. It is critical to give each dog individual attention and training to build their confidence and reduce the feeling of competition between dogs.
- Manage their space: dogs need their own space to relax and retreat. Make sure each dog has their own bed or crate to retreat to when they need to.
- Exercise your dogs: regular exercise is essential for dogs' physical and mental well-being. Make sure your dogs get enough exercise, such as daily walks, to relieve tension and stress that can lead to fighting.
- Provide mental stimulation: mental stimulation can help keep dogs engaged and reduce boredom and frustration that can lead to fighting. Provide puzzle toys, chew toys and other employment opportunities to keep your dogs mentally engaged.
Remember that managing aggression in dogs can be a complex and ongoing process that requires time and patience to make progress. Work closely with a professional trainer or behaviorist, and do not hesitate to seek additional support or guidance as needed.
If you want to learn more about how to mentally stimulate your dog, do not miss the following article, in which we will present you some very effective mentally stimulating games for dogs.
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