How to Stop Two Male Dogs from Fighting

By Josie F. Turner, Journalist specialized in Animal Welfare. October 7, 2018
How to Stop Two Male Dogs from Fighting

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While any dog can exhibit aggression, male dogs have some specific concerns regarding their interaction with each other. The triggers to these conflicts may be similar in that genetic factors, trauma or inadequate socialization when a puppy can be indirect causes of fighting. Whatever the cause of these aggressive behaviors, it can lead to both physical damage to the individual dog as well as general stress and anxiety.

The problem can be very frustrating for any canine guardian. Walks may be limited to certain times of the day and you may need to avoid areas where other dogs may be present. While you should always be vigilant with your pet, these 5 effective techniques on how to stop two male dogs from fighting from AnimalWised will help you to know what to do if aggression occurs. However, if the problem is an acute one, it's important to remember that a qualified dog trainer will be best equipped to help stop the dog's fighting in general.

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1. Rule out organic causes of dog aggression

As we have discussed in the introduction, the root cause of your dog's aggression can manifest itself for various reasons. Before trying to work out if the problem is a behavioral one, we need to ensure the issue is not hormone related or caused by an underlying health concern. To do this, we need to seek advice form a trusted veterinarian as only their qualified assessment will be able to achieve the correct diagnosis. Below are the most common cuases of aggression in male dogs:

  • Genetics
  • Health problems
  • Fear and phobias
  • Protection of resources
  • Others

All of these problems can be exacerbated by puberty as this is the stage at which hormonal changes are most acute. This large number of hormone changes usually intensify sexual and territorial instincts which often affect behavioral problems. Male dogs begin to associate other males as competition for their potential female mates at this time, often leading to fighting. This is why castration is recommended for many males dogs to eliminate the aggressive behaviors, as well as reduce the desire to escape and territorial markings[1]. While castration is recommended, it is not always effect and 25% of dogs which have been castrated

Another hormonal concern is locating the type of hormone present in aggressive animals. A 2017 study found that service dogs with a calm demeanor had higher levels of the hormone oxytocin, while more aggressive dogs were found to have more vasopressin[2]. While the study is not conclusive, it does point to a possible way of combating male dog aggression via genetic testing.

How to Stop Two Male Dogs from Fighting - 1. Rule out organic causes of dog aggression

2. Preventing fights between male dogs

Better than stopping two male dogs from fighting is preventing them from attacking each other in the first place. Avoiding aggression before it escalates into a physical altercation involves recognizing canine body language. With the help of canine behaviorists such as Turid Ragaas and her book On Taking Terms with Dogs: Calming Signals[3], we can interpret many of the body postures, facial expressions and vocalizations of dogs.

Trying to separate a fight between two male dogs can be very dangerous for both us and the dogs themselves. This is why responsible dog owners should adequately inform themselves about canine body language. According to Ragaas, some of the most obvious signs are grunting, staring and bristling of the coat. It is also important to remember not to leave dogs with the potential to fight alone unsupervised.

If you are able to detect these signals, then you will be able to distract them before fighting between the dogs breaks out. By looking at canine body language and their calming signals, you can know when to act. Remember not to scold or shout at the dog. It is not only ineffective, but it could make behavioral problems worse.

3. Physical and mental stimulation

Aggression in dogs indicates their welfare is seriously compromised. This is especially the case when the aggressive behavior is directed towards other dogs in the family. Stress, anxiety or frustration are commonly present in aggressive dogs and are often related to a lack of physical exercise and/or mental stimulation. Therefore, one of the first steps is ensuring your dog has a positive routine. It can exacerbate certain feelings of jealousy in dogs which can also lead to problems with well-being.

It is essential that dogs have between two and three daily walks with at least 20 to 40 minutes of physical exercise. However, the specific physical needs of the individual dog need to be met. If you have two male dogs in the same family, walking them together at the same time will help make the situation positive and provide the feeling the dogs are part of the same group. If you are unable to walk them together, then they will still both need exercise. You may need to share duties with a trusted friend or family member, but you cannot reduce the necessary exercise either dog needs.

The importance of mental stimulation for dogs cannot be underestimated. These usually take the form of interactive toys or intelligence games. Remember that keeping a dog's mind active helps not only to improve their well-being, but also encourages learning and stimulates their curiosity.

How to Stop Two Male Dogs from Fighting - 3. Physical and mental stimulation

4. Practice basic training

Whether you want to know how to stop dogs fighting over food or any possessive behaviors, it is essential for harmonious living that dogs are able to understand basic orders. They help to keep the dogs in line for both their own good and that of the household. When it comes to canine aggression, they can be used as a control mechanism to prevent attacks and fighting. We usually start with basic commands such as sitting and lying down, but should also move on to more commands and abilities once these are mastered.

When applying these basic instructions, it is recommended to perform the training separately. Performing them together makes it very difficult to control both animals, especially if they have been fighting previously. Rather than helping to improve behavior, you will generate a negative experience and make it even more difficult to reinforce obedience.

Don't forget to use positive reinforcement when training and educating your dogs. Unlike other more abrasive techniques, this will encourage learning and lower stress and anxiety levels[4]. This is fundamental if you want to stop male dogs fighting each other.

5. Visit a canine behavior specialist

While these methods of getting your two male dogs to stop fighting are important, they may not be enough to stop the aggression. If this aggression is not quelled, it can escalate and result in serious harm. Stopping such behavior is not easy. It may require weeks or even months of careful and patient training. If the results are not evident, you will require the assistance of a canine ethologist or dog trainer who will be able to assess the individual dogs effectively. If the negative behaviors worsen over time, then having the intervention of a specialist is essential.

Not only will the behaviorist be able to assess the problems, they will be able to provide the right types of behavior modification to meet the needs of the specific dog. After this time, they will be able to look at what stressors they have in their lives and provide advice as to how to remove them. They will also be able to provide lessons and practices you can employ to reduce the possibility of the dogs fighting each other.

How to Stop Two Male Dogs from Fighting - 5. Visit a canine behavior specialist

If you want to read similar articles to How to Stop Two Male Dogs from Fighting, we recommend you visit our Behavioral problems category.


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