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How to Stop Two Male Dogs from Fighting

 
By Josie F. Turner, Journalist specialized in Animal Welfare. Updated: June 15, 2022
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. If the problem is acute, it's important to remember that a qualified dog trainer will be best equipped to prevent male dogs fighting in the future.

You may also be interested in: How to Stop a Dog From Biting When Excited

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 causes of aggression in male dogs:

  • Genetics
  • Poor socialization
  • 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 most male dogs to eliminate the aggressive behaviors, as well as reduce the desire to escape and prevent territorial markings[1]. While castration is recommended, it is not always effect and 25% of dogs which have been castrated do not alter aggressive behaviors.

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.

If you have sexually intact mixed-sex dogs at home, we provide assistance with how to control a male dog around a female in heat.

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.

You can find out fi your dog is not adequately stimulated with these signs a dog is bored.

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 in dogs, it is essential 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 dog 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

How to separate two male dogs from fighting

The first thing we need to know when considering how to separate two dogs from fighting is that we probably should not do it. In most cases, the dogs will stop before they cause each other harm. This is because they are showing dominance and will often try to scare the other off, something which is usually quite successful.

If intervention seems necessary, the first thing you need to do is assess what is happening. Find out which one is the main aggressor by looking at their body language. If one is snarling and moving forward intensely and the other is flattening their ears and trying to back away, it is the former who is being the main aggressor. Once this is determined, you may be able to do the following:

  • Call your dog: whether your dog is the main aggressor, it may be sufficient to call them using the commands mentioned above. Do not sound panicked, but be firm and direct. If we shout something which is incomprehensible, the dog won't distinguish it in the melee.

  • Pull on their collar: do not approach the dog you do not know. They may direct their attack against you since they think you are joining the other dog against them. Approach your dog gently and grab their collar. Pull the dog back and direct them away from the fight. You will need to be very careful as your dog may direct their own aggression towards you if they are confused.

  • Break their bite: if a dog has latched on to another dog through biting, they can cause serious damage. This is especially so if the level of the dog bite is very intense. In these cases, it may be possible to release their bite using a break stick. This is a special stick that can be placed in the jaw and turned to make their mouth open. You can learn how to do this with our article on how to release a dog's bite.

Often, a dog dight breaks out because the two dogs have not been introduced properly. There are many other factors at play, but you can help make this process as smooth as possible by following our video guide on how to introduce two dogs:

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

References

1. Heidenberger, E., & Unshelm, J. (1990). Changes in the behavior of dogs after castration. Tierärztliche Praxis, 18(1), 69-75.
https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/2326799/

2. MacLean, E. L., Gesquiere, R. L., Gruen, M. E., Sherman, B. L., Martin, W. L., & Carter C. S. (2017). Endogenous Oxytocin, Vasopressin, and Aggression in Domestic Dogs. Frontiers in Psychology, 8.
https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2017.01613/full

3. Rugaas, T. (2006). On Talking Terms With Dogs. Dogwise Publishing.
https://books.google.com/books/about/On_Talking_Terms_with_Dogs.html?id=ohzjsNo9T3wC&source=kp_book_description&redir_esc=y

4. Deldalle, S., & Gaunet, F. (2014). Effects of 2 training methods on stress-related behaviors of the dog (Canis familiaris) and on the dog–owner relationship. Journal of Veterinary Behavior, 9(2), 58-65.
https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1558787814000070

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