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Why Is My Dog Aggressive Towards Other Dogs?

 
By Ricardo Luis Bruno, Veterinarian and ethologist. January 6, 2021
Why Is My Dog Aggressive Towards Other Dogs?

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As Konrad Lorenz, an Austrian zoologist and ethologist, once said, aggression in itself is just one more drive that an individual presents and that helps him survive. However, when a dog is aggressive with another dog this creates a poor quality of life and stress for the dog. Consequently, it is considered a behavioural issue.

In this AnimalWised article we're going to explain the causes and solutions for a dog being aggressive towards other dogs. Keep reading to learn why your dog is behaving like this and what you can do to help!

You may also be interested in: Why is My Dog Suddenly Aggressive Towards Me?

Why is my dog aggressive towards other dogs?

Canine aggression directed towards other dogs is a very common behavioural issue. The most common reasons for this behaviour are:

  • Genetics: this plays a very important role since the concept of aggression towards dogs outside of their social group is innate in dogs.
  • Lack of socialization: poor socialization also plays a big role in this behavioural issue. It's important to properly socialize your dog from a young age in order for them to have a balanced temperament as adults. If they are not able to meet different dogs, people and go to different places as puppies, they may react aggressively as adults.
  • Breed: it's also important to know that some dog breeds tend to be more aggressive than others, that's why those breeds will need more training and proper socialization from a young age. Some examples of these breeds are Rottweilers, Pit Bulls, Yorkshire Terriers or Chihuahuas. It's also important to note that their aggression will vary, not all aggression is the same.
  • Education: although some dog breeds are more dominant or aggressive by nature, the real problem lies in the education that the dog has received. Any dog breed, whether pure or a mix, can exhibit aggressive behaviour. It is through training with positive reinforcement and proper socialization that we can educate our dog to have a balanced temperament.

Once you see your dog exhibiting this behaviour, it's very important for it to be diagnosed and treated seriously. This way your dog will be able to have a more balanced temperament and a better quality of life as they will not feel threatened or stressed in these situations. Continue reading to learn how to help your dog stop being aggressive towards other dogs.

If your dog is being aggressive towards you, we encourage you to read out article about why your dog is suddenly aggressive towards you.

Why Is My Dog Aggressive Towards Other Dogs? - Why is my dog aggressive towards other dogs?

Why is my dog attacking my other dog?

Is your dog being aggressive and attacking your other dog? If so, this behavioural issue is different to the one mentioned above. Dogs that are aggressive towards another dog in their own group do this for different reasons. The main reasons in this case are the following:

  • They aren't neutered: male dogs that are not neutered are more likely to become aggressive and try to assert their dominance over other members of their pack. Although this is more common in male dogs, it can also be seen in female dogs that haven't been spayed.
  • There are limited resources: if we're caring for two or more dogs, it's very important that each of them has their own food and water bowl, bed, toys, etc. If they do not have their own resources and space of rest, they may feel stressed over the limited resources and become aggressive towards other dogs in the household.

What to do if my dog gets aggressive with other dogs?

Now that we have gone through the main reasons why dogs become aggressive towards other dogs, it's time to go through how we can help them as their caregivers. In any of these cases, we will need to help our dog change their aggressive behaviour. This will require a lot of time and patience in order for them to develop this new habit.

Aggression in puppies

If your puppy has started to display aggression towards other dogs at such an early age, we are in luck as it is easier to correct this behavioural issue now, rather than at an older age. To correct this behaviour you will first need to start training your puppy basic commands, such as “sit”, “stay”, etc. This will help them become more self-conscious and listen to you in risky situations.

Next, you most focus on proper socialization. This process is essential to the education of any dog and it implies taking your dog to new places and allowing them to interact with other dogs, other pets and humans. When a dog is a puppy, they are learning plenty of social skills they will later apply in the future. This is why we need to encourage them to have positive interactions from a young age, so they feel safe and happy in different situations.

Lastly, we encourage you to use positive reinforcement as this is the most effective way to train or re-train a dog. By giving your dog a treat, saying encouraging words in a soft tone or even petting them when they behave, your dog will associate their behaviour with something positive. This encourages them to repeat this behaviour. Therefore, when your dog behaves when interacting with another dog, give them a little treat and let them know they've done well.

Aggression in adult dogs

When it comes to re-training adult dogs to have a balanced temperament and stop being aggressive, we can use the methods mentioned above, basic training, proper socialization and positive reinforcement. With adult dogs we will need extra patience as they may take more time to change their behaviour, nevertheless it is more than possible.

As it can be more tricky to train adult dogs to stop their aggressive behaviour, we recommend you consult a canine ethologist that will be able to work with you to re-train your dog and help them stop their aggression.

Why Is My Dog Aggressive Towards Other Dogs? - What to do if my dog gets aggressive with other dogs?

If you want to read similar articles to Why Is My Dog Aggressive Towards Other Dogs?, we recommend you visit our Behavioral problems category.

Bibliography
  • Konrad Lorenz. (1985). Considerations on animal and human behavior. Ed. Planeta-Agostini.
  • Konrad Lorenz. (1976). Behavioral biology. Instinctive roots of aggression, fear and freedom . Ed. Siglo XXI editors.
  • Konrad Lorenz. (1972). On the aggression: The alleged evil. Ed. Siglo XXI editors.
  • Ricardo Bruno. (2007). Animal Welfare, Zoonoses and Canine and Feline Behavior . Study of the TACA course (Animal Assisted Therapy) carried out at the Faculty of Veterinary Sciences of the University of Buenos Aires.

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