How To Deal With Dog Aggression Within Your Pack

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dog aggression, dog aggression in multi-dog home, dog aggression within your pack

Interestingly, my dogs fought two days ago.

So, it is with great authority that I write this article.

I mean, I suppose I should be ashamed, or I should keep that information to myself so people don’t ever realize that even professional trainers’ dogs have issues.

But, I would rather help people handle dog aggression.

Actually, it is kind of my fault.

My dogs have never really liked each other.

They are going on five years of living together, but their lives together are very structured.

They never spend time together “alone.”

I just don’t trust them.

I see them give each other “stink eye” fairly frequently.

And, the reason that they don’t fight is because they respect me as their “owner”, “mom”, or “alpha” (although I HATE that last term).

In the past five years, they’ve only had one small altercation when my boy, Zippy, stole a cheese wrapper and my female, Fury, went to see what he had.

It happened so fast, and I had just stepped into another room.

Luckily, no damage was done, and they are pretty good about listening to me when I yell (which I don’t often do).

This time, I am pet sitting, and I fell asleep on the sofa.

Fury was cuddled next to me, sleeping, and Zippy (he is named appropriately) playfully, and accidentally, pounced us.

Fury was enraged, and she lashed out.

He, of course, fought back.

But again, it maybe only lasted 30 seconds before I was able to intervene.

Luckily it was just one tooth mark.

But, it was one too many.

And, even though the last incident was YEARS ago, I can see that their relationship has deteriorated because of it.

It was my fault.

I should have crated my boy when I felt drowsy.

When Dealing With Dog Aggression in a Multi-Dog Home, I Think it is Critical to:

1. Take the Behavior Seriously

The biggest mistake is to write off how one dog feels about another, or to rationalize it.

I don’t know why my male does not like other dogs, but he has always been that way!

It isn’t my “fault,” I did my best to give him social opportunities.

I understand that the behavior exists.

I don’t ignore it.

And, even though it has been years since there was an issue, I don’t believe that the dogs, or their feelings, have changed.

You see, not all people like one another.

I would like to think that everyone likes me… but I know that is not realistic.

It is also not realistic to expect all dogs to like one another.

I can’t force everyone to like me.

And, I can’t force my dogs to get along.

Trust me, if it was possible, I would do whatever it takes.

My two are never going to fall in love with each other, but with some control, and some rules, I can make sure that we have years without any problems.

2. Control the Dogs

I have given Zippy a lot of structure and control.

dog aggression, dog aggression in multi-dog home, dog aggression within your packThrough obedience, I give him healthy coping mechanisms, so he knows what to do when he feels uncomfortable.

He knows that aggression is not acceptable.

He is also familiar with my commands, so when there was an altercation, it didn’t last long because he is so used to listening to me.

Ironically, he has competed to very high levels in dog sports, and although I can tell when he is uncomfortable around other dogs (because he gives me extra strong focus), no one else could tell.

It is also crucial to work with the other dog in your pack.

This gives me control over both of them in an emergency.

Obedience is the most important element when you are dealing with an aggressive dog!

Rules That Help With Aggression Within Your Pack:

1. Never Let Dogs Out Alone Together

I have a strict rule in my house.

If the dogs are together, I am with them. 

Remember me mentioning “stink eye”?

How am I going to tell them to “leave it” or “knock it off” if I don’t see the first sign?

Plus, any altercation will last much longer if I am not there to stop it.

I don’t want to have to rush my dogs to the vet for stitches or let one kill the other.

My dogs go outside in shifts.

One dog outside, one dog with extra snuggle time, inside, with me!

And, try not to fall asleep when they are out together 😉

2. Sharing is Not Always Caring

Dogs that don’t get along already, often don’t share well.

I feed them separately, in their crates.

If I give them chewies or anything of value, they go in their crates.

There is no reason that two dogs who already don’t like one another would want to share their most prized possessions.

The whole reason my dogs fought is that they weren’t okay sharing ME (even though I was asleep, meaning I missed the first stink eye).

3. Train Separate, Train Together

It is critical, as we mentioned, for the dogs to have training.

Train them separate so that they have some one-on-one time with you.

This also keeps them from feeling like they are in constant competition with one another (a downside to training together).

But, also train together! It is important for them to listen to you when they are together and get used to doing so in everyday life. Be sure you are fair in your training to lessen feelings of animosity.

4. Admit When You Are Outfoxed!

Admit when you are outfoxed.

Seek the help of a boarded veterinary behaviorist if your dog’s aggression is severe!

There are occasional dogs that want to KILL each other.

These dogs cannot be safely worked or socialized together.

If you decide to keep two dogs that want to kill one another on sight, you MUST keep them totally separate!

Dogs kill one another.

It isn’t worth the risk!

Want To Learn How To Eradicate Nearly ALL Your Dog’s Aggressive Behaviors?

Enroll in our LIVE 8 week MASTER-CLASS on Emotional Re-calibration Training (ERT) specifically for Overreactive, Fearful and Aggressive dogs.

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There are 4 Comments

  1. Chris Boyette says:

    Thank you Chet. I have been beating up myself for not being able to correct my shih tzus females from being so aggressive. My two females could not even be in the same space together without the older one attaching the smaller one. I read every thing you posted and everything else out there trying to repair their attitudes. Many time I got in the middle and got bit myself. I was doing exactly what you suggested in this in one out special time with both.but the stinky eye always came at the little one and crate attaching. I had both females spaded and still no liking. Then one day I put larger one in crate and little one was left out with the boys. Somehow the larger one heard us come home and got out of her crate attaching the little one and litterly removed her eye..we saved her life but she is now one eyed. I took the larger one to the vet the next day. I miss her so much but the little one was my husbands PTSD support dog. I just wish you had said more about your dogs sooner. Sometimes you have no one else to turn to. Thank you so much for all your training secrets.


  2. Jack Pitt says:

    how do you deal with aggression issues, ie dog, people, fear, territorial, resource guarding? no usage of any “tools”? i.e. prong, ecollar? can multi dog homes not have a pack structure so as to not feed or leave them “alone”, I am curious to always learn something “new”. I have been doing aggression rehabilitation, some police dog work for 15 years and your techniques are interesting..


    Minette Reply:

    Enroll in our ERT program


  3. Jean says:

    Hello, I have read this article and the one on living with herding dogs today. We have two dogs, a 1 year old border collie cross and a 9 year old labxhound type dog. Whenever we are going to go somewhere for a walk, the border collie is constantly heading the other dog, grabbing her jowls, ears, growling, etc. The older dog is bigger and has taken him down about 3x in the year to tell him to stop, but generally puts up with it. We live in a rural area and I take them hiking off leash for exercise daily, which I see allows him to maul her as desired. They aren’t the best on leash, and I think they get way more exercise running loose, which they need. I’m at a hard spot trying to see what to do and would appreciate any ideas. This happens in the yard too as I go about chores and I’ve been working on having the border collie come to me and I hold him so the other dog can come without being mauled, but he still wants to maul her. Thanks for all you do to direct others with their dogs!!


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