Dog to Dog Aggression

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dog aggression, dog to dog aggression

Dog to Dog Aggression

Dog to dog aggression is a problem that causes suffering for many dog owners, and their dogs.

There are two main concerns I have noted as big causes during my 25 year career.

Owners Who Inadvertently Cause Dog Aggression

Yes, it is true… you can actually be the CAUSE of your dog’s dog aggression.

Exposure

The first way you can cause this is a total lack of socialization and exposure while the dog was a puppy.

Puppies need socialization and exposure.

If you take your puppy home and lock him in the house for a year, chances are he will not know how to act and react when he sees another dog.

Social skills are built early.

Imagine locking up your child and not letting them out of the house until they are about 12. They have literally never seen another child.

Chances are this child would never be able to have “normal” relationships.

You see, we learn social interaction from one another, and if we don’t have it when we are young, we don’t understand it.

Dogs are the same.

You cannot teach your dog how to communicate and socialize with other dogs; this has to be learned through interaction with other dogs!

So please safely socialize your puppies.

Creating Reactivity

Owners often, inadvertently, create leash reactivity.

The problem starts when owners don’t begin by teaching their dogs “leash manners.”

For your dog to not pull on the leash, he must be given those skills and taught how to walk nicely.

But, instead, people slap a leash on their dog and take him out for a walk.

When the dog sees another dog, he begins to pull.

The owner pops the leash, corrects, yells, and gets frustrated (this is the beginning of teaching the dog to be aggressive).

The dog doesn’t understand why the owner is acting like this (he just wants to see and play with the other dog), but instead he is feeling pain, and sensing frustration and anger from his owner.

dog aggression, dog to dog aggressionThe next time a dog comes into view, the owner pulls his leash tight and he goes through the same yelling and popping routine and the frantic, fearful feeling from his owner.

The dog, being a smart mammal, associates pain, frustration, fear, and owner frustration with the sight of another dog.

But he is a problem solver, and decides if he shows an aggressive display, he can keep that scary other dog away from himself and his owner. The dog lunges, and barks, and acts defensively.

The other dog owner promptly turns and takes his dog in the other direction; effectively teaching the first dog that aggression will keep other dogs away.

In essence, the first dog has learned, with the help of his owner, that other dogs are bad and that aggression will keep them away.

This dog also feels he is in charge of the situation, and it is his responsibility to keep you both safe.

It is sad because if this dog had just been taught how to walk on a leash without pulling and with distractions, this never would have happened!

Owners that Ignore and Rationalize Aggression

Some dogs are just dog aggressive.

Interestingly, my current dog (a five-year-old Malinois) has NEVER liked other dogs.

Even at six months, he had to be separated and monitored with my animals.

Some dogs just have aggression issues, and it has nothing to do with their owners, it can be genetic.

The problem comes when these dog owners ignore it or rationalize it.

I will be honest with anyone.

My dog doesn’t “like” other dogs. In someone else’s hands, he would most likely be severely dog aggressive. However, I have the training knowledge and skill to keep his focus on me so that he can completely ignore other dogs.

But many people write aggression off.

Just last week, in the veterinary clinic where I work, there was a 30-pound dog barking, snapping, and lunging at two other dogs in the waiting area.

The owner was discussing how sweet her dog, was and how he loved other dogs.

Now, this may have some validity in normal life, but I can assure you this was not true at this moment. The dog would have gladly bitten either dog.

Don’t Ignore the Signs

Don’t ignore the signs!

dog aggression, dog to dog aggressionIf your dog is barking, lunging, and growling at other dogs, he is giving you information about how he feels about that dog at that moment.

If your dog does this often, he is telling you how he feels about most or all dogs.

Don’t ignore his information.

Don’t push him to be “social.”

He won’t trust you as an owner if you force him to do something that makes him uncomfortable.

And, you are leaving him with two options

  1. Get over it
  2. Use his teeth to get his feelings across

It really isn’t the best idea to force an animal, whose language you don’t speak, to do something that makes it very uncomfortable.

And, it is unfair!

Aim for Focus

Teach your dog to “socialize” by focusing on you!

If your dog is paying attention to you, and he knows you won’t FORCE him to socialize, you both win!

He has a coping mechanism, focus on you, and you have a dog with good behavior.

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There are 9 Comments

  1. Brandon says:

    Pepper spray ? Are you serious

    [Reply]

    Minette Reply:

    absolutely better than death and with side effects that can be dealt with fairly easily

    [Reply]

  2. Barb Kennington says:

    Yep, totally agree – great advice.
    Club instructor.

    [Reply]

  3. Sandy says:

    I have two rescued Yorkshire terriers….a mother and son. Both are really good with people but the mother is extremely aggressive toward other dogs. Because of this I have only taken them for walks twice. The first time they each had a collar and a leash and she got out of hers very quickly as soon as we saw another dog on leash and she attacked it immediately for no reason. The second time I put material harnesses on them as tight but comfortable as I could but it still didn’t stop the female from doing a backward flip to get out of the harness and attack my girlfriends dog who was on a leash and is a very calm dog. Needless to say my friend was not impressed. The local dog school will not include her in the weekly classes where there are other dogs so I would have to have her trained privately which costs a lot of money and I am a pensioner. When I purchased them from a rescue group I was told that they were both young adult dogs when they were found roaming in the countryside emaciated and were put into a pound for a period of time before the rescue group took them and they did not mention that she had aggression issues even after I told them what happened. I have often wondered whether she is being protective of her son but he reacts the same as his mother once she goes into attack mode.

    [Reply]

  4. Linden says:

    I have two English Staffordshire Terriers who are 6 and 4 years (female and male) fully intact as we were going to breed them. 5 months ago the female became aggressive towards the male and attacked, however he is more powerful and she was badly bitten. We separated them in the back yard and he jumped a 5 foot fence and again attacked her when I went into the yard to see how he had entered her area. They are both jealous of me (female) and aggression is shown if I give more attention to one or the other. They have been separated now for 5 months but this is not a happy situation for me as they are independently walked, fed and housed. I have recently chained them together in the front yard so that they cannot reach the other and only today did they show no aggressive behaviour as I averted the stare from the girl to instigate aggression by patting her and then him. Are these dogs able to be assisted by your program? (My partner handles this with hitting to both dogs and I am not comfortable with this).

    [Reply]

    Minette Reply:

    I would find a boarded veterinary behaviorist. And, I certainly would not breed either of these dogs.

    [Reply]

  5. Rose Smith says:

    My son rescued a dog when he was living in Spain, he must be 6 or 7 now. Not sure how many breeds are in him but vet thinks husky,labrador and other?
    My son is now working away and his dog lives with me. He is too strong for me to take on a walk so have to use a dog walker.
    Have to use a muzzle on him and he is always on a lead, Not sure why he is aggresive towards other dogs, could be fear? Dog walker said hair goes up on his back and he tries to lunge forward and yet tail wags. He is such a lovely boy and I love him to bits. He lives with my other dog but when he first arrived we had to keep them apart at small distance until the new dog no longer growled and lunged. It didnt take that long and soon settled. For the first few nights and when I went out I kept them apart just incase but after this everything was ok. Since this time the rescued dog accepts his new home, has never destroyed anything and is very clean inside. Can I help him or do I need an expert? Thank you x

    [Reply]

    Minette Reply:

    I would try a gentle leader. And, some dogs just have aggression issues. I see this a lot with dogs from other countries as they are often more feral

    [Reply]

  6. Dogfanatic says:

    To Linden with the English Staffordshire Terriers: Please do not breed your dogs or any dogs at all! I am a dog lover and have had a Staffordshire, 2 Pit Bulls, a Melanois, and now a Black lab/Boxer mix. Each has had it’s own issues but I never chained them or hit them!! My Melanois was an escape artist to the max. I just built up higher and under and around but never chained him. He also wasn’t social and was jealous. He was raised with my female Pit. They were the same age. I rescued them the same day. Never did they receive correction by hitting them. Im thinking the agressive behavior of hitting them is making the situation incredibly worse. There is so much going on that is wrong it breaks my heart for your dogs. You need to be a pack leader and learn how that works and then follow with kindness and pure affection of love on those dogs. Please dont let anyone hir them again!!!! Please

    [Reply]

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