Myth: Let Them Fight It Out

Thanks to Jeff Miller and ecointrest for the photo

Just typing that sentence makes my blood run cold.

I have seen both the behavioral side of this urban legend and I have witnessed the trauma and terror from a veterinary technician’s point of view.

Some dogs are able to fairly quickly establish a hierarchy of who is in charge and who is to be the submissive in a stressed or “imposed” family structure.

People have one dog and add another and most of the time the dogs figure out where they fit in.  Normally the first or the oldest dog is the “alpha” and the “beta” is the new dog.

Adjustment maybe fairly quick or may take a few weeks dependent on the dogs in question.

But sometimes, some dogs will never get along.

When you put two very dominant dogs together they may not be able to come to an adequate agreement in their own minds.

This can be made worse by owners who don’t know or understand the dogs.

But I shudder when I hear people give the advice; “Just turn them loose and let them fight it out”.

Whereas this might have worked for some people in the past, I think it is barbaric.

We have come a long way from hanging dogs in the name of “dog training” and “letting them fight it out”.

Dogs can, will, and do kill each other.

I have also seen eyeballs ruptured and torn out and jaws and faces broken.

And, if you are lucky enough that both dogs survive you can have thousands of dollars of vet bills and two completely traumatized dogs to deal with for a lifetime.

Let me tell you that a dog that loses an eyeball in a fight with another dog will never be the same around other dogs!

What most people don’t realize is that “in the world of dog training and breeding” many of us have dogs in the same household, that never really see one another; much less get along.

puppy training, two dogs fighting

Small Dogs Fight Too. Thanks for the photo

They take shifts inside versus outside and never socialize together alone.

I had never been put into this situation until recently.  I was lucky that all of my dogs got along.

But several months ago, I got a very dominant and possessive 6 week old puppy, and although he is learning to accept my role as “Mom” and let me touch his things (he still doesn’t like it and I still get threatened occasionally) he will undoubtedly NEVER be able to be alone with my other two dogs.

I am afraid, as a dominant puppy, he would threaten them (thinking he is big and tough) and they would kill him (them being a “pack”).

If I were to allow him to be alone with one of them at a time, I am afraid we would have a very serious dog fight.

They do interact together in the home with me in the room, but as “Mom” I am in control!!   I have made a point to be in control throughout their lives together.

I can easily control my older two dogs with my voice because of the extensive training they have received, so I can tell them to “Leave It” when it comes to the puppy.

And, the puppy is also in the midst of constant training with me, so that I can control his naughty behavior when it comes to the older dogs.

Don’t make a mistake; it is the puppy who is the aggressor!  Just because they grow up together doesn’t mean all dogs will get along either!  There are no guarantees with dogs!

So because of that; we as owners have to give ourselves the best tools possible to combat and control negative behavior, and that comes with consistent obedience training.

Not yelling at your dogs when they get in trouble, or using intermittent compulsion, but actually teaching them how to behave and what to do.

Obedience training is never really finished (think your dog is well trained?), it is always a work in progress and there is always more things you can teach your dog and different things to do together.

puppy training, two dogs fighting

Have Dogs Lay Down on Beds, Use Tie Downs if Needed and Never Leave Unattended!

To Keep the Peace

my dogs have beds that I can direct them to and from there they do down stays.

If you make a mistake behaviorally at my house, you often get to do a long down stay.  This helps me maintain my spot at the top as “Mom” and it squashes conflict from dog to dog.

So If You Want to Add a New Dog?

Start by keeping the new dog on a leash or a tie down (if you are with him) in the house.

This helps to keep the existing dog from feeling like he has lost everything.  He learns that the new dog has boundaries and he can avoid him if he wants.  When he is ready he can venture into the new dog’s space.

This also helps you to establish behavioral and training boundaries with the new dog and teaches him to listen to you.

Make sure that you are working on obedience training with both dogs, separately.

Spend time training your older or existing dog, this is fun time for both of you, but also teaches your dog to listen to you in case of emergency.

It is also fun for your new dog to get out and get training and also teaches him to listen to you.

puppy training, two dogs fightingIf There is CRAZY Conflict

You know the kind of conflict where both dogs are growling, barking, hackling and trying to fight one another (I once had this when I brought a “rescue” female home with my female.  The two females wanted to kill each other and I decided it was not worth the risk of keeping the new dog.)… it may not work out keeping them in the same room together.

Then you have to decide:  can you live a life where they never interact independently; or does this dog need to find another home?

Keeping dogs separate isn’t easy!!!  But it is possible, and with time and training behaviors and tolerance to each other can improve!


Start Calming Down Your Over Excited Dogs Today!

Your First Lesson’s FREE:

Sign up below and we’ll email you your first “Training For Calm” lesson to your inbox in the next 5 minutes.


  1. Patricia Sears says:

    Good allround advice.


  2. joan hope says:

    Yes I have had this situation but controlled it within weeks mostly by Huge Dissaproval and giving treats when I was obeyed, also giving treats to the owners of other dogs whom mine threatened. If mine took notice and calmed down they would give him a treat, This worked and eventually the dogs became tolerant friends, hanging out together and in one anothers houses.I also took in a starving stray German Shepherd who was leaping up trying to catch birds as prey one long snowbound winter. My small dog accepted her but he was definitely the Alpha. I had to keep her on a leash as she saw my cats as prey, however feeding them first and warning her No! if she made a lunge at them worked as within 4 months she would lay there whilst the cat washed her ears. I have been lucky but it DOES take work.


  3. NOREEN says:

    Thank god there are other people out there that hate the saying LET THEM FIGHT IT OUT I truely will never allow that to happen in my presence………..and I get very angry at all the GEEKS that sit around and are simply to lazy to make an effort to stop any of these confortations from happening……………………all it takes is common sense most of the time and all situations are avoidable if dog owners use their brains……..I am every day on the watch for any danger that could be just around the corner when walking my little Shadow…………she is such a loving submissive little one who adores the world and I would not want anything so stupid change her MINDSET……………………………..THANK YOU FOR BEING CARING TO OUR FURY FRIENDS AND SPREADING THE WORD


  4. Christina says:

    Your story bought back memories, I have always been lucky to have compatable dogs, and often had other dogs over to run with them, no growls or threats from anyone, so when Dude my male Dobe died, and i was offered his half sister Dakota as company for Nina his mate, I agreed as she was often part of our pack, they ate together and slept together, I have always been the boss and my word is law, even my cat sits when told, so when i heard growling and angry sounds outside while i was having a shower, I didn’t hesitate, expecting to see a strange dog on my property I was unprepared to see, Dakota tearing into Ninas neck, and blood as already coming from a rip in Ninas chest, I shouted for Dakota to drop, and Nina to run to the house, Dakota couldn’t hear through her blind rage,but Nina obeyed and was dragging Dakota as she tried to obey me, I went to grab Dakotas neck, and her head came up and she grabbed my forearm, i pulled my arm back, and she went bavk to Nina who had collapsed, I managed to grab Dakota, and with the other hand pulled Nina up,and told her again to run inside,I managed to hang onto Dakotas neck till Nina was inside, then I realized that I was loosing my grip on Dakota, had no idea if Nina had found a safe place, and i was stark naked and bleeding,with an angry dog, somehow I beat Dakota into the house, found Nina, grapped a chair and fended Dakota off as I shut Nina in the hallway,then pnoned Dakotas owner and said I need to go to the hospital could someone drive me, I was lucky I had a finger reatached and the wounds on my arm tended to, I felt so guilty that i had put my girl into harms way, she had horrible injuries,but was more concerned about me when I got home and cleaned her up, she seemed to perk up during the following week, even had a fun time playingg will her ball, we came inside, she stood infront of her cage, screamed and dropped dead, I now have a rescue puppy, Skye, people have asked when i am getting her a playmate, but I dont know if I can feel comfortable adding to our pack yet,how can I get over this fear, or should i just take a chance and let Skye pick her friend?


    Minette Reply:

    Take it slow… try play groups first if she likes to play.

    It seems I am always adding a new face to my pack.

    But, it isn’t always the best thing for either of us.

    Several years ago I had two dogs that were the greatest, we had a great pack but my husband wanted another. It totally ruined the easy going attitude of the household. Once he got that puppy there was fighting and discord all the time.

    And now, I have a two dog pack and a puppy that can’t get along with anyone… There are days I wish I only had the two. (not that I don’t love the little booger but he is a lot of work)

    So, be very sure before you decide you want to add another dog.

    Obviously not all dogs get along even if you get a puppy.

    Sometimes if you are happy with the status quo that is good enough.

    If you just want her to play and she likes other dogs try a play group.

    Adding a new dog is a lot of commitment, you will know when you are ready.


    Mia Berggren Reply:

    I am dealing with this situation now. I had three dogs and my partner one. They all got along very well and we never had any problems. One of my dogs died and I bought a new puppy to integrate into the pack to fill the “void” of the dog I lost. My mistake; puppy is a rescue dog with a lot of staffordshire terrier. He got along well with the two older dogs, but took and instant dislike to my little bichon x border terrier. The situation was manageable while puppy was very small, but now, at 7 months old he is a 25 kg dog compared to my bichon’s 5 kg.
    They have had several fighting incidents and just the other day, puppy pounced on bichon, unprovoked, and started shaking him around like a ragdoll. It’s a miracle he came away without neck or back broken. There is no doubt in my mind that he was going to kill for no apparent reason. There was no eyeballing, growling or any “warning” given. Bichon came away with a puncture wound very close to an eye, and a couple of deep rips on his hind leg. I now realize that I can never trust these dogs together and I will have to monitor puppy’s interaction with the older dogs as well as he is growing and coming to maturity. Certain breeds are bred for fighting and it can not be trained out of them. These dogs must be monitored and be kept apart from other more vulnerable dogs. “Fighting it out” does not work in these instances. I got bitten separating them, but I had no choice as puppy would not have stopped until the other dog was dead. That is my firm belief. My advice; do your homework before adding another dog to your pack. Terriers can be especially difficult.


    Minette Reply:

    I have three dogs (none terriers) and 2 of them are buddies and the third is an outcast AND the aggressor… They will NEVER be able to be alone and it is so difficult a lifestyle.

    I am a professional and I hate it, every moment I have to monitor, crate, worry, etc. Plus I can trust NO ONE to watch them even for a few moments.

    I am committed and I believe in commitment but I worry your little dog will be killed. I would recommend looking into rehoming the puppy into a home with no other dogs or with a rescue that deals with this breed and their specific needs. Plus make sure he is neutered.

    It is hard to rehome an animal but sometimes it is necessary.

    Susan Reply:

    After going through that kind of trauma, I would say stick with one dog. There are plenty of opportunities to socialize your dog safely withour having to get another dog.
    I have had dogs all my life. My last two have been border collies, a breed that needs active socialization. My first one was shy around other dogs, but never aggresive. One day, he got out and three Rottwielers attacked him. He miraculously made it though with no permanent injuries, other than his behavior around other large dogs. Understandably, he didn’t want anything to do with most of them, and avoided them at all costs. When he got older, we specifically did not get a puppy, because it would not have been fair to him.
    We got a puppy sooner than we expected, but have given him multiple opportunities for safe socilization, which he absolutely loves! He even greets the dogs and cats at the Vets office. The staff stop what their doing to greet him also, and commented that he was the most social border collie they have ever seen.


  5. Lynn says:

    I would be interested in knowing what you recommend when confronted by an aggressive dog while out. A neighbor of mine was walking her leashed 2 year old Labradoodle in our neighborhood, when they were attacked by a neighbor dog. Her immediate reaction was to pick up her dog, but she herself was bitten in the leg. I have two Bichon puppies and I walk them morning and night – by myself. Your article and my neighbor’s recent experience has presented real concern for the safety of my puppies, as well as myself.


    Minette Reply:

    I carry mace or a dog “deterrent” they carry specifically at pet supply stores, just in case.

    I always figured if I couldn’t stop the dog before it got to me or my dog; I would rather spray them both than have my dog or I injured or killed.


  6. Sandy O says:

    Great and informative article as always. I hope this comment is not to long…
    I have had 2 males and a female for 8 years…One male and female Chihuahua that I have had 10 years.We inherited a male Daschund (doxie) 2 years later when he was less than a year old. The doxie knew right away that he was the omega. All three know I am the “mommy” (alpha).
    In the 8 years there have been 2 incidences where the doxie stepped out of his “place” and attached the Chihuahua. Both times occurred when the Chihuahua tried to go through a doorway when the doxie was standing directly on the other side. It was not pretty! With the doxie having such a strong jaw and strength I knew he would win the fight, leaving the Chihuahua severely hurt if not dead.
    I did not let them battle it out! The first time I got the doxie to let go while he had a hold of the Chihuahua by the throat beginning to shake him around. Thankfully the Chihuahua only had a couple of shallow scratches where the doxie had him.
    The second time the doxie would not stop and the Chihuahua ran into a corner. I actually had to lift the doxie by the tail and hold him up (not easy with me being short and his body so long) The doxie continued to lunge and fight in the air viciously for a good minute or more. I was so sad and afraid I had broken his tail or something. But it was the only way I could think of at the moment to prevent the most vicious attack I have ever seen and keep myself out of the doxies reach .
    This has not happened for 4 years now, but I never leave them alone in the same room if I can help it. When I am in the bathroom, one stand by the door until I get out, the other doesn’t, staying out of each other’s way. The Chihuahua will no longer go through a doorway the doxie is standing in unless I am right there. The doxie will not enter a room where the Chihuahua is growling at him (he only does this when he is protecting a “nummy” he has not finished yet.)
    If/when growling occurs, I stop it right away and they walk away from one another. They are crated when I leave the house. I generally go outside with them when they are both outside. I don’t really find this difficult since they seem to follow me around everywhere anyway.
    Thank you for educating others as well as letting me know I am doing the best thing I can.


  7. KAREN says:

    THANK YOU,,,I always learn so much.
    I so appreciate your advise.


    Robert Reply:

    Thank you, glad to see I’m not the only one who thought “let them work it out” was OK. I’m really learning from all this.


  8. cynthia says:

    My older dogs aged 10 and 5 years, still occasionally fight and we shout at the top of our voices and pull them apart somehow, and find wounds on both. 5 year one is very hot tempered, and he is the one who starts the fight. I wonder if there is any permanent solution ? Thanks


    Jenina Reply:


    I am a Professional Dog trainer and had a GSD and a Border Collie not get along at times. Both males but the GSD was intact. I would keep an eye on them as they would play tug with a ball or feth with me and my female lab. Most of the time they got along but I would make sure that as soon as one of them would start showing some aggression towards the other I would immediately correct him. They’re play time with me would be over and then they would be separated until whatever set them off cooled down.
    When they did get in a fight they would stop immediately when I would yell at them to quit.
    My suggestion would be strict obedience training, meaning daily training. Get them to listen to you and doing down stays when they are a distance from you. Kinda hard to explain but as an example when I send out my lab to fetch when she is half way out or coming back I can tell her to down and she’ll drop right there until I release her with a command to continue.
    Chet has some great information on this site as I’m always looking for different ways to train. Not all dogs train the same, be flexible see what works for you and your dogs.


  9. cynthia says:

    My two older dogs aged 5 and 10 years still occasionally fight. We have to yell at the top of our voices and pull them apart but both the dogs get wounded . The 5 year old one is very hot tempered and growls very often at the other. Is there any permanent solution for this please?


    Linda Germana Reply:

    I hope someone answers your question Cynthia. I have a 10 yr old boxer & 2 yr old mixed breed terrier. The 2 yr old is a herder & bites the heels of boxer when trying to get her outside. I live with my sis & her 9 yr old rat terrier & often they seem to fight but so far it’s all growls & teeth showing. Afterwards they lick each other and make up. The fights are almost always about who gets my attention but sometimes over a toy. The boxer who is 5 times their sizes is the most layed back even when “attacked”. Thankful for that because of course she could do some damage.


    broster Reply:

    good addvice


    Ursula Reply:

    When does one know if it is play or fighting? I had to take over 2 Rottweilers within the family, a father, Grissly and daughter, Schatzi. They are good trained dogs most of the time. I have noticed lately, actually since the daughter had surgery, that every time we go for our walk around our property that Schatzi is attacking Grizzly from behind and she bites his hind legs. They are however, not bleeding or anything. What is happening? She does stop after several commands from me to stop. Also, when one does training, what type and amount of treats should one give? I was told that more than one of the Milky bones are not good for them?

    Minette Reply:

    If your not comfortable with it, don’t let them do it!!

    I use tiny pieces of string cheese as treats.

    Minette Reply:

    Did you read the article?

    Sometimes you have to separate them.

    The aggressor needs to be kept on a leash and taught that this is not acceptable, this also keeps the 10 year old who deserves to be safe; safe.

    Start obedience training with both, every day!

    It doesn’t matter if they use to go to class or they once knew obedience. With aggressive dogs who aren’t listening you need to work on it daily.

    Put them on a leash and take them outside separately and work on having them do skills and listen to you.

    And, incorporate exercise… make the 5 year old so tired that he is too tired to notice or get aggressive.


  10. Kathy says:

    Does anyone know of any way to get a dog to stop chasing cats? We picked up an injured dog on the highway 8 months ago. No one has claimed him and I haven’t been able to find a home for him. My two dogs have accepted him, but he won’t stop chasing my cats! As soon as he sees one, his ears stand up, he stares and he’s off….. He’s caught one of them a couple of times, and oddly enough he didn’t hurt him, but the cats are all completely traumatized. I am constantly shuffling cats in/dogs out or dogs in/cats out. It’s making me crazy! This dog is huge (100 lbs) and probably 1-2 years old. I’m sure he was an outside dog, used to chasing little animals. Do you think there’s any hope he will ever stop chasing my cats???


    Minette Reply:

    Read this


    sabrina Reply:

    I carry a pink spray bottle of water with a good squirt flow, I have a c clip that it attaches to my belt and I have used it on barking dogs along fences and they shut up and my dogs calm down after a few squirts to their behinds.


    Minette Reply:

    I would be very cautious spraying people’s animals on their own property. We live in a very dangerous and litigious world.

    I have no problem defending myself and my dog, but I certainly wouldn’t be spraying dogs along fences.

    Nor would I spray my own dog. I prefer eye contact and focus and teaching them to be quiet on command.

    I am in control of my dog’s responses!


    sabrina Reply:

    First of all.. I do not go along spraying random barking dogs, only the ones who are aggressively digging to get out of a fence and my dog is freaking out.

    Yes, it got her attention when “look at me” command failed.

    Minette Reply:

    I still worry about you spraying dogs in their own environment or property. If your dog is not ready to pass these dogs find another route.

    If the command failed then the command is not understood or reliable enough.

    Obedience is a constant struggle and something that has to be worked on consistently and then adding to distractions.

    If it is not effective it needs more work, slowly until you can get to the point that it is effective.

    I would much rather be taught how to respond and spend time bonding with my partner than being sprayed.

    A spray bottle is not terrible, but it overused it will become just as ineffective.

    There is nothing that will take the place of learning and actual obedience.

    Verity Reply:

    Training!! Teach him to do drop and stay whenever there are any distractions around ie other dogs, children, cats – it will just take you time and effort to do this but it’s well worth it – I have just acquired a very excitable Weimaraner that is only 12 mths and have started training him around lots of distraction – he listens to me already and have trained him to his crate – also the “stand” and when you use these terms get up and wander about, bouncing a ball or a toy so that he gets used to the idea of not moving even though there are other things going on…Good luck!


    Candra Davis Reply:

    On the Home Page of its stated as part of The Hands Off system #7. is chasing small animals and children….maybe that will help?
    Good luck!
    I have a terrier mix, Ms. Prada and she LOVES to chase cats, birds (has killed 2), butterflies, flys, moths….shes addicted to small things. We walk her or let her run in the field at the house and she gets her energy out. 🙂


  11. Pamela says:

    Thank you for your sound advice. We have acquired our granddaughter’s Shih Tzu and had one of our own. All is happy until “mom” (me) enters the mix. Then things change for our first dog, Charley. It’s like he say’s “my mommy, not YOURS”. There is mean growling and barking and Charley (first dog) goes for Norman’s (second dog) neck. Because they’re small we can break the fighting, if they were bigger meaner dogs we wouldn’t think of keeping Norman. This same dynamic happened last night over a toy on the bed at night. I’m not sure what to do besides break the fighting as once that occurs they seem to settle. Thank you for your postings i always enjoy your professional advice.


  12. Jean vogel says:

    Suppose your dog gets into a fight, having separated dogs, a person can get hurt. What do you suggest when dogs do get into a confrontation.

    I see so many people who do not leash their dogs, and worry. My last dog was attacked by a pit bull as we were walking one day, that dog got out of the yard and my dog and I were defenceless. thankfully some men came along and helped.

    Thank you


    Minette Reply:

    Read this article.


  13. Tom says:

    I have three dogs who get along just great. I think what helps is when you add a dog to the mix, let the current dog(s) pick out the newcomer. Don’t be so married to the idea of what dog YOU want but let the dogs pick each other out. Any shelter or rescues worth their salt should be more than willing to bring you out several candidates to meet and play with your dog(s). Some will also let you take them for “overnight” stays so that you can determine that everybody gets along. Why on earth would you want to force a relationship between dogs who just do not get along? People wouldn’t want to live this way, why would we force our dogs to?


  14. Laurie says:

    Our 2 year old lab attended obedience training a year ago and did really good with staying focused on me amidst other dogs. However, during the last year or so, there are certain dogs that she cannot stand and wants to lunge after while making insanely guttoral noises & barking! She is very strong and I have a hard time holding her back. In most cases she just wants to get to that other dog to say hello, but there are a couple of dogs in my neighborhood that she goes ballistic over! She makes so much noise and I have a very hard time controlling her. I know I am 100% at fault because we go to the dog park where she is allowed to go and say hello and play with other dogs, yet when she is on the leash she doesn’t seem to understand the rules. Its not every dog that she reacts to in this way so I never know when she’s going to act up. I have reverted back to the halti nose collar and this helps control her. I feel bad for the poor person who is walking their quiet dog that isn’t causing any trouble, yet my spazy dog wants nothing more than to get to that dog. I really need some guidance in this area! I also have new neighbors moving in next week and they have a lab. Any suggestions on the proper way to introduce them?


  15. caroline says:

    I’ve had Ellie my female chocolate brown Sprocker for 3 years, she is now 4 and a half years old. She is quite timid, and very obedient. 3 months ago I brought a new dog home, Monty. He is Ellie’s half brother (same mother), he’s a white and gold Sprocker. He is now 7 months old. He is friendly and outgoing, and the training is going quite well. At first Ellie was a bit wary of Monty, but they soon started to play fight together. Monty always instigates the fighting.

    Most of the time the play fighting ends when they get tired, or are distracted. My problem is that the play fighting gets quite heated at times. Monty gets very aggressive with hackles raised and much growling and barking. Although Ellie tolerates most of Monty’s aggression, when she has had enough she gives him a nip, then they both come to me for reassurance. There has never been any visible damage to either dog, and I now leave Ellie’s collar on, as Monty goes for her under neck skin every time, often grabbing it and trying to shake her like a toy. Do I continue to let them play fight, or do I intervene and stop this behaviour now. I’m planning on having Monty neutered in the near future.


    Minette Reply:

    I am going to publish another article about dog playing soon.

    My advice is if it makes you uncomfortable stop it so it doesn’t escalate.

    You have to know your dog and the other dog very well to let them play that rough!


  16. Jack W. says:

    Great advice. I have a Bordernese that thinks he needs to be alpha in every situation with other dogs as well as enforcing social norms with them. With small dogs I lie to him and tell him they are “babies” and that keeps him in check with them. With larger dogs he just has such a ‘tude I have to separate him. Luckily he’s alot more talk than bite but it has created some very uncomfortable situations at dog parks, to the point that I won’t even bring him anymore. He also has the same leash issue as Laurie’s dog when it comes to distractions. To circumvent this issue I walk him very late at night or not at all. If you could cover leash spazzes in the next post I know of 2 dog owners that would appreciate it. I’ve tried treats, gentle leaders and pretty much sitting on him but nothing seems to work. He’s seven now and I’ve given up on taking him out in public. This is especially sad since he really is a very sweet, loving, and intelligent dog.


    Minette Reply:

    Look up my articles on leash manners and leash training. It is a 4 part series and can be searched in the search box on the right hand side of the page.


  17. Rand says:

    Did I read that right? A 6 week old puppy is showing possessive dominant characteristics and threatens when its things are touched?


    Minette Reply:

    Yes, it was a genetic trait bred into him.

    He was weaned and taken from his mom at 4 weeks, the only reason I took him at 6 weeks is because he needed a place and I figured my older dogs could teach him some manners since he didn’t have his mom anymore.

    We work daily on his naughty behaviors and teaching him acceptance. But he will never be a dog that I will trust to play with other dogs.


  18. Val says:

    Thanks so much for this article. About a year ago I adopted a Rottie bitch. After some initial issues, she is a delight and a sweetheart who will happily take love from anyone giving it out. But I have two final things to work on, and one of them is her sometime aggression to other dogs. (I am taking her to classes.)In UK it can be hard to find places where no-one else walks their dogs, and she seems to enjoy the mental relaxation of being off-lead, so it’s important to me to fix it.

    On a friend’s farm 6 months ago, his boxer bitch whom I love to bits took exception to mine and a fight ensued – an unfair fight as mine was attached by a long line to a tree to stop her chasing the farm animals. Although mine could give the boxer 20 pounds, I got a yell for help and found the *boxer* had the *rottie* pinned down and teeth round her neck!

    (Note to self: Farm dogs really don’t take any sh1t 🙂 )

    I did exactly what you describe, grabbed first the boxer’s collar and then mine, and pulled apart and got between them (this is 60 pounds in the left hand and 80 pounds in the right, btw, but you don’t think about that at the time) and used my best DO IT NOW! voice, and I think I was lucky both of them knew it was me and loved or respected me enough to to just growl a bit at each other till my partner came along and we could separate them properly.

    I guess having had periods in my childhood when I was basically followed around by a pack of farm dogs, I have a bit of a problem in that I very rarely meet dogs I fear. I can see now this could get me in trouble. Thanks for the heads-up, and the techniques to actually work it more safely.


  19. Andrea says:

    I have three dogs that get along great. When we go visit my Mom and my nephew’s two Poms are there, they get along fine for a day. Then they can be chasing a ball (my dog) and in the process of bringing the ball back, my Jack Russell/Min Pin mix will attack one of the Poms. Then my oldest, a Maltees will join in the attack on the Pom.
    It has lead to vet visits and keeping the dogs appart.
    I can not tell what starts the fight as they both have toys in their mouth when they are comming back.
    Any suggestions would be welcome.


    Minette Reply:

    Some dogs get over stimulated and also don’t like to share.

    Their minds don’t connect that they have a toy too… In their mind they just get more stimulated and angry, till they pop.

    Then dogs that are in a pack will fight… even other dogs that are in their pack. It is survival of the fittest mode.

    These dogs can’t usually safely play with other dogs.

    Instead play with them alone, and supervise when they are together or keep them separate.


  20. madelyn says:

    I have 9 lb. chihuaha/terrier mix, a rescue from a kill shelter in LA, possibly part affenpincher, who I’m concerned about. She is extremely sensitive to disapproval and I’d like help knowing how to reward her for good social behavior and discipline her when she scares another dog and it’s owner.
    Dezzy is unbeleivably affectionate with me and other people she likes and who for the first year I had her was a dream on and off leash with other dogs. After a year, when she turned about 2, she began taking a dislike to certain other dogs on the street or in our building – lunging, shrieking, a few times while off leash in the Park where other dogs were off leash, getting into one of those dog shrieking at each other, teeth bared, chasing each other around so quickly in a circle that it was almost impossible to stop them fights, that I am much more wary now when I walk her. She has also taken to barking at bigger dogs and our neighborhood and building is full of them.

    She is great with er playmate and a small pack of chihuahas she boards with occasionally, generally fine in a small dog park off leash, but I’m finding myself becoming guarded with her on the street when she’s on leash as she sometimes unexpectedly lunges at another dog and scares the owners.
    I’ve begun to distract her when I see “staring” behavior; that helps, but need to know what to say to her on the spot when she misbehaves on the street. She’s very sensitive to the words, “Bad Girl”, I don’t use them very often. Is obedient in the house, very submissive in fact.
    Less obedient without a treat in hand and outside when distracted.

    Thanks for ideas.



    Minette Reply:

    stop the staring, refocus her.

    Get eye contact and give her other ways to cope through obedience.

    You need to read my article on intermittent reinforcement to refocus her without treats, as I believe you are misusing them if you NEED them. Don’t get me wrong I use treats and carry treats often… but I use them on a variable schedule so that they are a better training tool.

    I would also read the articles on teaching your dog to be quiet.

    There is a search bar on the right of the page you can put in any subject and articles will come up for the problem or question.


  21. Sally says:

    I have a 1 year old lab/Shepard mix adopted from shelter & for some reason when she is in presence of a bigger dog she starts with the growling & barking . How do I fix this ?


    Minette Reply:

    You must teach her inside and get her attention and focus on you read this.

    First you have to get this behavior in your home 95% of the time you ask for it.

    Then go outside and try and get the same behavior. Slowly add more distractions.

    Then try adding dogs to the equation. If your dog can’t pay attention to you, you are too close to the other dog… back up and get eye contact and focus.

    Once you have conquered that, I would recommend taking an obedience class so you can work specifically on working with other dogs in a controlled environment.

    But it is up to you to teach your dog first at home. Hopefully he will learn that there is no reason for this behavior if you are consistent!


  22. Marc Johnson says:

    We have 3 poodles all is well
    Until bedtime ,the middle one goes after the other two to get them off bed it’s a fight. After I leave for work they will be ok in the bed with the wife . She says it’s me. Now the littlest one doesn’t stay on bed and the oldest one won’t get up on the bed. She growls at me if I try to
    Lift her up .something gotta change

    Thanks marc


    Minette Reply:

    Being on the bed is a privilege, if the dog can’t handle it she/he needs to sleep on the floor and if one dog on the floor is going to cause problems then have them all sleep on the floor or on beds or in crates!

    That is better than fighting!

    And if you can’t get her off the bed, put a leash on her for a while so you have something to pluck off!


  23. raymond says:

    how do i train my dog to come when called without fail she is very smartblack lab almost two she listens very good what am i doing wrong


    Minette Reply:

    Read this article


  24. m.surendrakumar says:

    M.suren reply.
    Thanks for your kind advice.
    always i folow your tips ,and my pet is only 10 months.
    trainig is going on smoothly.


  25. Gary says:

    Thax for this everybody. I have a 4yr Rottie and cat who sleep together on my bed and are both very mellow. I got a male 6 mon Chihuahua who immediately took over the bed not allowing other 2 on it and chased the cat until finally slapped no claws. Then started fighting my Rotti who was very gentel with baby teeth going into her ears and lips.I was proud she let that happen. I had to yell several times to break it up though.Then I got the devil dog a female chihuahua 4 months old who terrorizes all of them they all fear her.She stares down my other chihuahua until he growls she growls hackles up and then its non stop fighting and its very scarry she is tenacious she refuses to back down. Now she controls the bed she growls at Rotti while she eats and tries to steal the Rotties food she takes the other chihuahuas food and won’t let him eat hers. All this little devil wants to do is fight and control other animals. My wife has been bitten several times trying to get between them. So far no vet bills but I have to do something she is out of control with other dogs and at only 5 pounds I know she is one bite away from her own demise. She has plaenty of toys to teeth on but still prefers only what other Chihuahua has and thats how most of the fights begin. So far yelling and grabbing her by the neck and pulling her away has stopped her for that attack only. I never hit my animals or spray with water so thinking of a exorcism if anyone knows a priest.


    Minette Reply:

    The “controller” needs to be kept on a leash and taught manners. By allowing her to do these behaviors you are condoning it.

    My monster is on a leash or a tie down nearly all of the time and he will be until I can control his behavior and he stops trying to dominate everyone and everything.


  26. Diana says:

    I recently move in with my fiancé and he had 2 female dogs,
    A pug and a rescue dog. The pug dominates the rescue dog and was kind of the spoiled of the house. And I arrived with my Chihuahua, from being the only one at home to be one of a pack and most of the times, 99% of the times they are perfectly friends, they play and run together, they all share beds and are good to each other, but sometimes they will start a huge fight for a treat (one of them
    Is trying to each the treat of the other one). In that case what should we do!? They already eat in separated places. And when they fight is bc they found a piece of food on the floor.
    In that case, what should we do?
    And I they actually start fighting how we should proceed? How we separate them? They usually hug each other so badly that is really hard.

    Thank you very much for the post.


    Minette Reply:

    Read this article!

    keep food off the floor and out of their way!!!

    If you have to keep somone on a leash then do it! Better safe than sorry!!


  27. Wendy says:

    I have a dog from the Humane Society. She is now three years old and hubby decided it was time to get her a canine companion. What worked for us, and my dog, is that I took her back to the Humane Society and “let her pick” her own companion. It worked great and there have been no fights. Infact, they are inseperable!


  28. Sephiria says:

    I haven’t been on here for long, and though my dogs listen pretty well, I have one trouble dog. I could never get rid of him, as I hand-raised him since he was 2wks old. As much as I do love him, he causes me tremdous stress he will sit and growl at any dogs walking past him, and occassionally snips at they’re sides. We have him on an all natural dog bone with calming effects. He is intact, but so are my other males, and they do not fight. It is only Jax who is so aggressive and starts the fights. He also ALWAYS starts them with Max, they are of equal size, and only two months separates them in age. I know Max antagonizes him, but he listens on command henbtold to “leave it” and “come”.

    Jax also has brain damage, so he has a hard time following commands, we have a basket muzzle he wears on occasion when he’s having a bad day, this may seem harmful if he starts a fight, but the other males won’t fight when he wears it. I recently got a Standard Poodle puppy, the rest of my large pack completely accepts him, and play with him on a regual basis. (I own shih tzu so the poodle is the big dog) even one of my females attacked by a pitbull when she was a puppy will play with him. But Jax seems to think its his job to attack Pierre when one of the others play with him, and force him to stop any kind of play. No matter how many times he’s corrected, he still does it.

    Do you have any advice for me to stop his aggression? We do plan on having him neutered, but until then, I’d like to be able to correct him, and prevent fights.


    Minette Reply:

    NEUTER HIM!!!! There is no reason to have an intact dog with brain damage. You are already fighting a losing battle then add to that testosterone. There is really no reason that any of your dogs need to be intact… it is just causing problems!!

    You cannot judge him and his behavior by what your other dogs are doing. It is very difficult to have two intact dogs, you have just been lucky up till now. Even breeders often have to give dogs up or keep dogs in crates because they can’t get along.

    Visit a shelter and see all the shih tzus and poodles, check out rescues online and then tell me your dog’s need to keep their testicles and body parts. Very few dogs deserve to be bred.

    It will take about a month and you will start to see a decline in Jax’s aggression because of his neuter.

    Keep him on a leash and give him coping skills. Teach him what you want, like obedience and giving you focus instead of the aggression. Teach him to do doggy push ups.

    Due to his brain damage it might be more difficult for him to learn, but I am sure he is capable.

    Work with him 3-5 times a day at a minimum on obedience and you will surely see a difference in his behaviors. And, the leash will help you control him when he is struggling.


    Sephiria Reply:

    I have a couple males who are allergict to anestisia, so my vet doesn’t recommend putting them under, I also have females who connot be foxed because of health issues. I have never intended to breed him, but have not had the vets say so yet to neuter him. (She’s afraid he’ll be tramatized by it.) Nearly all my dogs, but three, have health issues, and in total I have 18, they all get along exceedingly well, save Jax of course, but he’s grown up with everyone.

    I cannot put him on a leash, as it only makes him more aggressive. He gets anxious, paces and pants. No matter how much I reassure him, and reward his good behavior, he has a switch that just flicks on. He could never be re-homed, as his aggression is not always focused on dogs, but people too. I can read his every move, and predict what he’ll do next, but the moment I leave the room, he ignores any commands given by others and just goes for it. Thankfully, we have only had minor scrapes.

    All of my other ten males (two which are neutered) are calm and relaxed. Never aggressively growling, they do not stare down others, and happily give up toys to others. I realize how lucky we are to have 8 intact males with only one bad apple, and trust me, I am not a breeder, and do not breed. They are either puppymill rescues (Jax is one) abus rescues or have health issues. So I do not intend to breed and promote more health problems or fuller shelters.

    Just something I can use to get through to my special boy, his brain limits gobup to a three month old puppy, though he’s potty broke, he bites hard, thinks all toys are his, and trys to rule the house. I will give what you said a try, but got any other ideas?


  29. Jimmie Hall says:

    For those hat say Let them fight it out, I wish one of you dumb SOB’s would come and say that, and maybe we could fight it out to see just how totally ignorant that statement is.


  30. debi says:

    I have two female 75 lb labs who play fight sometimes aggressively. I have a soft muzzle and carry a choke chain for dog park scuffles. My two always work out their differences without biting, but when other dogs are nearby the play fight turns quickly into a real scary fight. As soon as I leash or muzzle one of mine, the mood is immediately changed to submissive.


    Minette Reply:

    Muzzles can be a wonderful thing for some dogs!


  31. Roxanne says:

    I have a 5 year old Westie and just brought a 7 month Peka Tsu in the house, both female. The Westie was brought up with cats and since has lost all 3 cats. was acting lonely for a few months so brought puppy home. Everything was ok until snack food became a problem, that was taken care of (no snacks) They play together but now all they have to do is look at each other and they start snarling and growling at each other, then attack. the puppy was very mean at first now the Westie is the aggressor. Seems like they are taking turns being the aggressor. How can we live in the same house in peace? doing training with puppy but been 3 months and no progress with aggression HELP!!!


    Minette Reply:

    You need a veterinary behaviorist to come to the house and witness the aggression, since I can’t see it… I really can’t help you from here.


  32. Jackie says:

    I really need help. We have four dogs the latest coming last year. A 10 year old Collie mix (F) we’ve had since 9 months, an older Border Collie (M) we’ve had for almost three years, a very old Beagle (F) for two years and a 4.5 year old Shepard mix (F) for a year. We had a year of harmony and then about five weeks ago, the Shepard started attacking the Beagle and it is escalating. The only difference is that the Shepard who still is happy go lucky and WAS very submissive, gained a new confidence and is more dominant-the Border Collie has been giving her a growl here and there to put her back in place. The Beagle is still cranky and aloof and always has been. The last fight was vicious and thank God no one was severely hurt. Its not as though I haven’t tried, I have consulted with the vet who told me that the Beagle is slowing down, but nothing he could find major with either of them-he called the Shepard “very sweet” and the Beagle “very nice”, They are all fixed, I took all four to training, have all of them sit before attention, food and walks, I paid a lot of money for a top Behaviorist in the country to come and evaluate them (a very difficult fight while she was here), and I still consult her via phone. The dogs would cuddle and eat fine, and the behaviorist couldn’t figure out why I called until the “fight” over a stick. She said it was one of the worst she’s seen. I am wondering if the Shepard is late coming to maturity and is becoming dominant. It can’t be fear because she starts it. The Behaviorist told me it will not get better, but worse and one of them needs to be re-homed before it is too late and the Beagle dies and the Shepard is put down. She thinks the Shepard needs to be an only dog or with a male. The Shepard gets along fine with the other two and with ALL other dogs. He is gentile with kids. Here is my questions. 1) Can dogs mature late (4.5 years) 2) Do some dogs just not like each other? 3) Can it start after several months of harmony and when one develops confidence? 4) Could the Beagle have something wrong with her that can’t be detected now and the pack mentality has set in? Please respond. Even though the Behaviorist says it is nothing that we have pr have not done, I am feeling so guilty and do not know how to re-home the Shepard. The rescue who I got her from is ignoring my emails.


    Minette Reply:

    Dog’s don’t typically mature that late. Some Giant Breeds (Rottweilers, Danes, Mastiffs mature slower physically and mentally but not usually this late.)

    I can’t see the behavior so I only have to go by what you say, but my guess is the beagle is getting old and slipping physically or mentally.

    Survival of the fittest often dictates if someone in the pack is not as strong, then someone else takes over. In some packs of animals they will kill the old or geriatric or sick animals to keep them from risking the lives of the other pack members.

    Not all dogs act this way, however, and most deal with animals growing old with no issues, but occasionally you will see some dogs get aggressive with older geriatric dogs.

    That is my best guess. However, again I can’t see it; and I would have to side with the behaviorist that has seen it. It is not worth risking the lives of your other dog/dogs.


  33. Julie says:

    I had two dogs that I have had since they were puppies, they were supposedly litter mates. they are now 13 years of age and overall they ahve got on well with each other and will walk together when out. About 6 months ago I took in a rescue puppy, both the old dogs accepted him and the female often plays with him. The problem is the older two are now starting to fight. The puupy may not be in the room but they will still growl and snarl at each other. The female has always been the dominant dog with the male being very laid back, lately he has started to retaliate and has had the female pinned down, yet with the young dog they are excepting of him. Is this a reordering of the pack or is it something far deeper. The male recently had a benign tumor removed and I wondered if hgte female can sense something about her brothers health or possible weakness.


    Minette Reply:

    I would go to the vet and have health work ups done on both older dogs… anytime there is a distinct change of behavior with an older dog… chances are it is a health problem that is causing the change not a behavior problem


  34. Tony says:

    My wife and I recently rescued a female mix breed dog (lab/doodle?), approximately 2 years old, which has had some previous training. She sits, stays, good manners on a leash.

    She is well behaved until other dogs are present, she is not social.

    When on a leash and other dogs show up she gets very excited and pulls very hard on the leash. She weighs 75 pounds and is very strong. I can control her, but my wife cannot.

    We have tried to socialize with other family member’s dogs, but to no avail. It ends up in a growling match and both animals showing their teeth. Fortunately, none of the animals have been bitten.

    We have owned dogs for 50 years, with as many as 4 at a time, all various breeds at the same time with absolutely no problems.

    Molly has us undecided as to what to do next. Any assistance is much appreciated.


    Minette Reply:

    Not all dogs like other dogs!!! She sounds like one of them.

    I would recommend a gentle leader so that your wife can control her better and I would also recommend our aggression course simply to give you the tools you need to control her around other dogs. You can email Dana at customer service to find out when another will begin at

    And, I would give up on trying to socialize her physically with other dogs and instead teach her good manners through obedience.

    For example: I have a dog that doesn’t like other dogs either. I teach him to sit and give me eye contact instead of paying attention to the other dogs. This gives me control (and this is also what you will learn in our classes through training videos).


  35. Janice says:

    I have a small cocker spaniel (about the size of a cat) and when I’ve taken her out for a walk (on a leash), if the neighbor’s rottweiler is out, the rottweiller comes running and attacks my dog. I try to pick her up fast enough to avoid the attack, but this has happened three times now. This last time the rottweiller had a hold of my dogs back leg so that I couldn’t pull her free. Fortunately the dog had only gotten a mouthful of the fur that’s thick on the back of her leg and didn’t seriously bite her. The neighbor (dog’s owner) came running to tackle his dog and apologize, but my dog is traumatized by this. She gets along fine with our other dog (big yellow lab), a pit bull (my nephew’s), a jack russell terrier and a maltipoo that we’ve dog-sat for weeks, but for some reason this rottweiller has it in for her – both are females and about the same age. Is there a way to help lessen the aggression or so we just have to keep them separated forever. The neighbors have 3 German shepherds and this one rottweiller – the German shepherds are fine and well behaved, but the rottweiller, though younger, is definitely the more dominant of the pack. I think she would kill my dog if we weren’t there to intervene. I like the neighbors, but don’t know what to do about this one dog. Any suggestions would be appreciated. Is there a way to help them learn to get along better when they don’t live together, but only see each other occasionally?


    Minette Reply:

    Just like you can’t force people to like each other, you can’t force dogs to like each other.

    It is more about control and obedience on both parts, and keeping dogs on leash.


  36. Kay says:

    I’m going through that. My puppies 6 months are brothers. At times they fight so bad, but when it’s bedtime they need to be close to each other. I have taken away everything that causes a fight. Mikey is very playful, and Leo is not. Which usually results in a fight other than toys or attention from my husband and I (which we can pretty much squash). I can’t give up one because when they are not fighting, they are best buds. I plan to fix within the next couple of weeks, hopefully that will help.


  37. Shaz says:

    Hi I have 2 britches at home one is 13 year old pit bull the other is 2year old French mastiff x I have had the two year old with the pit bull since nine weeks of age and they would play and be friends sleep together everything how ever this week has started disaster I love both dogs very much and try show both same discipline an affection however 2 nights ago due to no apparent reason both dogs set on each other taking 3 people to separate and a very large vet bill the pit bull came off worse with very deep bites now I have had to keep them apart as if they was to go again there would be fatality and I won’t allow that also due to the pit bull needs to recover so I have baby gates doors n lot going on however the pit bull catches glimps of younger dog she instantly snarls this could be because she feels vunrible at moment due to her injuries I not rushing ‘re introducing them in fact I’m building heated kennels and going to rotate them from house to kennel that way they all get house time its so sad as they are normally good friends I can’t rid one dog for the other as one is pit bull and registared to me to be legal and the other is a family dog they are normally both fine and very much part of the family any tips or any thing as I’m desperate would be appreciated I am pretty sure its a jealousy thing it can’t be toys as we don’t allow them balls for walking and if they do get bones or treats they have them separate x


  38. Dawn C says:

    We recently rescued 2 doggies from the local shelter. I had picked out a Catahoula female first. My Mom hadn’t decided on hers yet. They brought out a few choices to see how they would get along….the Catahoula definitely choose her housemate….it took a few She decided on a smaller corgi mix…they get along fabulously!


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *