How do I get my brother and sister dogs to stop fighting? Simple and Effective Tips

Why Dogs Have Rivalry

Science is getting closer every day to knowing more about what our canine friends are really thinking and feeling. A recent study published in PLOS One decided that dogs can feel jealously because the dogs they studied acted jealous when their owners played with an animatronic dog, but did not act as jealous when the owner ignored their dog to read a book or play with a toy. What we can say for certain is that when it comes to rivalry in dogs, it appears to be more of a resource guarding issue. Even the above study supports this, since the dogs only exhibited jealously when their owners where giving attention to the fake dog, but not to inanimate objects.

Knowing that your dogs act the way they do because they are guarding their resources can help you make decisions that will keep the peace in your home.

What should I do when one of my dogs challenges another?

dogbehavioraggressionsiblingrivalrytreatment1 Aggression between household dogs can be difficult to treat. You will need to identify the situations in which aggression arises and ensure that you are not encouraging a more subordinate dog to challenge the more confident dog. Similarly, you would not want to encourage the dog that is less interested in a resource to challenge the one with a higher motivation to hold on to that resource. It is critical that you never come to the aid of the subordinate against the more confident. If left alone, the dogs will often use posturing and threats to end encounters without injury. If one dog backs down, the problem may be resolved. However, when both dogs are equally motivated to challenge, assert and posture, fighting will usually result.

A common owner error is the desire to make life “fair.” This often results in owners allowing subordinate dogs or ones who would normally have less interest to have access to resources, such as attention, treats, toys, or entry into territory that they would not normally try to obtain in the presence of the other dog, if they were not encouraged by their owners. Often the subordinate dog does not behave in a manner that would challenge the confident dog when no one is around to “protect” it. If you encourage or come to the aid of the subordinate dog rather than discourage its behavior, you may increase the chances that the more assertive dog will challenge it. If you then punish the assertive dog for aggression, the subordinate dog might be encouraged to repeat the behavior. In addition, the use of any discipline or punishment techniques might lead to increased anxiety when the dogs get close to each other. In many households, there is no fighting when the owners are gone, which is likely an indication that the owners interactions are in some way encouraging the dogs to interact in a way that they would not when the owners are away. Whether the owner’s actions are in some way encouraging the behaviors that lead to fights, or whether the owners are responding inappropriately to one or both of the pet’s actions, needs to be determined.

Another potential problem may occur when the relationship between individuals is context dependent. In other words, one dog is more motivated to receive owner attention while the other defers. However, the dog more motivated for attention may be the one that is less motivated by food and will therefore avoid and defer during feeding.

Before treatment can begin it must be determined if either dog is using appropriate canine social communication skills. If one dog is not responding appropriately to the deference and appeasing signals of the other dog, is attacking over low-level threats or does not allow any approach by the other dog without displaying aggression, then fear or anxiety are likely factors. Anxious dogs will often respond defensively and are not able to accurately assess the situation and choose an appropriate response.

Don’t Assume You’ve Identified the Instigator

It’s not always obvious who is picking the fight. Just because one dog is the first to attack doesn’t mean he started the argument. I once worked with a client who had two French Bulldogs who had been fighting. When we met, she pointed to the larger one and said, “Bruce is the one who starts it. He’s bitten Titus three times.” My observation was very different.

During my hour with them, the fawn male, Titus, would repeatedly stare at Bruce, without blinking. When Bruce would try to go through a doorway, Titus would anticipate his path, get there first, and block him. I also noticed Titus lying next to the water bowl. To the casual eye he could have been resting, but I noticed his body was stiff and he was staring at Bruce the entire time. He was actually guarding the water bowl, preventing Bruce from drinking.

Both dogs were friendly toward me. At one point I started petting Titus. Bruce started to come toward me, and Titus gave a quick glance in his direction. Bruce flinched and stepped back. Easy to overlook – unless you know what to look for.

Titus was aggravating and threatening Bruce. When Bruce had enough, he would lash out. Echoes of “But she started it!” played through my memory. You may need a professional’s trained eye to determine what’s going on in your household.

How to Prevent Fights Between Sibling Female Dogs : Dog Training

Fighting among cohabiting puppies is a natural and essential mechanism for establishing pack structure. Sibling puppies fight just as much as non-siblings, especially if they’re still together once they’ve stopped relying on mom for protection. Prevention is preferable to cure when it comes to stopping the fights, so learn to spot the signs early.

It’s natural for dogs to remain with their siblings for the first seven weeks of their lives. After that, they have a natural urge to begin exploring the world by themselves. If they are forced to remain together, either by putting them in the same crate or failing to give them alone time, they’ll create an unnatural bond that can cause behavioral problems, including fighting. One of the easiest ways to stop your sibling puppies from fighting is to give them distinct periods of separation and distinct periods of interaction.

A little fighting is a natural part of the growing up process for dogs. Learn to identify play fighting, characterized by wagging tails, alert expressions and “bowing,” and distinguish it from aggression-based fighting, characterized by fixed stares, stiff tails and tense posture. Puppies assert dominance with play fighting. If you constantly interrupt puppies when they’re play fighting, you rob them of the opportunity to establish a social structure which will lead to more fighting with adults.

Observe your puppy’s body language and take action before a fight begins, either by separating the dogs or distracting them from each other. Raised hackles, stiff straight tails and fixed stares are some of the more telling gestures that precede a fight. Once you learn to spot the signs, you can intervene before a fight begins.

As hard as it may be to do, let sibling puppy fights reach their natural conclusion when possible. A fight for dominance ends when one dog adopts a submissive position, or is forced into a submissive position. If you suspect the fight is getting too rough or you simply can’t bear to let it continue, use noise to distract the fighting dogs. If that doesn’t work, grab the more enthusiastic fighter around the ribs and move him away from the scene.

Behaviorist Dr. Myrna Milani recommends assisting the dog most likely to win by pulling the weaker dog’s hind legs and putting him on his back. This forces the fight to its natural conclusion, but doesn’t interfere with the existing dominance dynamic.

Simon Foden has been a freelance writer and editor since 1999. He began his writing career after graduating with a Bachelors of Arts degree in music from Salford University. He has contributed to and written for various magazines including “K9 Magazine” and “Pet Friendly Magazine.” He has also written for