Both my dogs are the same age, and after a third, older dog died, they began to fight. Why?
Conflicts may occur between dogs when the relationship is ambiguous or when they have similar motivations and past experiences of success. After the decline, illness or death of an older dog, fighting may begin in the remaining dogs even when one is clearly the most confident and assertive. This is because the older dog may have helped to maintain a stable relationship among all dogs and now they are trying to establish relationship patterns. In any case, the fighting can be severe and injurious. It is also possible that thechange to the household and relationship dynamics may lead to increased anxiety in the household. Although you should generally attempt to allow dogs to resolve their differences on their own if they are just threatening without fighting, you will need to intervene if there is the potential for injury. Under no circumstances should the dogs be allowed to “fight it out.” You could be injured due to redirected aggressive attacks, or when you attempt to break up the fight (see below).
Why would dogs fight with a familiar dog living in the same home?
Dogs are social animals whose evolutionary history makes them willing and able to live in groups. Group living enabled the dog’s ancestors, wolves, to work together to obtain food, raise their young, and defend their territory. Much of a dog’s communication with other members of its species is by subtle, energy-conserving body language and physical displays.
It would be counter-productive for members of a group to fight with each other and risk injury. Generally, most well socialized dogs strive to avoid physical or aggressive confrontation. However, these dogs may be living in close proximity to each other with limited opportunities to avoid confrontations or placed in frequent competitions over desirable resources, resting places or human interactions. Dogs that are not well socialized or have deficits either in their ability to interpret or communicate with other dogs are more predisposed to aggressive confrontations. Like people, not all dogs are natural or skilled communicators with members of their own species.
LAST RESORT: Rehome a Dog
If you’ve tried everything but your dogs still can’t get along, you may want to consider rehoming one.
I know that this is a horrible thought. The dogs are our family.
But if you are unable to manage the situation and the dogs fight, each dog lives a very stressful life. And they may also become severely physically injured.
I rarely recommend this, as the situation can often be managed. But, in some cases, rehoming may be the kindest thing for everyone involved.
Do your dogs play rough or fight?//Proven method to fix it.
Dogs fight for a variety of reasons, including play fighting, guarding, anxiety, and behavioral problems. While it may seem like your dogs are fighting just to fight, they can be fighting over just about anything. Dogs have sharp teeth and claws, which means they can injure themselves and anyone who tries to break up the fights. As a pet parent, you need to understand why dogs fight, determine ways you can prevent dog fights, and learn how to stop dogs from fighting once it happens.
Resource guarding is fairly common in dogs who haven’t been properly socialized. Additionally, it can be a symptom of underlying anxiety that many dogs from shelters have due to being forced to compete with other dogs for their toys and treats. Resource guarding is typically accompanied by growling, stiff body language, barking, and even snapping or biting.
If your dog gets into a fight with another dog, even another household dog, they could be doing it to protect you. When another dog gets too close to you, your dog may become anxious or aggressive and start lunging, barking, or trying to bite the other dog. As a result, the other dog might feel threatened and choose to fight back.
Dogs may become aggressive when they are frustrated. For example, if they are digging and another dog starts digging in the same spot, a dog can become frustrated and snap at the other dog.
Anxiety is a common issue in dogs that can lead to other behavioral problems, such as fear-based reactivity and aggression towards other dogs. In the case of anxiety, a dog might bark and lunge at another dog when they’re afraid. Remember, anxiety sparks the flight or fight response, and some dogs will have the fight response instead of cowering when they’re afraid. Confrontational gestures, such as barking, lunging, and showing teeth, can signal to another dog that your dog is being threatening, which can start a dog fight.
As we’ve mentioned, behavioral issues are common in dogs, especially those that have not been properly socialized. Many behavioral problems are simply symptoms of anxiety and fear, so instead of calling dogs who are acting out of fear aggressive, they are called reactive because they are reacting to something that has made them afraid.
Dogs with painful medical issues may bite their owners or other dogs who come too close because they don’t want to be put in more pain. If one dog is simply protecting itself, another dog may see it as a threat and start a fight.
Many of the reasons why dogs fight comes down to socialization and training. If your dog has been properly socialized, they know how to react to other dogs in their environment. Socialized dogs are typically more friendly and don’t become reactive or aggressive towards other dogs. Additionally, some dogs can benefit from behavioral training, especially if they have fear or anxiety, which might cause reactivity.
As a human, it can be difficult to tell whether dogs are playing or fighting because dogs typically use their mouths and paws to play with one another. You can look at a dog’s body language to determine when a situation is either playful or aggressive.
The best way to learn how to stop dogs from fighting in the same household or dogs fighting at the park is to create a safe play environment. Here’s how you can cultivate safe play for dogs.
Your dog’s body language is the first sign that they’re happy or stressed. As we’ve discussed, when dogs are stressed, they can start fighting other dogs. Additionally, you should know the warning signs to look for in other dogs your dog is playing with to ensure your pup doesn’t get hurt trying to play.
Dog parks aren’t right for all dogs.1 If your dog hasn’t been properly socialized, they can easily become stressed in situations where there are multiple dogs instead of just one. If your dog is properly socialized and can handle all the activity and other dogs at parks, you can take them to a park and see how they react before letting them off-leash.
If your dog isn’t ready for the dog park yet, you can have them play at home either with another household dog or a dog they know well to help them start socializing and learning proper behavior. Some breeds might be naturally more territorial or protective than others, so not all dogs are meant for the dog park, and there’s nothing wrong with that.
Even the friendliest dog can start resource guarding around other dogs because they’re afraid their toys, treats, and food will be taken away. Dogs can become incredibly territorial around dogs they’ve never met before. By removing toys, food, and treats, neither dog will have anything to resource guard.
If your dog is having fun, it can be easy to get distracted and look away. However, it’s always important to supervise your dog while they’re playing with another dog so you can get them out of a situation that could be causing them stress. For example, your dog might be having fun playing with a dog that’s a similar size, but a large dog might cause anxiety, which can lead to a fight. Since you know the warning signs your dog is becoming stressed, you can remove them from a dangerous situation before anything happens.
Dog fights can break out at any point during play. Even if both dogs seem to be enjoying themselves at first, it can quickly get out of hand. If you allow your dog to play with other dogs, it’s always important to know how to safely break up a fight and prevent future fights from happening.