Dogfights can normally happen between dogs, even trained and well-behaved ones. However, if your canine is attacking other dogs in an unprovoked manner, you might be dealing with a case of serious aggression. You need to know how to stop dog from attacking other dogs before it becomes a bigger problem.
In this post, we discuss why dogs become aggressive toward other canines, how you can address it, and other reminders you should keep in mind. Also, these are only pointers based on our experience as dog owners. It doesn’t replace the expertise of professional dog trainers.
Why is my dog attacking other dogs?
The first step in addressing canine aggression is to understand the root of it. Like many behavioral problems in dogs, aggression is multi-faceted. This is why there’s no one-size-fits-all solution when tackling this problem.
Take note that breed alone isn’t the basis of aggression toward other canines. While it can be a factor, there are other external elements at play.
With this, the following are the most common reasons why a dog would keep attacking other canines:
It’s important to know that a dog may appear as if it’s attacking another canine even though it’s just a playful gesture. Rough play is common among canines, which includes baring of the teeth, play-biting, low growling, and flopping on the ground.
Overall, this is normal behavior and shouldn’t be a cause of concern. Just remember that rough play shouldn’t end in actual aggression. If it does, you have to intervene right away.
If you’re sure that your dog isn’t rough playing, you have to consider the level of training of your pet. Poorly trained dogs are more likely to stir unprovoked attacks.
The only way to stop this is to subject the canine to rigorous training. Obedience training must be started as early as possible to combat any aggressive tendencies.
Canines are territorial beings and if another dog breaches their territory, they will defend themselves by attacking. Dogs trained to be watchdogs and guard dogs are more likely to react this way.
Most of the time, this kind of attack occurs along fences, doors, windows, and other entryways. Still, some dogs may quickly assert territory in public spaces, so training is necessary to avoid such situations.
Sexual aggression in dogs is often male to male or male to female. It’s because male dogs often compete when there’s one female canine in heat. Also, male dogs can become sexually aggressive to females in an effort to initiate mating.
Overall, this aggression can happen at any age and can usually lead to a dog attacking another animal. There’s a way to prevent this, which I discussed below.
Resource guarding can happen between any dog and it can lead to attacks and full-on dog fights. This is similar to territorial aggression, except that the attacking dog is defending an object and not a territory.
It could be its food, toys, bed, and other items that the canine considers his possession. Take note that a dog can also resource-guard its owner when there’s another canine in the vicinity.
A dog in pain can easily get irritated and provoked to attack another canine. Conditions like hypoglycemia, hypothyroidism, rabies, and distemper are just that are known to trigger aggression.
Take note that no amount of training can fix health-related aggression. The veterinarian must be involved in the process above anyone else.
Lastly, your dog probably had a traumatic experience with a dog, which led to an unprovoked attack. This is often the case with adopted or rescued canines. It’s possible that the rescue dog was abused in a fighting ring where it’s used to be pitted against other canines.
These problems require serious training. Many owners would often tap the help of a professional trainer to correct any aggressive tendencies.
How to stop dog from attacking other dogs
A dog attacking another dog often puts off an owner. Some would even give up their pets to shelters without even identifying the problem or trying a solution.
If you’re one of the dog owners facing this aggression problem, here are the things you can do:
✔️Get your dog checked at the vet
While it’s not the most common, aggression and attacks toward other dogs can be due to a health problem. Remember that no matter how trained your dog is, it can become irritable and aggressive when sick or in pain.
Aside from that, dogs suffering from neurological problems can start unprovoked attacks. This is mainly due to the cognitive decline or defect, which requires immediate veterinary attention.
Moreover, getting your dog treated for its health problems will not just reduce the risk of aggression; it will also extend its life.
So before you assume that your dog has behavioral issues, it’s best to conduct a health check first. To give you an idea, here are some common health problems that could trigger aggressive attacks in dogs:
- Hypothyroidism. This condition is the most common culprit of health-related aggression in dogs. It could cause the dog to attack other animals and humans around them. With hypothyroidism, a dog experiences low levels of thyroid hormones, which directly impacts its mood.
- Hypoglycemia. Hypoglycemia occurs when a dog has very low blood sugar levels. This will disorient the dog, which can lead him to attack other dogs nearby. Take note that hypoglycemia is life-threatening and must be addressed immediately.
- Distemper. Distemper is caused by a contagious virus among canines. The virus attacks the dog’s nervous system, increasing the animal’s aggression and biting tendencies.
- Rabies. Rabies is a deadly condition that makes a dog aggressive and dangerous. Take note that once dogs with rabies exhibit symptoms, there’s no way to reverse it. The canine will have to be put down immediately. The good thing is that rabies is easily preventable through vaccination.
✔️Practice continuous training
Continuous training is the only way to combat aggression in dogs permanently. It should start as early as possible to dampen any breed-related predispositions.
This isn’t an easy task, especially if your pet isn’t yielding to any of your efforts. In this case, you shouldn’t hesitate to contact a professional trainer.
To help you out, here are some tips you can use:
- Separate the aggressive dog. If your aggressive dog keeps attacking other canines, you should separate it from the pack. This is for the safety of the dogs and you as well. You can use baby gates to separate your dogs from each other.
- Use positive reinforcement. The only want to transform an attack dog into a more disciplined pet is to reward its positive behavior. You can do this by giving a treat once your dog follows a command. This will teach your aggressive pet that only good behavior is rewarded.
- Desensitize your dog. It’s crucial to desensitize your dog to its triggers to prevent future attacks. This is a complicated and long process, so I recommend tapping the help of a professional trainer.
- Never use violence. Physically hurting a dog to correct aggression never yields positive results. Worse, it will make the aggression even stronger and harder to fix.
- Don’t put yourself at risk. Sometimes, we have to leave the training process to professionals. This is much so if your dog is also attacking you as you try to employ training methods.
- Stay patient. Each dog responds to training differently, so you should always remain patient. You should also adjust the training pace based on your dog’s personality and abilities.
✔️Socialize your dog
Socialization should come hand in hand with training. It’s also a preventative step that needs to be employed in every dog as early as possible.
Through early and continuous socialization, your dog will grow accustomed to various sounds, sensations, smells, and surroundings.
Aside from that, you should also introduce your dog to other canines. These encounters should be done in neutral spaces to avoid territorial aggression and resource guarding.
You can start by setting up a ‘playdate’ with a friend’s dog. During the encounter, the two dogs should remain leashed, so you can easily retrieve your pet in case aggression occurs.
In addition, bringing your dog to dog parks and other public spaces will help with socialization. However, make sure that the doggo has been trained for obedience first, so you have some level of control over its behavior.
Socialization should start as early as possible and it must be a requirement for all dogs. Whether your pet is aggressive or not, socialization remains a necessity.
✔️Get your dog neutered/spayed
If your dog is attacking another canine because of sexual aggression, the best solution is to get the pooch neutered or spayed.
For both male and female dogs, the fixing can be done between the ages of six to nine months.
For female canines, it must be done before the first-ever heat cycle. While older female cats can still be spayed, there are more possible complications that could arise.
Meanwhile, male dogs should be allowed to reach the ideal size before neutering. This is to allow sex hormones to do their job, which includes skeletal growth in canines.
Also, you should only get your dog fixed at a vet’s clinic and by a licensed veterinarian. This is to ensure that your pet is in good hands.
Take note that neutering or spaying should still be accompanied by training and socialization. It’s because fixing the dog alone isn’t the sole solution to attacks and aggression.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Can an aggressive dog be cured?
A: Aggression in dogs isn’t really a curable condition, but something that can be managed, reduced, and minimize through continuous training. Starting early with training and socialization will help raise a friendlier and well-disciplined dog. It’s also important to ensure that the dog breeder where you got your pup observes responsible breeding practices.
Q: Can you train aggression out of a dog?
A: Dogs can be trained out of aggression. In fact, many dogs that seem to be hopelessly aggressive can be turned into calmer and docile pets with the right training approach. Also, hiring a professional dog trainer will yield better results since they are knowledgeable in animal behavior.
Q: Should I let my dogs fight it out?
A: Letting your dogs fight it out may not be a good decision. Dogs aren’t humans and they don’t have the ability to process complex thoughts and emotions. In the end, letting your dogs fight it out may result in serious and even life-threatening injuries among the canines. Instead, you should intervene when tension occurs between your dogs and you should focus on training them better.
Q: Should you muzzle an aggressive dog?
A: Muzzling an aggressive dog is often a temporary solution to stop the dog from hurting anyone. This is humane as long as the muzzle doesn’t impede breathing. Also, the muzzle should have enough space inside to let the dog open its mouth slightly for thermoregulation.
Q: How long should you keep dogs separated after a fight?
A: If your two dogs figured in a fight, you have to keep them separated for an hour or two. However, if one or both of the dogs are injured, you should keep them apart for 48 hours. This is to allow the dogs to recover and heal. But if the injuries are serious, you may need to separate the dogs for days to weeks.
Q: How do I get my dog to like other dogs?
A: Proper introduction, socialization, and training are necessary to make two dogs get along with each other. Also, you should consider the gender and breed compatibility of the canines. It’s because two dogs of the same gender are most likely to attack each other than the opposite gender.
Knowing how to stop dog from attacking other dogs starts by identifying the cause behind it. Aside from your own efforts, enlisting the help of a professional dog trainer will nip this aggression in the bud.
Do you have other methods in mind? Share it with us in the comment section below!