Most dog owners have experienced a dog fight at one time or another. Whether you have multiple pets in the home, frequent the dog park, or have just met a loose dog during your afternoon walk, fights between pets can be scary. The good news is that most inter-dog aggression is preventable, and with a little knowledge you can greatly decrease the odds of your dog fighting with another dog.
Why Dogs Fight
The foundation to preventing dog fights is to understand why they occur. While pets certainly may duke it out over dominance issues, there are many other reasons that fights happen.
Valuable Items – Dogs commonly will defend resources or items that they view as valuable. This may be food, a special toy, the sunny spot on the couch, or even an owner’s affection.
Same Gender Households – Within a dog pack, females and males are ranked separately. Therefore, while a male and female pet might live together quite harmoniously, adding another dog into the mix may trigger the need to establish a social ranking between the same sex dogs.
Motherly Instincts – Mother dogs have a strong urge to protect their puppies and may preemptively strike if she feels that another dog is a threat.
Fear – Dogs that have had bad experiences with other animals in the past may be inclined to fight out of self-defense.
Play – Not all dog fights are bad. Frequently play behavior can look very rough to an outside observer.
How to Prevent Dog Fights
A little forethought and planning can prevent a lot of dog fights. Understanding the reasons your dogs may fight can often help you to head off problems. Many fights can be eliminated by:
- Taking hormones out of the equation by spaying or neutering
- Careful consideration before adding another pet to the household
- Supervision when “valuable” toys or treats are given
- Separation of pets during feeding times if necessary
- Not allowing dogs on tie-outs or leashes to interact (restraint can heighten aggression)
- Socialize your puppy early in life
- Avoid dog parks and similar places if your dog is prone to fighting
- Never allow your dog to approach another dog without the owner’s permission
What to Do if a Dog Fight Happens
No matter how careful you may be, sometimes things are out of your control. Dog fights can happen to even the most conscientious pet owner. If you find yourself in the middle of a canine brawl, remember:
- Don’t hit, grab, or yell at fighting dogs as this may escalate the situation.
- Wait a second. Most dog fights will end on their own quickly.
- If fighting does not subside, try to place a physical barrier such as an umbrella or chair between the dogs. Never use yourself.
- A loud noise or throwing water may provide enough distraction to end the fight.
- Protect yourself and do not put any body parts anywhere they might accidentally be bitten.
- Always have any injuries, no matter how seemingly minor, examined by a veterinarian as soon as possible.
While many dogfights look and sound pretty scary, most of them are not serious. Dogs are capable of causing serious injury to each other, though, and so it is important to prevent fights whenever possible. Good training can go a long way to helping prevent or work on canine aggression issues. Spaying or neutering pets is also a very effective way to reduce inter-pet problems. If you have any questions or have a pet-fighting problem you would like to discuss with us, please feel free to give us a call. We are always happy to help.