With dog to dog aggression - caution is the key. Cats chase mice and birds. Falcons and hawks hunt small animals. Dogs fight. It seems to be part of nature's plan. Every dog owner who spends time outdoors with his dog has had his dog involved in a fight with another dog, or exhibiting aggressive behavior that indicated that the dog was spoiling for fight. Sometimes the reason is obvious, the other dog showed aggression or entered territory claimed by your dog. Other times it's spontaneous, occurring with no apparent reason at all. Some dog are simply aggressive with all other dogs. Owners ask, "Why?"
Many dog to dog aggression fights start when one dog or the other feel that his dominance is being threatened. It may be territorial; it may involve a potential mate; or it may be jealousy for an owner's attention. If a dogfight ends when one dog displays submissiveness, the fight was a reinforcement of the winner's dominance. If the aggressive dog attacks only smaller dogs, it's a display of dominance from a dog that has not been able to establish dominance with larger dogs. In human terms, it would be called bullying.
Some fights, from the owner's viewpoint, are justified. Defensive and territorial disputes are normal for most dogs. Where possible, without danger of injury, the fights should be stopped, but the dog should not be punished for protecting himself or his property. General dog to dog aggression toward all other dogs, or to one or two dogs in particular, however, should be curbed by training to change the aggressive behavior.
The aggressive impulse is inherent in dogs. Generally it's males that are most aggressive, but females may become extremely aggressive when caring for a litter. Paradoxically, puppies and young dogs don't fight, but their play is excellent practice for fighting in the future. The aggressive impulse was mandatory for survival in the distant past, before dogs became integral citizens in the human community. Despite their centuries of domestication, feral behaviors lurk in the dog's brain as it does in humans. Humans, however, have laws, tradition, and conscience to limit their aggression. Dogs have only circumstances to determine their aggressive behavior.
Regardless of the reason for any specific dog fight, when a fight is in progress, owners feel compelled to break it up and wade into the fray. This is not always the best choice. In many cases the owner becomes the most seriously injured participant, sometimes to the level of disfigurement or death.
Screaming at the fighting dogs is almost automatic, but does nothing. The dogs are too busy to listen. Some grab for the dog's collars to pull them apart, a sure prescription for serious bites. Dog fights can be vicious events. You don't want to be a victim. Be cautious.
If possible, get someone to help. With the help of another person, each of you can grab one dog by the hind legs and pull them away from each other. Spin them slowly in a circle to cause them to concentrate on not loosing their balance. Don't let go until the dogs are separated by a barrier of some sort. Some advise pulling on the tail rather than the legs, these people have obviously never broken up a fight between two tailless boxers!
If you are the owner with an aggressive dog, you can avoid dog to dog aggression by muzzling your dog when out for a walk. A muzzled dog usually learns that he is not a threat and behaves better with a muzzle than without. When forced to socialize with other dogs while muzzled, some aggressive dogs lose that aggressive urge and actually begin to enjoy the companionship of other dogs.
Article by Nancy Cope of Pampered Dog Gifts an online dog boutique - the place to shop for dog gifts and unique dog toys.
It is very common for dogs to be aggressive towards other dogs in certain situations. Particularly when they are on a leash or behind a fence, dogs can feel trapped or threatened. In this type of situation, many dogs will react by showing hostility towards another dog they see or come in contact with. They are protecting their territory, protecting you, or protecting themselves. This all makes sense, but that doesn't mean that dog to dog aggression is something you have to live with. You can, and you should, do something about it.
A Different Point of View
In order to deal effectively with dog to dog aggression, you have to view it as you would any other bad behavior. And just like any bad behavior, dog to dog aggression can be addressed and eliminated by utilizing the proper training techniques. You may feel that you can just deal with it, but addressing dog to dog aggression is better for you and your dog for several reasons.
If your dog engages in aggressive behavior towards other dogs, it can put a great strain on the relationship between you and your dog. This type of bad behavior can make walks frustrating and unpleasant experiences for both of you. You will be unhappy with your dog, and your dog will likely be confused about why. In his or her mind, they were protecting you and themselves. This is necessary behavior as far as your dog is concerned. He's not going to understand why you don't approve.
It will also be better for both your safety and that of your dog if you can eliminate dog to dog aggressive behavior. There are numbers of unpleasant scenarios to contemplate. Your dog may pull you down trying to get at another dog, or he may break free of your grasp all together. These are not good situations to contemplate, but if you have an aggressive dog, it's likely that you have thought about them more than once.
It's time to do something about this aggressive behavior. To do this though, you have to take charge of your relationship with your dog and take control of the situation. Your dog will respond to the cues he gets from you. You need to stay calm and patient throughout the training process. It can take some time, and certainly some effort on the part of both you and your dog, but it can be done.
Just like in any other training situation, you need to be the alpha – the boss. There can be no ambiguity in your dog's mind about who is in charge – him or you. Once you've accomplished this, you're already half way there. Maintaining your consistency during every training session is essential to your success as well.
Time For a Change
There's no use hoping this behavior will go away. In fact, aggressive behavior, if not addressed, will often only get worse with time. You need to approach the situation in the right way, but you do need to deal with it, and the sooner the better.
Aggression or dominance scuffle? Can you tell the difference? Many dog owners on our dog training forum have asked: "How can you tell the difference?" This is the first in a series that will show you how to tell.
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