Dog Suddenly Aggressive Towards Other Dog In the House

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So what should you do if one dog is being aggressive towards the other dog in your own house? Some dogs may even attack their fellow canines, leaving owners with lots of questions.

Whether it’s about reintroducing the dogs or the question of whether or not they should be separated after a dog fight and what line one should draw when it comes to the safety of other members in the house.

While it’s always saddening us to witness our beloved dogs fight each other, the problems are often pretty easy to solve if owners are ready for workarounds and training.

You’ll learn how to spot the signs of how serious a dog fight is (or was if you’re coming home too late), what to do with them and how to work on this issue.

My Dog Keeps Attacking My Other Dog For No Reason

Many owners report one of their dogs fighting with each other for no apparent reason. While it may seem like our dogs just go on murderous frenzy out of nowhere, that’s actually almost never the case.

Dogs always communicate using their body language which includes facial and vocal gestures like growling, body postures, and tail positions.

We humans can sometimes have a hard time reading theses signs but even though threats can be pretty clear to dogs, they too can challenge their fellow canine. And sometimes both refuse to back down.

In other cases, it’s just known issues that one dog has and the other doesn’t, as is the case with food aggression.

While the aggressive dog may have initially triggered a dog fight, your other dog might as well be the first to attack. Every dog has a different threshold of what they take.

Keep in mind that it’s never your dog’s fault, some dogs just have a tendency to take less bullying than others and they might strike the provoking dog.

As a responsible dog owner, it’s your responsibility to take precautions if one of your dogs has known issues like resource guarding, food aggression, not wanting to be annoyed by your new puppy, and so on.

We’ll dive deeper into this in the bottom section where we discuss why dogs fight and how to solve it.

Dogs fighting with each other at home

Why Is My Dog Suddenly Aggressive Towards Our Other Dog

While your dog might not outright attack the second dog in your household, signs of aggression can be a tell that something might happen in the future.

How can your dog display aggression towards your other dog?

  • Growling or snarling upon approaching
  • Baring teeth when food or toys are around
  • Snapping your other dog when overexcited
  • Redirecting leash reactivity towards other dogs
  • Bullying the weaker (usually smaller or younger) dog

These signs can all be perceived as aggression and can be indicative of future problems that might arise.

A very tense relationship is never welcome and should be resolved immediately upon being spotted, but what can you do?

How To Stop Dogs From Fighting In the Same Household

When it comes to stopping your dogs from fighting at home (or outside), it’s important to note that I’m referring to constant nagging, snapping, growling, and so on – not any immediate threat or dog attack.

I have an article that covers the actual dog on dog attack if you’re interested.

To stop dogs from fighting, the most important question is why your dogs fight in the first place. Once you know the root of the problem, you can take care of it.

So why do dogs fight?

  1. Resource guarding
  2. Food aggression
  3. Redirected overexcitement
  4. Lack of exercise
  5. Desire to be left alone
  6. Jealousy
  7. Pain
  8. Territorial issues / previous aggression

1. The basic explanations for fights with dogs are always resource guarding and food aggression. If one dog is known to have either of these issues, please take care of it early on and read the linked articles.

2. If you walk your dogs outside or guests are over and one of your dogs redirects the negative energy to your other dog due to his level of excitement, training will be required.

If that is the case, it’s best to walk your dogs separately and work on the overexcitement with lots of new situations, dogs, humans, noises, etc.

The whole desensitization and socialization package.

My Rottweiler puppy was quite overexcited too (which presented as tension on the leash, nothing serious) and the causes and ways to solve this are almost always identical which is why I’ve written an article on this too.

3. If one of your dogs has a lack of exercise, this could be another reason why he is constantly nagging your other dog.

Besides extensive walks, there are several other things you can do to entertain your dog in your own backyard. Make sure to adjust the amount and kind of exercise to your dog’s breed, age, and individual needs.

Sometimes this also means walking the dogs separately as they can have different exercise needs. A tired dog is a good dog.

5. When people introduce a new puppy into the family, the adult dog might not be so happy.

Some adult dogs handle puppies very well and can be the best teachers, but other dogs just don’t have the temperament to deal with puppies in their face all day.

If one of your dogs constantly annoys the other dog, you have to keep this from happening again and teach them how to respectfully treat and measuredly correct each other in an appropriate way.

6. When you introduce a new rescue and he’s all the rave, neighbors come over and pet him, he gets all the attention, then that may be great for him but much to your other dog’s dislike.

Dogs can feel some form of jealousy and it’s important to teach your first dog to handle jealousy but also make sure that both get attention equally.

Pitbull jealous of other dog

Go on bonding trips together, make sure they connect each other with positive things and not with negative experiences.

Visit a vet to rule out any physical injuries. You can check simple things like foreign objects stuck in the paw yourself.

7. Injuries are often not discovered right away and the resulting change in mood might be perceived as aggression if there’s another dog in the household.

8. I’ve decided not to include “dominance” since many people immediately connect that to the outdated dominance theory in dog training.

However, if you introduce a new dog, issues can happen if the introduction to each other was poor or even non-existent (see below).

Whether you believe in pack theory or not, it’s important that your dogs listen to you and recognise you as the leader and guide in which case training will be far easier.

Dog on dog aggression can not only happen between males, but also between females or even male and female dogs (although this is the best combination in many cases if both dogs have the appropriate temperament).

If your new rescue has come with baggage in form of dog aggression, you can resolve the issues with the steps and articles outlined above that include socializing and desensitizing your dog to others in order to create a positive connection. The assistance of a behaviorist may be necessary.

How To Tell If a Dog Fight Is Serious

If real attacks are happening, it’s time to quickly intervene.

After this happened or even when you’re just suspecting it, you should never leave your dogs alone if they’re not separated (and if that’s not possible, they should wear muzzles).

Muzzles are also mandatory if your dog is known to redirect any perceived aggression towards you, or other dogs and people.

I’d never recommend to anyone that they should let any dog fight “play out by itself”. That’s almost never the case.

While there certainly is a threshold when a dog attack gets really serious, you don’t want to get to that point.

As discussed above, if you spot signs of aggression, intervene and separate the dogs until you have a clear plan of what to do now and how to resolve any issues that may have built up over a long time.

How To Discipline a Dog After Fighting

While dogs do learn with proper guidance, corrections, and counter-conditioning, there’s nothing that you can immediately do that will resolve the issue.

Check out my ways of how to discipline your dog but keep in mind that a correction should always be clear, but measured as to not achieve the reverse effect of your dog losing respect for you too.

Separating the dogs is not a long-term solution, although it will work in the short term until you’ve figured out what the problem exactly is and how you can resolve the issue.

On the contrary, constant separation will put much stress on both dogs as well as yourself and other family members in which case a harmonic life isn’t possible anymore.

If you go so far as to isolate one of the dogs, it might cause even more issues and resentment expressed as aggression than before.

White brown dog lying on the floor

Reintroducing Dogs After a Fight

Reintroducing both your dogs in the same household is an important way for rehabilitation.

In some cases, poor introductions to the new family addition are the cause of the other dog’s non-acceptance.

Some dog breeds defend their territory pretty harshly since that’s what they’re bred to do. If you’ve just dropped a new dog into the other dog’s territory, problems are bound to happen.

Make sure that any and all introductions to each other happen on neutral ground. Introductions shouldn’t start with head-on meetings either since this can make one of your dogs uncomfortable.

Start by having somebody else lead the new dog towards you and then just start walking with you and your dog in the front.

Next, you can start with the meeting where they sniff each other more extensively.

Some dogs do not have any issues with dogs inside their territory (like my female Rottweiler), it’s still good to take precautions to avoid any confusions.

My Dog Killed My Other Dog What Should I Do?

This is a question you’ll find on Reddit more often than you’d probably like to.

It’s a sad story, no matter what the circumstances were but it’s important to not stick your head in the sand and start addressing this issue.

The advice that’s spread by people that presumably never really read up about dog training and behavior can be really dangerous.

Next is the popular “just surrender that dog to a shelter” or even better “euthanize the dog”.

Nearly no shelter will take a dog that killed another animal, much less another dog. Even if they did, they probably couldn’t train it and the dog would end up in the hands of a layman, without the slightest mention or explanation of the incident.

Euthanizing a dog for a mistake the owner made is also completely unacceptable in my personal opinion. No matter how you look at this, falsely assessing your dog(s) and/or not taking security precautions like isolating one potentially aggressive dog from the other are mistakes.

We can’t fix the past, but we can act differently in the future.

Start training with professional help. And I don’t just mean a certified trainer, I mean a really qualified behaviorist that has a proven track record and that you trust. Be ready to put in lots of time, effort, and money.

If this is no option for you, it’s completely understandable. Sometimes, circumstances in life make it hard to deal with these kinds of situations but you should at the very least try to solve the issue yourself (with professional help if needed).

In case you want to surrender the dog to a shelter or another owner directly, do your research, explain everything in detail and do not downplay anything. Try the hardest you can and don’t blame anything on the dog.

A dog that has killed before can definitely be very dangerous and should only go out muzzled and not interact with other dogs unsupervised (or not at all, depending on what exactly happened during the attack).

To summarise this, dog on dog aggression inside your own home can be really sad to watch and if you feel helpless, remember that their is a way out to teach your beloved canines to accept each other.

Lots of problems are easy fixes with the right training and patience and if you have any questions along the way, feel free to ask them in the comments!

Danielle
In love with dogs, their behavior and psychology. I am writing on this blog since February 2019 to provide you with valuable information on everything dogs. When I am not working on my blog, I study research articles and enjoy the time with my beloved Rottweiler Amalia.

31 thoughts on “Dog Suddenly Aggressive Towards Other Dog In the House”

  1. I just adopted a stray and he attacks my cats. I don’t want him to chase them out, and I won’t keep him if he continues to fight with them, The dog is very calm otherwise. He is about 6 months old, medium size, border collie, I think.

    Reply
    • Hi Victor, when you say he’s a Border Collie but you’re not sure does that mean he’s a mixed breed or could he be purebred? The Border Collie is a herding breed, so interaction with other animals is not so surprising.

      You have to consider that especially with strays, there will be a transition period and he might have a history with cats already. That being said, even if you had him since he’s a puppy, some dogs are just interested in cats more than others and training takes longer.

      How does the cat react? Most of the time, this goes both ways and the cat isn’t so friendly either. Is your pup just playfully chasing them or seriously attacking? It depends on the answer what the best way is from here. Playful chasing can be phased out with some positive reinforcement (when he’s not chasing) and clearly communicating when he’s doing what he shouldn’t do. If he’s attacking them, there’s most likely history with cats. Training will take some time and patience though, this dog most likely never learned how to interact with a cat (no matter if he’s playing or attacking).

      Very very few dogs instinctively know how to interact with the cat (most probably they’re not interested when you see a young dog not caring for a cat in your house at all).

      Getting out that excess energy with play, mental stimulation and walks can also work wonders. Check out my article on how to properly introduce a cat in your household (although with puppies, most tips should still help).

      Stay strong and be there for your new companion 🙂
      Danielle

      Reply
  2. Hi Danielle,
    I have two westie girls. The older one is around 22months and the younger one is about 15 months. The younger one has recently started attacking my older one. The older one was attached by a pitfall when she was 6 months old, so she wants nothing to do with conflict and generally just tries to escape. Seeing all of this breaks my heart.
    I have already contacted trainers, and we started crate training and going to the mat. This isn’t helping me immediately and this is happening more frequent now. I’m so freaked out that my own energy is now full of anxiety. I can’t pinpoint what the issue exactly is since we did have a lot of changes in the last few months (my ex moved out of the house) and the older one has been having health issues. Some of the attack instances have included bones, a toy and overexcitement. I do feel like the young one has a hard time getting to rest if she’s tired and she definitely gets grumpy, so that may also have something to do with it.

    Any advice you can offer is appreciated.

    Thanks for this wonderful article.

    Reply
    • Hey Ania,

      I totally understand your frustration with the current situation cause pinpointing the issue can be really hard. It’s always extremely important to observe the body language of both dogs. What exactly is the situation, how does your younger dog approach the older one and how does he react? Dogs constantly communicate through their body language.

      Although overexcitement is a wildly better issue compared to real aggression, at nearly 1 1/2y old puppy behavior shouldn’t be as common anymore. Did this just develop or was this happening for quite some time? Anyway, it does make sense that resource guarding is starting at this age because your dog might be testing the limits with you and the other canine. Both dogs need to learn to respect each other and the existing dog must not lose trust.

      Crate/obedience training can be a good start. You can make sure that there are no resources to fight over. Be there to intervene when both are eating in peace and one of them tries to snag away the bone from the other one. Don’t leave toys around and make sure to involve them in play. Teach your dog to be calm in general (obedience training helps with that) and reward appropriate behavior by your older dog. Not all adult dogs give out corrections even though this can really help as it’s measured and comes from herself through clear body language. Most importantly, exercise both dogs properly. With enough exercise, there will be less excess energy and your younger Westie will be far more satisfied overall.

      It’s a process though and there are no quick fixes but it’s important to be there to make sure nothing serious happens and that your dog learns to differentiate between right and wrong because they have no inherent concept of that.

      Wish you the best with your two dogs,
      Danielle

      Reply
  3. Hi Danielle –

    Our 11yo male lab shepherd mix has recently become aggressive towards our 1 1/2 yo female American Staffordshire Terrier. It happens when she is sitting with me or my husband even while he is sitting with the other one. The AST is a rescue who has lived with us for almost a year. There were isolated issues in the past with food, but we resolved those issues with different feeding times. This new behavior really has us worried.

    Reply
    • Hi Tracey,

      what you’re describing could definitely mean your male dog is jealous of your female AST. It’s important to note the exact body language in behavior. Most of the time, the dog is not really acting “aggressive” but there can surely be a behavioral issue especially when your male is used to all the attention for himself.

      However, aggression from male to female is relatively rare and I’d recommend you have a look at the posture, tail, vocalisation, etc. of both dogs. Is he scooting over from the person currently petting him and barks, growls, bares his teeth, hackles or what is it? How is the female reacting? Licking lips, turning her head away or even going away or is she not putting up with it?

      It’s important for rescues to feel safe in their new environment and an older dog an really help build their character and also make socialisation easier, assuming things already work out inside the house.

      Depending on what’s happening exactly, I’d assume that the best way to go is desensitisation and counter-conditioning. Reward your dog if he stays while your female is petted by another person or whatnot. Never encourage bullying behavior through petting him if he chases off the female. Ultimately, he should be able to deal with that issue.

      Often, jealousy problems impact other activities too. What about toys, are there any problems? Are they playing harmoniously together? What’s the communication between them like? With more background information, it’s also easier to give an answer :).

      Cheers,
      Danielle

      Reply
      • Thank you.

        The AST has been with us for almost 11 months. Besides a little food aggression when she first moved it (which was modified by both us and AST) there have been no issues. They will play outside together, running in the backyard. No issue with toys because he never played with them. They are all here. We bought him some when we first bought her toys and he just ignored them. The aggression is when he sees her getting attention and petting even when he is getting attention and petting himself. As soon as he sees it he will low growl and then bark and lunge. The older dog has always been very low key and calm. And yes, the AST does recognize him as the Alpha and defers to him.

        Reply
      • Hi Danielle

        My dog Opal is about 18 months old. We got her from the local animal shelter at 6 months of age. She had been returned due to being able to jump a six foot fence and playing rough with other dogs. I had hope with lots of love and understanding she would develop better behavior. She has attacked or been attacked by now by three of my dogs. She tends to snap at the air and give the wrong social cues with other dogs. She is walked most times three times a day and crated when she is aggressive. I have to keep her separated from one of my dogs as well. I am thinking the next step is to muzzle her when she is out with the other dogs in the house. I just do want to return her to the shelter because she can be an excellent dog. I also do want her hurting any other dogs or people. Just not sure if her protective behavior and poor social skills can be fixed.

        Thanks

        Camille

        Reply
        • Hey Camille, wow there’s a lot of happening. First of all, it’s important to find out more about your dog’s history and what led to this point. Furthermore, it’s extremely important to know the body language Opal and the others are displaying. Is she really the aggressor or might the other dogs (or some of them) be at fault too?

          You’ve mentioned that she has been attacked by three dogs already, it’s not entirely clear how many dogs you have in total and whether or not they’re small/big, male/female, old/young, neutered or not, etc. Are they all well socialized and interact harmoniously or have there been problems among these dogs already? These are all essential points to consider.

          Walking her sufficiently and also providing mental exercise is the first step. Crating when she’s aggressive is never a good idea because you introduce the crate as punishment, you can read more about my crate article here. Separation also only works temporarily, it’s never a permanent fix. While love is very important for bonding, it almost never solves a behavioral issue and thinking that this will go away on its own is wishful thinking – it won’t go away without proper training.

          What your dog needs (apart from physical/mental exercise, a safe-haven space, etc.) is desensitization to other dogs and counter-conditioning. However, it’s hard to say what your next steps should be without knowing more about the background of these incidents.

          You can almost certainly fix your issue but it’ll require lots of time and commitment and maybe even help of a behaviorist. Having so many other dogs doesn’t make the challenge easier. There’s so much to consider in these situations.

          Hope it’ll work out with patience and training,
          Danielle

          Reply
  4. Hello,

    I have an 8 year old Newfie/Shepherd (neutered male) and a 7 year old Newfie (spayed female) that have been inseparable together since he was 11 months old and we got her. They had a few “fights” when he would be too rough or try to mount her and she didn’t like it. Maybe 6 times in 7 years and never serious. The male is not great around other dogs, he doesn’t have good manners and barks, but has never hurt another dog. I would have said my female was the calmest dog in the world.

    We got a new lab puppy three weeks ago, female, and it has gone better than I ever could have imagined. They are great with her, I am just careful because they are huge dogs and could hurt the puppy if they play too rough or sit on her. No resource guarding, no nothing.

    My male has become kind of quiet the last few days and two days ago all three were playing in the backyard with me supervising and my female newf attacked my male. Like a real attack. I pulled her off.

    Yesterday the male wasn’t anywhere near her, again outside, he started playing with the puppy a bit and I could FEEL the air change. My female newf got dead silent and was so still. I knew she was going to attack him again, and she did. He was 10 feet away and I tackled her. It was with intent, she was set on getting him.

    Then today, he was laying and I was holding the female again by the collar because she was still again. I slipped, let her go and she launched herself at him again. I got her and pulled her off. He isn’t even looking at her when this happens. Or even really defending himself.

    I have NO idea what is going on and it is scary. The puppy is fine and they aren’t showing any aggression towards her. They absolutely LOVED each other before this and in the house and 99% of the time they are fine together. What the heck is going on??
    Thanks for any insights.

    Reply
    • Hi Michelle,

      thanks for taking the time to describe your case. Totally understand that it might seem confusing or even scary to witness something like this. Good to know that your Newfies got along since your male is 1y old – little incidents here and there when the male mounts her or something like that are totally normal as long as it’s nothing serious. My female Rottie doesn’t put up with being mounted at all and funnily enough, I had a rescue here for some time and he too mounted in the beginning but surprisingly my female was very calm and he didn’t do it again after a couple of times. Maybe my dog knew it was excitement paired with the fact that she tends to be less harsh towards older males. Just a note on how circumstances change the situation.

      Since the only new addition in your case is the puppy, it probably has something to do with your female Lab. Apart from the third accident, your male always seemed to interact with both or at the very least with the pup. It could be various things including jealousy on part of your older female or maybe she feels like he’s playing too rough, especially if you say your male can have bad manners sometimes. While some females reject puppies from other dogs, there are female who become overly protective of them.

      It’s really hard to determine without seeing the fine nuances of the female’s body language. If you say the male is not looking, is he intentionally turning his head away to appease or is he just really not looking? What exactly is he doing with the pup when she attacks?

      Also, when you say she attacked him pretty seriously, did she break skin or what was the extent of the injury? Did he fight back? Sometimes we think something looks extremely serious when, in fact, there’s no real injury afterwards and it was just a harsh correction part of your female. That’s not to downplay these incidents becasuse they’re pretty serious and separating them when away or supervising when you’re is essential until you’ve figured this out.

      If all else fails, you might want to think about contacting a behaviorist and try to figure this out. The more information you have on these situations (maybe including video) the better a behaviorist (and the online community) can help in these situations.

      Glad it’s going well with the puppy though! Be careful that it’s not becoming a habit because puppies pick up on the adult’s behavior and can mirror it in some cases. The adult dogs can be great for socialization if done right :).

      Let me know how it goes,
      Danielle

      Reply
  5. Hi, we have a dog that has just started showing aggression toward 2 of our other dogs. The aggressive dog is our largest male. It is very random and he will attack them in front of me or I hear it and run to where they are. We do not have a new puppy. It has been 3 years since we added a new dog to our home. No new people or babies. We are at a loss.

    Reply
    • Hey Elizabeth,

      sorry to hear you’re having this kind of stress currently, but unfortunately it’s really hard to offer advice without knowing the exact circumstances. Attacks very rarely happen out of nowhere (although it can certainly seem that way) and there’s some kind of warning/sign which could be connected to something that happened or at the very least, you can learn to read the signs when something is about to happen.

      Depending on the severity, you should definitely separate the larger dog when you can’t supervise as a temporary solution and look into hiring a real dog behaviorist.

      If nothing changed in the environment, it could be that your dog’s not feeling well – a vet appointment will clear that up. Even something like a poor diet can affect behavior so some other medical issues are definitely possible too.

      Apart from that, possible reasons include jealousy, resource guarding, too little exercise and it’s taken out on the other dogs, and much more.

      Reply
  6. Hi Danielle

    I have a MBT & and a fox terrier mix,
    Here is a post I sent into a support group

    a little back story. I got my MBT in October 2019 @10wks, I had 2 female terrier mixes at home (i know crazy) all 3 got along fine for 9 weeks, my 5 yr old mix attacked the BT a few times, at 4 months old the BT finally decided to show her who was boss and latched on for this first time. My daughter had to choke till release, the BT. Over the next 4 months they continued to fight and it was more frequent and more latching on. It was awful rotating them.
    Thru all this my older 11 yr old and my BT had a totally different dynamic and never a problem. I actually chose to rehome my 5 yr old mix who was the instigator.
    Fast forward to Saturday when my BT attacked & latched onto my poor 11 yr old totally submissive senior dog.
    Had to be choked till release again & she is much stronger now. Reintroduced the next day, all good, then tonight attacked her again. I am devastated. I love this BT like no other dog, but this attacking is simply a flaw of the breed 😭, more owners need to realize that. Yes, they will attack for no reason. Don’t know what to do? Please any suggestions, no hate please

    EDIT; MBT is 20months now, she is spayed after her 2nd heat.
    She does not think she is alpha with the humans in our house or my senior until 6 days ago. She has attacked again and latched on bad.

    I am so devastated

    Reply
    • Hey Heath, first of all: After the first incident, you should never leave your dogs alone unsupervised or when you do, separate them. Also, a muzzle at all times inside the home might be required to prevent anything serious from happening from now on. Instead of choking your dog out which in itself poses a health risk, you should think about a break stick to interrupt any biting.

      Rehoming the 5yr old dog might not have been the best choice, considering both sides had issues and it was just a matter of time when those issues would resurface. Having 3 females is also a recipe for disaster in most cases. There have been countless studies on breed-specific legislation and how useless it is but what you mean are the genetics which is different to condemning a whole breed, not considering their exact genes and working purpose (fighting for some breeding lines, unfortunately). If this dog’s specific genetic pool consists of aggressive behavior then that’s definitely deeply rooted in the dog. However, this should not be the case if you’ve got the dog from a responsible breeder and did your research. These breeds definitely are strong-willed though and paired with past negative experiences is also an accident waiting to happen.

      Your MBT probably needs a lot of time and patience to get back on track with the right training and help of a behaviorist or other professional. If you’re committed to doing that, it might just work in the long-run but there’s no guarantee for your senior dog and you’ll always have to take precautions. Whatever you do, please do not reintroduce another dog or whatnot in hopes of solving the problem or starting fresh, there’s a reason these behaviors developed and the canine body language can be very subtle at times but there are nearly always some kind of signs.

      Reply
  7. Hello! Our dog Harper has recently become somewhat aggressive towards our dog Loki. Loki is much bigger than she is, but he is still clearly stressed around her. She growls slightly when they approach sometimes and he tries to stay clear of her. They got into a mild fight that was quickly dispersed and no dog was harmed. She has been food anxious since we got her since she was a stray before. She won’t growl or nip at you or other dogs near her food, but she does try to eat as quickly as possible. We got her a special bowl to slow her down. She also is very demanding of being pet. Once you start to pet her, if you stop, she will crawl on you and nuzzle your hand and paw at you until you pet her again. I believe it is some form of claiming of myself or my girlfriend that is instigating this, but I’m not sure how to calm her down. Using treats for training is difficult since she wants the treats so bad that nothing else matters to her. She knows how to sit and I’ve been slowly teaching her to wait for my command until she eats her food, but progress is slow and I’m untrained in this area. Any advice you can provide would be greatly appreciated!

    Reply
    • Hi Matt,

      how long have the two known each other? Although she isn’t food aggressive it would still help her if you would work on the steps outlined here to become more comfortable with you being around her food.
      Letting her wait for your command to eat is a great start. That way you are showing her that you provide access to food so there is nothing to fear from you. Be patient but consistent. Don’t let her eat a single time before you have told her to.
      Regarding the pet demands, try to completely ignore her crawling in the future as she is being reinforced every time you actually pet her in response to the demands. If this doesn’t work, simply leave the room for 15 seconds or until she calms down and leaves you alone. You can also combine this with a command like “no pet” and then leave the room immediately.
      You can try using more low-value treats or toys but the most important thing is that she should be listening to you whether you have treats or not. I use treats very rarely so the training won’t depend on them.

      Hope this helps,
      Danielle

      Reply
  8. We have 3 dogs. 2 are terrier mix litter mates (boy and girl) and the other one is an older female Shepard/lab mix. They have always gotten along for the past 6 years. This week the lil ones are being aggressive towards the Shep/lab when she gets scared from the thunder. The terrier mixes snapped at her, and got in a lil scuffle with her. One follows her and growls like she is herding her. I’m heart broken. What can I do?🐕😩🐕🐕

    Reply
    • Hey Stephanie, it’s pretty hard to tell from afar why your Shep/Lab’s fear is causing the two others to pile on. Maybe they’re not totally confident and the redirect their own fear or they sense the “weakness”. Dogs can definitely be ruthless but it’s pretty uncommon for this behavior to happen out of nowhere.

      Have all your dogs been properly socialized? Have you worked on the thunder issue with desensitization? Of course, it’s really bad if your Shep mix is already afraid and the other two dogs worsen the situation. It’s pretty common for insecure dogs to follow the actions of others (hence why your second Terrier joins in).

      I suggest you find the root of this problem and avoid any accidents that could damage the bond further in the meantime. The exact body language is key which is why it’s often a good idea to consult a trainer/behaviorist to have an outside opinion.

      Cheers,
      Danielle

      Reply
  9. Hi! I just ran into this post and I really hope you respond because I’m a bit desperate. Here’s my situation. We adopted a 2 yo female Old English Sheepdog that is spayed. We already had 2 male maltipoos of the same age also spayed and even though they struggled at the beginning, they’re good and playful with each other. The OES was in the hospital for 8 days straight after swallowing a rock and three days after she returned home she got into a fight with one of the maltipoos. Usually when they play and one of the little ones wants to stop, they growl or throw little bites at her and she stops but rarely engages, and even when she rarely does they’d stop as soon as I tell them. But this time she did engage and didn’t stop. She had him from the neck and shook him badly to the point where I thought she had killed him. The other maltipoo came to the rescue and tried to defend his brother. Long story short after minutes of battling her to let go of one or the other I finally contained the situation. One of the dogs needed stitches and a tube to drain liquid from the injury but thankfully he’s fine. I’ve had them separated ever since but there was another situation 3 days later where the dogs heard noise outside and started barking through the window. The OES jumped through the baby door I had placed and proceed to bark to the window as well but landed on the dog she had initially hurt which upset him and made him bark at her (and maybe try to bite her, idk I couldn’t see) to which she responded by attacking him again. This time I was able to get her to let go off him pretty soon without having the other dog interfere but as soon as I did he ran to his crate terrified and wouldn’t come out and when he did he was shaking and you could see the fear in his face. Ive kept them in separate rooms now and I’ve also contacted a trainer but we start training in a week. I contacted her previous owner and she told me she’s always been the sweetest and that her other OES bullied her and she never defended herself or acted aggressive towards her other dogs. I would like your take on the situation If you can. I’m always watching them when they’re in the same room and at moments she seems to want to play with them, and they seem to be getting familiar with each other but sometimes I feel like she’s going to attack them. I don’t know if it’s fear that’s making me see things because they haven’t growled or shown teeth at each other or shown any type of aggressiveness. My fear after the second time she attacked him is that she’s going to be snapping like that every time they “disagree” and that she now knows she’s superior to them therefore will go straight to attacking them when she doesn’t like how they’re acting. I’m just so anxious all the time at the thought of her attacking them again. I just would like to know if you think this is something that can be corrected or prevented to happen again. Again, I would really appreciate if you responded. Thanks!

    Reply
    • Hi Valerie, thanks for the description of what’s going on, I totally understand that you’re feeling anxious right now. A little side not to keep in mind is that our energy can transfer onto the dogs and while it’s hard to contain your feelings, it’s important not to freak out because that too can prompt the mood to turn sour.

      The fact that her previous owner said that she was “bullied” is not an indication that this behavior comes out of nowhere now, but I’d rather take it as a sign of why she’s finally standing up for herself. You say that the OES usually doesn’t engage, but that means that she tried to initiate play and the little one wasn’t having it and growled so the OES responded, right?

      It’s important to find out which dog crossed the line. Did the Maltipoo give a reasonable correction and your OES just wasn’t accepting that correction, thus overstepping her boundary with an attack. Or was it more like the Maltipoo snapped at her and the OES might have perceived it as attack?

      While it may seem unreasonable that the OES shakes her so hard (and it’s certainly a serious situation) dogs can be savages when it comes to this, especially when the correction given by the Maltipoo was unfair and unjustified and the Maltipoo just wouldn’t let it go.

      That being said, no matter who really started, the “fights” often look more devastating than they really are. I’m not trying to defend the OES’s actions, but usually dogs have a good sense of how much damage they inflict. The fact that she just came back from the hospital can definitely contribute to the short fuse.

      That being said, separating them for now and contacting a trainer/behaviorist is definitely the right step. Make sure to find somebody who specializes in aggression and asks the right questions and suggests actionable but also reasonable measures and training methods. With work and patience, you might get their relationship to work again.

      Wish all four of you the best,
      Danielle

      Reply
  10. Hi. We have 3 dogs who have been together for many years. They have always been the best of friends…until the last 3 weeks. Our youngest dog has begun sniffing the oldest and smallest dog then attacking her. Full on attack without a seeming warning. Both dogs behave normally otherwise. Last time I saw this one of the dogs had cancer. Thoughts?

    Reply
    • Hey Darlen, sorry you’re having this situation in your home, it’s certainly unpleasant to see our dog who seemingly loved each other all the time go at each other now, especially if it’s one of them starting the fight.

      Do you mean the last time you saw this somewhere else the dog had cancer or was it your own dog? Anyway, a medical issue could definitely be the reason behind this so I’d suggest having your dog checked out by a vet.

      Dogs often don’t display pain but it can definitely be a cause of aggression. Depending on your dog’s age, hormonal changes are definitely possible too. Maybe something happened that you didn’t catch, there are so many moving parts but I’d definitely get the health checked out first.

      Body language and finding the cause of any attack is key to solve the issue.

      Reply
  11. Hi! we have two female boxers that have been raised together. Just yesterday the youngest, Persie, (3 yo) started attacking the older one, Penny (10 yo). I want to say it’s protecting my aunt, who literally just got here yesterday for a visit, it seems to be the only trigger i can tell. Persie does not want Penny anywhere near my aunt, and she’ll pretty much sit on my aunt as if “guarding” her. but it’s not constant either. Sometimes they are totally normal and fine together and play… then, she’s wanting to rip the other’s face off. Suggestions? (other than get rid of my aunt, lol) Thank you!

    Reply
    • Hi Vanessa, your situation depends a lot on what exactly your dog is doing to the other, is it really an attack or just a stern warning like a growl, raised hackles, etc.? Has there ever been guarding of any kind – resources like toys, food or is she generally territorial? Also, it’s important whether or not your dog has shown jealous behavior before and how the overall behavior with your aunt has been and is currently.

      A lot of moving parts, but of course, your primary focus should be avoiding attacks. You need to establish that it’s okay for all dogs to be around your aunt and that your youngest needs to respect that. However, it’s important to find the real cause first and I’d suggest watching her behavior closely and if you’re really worried, consult a dog behaviorist to help.

      Hope this helps,
      Danielle

      Reply
  12. Hello! I moved in with my boyfriend and his cattle dog about 8 months ago. I have a big goofy Airedale terrier I brought with me. The cattle dog was notoriously sassy and my dog is notoriously overbearing (he always wants to play). So for months it was getting them used to eachother, teaching the Airedale to chill a bit and respect space and teaching the cattle dog not to snap immediately. Well, as of two weeks ago, everything changed on a dime and we have no idea why. Oscar is now very aggressive back, unprovoked, and only towards the cattle dog. He has never been like this towards any living thing, he plays with many other dogs, even cats, I have no idea why he has now changed and is attacking the cattle dog. My only guess is it may have something to do with a friends dog we were dog sitting for. A female golden stayed with us for two weeks and the Airedale LOVES her. They played and hung out constantly. But amidst that, the Airedale is now super aggressive towards the cattle dog. Started out looking like he was protecting the golden, but now she’s gone and it’s still constant. HELP!

    Reply
    • Hi Rachel, it can definitely happen that the sassy dog starts this behavior after the last drop causes the glass to overflow meaning that all the previous warnings have been ignored. However, from what you’re describing it sounds like you took care of that not happening even though it may depend on one dog’s specific temper and how much they’re willing to take. It could be that the Airedale is just not taking to the warnings/corrections and now the mood has turned sour. May have been the accumulation of events or one big event that set it off. Could it be that something happened along the lines of what I previously mentioned with the Cattle dog having enough of it and correcting the Airedale who was not accepting it at all and perceived it as an attack?

      How is the Cattle dog taking it? What’s the nature of the attacks? Growls, harsh but justified correction? Unjustified? Perhaps even attacks without any provocation at all? Beware that the signs can be really subtle and it may just look like your Airedale is going off for no reason, even though I can’t really imagine the provocation if, as you say, the Cattle dog is keeping to him/her.

      In regards to him/her – if your Cattle dog is also a male it could very well be that your Airedale is fighting over the female Golden, so to speak. If that’s not it, I wouldn’t know any obvious reason related to the Golden because your dog only seemed to have fun when the Cattle dog was present, so it’s a neutral connection at best.

      Hard to tell with these cases and if you need to look deeper into this, I’d suggest hiring a professional to take a look. Sometimes it’s easier for a third person to evaluate body language and so on.

      Danielle

      Reply
  13. Hi, Danielle,
    I have a 5 year old beagle mix. I have had her since she was 4 weeks old (I bottle fed her to get her out of a neglect situation). I also have a catahoula mix that has lived with said beagle for over 4 years now. In addition to these 2 (they’re my main problem) we have a pitty mix, a Great Pyrenees, and a heeler. All girls except for the heeler. We live on a farm and have a huge yard fenced off for the dogs that covers about 3/4 of an acre. Over the past year, my beagle mix and the catahoula have started fighting. We separate them quickly and keep them apart for a day or less to give them space to calm down. It seems like my beagle is the one starting it (which breaks my heart) but maybe the catahoulas body language could be starting it? They used to be the best of friends and I hate that they don’t seem to get along anymore. I don’t want to get rid of either of them. But my beagle has been hurt before from their fights. Not enough to need stitches but she has gotten a small tooth hole in her face before. My beagle is high strung. She barks at everything/everyone. She doesn’t really growl, but barks a lot. The catahoula seems to be laid back. She’s a big cuddler. They both get attention. I snuggle with my beagle mix every day when I get home from work and my husband is always snuggling with the catahoula as she’s his baby. It breaks my heart to see my girl get hurt. Idk what to do to fix the situation. Again, getting rid of them is not an option as the beagle is my heart dog and the catahoula is my husband’s. What can I do to fix it? I’ve thought about getting my beagle put on anti anxiety meds to see if it helps?

    Reply
    • Hey Wenger, getting rid of either one of the dogs is not necessary in most cases, especially if it worked before. Also, our canines are like family, and working through the problem is the start so let’s get started :).

      While medication can help, it’s very rarely necessary (as in there are chemical issues in a dog’s brain). However, they won’t treat the underlying cause of the attacks. Separating them is necessary to break up the fight, but prolonged separation also won’t address the issue and possibly make it even worse. You mentioned a huge yard, can you be really sure you’re that you’re witnessing every interaction between your dogs?

      You also mentioned that the Catahoula dog is laid back while the Beagle mix is high-strung and seemingly starting the fights. It could still be that the other dog is starting the fights, especially if you don’t see every interaction, but for now it seems to be that your Beagle is the cause. Have you ruled out medical issues? Pain can cause dogs to react like this. It does seem odd that your Beagle is singling out the other dog though. Any signs why? Is she specifically seeking her out while the other dogs are around and just as easy of a target? Have you witnessed the Beagle start the fight (it’s odd that only she seems to walk away with injuries)?

      I’d suggest noticing the exact behavior and then take it from there. Before suggesting medication or even something drastic like re-homing, I’d definitely try to consult a professional dog behaviorist to check it out and help you.

      Danielle

      Reply
  14. Reading Darlen’s comment (similar story to ours-friendly dog suddenly attacks dog it has lived with for years), I have wondered about a dog sensing the cancer or other illness and attacking , not attacking due to having the cancer/ hurt. Have you ever heard of this type of aggressive behavior?

    Reply
    • Hey Karen, sadly there’s not enough conclusive research to determine whether or not dogs can sense cancer which causes them to attack. However, we do know that dogs can sense diabetes and other illnesses and combined with the fact that animals are known to attack other hurt animals for a variety of reasons, it is theoretically possible.

      However, nobody specifically heard of this type of aggression because it’s hard to pinpoint as one would have to relate the attack to the specific illness and then eliminate all other factors which is really hard. If an illness is involved, you also get the wild card meaning that the healthy dog might be seen attacking the one with cancer, but it’s the dog with cancer who showed signs of aggression due to possible pain in the first place.

      Hope that helps,
      Danielle

      Reply

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