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Dog Suddenly Aggressive Towards Other Dog In the House

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!

About Danielle

I am the founder of PawLeaks where I share weekly tips on dog training and behavior. Sharing a passion for dogs and helping owners to solve problems through understanding canine behavior and modification is my number one goal.

Deb

Thursday 28th of July 2022

We have 2 female dogs. An 11 yr old small poodle/Schnauzer mix and a 3 yr old large lab/hound mix. We’ve had both of them since they were puppies. The 11 yr old has always been top dog and they have both gotten along happily without incident. The other night we had lots of family over and had a campfire. My daughter was holding the 11 yr old on her lap and put her down, the other dog was close by. The 11 yr old dog growled first, but then the 3 yr old dog grabbed the 11 yr old by the neck and started shaking. It was awful and unprecedented. We managed to get them separated and believe the older dog will be okay.

Never in my wildest dreams did I see this coming. We’re separating them when we aren’t right there and can deal with the 2 of them. But, I am worried what the 3 yr might do next. She has always been a barker and slow to warm up to people, but we believed she didn’t have a mean bone in her body or the capacity to hurt anyone. Now I’m not so sure. Any advice?

Danielle

Saturday 30th of July 2022

Hi Deb, there was probably something happening which caused the older dog to growl and the younger one to attack. Perhaps the older dog already noticed the impending attack or she wanted the younger one to just back off. It's hard to tell without seeing their body language, it might be best to consult a trainer especially since your dog is senior and attacks like this can be quite harmful.

It's good to keep them separate for now, but long term, I'd consult a qualified trainer to at least look at this and make sure it won't happen again.

T g coker

Friday 22nd of July 2022

Hi. We had an older German Shepard neutered male at the time we adopted a shelter spayed female puppy, possibly lab and pit mix. She is quite an alpha dog. We live on a large farm 1/4 mi off the road so the dogs can run loose for exercise. Otherwise they are fed in separate runs in a kennel which was a boarding kennel. They are also house dogs. The shepherd tolerated the female but the female is a hunter. She kills snakes, voles, squirrels, lizards and has even caught a bird. She moves away from us when she has prey until she is tired of messing with it. Also, our daughter and hubby visited from out of state with their female rescue. Our female appeared okay until the other female growled. Our female snarled and jumped on her but we were right there and separated them immediately. We later, unfortunately, had to euthanize our 10 yr old shepherd due to a medical issue. The 2.5 yr old female changed some of her behavior. She would bark for hours at night which she never did before and would not get on his house bed. We think she was grieving the loss of her housemate so we opted to get her a companion. After a couple months we adopted a shelter 1.8 yr old neutered pit male who had a rough puppyhood but is very gentle, especially with people. At first they got along as the male pit is submissive, then about the second week he had his toy and laid it on the floor in front of him and she pounced on it. He growled and she attacked him, drawing blood. We pulled them apart and kept them separated a few days. Also, no toys except when separated. We now use a humane muzzle on her when they are together as we don’t want her to hurt him. They can be outdoors together when she is muzzled. She does not like the muzzle though. So another 10 days or so passed and last night both dogs were next to my husband who was fixing a snack. They were probably hoping for a treat. Apparently she did not like the male being between her and my husband and snarled and jumped on the male dog. No harm as muzzle worked. I scolded her and told her no. She does not seem to mind the male dog most of the time and will wag her tail. Last night in the house when he was in his crate she was unmuzzled and laid nearby facing him, watching him. Was this intimidation? No growling or adverse behavior. We try to be aware of our actions and not create jealousy but not sure how we should proceed to acclimate them to each other. Any suggestions you may have will be appreciated.

Danielle

Monday 25th of July 2022

Hi, since your female dog had a couple of issues with other dogs already, it might be that the crucial socialization window was missed. Did you work with your dog on that? It happens quite often, especially if you're living somewhat secluded, that dogs don't get exposed to other people, noises, and dogs much and thus are not very social.

Some dogs just are not into other dogs and that's okay. Growling is also acceptable behavior as a form of communication if it's reasonable, but attacking is never reasonable. It's good to supervise them and avoid further accidents by muzzling. The only solution to this is probably socializing in general (with muzzle) and I'd suggest looking into dog trainers.

Body language is important and a tail wag doesn't have to be positive. Staring can be intimidating behavior, but it doesn't have to. Some basic rules such as no toys or treats around to avoid jealousy but ultimately, it's probably best for all of you if you keep training her so you at least only have to separate them when unsupervised.

By the way: Since it was just the second week, she may just need more time to accept him. How you introduced them to each other also matters. Positive experiences together will help creating a bond.

Hope that helps, Danielle

Nayeli Segura

Thursday 30th of June 2022

Hi Danielle,

I have a rescue golden retriever female( we believe she is 2yo) that has been with us for 4 months and a golden /great Pyrenees mix female that we rescued and has been with us for 6 years

In the recent days we have had to incidents with the youngest, first she got into a fight with another dog that we were dog sitting ( we had done that several times in the past but this first with our new member) they were doing fine for almost a week until one day after dinner my golden was standing in front of the pantry and our visitor , a female 6 yo yorkie mix got under in between her legs and they snapped, we were just there and separated them quickly and luckily they were fine just a bit shaken, we had our golden in time out in the bathroom just for them to come down (we have never used Crates with any of our dogs) Our visit left ( the yorkie) and three days later while we were sitting in our kitchen table, our golden left a cowhide unattended to go check if we were eating something ( she is very good driven) and our golden / our mix came behind her and we think that she thought it was coming to get her cowhide and just went after her , we separated them and again time out for the golden. It was the fist time that there is any sign of aggression between them and we don’t want that to ever happen again.

We think is food related and know we will have to be mindful of giving treats and attention equally But is there anything else we are missing

Martin Goodright

Friday 27th of May 2022

Hi there so we have a 12 month old EBT that we got as a 6 month old full of energy we also have an 4 year old EBT and a 13 year old cross Alsatian now to date it's been fine and all 3 know there place , now the last month I've noticed that when the cross Alsatian and the young bully are playing in the garden with a ball which I must say the young bully is highly dependant on the older one takes the ball and rather than wants to play with him keeps it to himself I think this is frustrating the young one 1 and today it came to a head where the young one attacked the older one because the older one had his ball my question is can we resolve this so these two get on and how do I go about that all the while keeping all three dog safe the 4-year old bully is not an issue at all, to add I managed to separate the two and after a little calm down I then put a mussel on both dogs and reintroduce them in the garden on first attempt the young bully was excited and showed aggression towards my other dog at which point I turned him around took him away from the situation Saturn down calm down and then reintroduced again this took about 2 to 3 goes and then he didn't show any signs of aggression but but that's a step in the right direction I would hope but long-term I would want these two to get along any help and advice be most appreciated

L. Copechal

Saturday 7th of May 2022

Ok here's a good question. I have a rottie shepard mix. She was the first into our home at 9 weeks old, and then we rescued 2 chihuahuas within 6 months of the rottie. The rottie is now 6 years old, and the female chihuahua is around 11 years. The rottie has attacked her 3 times. Once over food which we handled, the second we have no idea as to why and the 3rd was over water. I am the pack leader and have been so since the beginning all 3 understand that. My rottie has become testy with the older female chihuahua. Its not often but it does happen. My wife and I do not want to put the rottie down, but we're also not sure of what we can do. We take all necessary steps. The first 2 attacks happened when we weren't home. This last time was in our kitchen near the water bowls. I know dominance is an issue with females, as the rottie was in the home first, but the older female chihuahua is dominant due to age. So what can we do to stop the aggression. The rottie is laid back 99% of the time, but then there is times where she gets this bug up her duppa and gets aggressive for about a day. Please advise. I don't want to put her down as she is a good dog, but I fear that she might get aggressive with my grandson. Again she has only done this 3 times in the past 6 years, but that's still 3 times to many. I have read books, and done the walks to drain her energy. Is there anything else I can do? The first attack our neighbor heard it and told us about it when we got home. The 2nd 1 we cam home and there was blood on our kitchen floor. I thought maybe 1 of the females had gone in heat, until I found the older chihuahua hiding under my dresser with a puncture wound near the back of her jaw. Took her to emergency veterinarian and was told she had 2 superficial puncture wounds and should be ok. All are kept up on vaccinations so no rabies issues. My wife and I are at a loss on what to do.

Danielle

Tuesday 10th of May 2022

Hello, I'm sorry you're going through this situation. First of all, putting your dog down should not be on the table since it's our job as dog owners to be responsible and train them and there's no indication your Rottie can't be rehabilitated.

The fact that it's a super powerful breed against two tiny dogs is concerning though. You had a lot of luck with these incidents, as it could've gone in a whole other direction. A Rottweiler with the intention to end a life doesn't leave a small puncture wound so that's good. Doesn't mean it'll stay that way though.

Your only option right now is to consult a professional trainer and keep them separated when you can't supervise them. Crate one of them, close the door, whatever to keep them safe.

By the way, this may not be dominance (the term is outdated anyway). As you describe it, there seems to be a dispute over resources such as food, water. This can potentially extend to toys, resting spots, attention. Please keep in mind that your Rottie could suffer from a medical issue too or that the smaller dogs could be the instigators (a home camera would help with finding out but again, it's best not to leave them alone for now).

Your last option should be rehoming which might be hard at that age, but definitely don't consider euthanasia as a first option.