Most individuals find that owning a dog can be quite a wonderful experience. These amazing creatures are able to provide their families with love, friendship and entertainment. They are routinely kind, loyal and humorous and can even surprise their owners with their incredible intelligence. However, this does not mean that dog ownership is easy or without its challenges and frustrations. A dog depends upon their owner for everything they need and want, and may sometimes act out in ways that the owner finds to be quite annoying. In fact, there may be fewer things more annoying about dog ownership than dealing with aggression between your dog and other dogs.
Even individuals who assume they know their dog very well can be surprised to find that their otherwise pleasant and friendly canine companion will sometimes jump right into an aggressive fight with another dog, apparently without warning or cause. The truth is that a dog that is generally friendly in manner and behavior but not well-socialized may have dominant body language that is perceived as a direct challenge by other dogs and that therefore gets him into trouble with other dogs.
A dog that is trained through positive reinforcement that they cannot simply walk up to and greet every dog they see is better able to keep their attention focused on their owner – which can prevent them from engaging with another dog and potentially beginning a fight. An owner who is alert to the signs of a forthcoming dog fight can help to avoid or stop the fight as necessary.
Tips for Avoiding Fights Between Dogs
In addition to basic obedience training, there are some steps an owner can take to help avoid fights between their dog and another dog. First of all, it has proven highly helpful to neuter male dogs before they reach one year of age, and to socialize all puppies when they are between six to eight weeks old. This can lay the foundation for more relaxed and friendly interaction with other dogs, which is enormously helpful in preventing fights from occurring.
Even when dogs within the same family seem friendly with one another, it is best to feed them in completely separate areas of the home. Furthermore, one should never toss out treats to dogs but rather ask them to perform some basic obedience command, such as sit, and hand him the treat immediately after he obeys. Some dogs will fight over toys, so it may be appropriate to separate dogs before allowing access to their toys. Also, when giving toys it is important to avoid those toys that make your dogs excessively excited. It is equally important to ensure that your interaction with your dog during play time does not involve aggressive behavior or wrestling, such as tug-of-war, as these can actually teach your dog that aggressive, dominating behavior is acceptable and fun.
When walking your dog, there are several ways you can help avoid or prevent fights. For example, a small, automatic umbrella can provide both a distraction and a hiding place should a potential fight seem imminent. Some dog owners even choose to carry a small water gun in order to spray their dog’s face as a distraction if they feel it’s appropriate or necessary to do so. Other dog owners carry various sorts of noise makers, such as a small cookie sheet, in order to use as a distraction when it appears that a dog fight may occur.
Despite obedience training and socialization, it can happen that two normally friendly dogs can meet and engage in a fight. For this reason, dog owners should be alert to some of the signs of an imminent fight so that action can be taken to separate and distract the dogs prior to a fight breaking out. Some signs to watch for include a hard, unwavering stare, dominant posturing (including mounting the other dog), stiff body movements and rigid body language such as a stiff tail and lips pulled tight against the teeth.
Tips for Stopping Fights Between Dogs
Once dogs have started to fight, the typical distraction techniques listed above may not be at all effective. Instead, one must find ways to break up the fight, and this may actually need to vary from breed to breed and dog to dog. For example, pit bull specialists recommend using a strong “breaking stick” to insert in a bull-breed dog’s mouth in order to break their hold on the other dog. This method, however, is not recommended for other breeds of dogs.
One way to successfully stop a dog fight is to pour water onto the fighting dogs. Turning a hose on them is even better, causing the dogs to break up at least temporarily and allowing their owners enough time to get in and separate the dogs manually before they once again engage each other. Some dogs may also stop fighting if they are sprayed lightly with vinegar or citronella spray. If two adults are available, they can also each pick up a dog by its hind legs until it loosens its grip on the other dog. Of course, this individual needs to be ready to move away immediately once the dog does loosen its grip as it may then turn its aggression toward whatever is holding it back.
Whatever the breed, age and temperament of a specific dog, it is important to take care in stopping a fight and to realize that a dog that is in the middle of a fight is so intent on the fight that he may bite anyone or anything that comes near him, even his beloved owner. One should never try to approach a fighting dog’s head, but rather distract the dog in whatever way they can and for long enough that the owners can take control of the situation.