Dog/Dog Aggression

Dog_Dog_Aggression_FeaturedDog-to-dog aggression is a common occurrence and one that causes extreme stress for dogs and owners. Multi-dog households frequently experience some kind of 'sibling' rivalry with short squabbles and disagreements, but these are usually mild and happen infrequently enough to maintain a comfort level that allows for everyone to live safely and peacefully.

If violence between dogs occurs regularly and one or more of the dogs are being hurt, then separation and constant environmental management is one of the most effective ways to deal with the problem. In severe cases, rehoming should be considered. Some dogs do not do well in multi-dog households and are happiest being the only dog in a home. This takes stress off all family members and allows for more harmonious living.

Why are some dogs dog-aggressive?
Dog to dog aggression occurs because a dog is either unsocialized and uncomfortable around other dogs, or has had a traumatic experience which causes her to be afraid of another dog’s presence. Some dogs might be more protective of things they deem valuable for their safety, comfort and survival such as food, locations, toys and other objects, people and territory. This leads to active aggressive display in order to make whatever threatens that safety go away.

Should I punish a dog aggressive dog?
Avoid punishing, bullying or intimidating a dog that is showing aggression.

If a dog on a leash aggresses towards another dog walking by and receives hard punishment in the form of jerking, hitting, kicking or restraining, the dog not only learns to fear the person punishing them but also sees the other dog’s presence as a trigger for that punishment, which will make the dog even more insecure and likely to aggress again the next time another dog walks by.

If the dog aggressive dog is taught that good things happen to her when she sees another dog and is taught a different active behavior from aggressing, she then begins to build up positive feelings to any approaching dog and feels less need to aggress.

Read more about leash aggression.

How can I reintroduce a dog to other dogs safely?
Once a dog feels more comfortable walking past other dogs, then gentle introductions can be made. This is best done with a very calm dog that is good at giving signals that pacify and demonstrate low threat.

Face-to-face greetings are not recommended immediately, but simply experiencing positive things in the other dog’s presence such as walking or other activities at a comfortable distance can help build a positive association.

Parallel walking, following the calm dog and sniffing the behind before a facial greeting can have real benefits, but this is better done under the supervision of a qualified positive trainer to guide initial interactions.

Can I take my dog aggressive dog to the dog park?
Dog parks are not recommended for dog aggressive dogs or dogs that play too roughly, as smaller spaces with no place to run, can be overwhelming and cause a bad reaction. Just as some people are overwhelmed being in a crowd, so too are dogs and solitary walks or walking with a small group contributes to a much happier dog and safer interactions.

Setting Realistic Expectations
We have high expectations for our dogs and in an ideal world would like them to be comfortable around every dog they meet, but these are expectations that we ourselves find hard to follow. We do not want to greet everyone we meet in the street or have strangers come into our space uninvited, and neither do our dogs.

Keep an eye on body language and allow your dog to pick and choose which dogs he or she wants to socialize with. Some dogs are happier with their own company or the company of one or two other dogs so keeping that dog on a relaxed leash in a public place is key to giving her confidence and keeping her and other dogs around her safe.

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28 thoughts on “Dog/Dog Aggression

  1. roger

    What if you're on the other end of the aggression?

    I have 2 giant sweet Great Pyrenees that are so pleasant to be with. Over the last year it seems like every smaller dog in the neighbor hood turns into a raging cujo around them. One dog to the point of running across the neighborhood to go bazerk on the other side of our dog run fence. My 2 just wag their tails. When out on leash and we run into this, I need to quickly pull my dogs back to avoid injury. My dog's disposition does not change (still wagging those tails).

    I've always wondered if there was something I should be doing to reassure my dogs that they all right. For the life of me (and the other owners) we cannot figure out what is causing this.

  2. Alberto Barquet L

    I have 2 english pointers and 2 chihuahuas, all males! the pointers are Stoli and Jager. Stoli is Jager´s son... the problem is that Stoli is very aggresive whenever he sees some other male dogs. He was the last to arrive to "the pack" (I dont like using that word). I took them (the pointers) for long walks and every sunday we go for a long run (i ride a bike and they come with me always with a leash). If there are no other male dogs nearby he is the perfect dog, very intelligent, and he obbeys the "sit, down, heel,, stay" commands... When we are walking, if i Spot another dog i turn away, but there have been some times when some other dogs come running toward us and Stoli gets into the red zone (?)... any help? Greetings from mexico city

  3. Mel Smith

    I would like to understand why my two boys are having fights. I have two male Huskies, one who is nearly 3 and one who is 9 months, I know that the 9 month old will be getting hormonal, but he isn't like it all the time, he is sometimes okay with Thor, but then he all of a sudden stiffens up, turns his head away and puts his scruff up all the way down his back and growls. At one point he has being shaking, which made me think is he feeling threatened by Thor. He has had two fights with Thor and I don't know what to do to make him see Thor in a better light. Can anybody help me? I don't like seeing them fall out, I know it's perfectly natural for dogs to have a few disagreements, but Raga is growling a lot of the time when with Thor.

  4. Laura Horton

    Are they doing any physical damage to each other or is it mostly noise and posturing? Speaking purely from personal experience it sounds as if they are working out who is 'top dog'. The first hint I had that my Great Dane was ill was that my younger, smaller dog began challenging her. Small challenges moved to out fights, twice resulting in over $2000 in vet bills to my Dane, who was still young at 4. Then we discovered she had metastatic lung cancer about 18 months later. I am convinced my 2 yr old Staffy sensed the weakening in the Alpha (in our pack of 6 dogs).
    I was told not to intervene in the initial squabbles, to let them sort it out. When it became life threatening I stepped in and maintained the Dane's position for her until she passed away. Now the Staffy is the aging Alpha.
    In all of it, I am the ultimate Alpha/God of Dogs however.

    I do not like the 'let them work it out' method and I intervene to help the Alpha maintain that position until she appears ready to give it up willingly due to age.

  5. Melissa Weisman

    Are there any signs that your older dog is territorial of you, does he cut off paths to you and ask for more attention. When you introduce a new dog into the home the idea is that you don't dote on them you allow them to bond without feeling like they have to compete for your affection. So they develop a bond on an equal level. It's quite possible your older one has established the pecking order and is making it very clear with body language and behavior you might not notice, and in turn your 9 month old is responding out of fear. If Raga is growling it could be that he sees thor as a threat to his safety or just overall dominearing and he doesn't like it. Check out their body language, tail stiff, hackles up, ears up or back. Check if Thor is blocking his path to anything or in any way cutting routes off that lead to you. Often times territorial behavior over their person leads to in house fighting

  6. Debbie

    I am having the same problem with my 6 yr old Pomeranian & 1 yr old Yorkie that has started in the last month or so. They are doing the blocking the path. If they even look at each other they start growling & then go after each other. i have had to keep them separated. They are not the only dog I have. I also have a 8 yr old Shih Tzu & a 7 yr old Morkie. All of them are females.

  7. Robyn Moncrieff

    My 2 year old male castrated cocker spaniel walks daily on a large beach with lots of other dogs to socialise with. He loves socialising but now has taken to attacking any dog under a year old, even if they are bigger than him. What can I do?

  8. Abbie Mcniff

    I have a 4 year old rottweiler whos aggression started after my mums small dogs attacked him. If he sees another dog whilst we are out walking he is fixated on it and just wont listen at all even when I use a clicker he just ignores me. He does get along with my partners dog but they met before the aggression started. He did attack a dog that barked at him so now its hard to socialise him due to the sheer fact how big he is people walk the other way from me and also im scared he tries to attack a dog if we walk to close. Its hard to tell if he is going in to attack because he pulls with such force but I just wouldnt risk it I do however have a muzzle but same again once they see he has a muzzle they walk the oppostie way. Has anybody got any training tips to help me get him better at socialising and listening

  9. Kelly Barrington

    I'm trying to work out if my male (neutered) Staffordshire Bull Terrier is dog/fear or leash aggressive, He's 12 months old and was attacked last year by 3 different dogs whilst in the park. At the time his recall wasn't great around other dogs so we leashed him as soon as we spotted another, but these attacks occurred out of the blue by dogs we didn't see. Now he's fine around dogs he knew before the attacks, like a husky, lab and 2 rotties he hadn't seen for several months and was fantastic with and the next door neighbours dogs but if he sees a strange dog he lunges and can snap even after what appears to be a calm greeting. We now keep him on an extendable lead all the time he's out but would love to have him calm enough to be able to let him have a good run out. Any ideas on how to help him?

  10. Mary Alice Wojciechowski

    What about muzzles for introducing dogs? I have successfully integrated a variety of dogs into my "pack," but my daughter's new Greyhound is an issue. I will think I have my German Shepherd calm and accepting, and all of a sudden he will go after the (very thin skinned!) greyhound. Would a muzzle help or hurt in this situation? I really hate them, but I hate the stress of them not getting along (or needing medical care!) even more.

  11. Miss Cellany

    Dog-dog aggression doesn't only come through fear and lack of socialization - you can also get dominance / social status aggression between intact males (especially if a bitch is present) and between intact bitches (especially if one or both is in heat).

    Some breeds have also been bred for extreme dog aggression and will be naturally more likely to aggress or fight with other dogs than other breeds, with very little provocation.

    Then there are the herding breeds, which aren't exactly dog aggressive, but who feel the need to control other animals and can start fights with herding behaviour that other breeds don't really understand (e.g. the border collie stare or "eye" can make other dogs think they are being challenged or threatened and it can start fights very easily even though the border collie had no intention of fighting).

  12. Miss Cellany

    Prey drive maybe? Puppies are small and wriggly and make squeaky high pitched noises, they could look and sound like prey. Most well adjusted and properly socialized dogs understand that puppies are the baby versions of their own species, not a threat, and are inhibited against hurting them but some dogs don't seem to recognize or understand this and can view them as prey. Does she also go for small animals (cats, birds, rabbits etc)? Might be good to start training her a leave it command for making her leave othe animals alone when on walks etc.

  13. Tracey

    I walk two dogs, both rescues who have grown up with each other. The boy has some serious insecurity issues. He whimpers off and on during our walks. When we walk past a fenced in dog, he loses his mind. He wails as if he's being beaten, and even worse, sometimes goes after his sister. I'm trying to help my friend with dog walking, she's had some serious health issues this past year, but it's miserable. Can anyone give me some insight? Is this a treat reward association thing? Many thanks in advance.

  14. Kat McCullagh

    I was hoping for some advice, I have a 10 year old Border terrier bitch, schnauzer-pom mix bitch at 4 years old and I adopted a Bull mastiff,DDB mix bitch at 5 years old. My two smaller dogs are well socialized and I foster dogs and rehome them myself so they are used to living with other dogs and all my friends have dog and everything has been great for 4 months, the new addition is a beautiful big girl and a few squabbles with the older dog, the border terrier but two days ago, they had a fight over a ball and I managed to break it up and then about 5 minutes later they had another fight, and it was serious, I have grown up with dogs and I completely understand that these things happen but I have always had big dogs around the same size and with these two there is such a big size difference and I really thought the Mastiff x was going to kill the border terrier. The border terrier took off and I didn't get her back until the next day, she has a very swollen neck and throat and very tired but seems to be fine. I am very reluctant to rehome the mastiff because I think I may know what the problem is. Of course all my friends and family have fallen in love with her and she is getting a lot of attention, I have explained to people over and over, please give them equal attention and it fallen on deaf ears and then this has happened. When I got the border terrier home I brought her in and she went to her own bed and the mastiff was over sniffing her and the border terrier was very wary of her. I have made sure they have all been given equal attention and kept them both on the leash in the park until I can do some follow up training with them, I will be playing ball separately with them but I was wonder would anyone have any suggestions or advice about this situation?

  15. Kim Biggins

    Hi guys ... I wonder if you can help us .. I have 2 Shitz Tzu ... Alfie who is 7 and Stuey who is 5. We live at home with my parents and all was fine. 4 weeks ago my parents got a beautiful Labrador called Bailey who is now 14 weeks old. Bailey is very hyper and can be a little naughty with his biting. We have integrated the dogs from day 1 but they don't seem to be getting on very well. Stuey and Alfie are both unhappy when Bailey is around and even more so when he's being boisterous. There has even been a bite from Alfie on a couple of occasions but this has had little effect on Bailey. We are at our wits end as to what to do and have tried various forms of telling them they are naughty for biting Bailey to, well, keeping them separated when Bailey is 'on one'. We desperately want them to get on. Stuey and Alfie get on with most dogs when they are out but can be clingy to me as they are my dogs. Bailey is being a puppy but can occasionally go nuts. Please is there anything you could suggest that would help us get these guys together and be friends. Thank you

  16. MemaJean

    I wonder if anyone has any ideas what I can do to help my rescue dog to feel at ease. She is 2 yo, 35 lbs and is a rough coated hound. When I got her 3 months ago at the shelter she was undernourished, scared, and ended up with kennel cough. Needless to say she was on my lap for the first month. Have been walking her 3-5 times a day at the retirement park I live in. She has always been stressed when another dog comes along but recently it has escalated. I have a harness now which really helps but she is very strong. It takes everything I have to control her from lunging at a dog. And of course the owners think its ok not to listen to me and bring their dog closer. I certainly want to do all that I can to help her be a happy pet. With that said, I cannot take the chance of her biting someone or someone's pet. Its too risky. Having to give her up would be devastating to me and her but I have to consider all things. I don't have the resources to pay for behavioral training. What are my options?

  17. rosie rubix

    We recently had to put down our 11yr female bulldog. We still have a 7yr old male bullmastiff. They got along great, some rough play but nothing that would cause concern.
    We went to go visit a 4yr female dogue to bordeaux to see about her coming to live with us. We met her and she was very sweet and seemed very comfortable with us.
    We then got the bullmastiff to meet her in the dogue owners yard and within seconds they attacked each other.
    Factors involved:
    Icy enclosed meeting place
    Bullmastiff on leash
    5 day old puppies in the house (not of the female we met)
    We and the other owner had never seen this kind of behaviour from our dogs ever.
    Any thoughts?

  18. Faye

    I have 2 year old siblings, dog & bitch Jack Russells. The bitch quite friendly but the dog is being more & more aggressive towards other dogs he doesn't know. He regularly sees familiar dogs & is fine. On a lead he is very aggressive. Whist walking off a lead he ignores & keeps his distance from other dogs, but will snap & growl if approached (especially hating larger dogs as one pushed at him as a pup). I can see he's afraid. They both bark insanily at any passers by our house. The other day my son let go of his lead outside the house & he ran over to a bitch Labrador on her lead, walking nowhere near the house & attacked her. Because he is doing this his sister is starting to get snappy on the lead. She is better off the lead but if frightened will snarl a bit but is more timid.
    Can anyone help on this matter?

  19. Hazel

    I have an elderly cairn x scottie ( Cassie) that we took on from a lady who sadly went in to a care home. she has always been food agressive but we just feed her and leave her.
    Last year we took on a little rescue dog from Romania she is a maltese x lhasa (Bonnie) around 2 years old...they have always got on reasonably well except the little Romanian dog gets jealous if we are giving attention to cassie and she then starts to become aggressive with her..they have had a few scraps but nothing major although ive got bitten trying to separate them...
    Just over a month ago a friend asked if we could take on her 4 month old puppy ...
    Cassie really cannot be bothered with a puppy bouncing around and the puppy soon came to respect her by avoiding her...however Bonnie has become extremely protective over the puppy and last night attacked Cassie so badly we had to take her to the vets for partner also got bitten seperating them....i feel absolutely dreadful..ive cried so much i feel ill....
    I feel so guilty not being able to protect my o Cassie.... Bonnie is a very sweet loving little girl and i understand that shes had a very difficult at my wits end today...
    Please help....

  20. John

    I have a 7 year old rescue frenchbulldog who shows aggression to other dogs at all times. He was given up by his owners as he used to attack the other male dog in the home. We have also fostered other dogs and when we first introduce him to other foster dogs this is generally outside on a walk and as long as myself and partner are waking them together he is generally calm after a 5-10 mins. He has learned to live with to foster dogs and he does be to play with them. We also lived with a friend who had another dog and after a few weeks they have become the best of friends even to the point of being submissve with the other dog. But we still have major problmes when we take him out for walks, when he we pass other dogs he lunges and just wants to attack them. Any ideas on what w can do when out on walks with him?

  21. jennifer

    I would love some advice as my 2 yer old is great with girl dogs and neutered dogs and previously been amazing with all dogs but has now decided too not like none neutered dogs and be aggressive too and i have not seen this aggression with anything or anyone. how can I change this please?

  22. Positively

    Hi Jefferson, I would say that any stressful situation may cause social animals to not get on, humans included! Thanks for writing! The Team at Positively

  23. Positively

    Hi Karen, For immediate help, I recommend that you visit our website and plug in your zip code or city to see if there is a VSPDT local to you. If there isn't, there is always the option of doing a phone consultation with one of them.
    Here is the link to search for a VSPDT:
    Here is the link to request a phone consultation:
    Either way, you should be able to get some very much-needed help.

  24. Positively

    Hi Judith, we recommend a consultation with a qualified trainer to give you some tips on how to manage or change this behavior. It is impossible to give you good advice without seeing your pup's behavior, I'm afraid.
    For immediate help, I recommend that you visit our website and plug in your zip code or city to see if there is a VSPDT local to you. If there isn't, there is always the option of doing a phone consultation with one of them.
    Here is the link to search for a VSPDT:
    Here is the link to request a phone consultation:
    Either way, you should be able to get some very much-needed help.
    The Team at Positively

  25. Maricela Hernandez

    I have a German Shepard and she was living with my grandma for a little while the GS was living with my grandma she showed aggression towards my grandmothers older black Lab (female). The lab would be removed from the situation as she couldn't fend for herself. I had removed her from the home after a few more aggressive attacks on the lab. When I had brought her into my home where there are three other dogs all Husky's (male, female and puppy) the first week there was no aggressive attacks. We had taken her to the vet and upon her return she started expressing territorial aggression towards the oldest Husky (female) whenever my fiancee would show love towards the husky the GS would get close and attack. When we were sleeping in the room the Husky came upstairs and attempted to come into the room and continued to attack her then. Another time was when we were attempting to feed the GS the Husky came close (This happens with the male but she gives him a warning sign and understands) she attacked her because she wasn't leaving her space. The last time she was attacking the older dog because they were playing with her toys and didn't like the sight. We are removing her from this home so she can have her own space. Is there a way that I can stop the behavior or is removing her from any home with any dog the best option?

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