Adult Dogs

How to Deal with Dog Aggression Towards Other Dogs at Home


Sibling rivalry.  It’s as common among dogs as it is in the human world.  When you put 2 or more puppies under the same roof, anything is possible.

But you already know that.

If you’re reading this post, you probably have 2+ dogs battling for supremacy in your home right now.  This article explains how to deal with dog aggression towards other dogs in the same living environment.

What Causes Dog-on-Dog Aggression?

The exact causes of dog-on-dog aggression can vary.  But usually, the underlying factors are related to:

  • Competition over “limited” resources.  Domesticated dogs no longer have to hunt like their ancestors did.  But that doesn’t stop them from battling over things they perceive to be scarce.  Food, toys, affection, and even resting spots are common pain points.
  • Sexual aggression is another popular cause.  Canine hostility is more personality and environment-dependent.  But when you have 2 dogs of the same gender under the same roof, you often see more violent behavior.
  • Dominance uncertainty can arise if 1 dog threatens the established hierarchy that already exists within your home.  This often happens if a young puppy quickly matures and begins vying with the older dog for supremacy.
  • Poor socialization is another culprit.  Like children who must learn to share and interact, dogs must quickly learn the rules of the pack if they want to live harmoniously.  If your puppies haven’t learned bite inhibition and other early lessons, you can expect more trouble down the road.

For a longer list of aggression types and causes, click here.

Correcting Canine Aggression in the Home

The first step involves ruling any medical reasons out.  Are both of your dogs healthy and happy?  Are they getting enough exercise and playtime?  How is their diet?

These are not questions you can answer on your own.  You’ll need to schedule a vet checkup to make certain that this aggressive behavior isn’t linked to any pain or injury.

Next, you’ll want to isolate those triggers that normally get your dogs all whipped up.  Be on the look out for environmental stimuli that regularly crop up right before a hostile encounter, including:

  • What people are around at this very moment?
  • Is the aggression happening in a particular section of the home?
  • Does the time of day have any relevance?
  • What were the dogs doing just before everything went South?
  • Are their loud noises, flashing lights, or a blaring television?

Once you understand the triggers, it becomes easier to address the aggression.  For example, if they always fight over a favorite sleeping spot, then block off that area so neither can use it.  If they battle over a precious toy, then remove the toy.

Trigger reduction is the simplest way to eliminate canine aggression.  But it doesn’t always address the underlying cause.

Another useful tip is to respect the social order they’ve established.  Dogs are pretty good at sorting rank out.  It’s our interference that often destabilizes the situation.

If 1 dog starts to gain more power within the canine relationship, don’t try to fight it.  Let nature take its course.  And when giving out affection or food – be sure to recognize the new social order (i.e. start with the more dominant dog first).

However – it’s important that your social status within the household never changes.  You are the Alpha member at all times.  Treats, food, playtime, and affection happen on your terms.  Next on the list are all of the human family members who live under your roof (including children and babies).  The dogs come last – and they need to understand that.

To learn how this works, check out our article on Dominance Training.

How to Deal with Dog Aggression Towards Other Dogs When All Else Fails

It’s a slow process.  Especially if you work at the office and only get to interact with your dogs during evenings and weekends.  But if you stick with the above tips, you should start to see results.

You “should” anyway.  Unfortunately, life isn’t always so kind.

If you’re really stuck, you basically have 2 options:

  • Option 1 – Get rid of 1 of the dogs.  For most of us, this isn’t really a choice.
  • Option 2 – Bring in professional canine training help.  Obedience school is one option.  A cheaper solution is to use at-home dog training guides like the ones listed here.

May your household forever be filled with peace and tranquility.  Happy puppy training.

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