Dr. Mark is a veterinarian. He has been working with dogs for more than 40 years.
Why Is My Dog Fighting My Other Dog, and What Can I Do to Stop It?
"I have a fixed male Boxer (4 years old) and an unfixed male Samoyed (3 years old). They have lived together like brothers and never fought before, just played, never growled or anything at each other.
We recently adopted a fixed female Vizsla between the ages of 1 and 2. For the first 2–3 weeks, nothing had happened. She played more with the boxer, and the Samoyed just sniffed her more than anything but nothing more than that. Then all of a sudden my Samoyed started peeing all over the house (marking), and now he and my boxer fight.
I put them together to see who started the fight, and it seemed like the boxer was trying to move and the Samoyed wouldn’t let him. He kept basically herding him, walking around him every time he would try to move. I believe my boxer got mad and lashed out at him, creating a fight. Through all these fights, my boxer is the one that keeps getting more hurt, assuming the Samoyed has a huge protective layer of hair.
I have split them up multiple times and now they stay separated. I have scheduled with a vet to get my Samoyed fixed. I believe the stress that started this is the new female in the house. I’m just trying to get advice and see if that will fix it. Will he stop marking all over my house and fighting once he is fixed? Are there any other recommendations for what to do in this instance?" —Macy
Neutering May Not Solve the Problem
A study of 14,000 aggressive dogs shows that neutering is probably not going to help. (2) It may decrease the urination a little but will probably not stop it. When you do take your dog in for the neuter, though, take a moment to discuss this problem with the veterinarian or his technician.
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What Else Can You Do to Stop Dogs From Fighting in the Same Household?
Whether or not I can help depends on what you have done so far. Once dogs in a household start fighting, there is sometimes no solution. There are a few methods that you can try for solving interdog aggression, and they sometimes help if the problem is early. But if the dogs are already obedience trained and listen to you, further training may not help.
The next step would be to consult a veterinarian in your area. There are some good results in treating aggression problems with Prozac (1) but only when combined with changes around the house and obedience training.
Reach Out to an Animal Behaviorist
If the obedience training does not work, and the Prozac is not effective, the next step would be to consult an animal behaviorist. This depends on where you live (in a big city you may find someone to help, but in other areas, there might be none available). Ask your veterinarian for a consult closest to you.
Consider Rehoming as a Last Resort
You may end up having to rehome one of the dogs. I have seen dogs only fight when the "resource" is present, but when not there they got along just fine. But it may not help to find a home for the Viszla since the fighting has already started.
- Odore R, Rendini D, Badino P, Gardini G, Cagnotti G, Meucci V, Intorre L, Bellino C, D'Angelo A. Behavioral Therapy and Fluoxetine Treatment in Aggressive Dogs: A Case Study. Animals (Basel). 2020 May 11;10(5):832. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7278467/
- Farhoody et al, Aggression toward Familiar People, Strangers, and Conspecifics in Gonadectomized and Intact Dogs, Front. Vet. Sci., 26 February 2018. https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fvets.2018.00018/full
This article is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from your veterinarian. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.
© 2022 Dr Mark