Why Are My Dogs Suddenly Fighting?

Updated on April 3, 2018
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Adrienne is a certified dog trainer, behavior consultant, former veterinary hospital assistant, and the author of "Brain Training for Dogs."

why are my dogs fighting?
why are my dogs fighting? | Source

What Predisposes Dogs to Fight?

This is one of the biggest problems affecting owners of multiple dogs and sadly one of the most difficult to manage. Two dogs generally getting along well as puppies may suddenly engage into vicious fights as they mature. A younger dog attacking an older dog may suddenly fight despite living in harmony for quite some time. Why is it that way? There are many causes for inter-dog aggression in multi-dog households and these are just a few.

Same-Sex Aggression

If you own two female or two male dogs, fighting is not unusual at all. Some dog breeds are prone to being same-sex aggressive. For instance, Alaskan Malamutes, American Pit Bulls, and Boxers are breeds of dogs known for being same-sex aggressive. According to Nicholas Dodman and Alice Moon Fanelli in an article for Petplace, terriers may be prone to fighting because as a breed they have been developed to work independently.

However, any breed of dog, given the right circumstances and predisposition, may develop inter-dog aggression. Generally, these dogs got along well when they are puppies but once the reached social maturity (generally between 12 and 36 months) things dramatically changed and there is an explanation to this.

In nature, it would be quite unnatural for two females dogs or two male dogs close to the same age to live in the same social group. In nature, once the females and males mature, they would leave the pack to form their own group, or if they would remain in the group, they would respect the breeding right of the other female or male. According to Gail Fisher a dog trainer, breeder, with over 40 years of experience, "A pack with several adult males and females of the same age would rarely, if ever, be found in the wild."

This is further confirmed by the Merk Veterinary Manual:

"At social maturity, in free-ranging packs, dogs that challenge the established social hierarchy may leave and form their own groups if they do not succeed in altering the extant social order. This situation may be analogous to one form of inter-dog aggression that occurs in multiple-dog households. Social maturity is also the time during which problem aggressions and anxieties develop. In multi-dog groups, the highest-ranking animals may be the only ones to breed."

If the dogs are not spayed or neutered, there may at times also be a hormonal component to the fights. In female dogs, the hormonal changes taking place during the estrus cycle and pregnancy may particularly elicit fights. However, fighting may endure due to hierarchy and breeding rights even when the dog is not in heat or pregnant. Learn more about this in "Why Are Intact Females Fighting? In male dogs, the hormone testosterone facilitates inter-dog aggression, however, once spayed and neutered, dogs prone to inter-dog aggression may no longer fight due to hormones, but they may still viciously fight for other reasons we will see below.

Access to Resources

Social hierarchy is one of the main causes of inter-dog aggression in multi-dog households. According to dog trainer and owner of Peaceable Paw, Pat Miller, "Social hierarchies do exist in groups of domesticated dogs and hierarchy can be fluid". By nature, dogs are pretty good conflict solvers, indeed they are masters in ritualized aggression.

Ritualized aggression takes place when dogs resolve conflicts without biting. Growling, raising hackles, showing teeth, as dramatic as they are, ultimately help avoid actual confrontations. In nature, spending lots of energy fighting on minor issues is counter-productive as animals must save their energy on more important issues such as hunting and survival. T

So what causes actual fighting in multi-dog households to take place? Why are dogs biting and actually breaking skin if they are good conflict solvers? Let's take a closer look into hierarchy in dogs. According to Karen Overall, rank is contextually relative. A real high-ranking animal would be normally tolerant of lower-ranking members. The behavior of the lower ranking members towards the higher ranking member is what determines the social hierarchy. In other words, by "withdrawing", lower-ranking members make the hierarchical status clear.

Higher ranking members are those who regulate and maintain access to some resources, however, such access is contextual. A certain resource may be highly maintained at certain times when at other times it is not, or other resources may not be maintained at all. Resources, therefore, can be both contextual and subjective. What are some common resources from a dog's perspective? Following are some:

  • Attention from the owner/guests (greeting the owner, interacting with the owner)
  • Food (respect space when feeding dogs, or better, crate the individually for safety)
  • Toys (especially the newer ones or toys that have not been around for some time)
  • Sleeping areas (this could be a favorite bed, a higher spot or a favorite place)
  • Bones (these are seen as high value even among dogs that get along, so practice caution)
  • Space (many dogs have a space threshold, an invisible barrier that if surpassed may yield a dispute)

Generally, a high-ranking dog will maintain access to resource through a ritualized display, however, problems start when such displays are not effective. This is why we often see fights in dogs of similar or equal rank, the ritualized displays are ignored. At times, ignoring the display is not merely voluntary; it could be the lower-ranking dog ignores the display because it is over-ridden by an event that temporarily blurs the hierarchical status. We will see such circumstance below.

High-Arousal Levels

As mentioned, at times social boundaries can be blurred by events. For instance, if both dogs have not seen the owner for a long time, the lower ranking dog may not defer to the higher-ranking dog's right to access to the owner first because it cannot contain its excitement or it could be he feels the owner will protect him. When over excitement takes place, this is often a trigger for big fights to occur among multi-pack dogs. It is easy for the excitement to blur social rules causing a fight to ignite. At times, when dogs are playing, the high arousal levels may also elicit a fight.

Another example is territorial barking. When two dogs are highly aroused by a trigger seen behind a fence this may elicit a fight. The fight may be caused by re-directed aggression or simply because the higher ranking dog wants to be in control of the boundary (this explains why the higher-ranking dog may mark these areas repeatedly).

In re-directed aggression, the highly aroused dogs go into an hyper-vigilant state that triggers reactive responses which would not take place in a normal setting when the dogs are calm. Because of this possibility, it is always imperative dog owners of dogs who tend to fight to never physically get in the middle of two fighting dogs for the purpose of separating them. With high arousal levels, the dogs are in fight mode and anything between them could trigger a bite, which of course, is not delivered voluntarily. For more about this, visit the ASPCA's Virtual Pet Behaviorist for tips on breaking up a fight.

Changes in the Social Group

A typical scenario affecting social hierarchy takes place when a higher-ranking dog starts becoming weak or old. A younger dog that has reached social maturity may, therefore, ignore the ritualized displays of the older dog which will elicit a serious fight. At times, the senior dog may want to give up top position but is unable to defer in an effective way due to loss of sensory or motor abilities, and this may cause the eruption of serious fights. Because a dog pack in nature cannot be successfully led by a weak member, at times the fights may turn out quite blood and even fatal in some cases.

Another situation where pack changes take place is when a new dog is added to the social group. In such a scenario, the dogs will require some adjustments. Often, fights may ensue, but they can be temporarily until an agreement is found. The way the owner handles the situation may exacerbate the situation. Giving too much attention to the new dog may only create more conflicts. At times, when a dog has been away for some time and is then re-introduced to the pack then there may be some problems as the pack order may need to be re-established.

At other times, dog owners may further exacerbate pack dynamics by intervening. Often, the owners do not have any idea they are creating problems by defending a lower-ranking dog. By protecting a lower-ranking dog and correcting a higher-ranking one, the owner escalates the problem. Dog behavior expert and obedience trainer, Stan Rawlinson, also known as the ''Dog Listener'' suggests dog owners to not fuel the fire by feeling bad and ''rushing to protect the would-be subordinate from being "bullied".

This can cause problems and potential fights. Nicholas Dodman calls this form of aggression "alliance aggression" and states it typically occurs when the owner interferes with the establishment of a stable hierarchy.

Poor Social Skills

Not all dogs are blessed with great social skills. If a dog has been poorly socialized, there are chances it may not readily recognize normal social behaviors. These are dogs that feel compelled to attack other dogs for simple things such as panting, wagging their tails or sniffing under tails. These dogs are socially illiterate and must learn the ABC's of normal social language.

While some dogs may have been socialized with dogs as puppies, they often forget the language if their inter-dog socialization ends at some point. However, some breeds by nature are not social butterflies, and this must be respected. They may never be happily romping at dog parks but at least they should be able to tolerate walking by dogs without acting aggressively.

What About Dog/Human Interactions?

While a social hierarchy is seen in multi-dog households, it is important to point out that humans are not dogs, and therefore, it is pointless to assume the "alpha role" to earn respect. The dominance myth has been debunked, and the latest studies suggest that dogs are for the most part not status-seeking entities attempting to rule the home, but simply opportunists that will do whatever behaviors are reinforcing to them.

Why Call the Pros

As seen, dog fights are serious issues that can be exacerbated if the owner does not intervene in the correct way. Trying to make the dogs "sort things out" is not recommended. There are countless owners who attempt to "step aside" only to report weeks later their dogs got into a dangerous fight that cost hundreds of dollars of vet bills for stitches.

If your dogs are fighting, call a professional, that is a reputable dog trainer well versed in dealing with dog behavioral problems, a veterinary behaviorist or a certified applied animal behaviorist.

Disclaimer: if your dogs are not getting along, make management your top priority and consult with a reputable professional. This article is not to be used as a substitute for professional advice as only a professional can give advice upon assessing and evaluating your dogs in first person. By reading this article you automatically accept this disclaimer.

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Questions & Answers

  • My dogs get along 95% of the time, and then all of a sudden out of the blue, they start fighting and don't get along. It seems to last a week or so then they will go back to getting along. I have no idea what causes it. What can I do to get them to get along again?

    It would be important finding out what triggers the behavior Although it might not seem like there is a trigger, most likely there is one and work needs to be done based on that. You would need the intervention of a behavior professional for an evaluation and behavior modification.

  • Two of my dogs have been best friends for five years. In the last four months they have had a few fights which are the likes I have never seen. They have literally tried killing each other. And a bit like you said above on the last two occasions the smaller dog has been to the vets twice where my other dog has cut her badly. I have phoned a couple of professionals but am yet to see one as they are busy at the moment. Is there anything I can do in the meantime that would help?

    Yes, management is your best friend as you wait to see a professional. Basically, keep the dog separated. This may mean in crates or in separate areas of the home where they can't reach each other. Baby gates may be another option. You may need some sturdy ones and put some mesh wire between the gaps to prevent access to each other.

  • After a recent loss, which resulted in leaving behind a lonely 6-year- old greyhound, we decided to introduce her to another dog. For the past couple of weeks, they have been playing and have been fine with each other. However, there were two instances when they didn't get along. Why could have caused this?

    There can be many possibilities. It is important to analyze in what context this happened. Was it around toys, food, bones, or a sleeping area? Was one dog resource guarding you? Was it through a doorway or a small space? Did one dog insist on playing while the other wasn't willing? Most of all, was it just a noisy squabble that ended there and nobody got injured? Many dogs living together have small "discussions" which are just part of communication, but you need to keep an eye on these interactions in case they escalate to something more. If both dogs were engaged and there seemed to be a real intent to harm each other, in such a case, it would be best to have a professional evaluate the situation.

© 2012 Adrienne Janet Farricelli

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Why are my dogs fighting? Post your comments

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    • profile image

      Jennifer king 

      5 months ago

      Why does my youngest male all of a sudden try to mount my older male dog !!.Both have been fixed???? What di i do??

    • profile image

      GrammyP 

      6 months ago

      We brought home a 4 year old pug/beagle mix as a rescue dog about 2 monsths ago. The center where we got Lulu had us bring in our older (12+ yrs.) black lab mix to make sure they got along. Everything was going well until recently. Lulu is getting aggressive with the older dog. The older dog has weak back legs and often has a hard time standing and often has to be helped. When Lulu hears her "scratching" at the floor, she has started to bark and today went after her. I've read your article and was wondering if this is normal "pack" behavior or if I should be concerned. Secondly, Snowball has started to exhibit some "jealous" behaviors of her own. Lulu likes to follow me around everywhere--including the bathroom and now Snowball has to do the same which she never did before! I'm very concerned about both dogs and want to do what's best for both of them. If you have any advice, I would be most pleased. Thank you.

    • profile image

      Katie 

      6 months ago

      I have a 9 month old pitbull pitbull and an 8 week old pitbull he's attacked him twice and this last time he hurting pretty bad what do I do

    • profile image

      Rose Ann Hall 

      7 months ago

      two females one terrier new as of Nov other is a yorkie poo 2 1/2 with us since 8 weeks old.

      They have gotten along until now. I am afraid for the Yorkie she is tiny

      I need a trainer help. so stressful when they fight one time big dog actually bit and caused blood on little one.

      I want them to go to a trainer if there is a solution, I do not want to

      give the bigger one up. actually neither of them

    • profile image

      Tiffany 

      7 months ago

      I have 2 male pits. One is 3 the other is only 1 year old. When the youngest was still a puppy they loved each other. Now he is constantly annoying the other pit. Getting in his space, chewing his ears, and nipping. Then the old pit lunges. I break them up and try to stop the youngest from annoying him. But nothing seems to work. The youngest is fixed now as well.

    • profile image

      Rodney black 

      8 months ago

      I have a boston terrier thatsabout 10 years old female and a pomerianan female about 6 years old lately the terrier has become more aggressive to the pomerianan now the younger dog is acting timid around the older dog and theyounger dog is less playful and want jump up to sit in wifes lap ty ladonna.black@att.net

    • alexadry profile imageAUTHOR

      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 

      8 months ago from USA

      It's difficult to determine what caused this attack. If one dog seems to be mounting the other dog when you are play fighting, it might be that some commotion from your interactions between you, your boyfriend and your daughter (like talking in an emotional way or gesticulating) may have been a trigger. It could be this dog gets stressed by commotion and redirects on the other dog. Of course, this is just a theory. You might have to keep the dogs separated from now on or get a professional in person to offer help.

    • profile image

      S- 

      8 months ago

      Hi! I have two male Pit mix about the same age (approx 5 years old.) One is mine and very docile. Love everyone even the cats. Our other came in to the picture about 5 months ago with my boyfriend. He’s always on high alert when we’re outside and hates cats/squirrels or anything that moves fast and is small. He shows dominance by mounting my dog often especially when my boyfriend and I are play fighting. He gets along quite well with my dog, but the other day my boyfriends dog attacked mine when my daughter and her friend were standing close by. He held on to my dogs ear and wouldn’t let go , but it seems like my dog “won the fight” because he barely had any marks on him. The other dog has quite a few puncture holes and was bleeding. I don’t know what triggered it because I didn’t see it happen, but my daughter says that our dog was walking next to her while the other dog walked out of the bedroom and then charged ours. No signs of preaggression were displayed. I don’t understand. Please help. Thanks

    • profile image

      Christina 

      9 months ago

      I have to pitbulls my mom raised them but she recently passed I need them since they were babies but now they're starting to fight and I don't understand why they're both in the bed right now I got one out this morning and now I have to get the other one but I'm afraid to bring them back together I don't know what's going to happen!

    • profile image

      carol 

      9 months ago

      I have two labs, male. They are from same litter. They are almost 7 years old and my husband and I are the only owners they have had. Up until about 6 months ago they get along. One is way more dominant than the other. The dominant one have been attaching for no reason at unpredictable times. The most recent was due to my affection. The less dominant one never fights back, but instead retreats to his crate out of fear and disbelief as to what has happened. The less dominant one is the one whom instigates Most of the playing between the two of them. They have fought over water bowl, a place to lay down, and today my affection. Any advice?

    • profile image

      Paul 

      9 months ago

      I have 2 male whippets 1 of them is getting very aggressive towards the other & has also attacked me on a number of occasions 1 is 18months he’s the 1 that is aggressive the other is just ove 2year & very laid back please help

    • profile image

      Angel 

      10 months ago

      I have two old English bulldoggie, they are sisters and they are beginning to fight and each one is getting hurt, they draw blood and wounds, I don’t know what to do pls help. I can not tell what or why it starts, but it is vicious, sometimes I can tell when it is going to start because one of the females will start pressing her nose against the other one.

    • profile image

      Kari 

      11 months ago

      Hi,

      I have a question . I have two female pit bulls who have been around each other since they were about 6 month ago. One the them (diamond) we have had since she was about 6 weeks ago. Crystal who we got when she was about 6 months old. All of a sudden now they are probably about 11 months old they fight all the time. They both can be outside in th back yard together and be fine not fight but as soon as someone goes outside with them or even if we let them in the house together they instantly fight .. and it’s like bad fighting they will not stop. We do not want to have to get rid of either dog because we don’t know anyone who can take them but we can’t not have them fight. These last few times of me breaking them up I have gotten bite. Is there anything we can do, please let me know. It’s to the point I’m scared to go outside because I don’t want them to fight.

      Thanks

    • alexadry profile imageAUTHOR

      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 

      13 months ago from USA

      Sandra, your best and safest option is to have a professional come to your home and help you out.

    • alexadry profile imageAUTHOR

      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 

      13 months ago from USA

      It might be they are resource guarding their sleeping spots.Where are they sleeping? If on mats, then you can try to move them farther away or use crates instead. If one is sleeping closer to you, it could be he is resource guarding you. It would help to see the behavior to get a better idea of what may be going on. More distance may help, but crates would be the safest option.

    • profile image

      Mary 

      13 months ago

      I have two male pit bulls that are litter mates and got them both week apart. They are 8 months now and they will play together and nothing be wrong, but when it's bed Time they are go to bed great at first but then just looking at each other starts one or both to growling or them fighting . It's worse at night, but they do go at it during the day. But they are usually calm and not playing when they start to fight . I just got them both fixed a few days ago hoping it will help (I know it will take a while to get the testosterone out of there system). I just want them to stop. Any idea what's agitating them at night?

    • profile image

      Hannah Bridges 

      13 months ago

      I had a male dog first and he was neutered. A few years later, we got a female dog that was spayed, and they got along right away and got super close. Never used to want to be close to each other, but now they make sure they sleep right next to each other. It's been about five years, but my female dog starts acting dominant when the male just picks up a toy and walks by, she slightly growls or barks. And usually when they start play fighting like they always used to do, it has become more violent the past few months. Last year, I was attacked by a dog at my job, so I'm not sure if I'm just overthinking it when they start play fighting, but I think I focus more on how they play fight because of it, and to me, it has gotten more violent and I don't know what to do. It always scares me when they start.

    • profile image

      e. 

      13 months ago

      WHY DOES MY 3YEAR OLD DOG, BITE AND ATTACK MY NEW PUPPY,WHO IS 5MOTH OLD,OLDER DOG IS IN HEAT.

    • profile image

      Sandra 

      13 months ago

      We need HELP we have 4 dogs living in our house with us three of them are rescues the other we've had since he was a puppy. 3 are males one is a female they are all fixed. We have three little ones that are Chihuahuas and a larger dog that has a black mouth Cur. About 4 to 5 months ago we adopted our last rescue dog the third Chihuahua and all the dogs got along great until about two months ago the newest addition and the Chihuahua that we had since he was a puppy have started to fight really bad they just stare at each other and go out it instantly I don't know what to do. We separate them and reprimand them and then they could be playing 30 seconds later but it's a constant all day thing and they fight so bad they actually hurt each other.

      Hopefully somebody can help us we're at a loss

    • profile image

      15 months ago

      Hey I have two dogs the father and the son they would always get a long and be able to coexist now the father is starting to get a little on the older side and his son is starting to get very aggressive with him always trying to fight and bite him when the chance arrives he's also been trying to run away actually has like 4 times and just jump back inside like if nothing ever happened the dad is a full German Shepard and the son is half German/ half husky

      We had a chihuahua that ran away and was never able to find it was 2 weeks ago ever since then they've been fighting a lot and that's when him running away started I don't know what to do so he won't run away and so they won't fight as much

    • profile image

      Karley Bassett 

      16 months ago

      I found this article really helpful in understanding what's going on with my two male boxers. A lot of these pin point exactly what's happening in my house. Recently, my 16 month old male boxer has been going at my 6 year old male boxer. This happened 3 times, we separated for about an hour and then put them together again with no issues. This final time, the 6 year old went right at the 16 month old. We have kept them apart since. The 6 year old is neutered, the 16 month old is not. He is scheduled to be neutered on the 12th. I'm hoping that this really helps what's going on in my house. If not - I don't know what to do to help alleviate the tension in the house. Nothing has changed - they went from loving each other and laying on top of each other to not being able to be in the same room in a matter of days. Thank you for writing this article because now I understand why. I just hope that I can figure out what's going on and stop it.

    • profile image

      Debra 

      17 months ago

      I got my first female shiv tzu Perrie she had some aversive behaviours from a tiny pup when she didn't like things being brushed and bathed I worked with her she's a lovely dog but when I try brushing she shows teeth and growls when she was a year old I got Roman who's a male shiv tzu at first perrie was jealous again I worked on it now the female is 1year 7months and the male 7 minths. They have had 3 fights so far without hurting each other but there is jealousy mostly from the female and now dominance from the male the male takes everything off the female and sits on her when she's relaxing or barks at her to get up he's also trying to mount her when walking them the make starts jumping on the female it looked like play with lots of growling but when I try to separate them the male seems to be intense and won't listen do I leave them to it or continue to let them know what's not right and the male has not yet been nurtured.

    • alexadry profile imageAUTHOR

      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 

      18 months ago from USA

      A vet check is always in order when there are behavior changes like that out of the blue.

    • profile image

      Jessica Reeves 

      18 months ago

      We have 3 dogs in our family. Our oldest is a 7 year old yellow lab. Next we have a 5 year old German Shepard. Lastly a 1 year old Cocker Spaniel. We have had all of them since they were 8 weeks old. In the last few months our German Shepard has been instigating fights with our Yellow Lab. I can't really tell what causes it. Sometimes they will be outside without any of us around and start fighting. I don't know what to do. They have lived harmoniously for 5 years together and now this. They are spayed.

    • profile image

      Mary Beckett 

      19 months ago

      Son fights with dad chichuia dad try to back down n they only fight when I'm around I'm getting my youngest one fixed on the 22 he also getting distemper shot n rabies on the 31 I'm getting the father fixed I pray this works I find if I don't pay attention when they growl at each other they walk away from each other so the youngest is probably doing it to.get my attention

    • alexadry profile imageAUTHOR

      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 

      19 months ago from USA

      Sounds like resource guarding, would recommend seeing a behavior consultant for that.

    • profile image

      Rosmery 

      20 months ago

      My dog keeps attacking the other one if there's any food or toys around. Even when she throws up she growls is any other dog get close to it. I don't know how to help her or what to do but yell a command when they are fighting. Would appreciate your help.

    • profile image

      Graeme 

      21 months ago

      We have a 9mth old blue staffy female, but for the last month or so she been attacking our older staffy male or 10yrs, sometimes these fights are horrendous to witness, we just dont know where its come from, they got on fabulous at first they would do everything together but since she came on heat for the first time, she's started attacking him, the other day she just attacked him for no reason whatsoever, we've as a family have never favoured one over the other both equally in everything we do and give. But now we've had to separate them which isn't right for either dog. Am really upset has i dont know whats happened for us to get to this. Like i say these fights are absolutely awful to witness, please please if anyone knows what we need to do to make this better am all ears........please help......... Thank you......

    • alexadry profile imageAUTHOR

      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 

      22 months ago from USA

      Generally, aggressive behaviors do not tend to stop once they have started, unless early intervention is taken. It sounds like there is some competition going on over your presence, which may start from the arousal of greeting you and then spills out to aggressive displays. Sounds like sleeping areas are also culprits. Unfortunately, these things are apt to happen when housing several dogs in the home. Why they have gotten along well for 5 year and now they are fighting may be not easy to comprehend, but sometimes if a dog is getting older he/she may not be able to communicate as well as before. This assuming one dogs is getting old.. You will need a professional to come take a look and gather a history of your dogs and plan something out, but in most cases, keeping the two parties separated is the best and safest option.

    • alexadry profile imageAUTHOR

      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 

      22 months ago from USA

      Nat you need to take action before the behaviors you are seeing put roots. At 2 years old, Rottweilers are in full doggy adolescence, They start becoming discriminative on who to befriend and are no longer the puppies that got along with each other as in the past months. At this age, they are more serious and may no longer tolerate certain behaviors of other dogs. No more dog park but if you know some pals he gets along with that aren't into mounting or engaging in bully behaviors, have some play time with them under a controlled setting. Rotties are always blamed at the dog park no matter what and puts them in a bad light. About the growling of others, it's hard to say what may have started it, but you can work on it, by finding a trainer who uses positive training techniques based on countercondiitoinng and desensitization. My boy also went through a period like that, when he was 2 and a half, never growled at people but then after a stressful period (a move) he started doing that, but we nipped it in the bud before it established. If you look up my profile, my pinterest account Daily Dog Discoveries it has a dog aggression category with all my hubs and lots of tips. Best of luck!

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      Wendy 

      22 months ago

      We have a total of four dogs in our home, a min pin, a dachshund mix, a beagle mix, and a golden retriever. Recently our golden and our beagle have began fighting. They have lived together for over 5 years together and we have never had any problems.

      The first fight appeared to have broken out over a new sleeping area, we were awakened by the sound if them fighting late at night. We were able to stop the fight but our beagle ended up with a small puncture wound to her ear. Thinking it was a one time thing, we closed off the closet they were attempting to sleep in, separated the dogs for the night, and they seemed to be OK the next day. I had been at work but my son said they gotten along just fine. Until...I got home from work. I came in the door and all dogs came very excited to greet me as usual and again a fight broke out between the same two dogs. Again our beagle ended up with a couple of small wounds. Our beagle has always had a little more of an aggressive personality, but our golden has never shown aggression at any time. Though they appear to be getting along fine now, its only been a couple of days since the fighting. I'm afraid that my tension and worry may cause them to be aggressive with each other again. Is it possible that this is an isolated occurance?

    • profile image

      Nat 

      22 months ago

      I've got a 2 y/o Rottweiler who has suddenly started showing signs of aggression. He recently attacked a staffie that had been growling/nipping and mounting the other dogs at the park. I don’t feel as if it was an 'aggressive attack', rather he was trying to tell the staffie off for growling and dominating the other dogs (my dog pulled him off and then dragged him away). However the other dog needed quite a few stitches so I’m by no means trying to say we weren't at fault. He has also started showing fear toward strangers who approach us and will growl at them. We got our dog as a puppy, and he has been thoroughly socialised from the get-go. Do you have any thoughts on what this sudden change in behaviour could be due to? Obviously we are getting professional help from a trainer as well. I was always so proud of our Rottie for changing peoples negative perception of the breed! We have worked so hard to keep him socialised and well-trained but his behaviour lately is so worrying.

    • alexadry profile imageAUTHOR

      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 

      22 months ago from USA

      You can try some different things but it really be ideal to have a behavior consultant guide you through. Feeding in different rooms is great management plan. When your son comes in the door try keeping both on leash, you have one, somebody has the other, keep them at a distance from each other, if they get show any small sign of conflict, son goes out the door. If they are calm, son enters and ignores them. With him ignoring them, the dogs will figure it out there's nothing to fight over. Keep rehearing this over and over several times a day. Dogs should also be trained to respond to an interrupter sign that you can use that tells the dog to stop the beginning of a squabble in its tracks and that means to come to you. This should all be trained with a trainer as it requires several rehearsals and for safety.

    • profile image

      Lisa 

      23 months ago

      Feeding time was the biggest ,so we feed in different rooms but the silly things could be a toy,my son walking through the door ,just silly things . Sometimes I know and I can stop it and it's fine other time you just don't and it's the big one. Thankyou for getting back to me .

    • alexadry profile imageAUTHOR

      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 

      23 months ago from USA

      Lisa, can you describe the "stupid reasons" that triggers their fighting? It might be helpful from a management standpoint.

    • profile image

      Lisa 

      23 months ago

      I have 3 Frenchbull dogs,the Dad,the Mum and we kept one of their puppies ,little boy. He is 16 months old . Most days it's peace and calm in the house but occasionally Dad and son fight for stupid reasons,we have to dive in and separate them ,sometimes they have little cuts on them and it's very distressing when it happens .after they trott of together and cuddle up and sleep . I hate it when it happened,they have both been neutered and so has the mum . Any ideas how to stop ,I've been trying to read the signs but it just happens !

    • alexadry profile imageAUTHOR

      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 

      23 months ago from USA

      Separation, use baby gates to separate the fighting parties or find a trainer/ behavior consultant using positive training methods/behavior modification to help you out.

    • profile image

      ciaraisworried 

      23 months ago

      I have two older dogs,one large male who is younger ,like 7 or 8,and one medium female like 8 or 9.The male is a lab, and the female is a begale.They don't fight all the time but when they do ,the female is usually left bleeding . I think its over food but I'm not sure what to do about it.I don't want to have to give up the male ,what do I do?

    • alexadry profile imageAUTHOR

      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 

      23 months ago from USA

      Deb, was it just a "discussion" like a growl with nobody getting hurt, or was there actual biting? If you cannot afford a trainer, your best bet is management, basically simply keep separated, you can get a baby gate

    • profile image

      Deb 

      23 months ago

      I have 5 dogs. 3 are pups of one of the males. The pups are now 3 years old. Yesterday the male pup Max started fighting with his father Kota. This was sudden and has never happen before. Now we can not even have them in the same room. My husband is a disabled vet and we can not afford a trainer. Help anyone.

    • profile image

      Amanda 

      23 months ago

      I have two female mixed terriers from the same litter. They are five years old now and have never had a problem ever with fighting. Have a two year old female English setter and no problems with her in their pack either. This summer we inherited a two year old fixed male chihuahua and had no problems with him either. Now the two sisters are fighting whenever they are in reach of eachother and it's just getting worse. Our setter though younger even steps in-between them to try and stop the fighting. I have read about breeding and packs and age but I am having trouble just getting a straight answer on what can be done to stop this or help with it besides keeping them separated all the time messing up a five year routine.

    • profile image

      Carla 

      2 years ago

      I have two rescue dogs one is a female mutt no real predominate breed (per a DNA test) she looks like maybe a Pit/Shepard/Border Collie mix and the other is a male Corgi/Cattle Dog mix. The female is around 5 years and the male is about 2 1/2. All of a sudden the Female started smelling the Male and then attacking them. Prior to this they would play together all the time no problem. Just to add another thing when we walk them, leave them home or if they are just around the house they are fine. The attacks seem random. Not sure what I should do at this point.

    • profile image

      eerin 

      2 years ago

      I have two male poodles both are fixed one is my husbands we have been living together for 5 years the dogs have never had a problem. recently my husband's dog who is older is being highly aggressive towards my dog they haveven never fought before. I notice it is only when my husband is not home they never had this issue before what could be going on ?

    • alexadry profile imageAUTHOR

      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 

      5 years ago from USA

      Thank you solaras! It has been debunked by many websites and professionals, but the concept is unfortunately still alive if you google dog dominance, human pack theory and alpha dog:(

    • Solaras profile image

      Solaras 

      5 years ago

      Interesting hub with a lot of good information. I give it a thumbs up. Glad to hear that the Alpha human concept has been debunked!

    • kingkos profile image

      kingkos 

      5 years ago

      I found this article very interesting..i got 4 male dogs now i know why my 2 year old boxer dog suddenly bite my 6 year old shih-tzu..My boxer dog doesn't want any dog come near me. "over protective" And my shih-tzu sometimes when playing with my boxer get angry and they fight.

    • alexadry profile imageAUTHOR

      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 

      5 years ago from USA

      I am not sure what you are doing for punishment, but if it's based on aversion (scolding, pinning dog to the ground etc) it wont' help make matters better. All you really can do at this point is keeping the troublemakers separated. I wished I could be more helpful, but I realistically cannot see an easy way out or a safe way to make them all get along. The dog behaviorist route is the best approach in this case as he/she can assess your dog and see the dynamics. I think management at this point may be much easier and safer than attempting something without the aid of a professional that may have a poor success rate with your dogs at stake of getting injured.. Best wishes.

    • profile image

      4mutts 

      5 years ago

      I have 4 dogs - two females (one pure-blooded Australian cattle dog (ACD) ~13 yrs old and one Great Pyrenees/ACD mix, 7 yrs old) and two males (one Border Collie/ACD, 9 yrs old & one Bernese Mtn dog/wolfhound mix, 7 yrs old). All 4 are fixed. The female pure ACD was a stray that we picked up and could not find a home for. The Bernese mix (the biggest one at 106 lbs) was a rescue. The Border Collie/ACD mix is the dominant dog. We have had multiple bloody fights btwn the females (the pure ACD will not fit into the group and thinks she should be the top dog - she was a breeding dog before we found her but we had her spayed right away) with the smaller ACD having had multiple surgeries to patch her up. We now keep the two females completely separated. Yesterday, the two males (border collie mix & bernese mix) had a little spat - then the female pyrenees mix jumped in and all hell broke loose. My husband managed to get the dogs apart (& luckily did not get hurt) but not before the bernese mix had some pretty bad damage done to his left front leg by the border collie mix. Emergency surgery & $550 later he is home resting. The other two (pyrenees & border collie) were under house arrest and confined to the bedroom or backyard until this evening – though we are still keeping them separate from the injured dog. My husband is convinced that most of the problem is the pyrenees mix and that if she had not gotten involved the squabble would not have escalated as it did. I am planning on looking into a dog behavorist, but we frankly do not have a lot of $$ now and are struggling. Any advice or insight into how we might deal with this is welcome. We think that part of the problem is because we have to keep the 2 females separated and they are jealous of one another (the ACD stays in the kitchen with me while I am working). Are we sending the wrong signal with the punishment for the two dogs that hurt the other and by keeping the 2 females apart? Is it likely that the dominant female (pyrenees mix) is the main problem?

    • wetnosedogs profile image

      wetnosedogs 

      6 years ago from Alabama

      my dogs seem to know "that's enough", but we've had our interesting moments. They all have seemed to learn boundaries and sometimes it's remembering in the excitement of whatever. Great hub.

    • alexadry profile imageAUTHOR

      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 

      6 years ago from USA

      If they are playing there is no need to intervene. When my Rottweilers play it sounds like they are killing each other but it is for the most part drama. If I notice though it escalates a bit too much for my taste I intervene. It helps to train a 'that's enough" command to dogs so they take a little break and then have them start playing again when they are a bit calmer. Here is a helpful hub I wrote a while ago:

      https://pethelpful.com/dogs/How-to-Tell-if-Dogs-ar...

    • Clive Donegal profile image

      Clive Donegal 

      6 years ago from En Route

      I found this article helpful in understanding behaviors I see in our dogs. I am a little less clear on how I might alleviate tension. Young female and adult male pits usually play well together, and when somehing relatively srerious breaks out it usually is over in a minute or two. I am not sure whether I should be doing something to reduce tension.

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