What Triggers Dogs To Fight

Dogs fight for a variety of reasons, such as the protection of territory, toys, or food. Or perhaps they will respond in dread. When they feel threatened, some dogs go on the attack in an effort to frighten the other dog off. Aggressive behavior can also result from frustration, particularly in dogs who have not developed emotional self-control. A dog’s tolerance limit might also be exceeded if it is pushed too far. This can be the case with a dog who is reactive and easily upset by specific triggers, or with a dog that is in pain and has little patience.

Why do dogs start fighting all of a sudden?

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Dog owners may find sudden aggressiveness between their dogs to be worrisome and plain perplexing. Additionally, it raises clear safety issues and puts everyone (including two- and four-footers) on edge.

Key Takeaways: Why Is My Dog Suddenly Aggressive with Other Dogs in the House?

  • Numerous factors can cause dogs to suddenly become aggressive towards one another. Frustration, illness, and resource guarding are a few of the most typical reasons why familiar dogs fight.
  • To bring peace back into the home, you must clearly define the issue’s source.
  • It’s crucial to realize that the underlying tension that causes these eruptions has typically existed for some time.
  • By using common dog management practices and little lifestyle changes, you can occasionally contribute to the prevention of these kinds of canine confrontations. But regrettably, if you want to manage dog aggression, you’ll frequently need to work with a licensed canine behaviorist. This is a serious issue.

What sets off a dog attack?

For a variety of reasons, including dominance, fear, territorial protection, pain, frustration, too exuberant play, and others, dogs can become aggressive and growl, lunge at, bark at, and even attack other animals and people.

What should I do to stop my dogs from fighting?

  • Always neuter and spay your dogs.
  • Feed every dog in the house a separate meal.
  • When outside, keep dogs on leashes.
  • If your dog has a territorial personality, stay away from dog parks. Additionally, keep in mind that not every dog park user will be considerate, and even a friendly dog may get into a fight.
  • Keep toys that are most coveted out of reach.
  • If at all possible, choose the opposite sex of the current dog when bringing a new dog into the family.
  • Be considerate of visiting family members and canines, and give each dog some alone time.

A veterinarian behaviorist may need to be consulted if fights are happening more frequently. Ask your family veterinarian about the possibilities for a specialist referral. In addition, while aggressiveness is building up before a fight, the owner may be able to stop it by delivering different orders, altering the dog’s focus. Keep in mind that dogs learn to listen to owners better with basic obedience training. Behavior modification programs need dedication, patience, and should always be customized for each family and pet.

At the Dallas Hillside Veterinary Clinic, Dr. Christine New treats animals.

Why has my dog started acting viciously against our other dog?

Aside from physical altercations, aggressive behavior can also take the form of mounting, blocking, encroaching on another dog, posing, glaring, and vocalization. Dogs living in the same home might grow hostile to one another for a variety of reasons. Aggression might be motivated by fear or anxiety, be related to dominance, be territorial, be possessive, etc. Some canines have “alliance violence When this happens, dogs only act aggressively around their owners and behave calmly by themselves. These dogs frequently fight over the owner’s attention and have issues when they try to meet the owner at the same time. Intact dogs may exhibit hormone-driven hostility. When intact males act aggressively toward other males, while females act aggressively when they are in heat, or when a mother is defending her pups, this sort of aggressiveness is suspected. Spaying and neutering the dogs may be beneficial in these situations. Changes in the household that result in an unstable hierarchy, such as the addition of a new dog, the social maturity of a puppy (occurs around 3 years of age), the deteriorating health of an aged pet, or the passing of a canine or human family member, are other frequent reasons of hostility. Owners need to be aware that the social structure of dogs is not always clear-cut. A dog’s place in the hierarchy may shift over time or in response to changing circumstances (e.g. one dog may get priority with toys, while another may be the top dog when it comes to food). This makes determining the “tricky alpha dog If a dog did not receive adequate socialization as a puppy, has had social trauma (connected to humans or other dogs), or is not properly trained, they may be inclined to aggression. According to studies, aggressive canines may experience up to 50% separation anxiety and 30% phobias or generalized anxiety. This lends credence to the idea that many of these canines resort to aggressiveness when confronted with unknown, unsettling, or frightening circumstances. Owner conflict is frequently a concern because up to 20% of dogs who are violent toward other dogs are also aggressive toward their owners. Interfering with customary social interactions, rewarding aggressive behavior, frequently scolding/yelling/getting upset (increases dog’s tension and arousal), owners responding inconsistently to dog’s behavior, and lack of training/control of dogs are all examples of owner behavior that may unintentionally contribute to aggression. Aggression is treatable. First, the canines should be assessed to rule out any health issues, such as hormonal imbalances or painful illnesses, that could contribute to hostility (e.g. arthritis). It is important to assess the situation’s overall safety. Rehoming may be advised if there have been severe dog or human bites, if aggression triggers are unpredictable, or if the living conditions make therapy challenging.

Aggression Treatment

Aggression requires time and effort to treat. The time it takes to observe results can range from weeks to months. Improvement is shown in 96% of patients with correct management, with a median improvement in aggression reported at 69%. Treatment entails

1) Steer clear of hostile circumstances and triggers

2) Launching a “nothing in life is free” campaign

3) Favoring one particular canine

4) Counterconditioning and desensitization

5) Drugs that lessen anxiety and aggression, such fluoxetine

One or more of these methods might be suggested, depending on the circumstance. The hostility is typically not successfully resolved by medication alone. Success requires some kind of behavior modification (#1-4). Having intact pets spayed and neutered may also be beneficial. It may be advised to take the dogs for walks or runs since exercise has a calming impact. Punishment should be avoided since it can make the animal more hostile or direct it at the owner. To ensure consistency in household routines and interactions with the dogs, every human family member needs to be on the same page. Dogs receive conflicting messages from treatment regimens that are applied inconsistently over time or by different family members, which leads to treatment failure.

Avoiding Triggers

To start with, stay away from circumstances that could lead to aggressiveness. Resource competition is a common trigger. Food, rewards, toys, favorite resting spots, owner closeness, or owner attention are some examples of resources. Dogs should only be fed, given treats, played with, and permitted to greet owners separately in these situations. Deny the dogs unrestricted access to their favorite foods, snacks, toys, and resting spots. Exciting circumstances like welcoming people, playing, going on walks or rides in the automobile, crossing the property border, barking at onlookers, etc. are other popular triggers. In these circumstances, it may be beneficial to separate the dogs or to take action before the dogs become overexcited. Sometimes it’s necessary to fully separate the dogs before reintroducing them gradually using desensitization and counter-conditioning training. If the dogs are kept apart, ensure sure they are unable to see one other or display violent postures toward one another through gates, doors, or windows.

Nothing in Life is Free

Through this training, the owner and their pets can communicate more consistently and with improved communication. In essence, the dogs have to work for their food, treats, toys, stroking, and human attention. They accomplish this by obediently obeying owner directions. These instructions can range from a straightforward come-sit-stay to a thorough obedience lesson. If the dogs haven’t been trained in obedience before, start by practicing the come, sit, and stay commands. The resource (food, attention, treats, etc.) is only given to each dog when he has complied with the command. Ignore any forceful or attention-seeking behavior. The owner, not the dog, should start and end every engagement. Work with each dog separately at first, then with the others when it feels secure. Dogs learn to maintain their composure in a circumstance that would have previously prompted a fight by practicing sitting or lying down when a resource is present. Independence training could be useful if alliance hostility is the blame for fights.

Showing Preference

Selecting one dog to always have priority access to things like food, snacks, preferred spots to relax, toys, the leash being placed on first, access to doorways, and attention is another effective strategy. Additionally, this dog should get the best supplies (preferred place on the couch, favorite toy, etc). The elder dog or the dog that was purchased first may initially be given preference. Try switching your choice to the other dog if after six weeks there has been no progress. Giving one dog priority access to resources lessens conflict because it adds order and lessens unpredictability. Dogs learn the sequence in which they will acquire resources when used in conjunction with the Nothing in Life is Free program, and the dog that receives a resource second must wait until the first dog has the chance to earn the resource.

Densensitization & Counter-Conditioning

In this program, the dogs are gradually introduced to one another so they can learn that good things happen when the other dog is nearby. Leashes, head halters, and/or basket muzzles should be used to keep the dogs under complete control as needed. The distance between each handler and dog should be sufficient to prevent either dog from displaying any signs of aggressiveness. Pets are then urged to follow directions for obedience and are then pampered or played with as a reward. The handlers’ voices should be lively and joyful. Avoid sounding irate or disappointed, and refrain from imposing any penalties. When teaching dogs for obedience, gradually close the gap between them between each session. Increase the distance and reduce it more slowly if hostile behavior is observed. Sessions ought to be brief and regular. Walking the dogs together is a fantastic method to foster a sense of companionship and allow the animals let off some steam, provided that they are not violent on leash or during walks (most are not unless hostility is severe). Start with walking between the dogs while wearing head halters, then move on to having the dogs walk side by side. When pausing to cross the street, dogs should be trained to sit and stay at a safe distance apart.


If your pet needs medicine to assist treat aggression, your veterinarian should be consulted. Painkillers may be necessary if the dog is acting aggressively because of its pain. Fluoxetin is the drug that is most frequently recommended for aggressiveness. An SSRI is fluoxetin (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor). Results may not be visible for two to four weeks. Your veterinarian could advise changing the dosage to get the desired outcomes. Fluoxetine not only lessens aggression but also eases anxiety. Sedation, vomiting, loss of appetite, constipation, agitation, and seizures are some of the less common fluoxetine side effects. In individuals who have a history of seizures or who are on Tramadol, fluoxetine should be used with caution. It shouldn’t be taken at the same time as MOI drugs.

Other tips

Some dogs might benefit from anti-anxiety products like Thundershirts or Adaptil (spray, collar, diffuser). Additionally beneficial are obedience training, regular exercise, and spaying and neutering.


Both dogs may wear head collars (such as the Gentle Leader) with a trailing leash in addition to avoiding triggers. The dogs can be readily separated from one another if there is aggressive behavior or fighting thanks to the trailing leashes. During dog fights, aversive citronella spray, such as Spray Shield, can be used to startle the dogs apart without really hurting them. Basket muzzles are an option, but they must be worn by all dogs living in the family. Dogs wearing basket muzzles can still eat, drink, and pant. Traditional mouth-shutting muzzles shouldn’t be applied in this circumstance. Dogs should be kept entirely apart if fighting is intense until training and other treatment regimens may be implemented. If the aggression poses a serious safety risk, rehoming should be taken into consideration. To learn more, kindly ask your veterinarian.

How can you tell if a dogfight is significant?

You probably won’t hear the roaring and snarling that distinguish dog fights. Maybe neither dog is saying a word. In a severe dog attack, the perpetrator could remain silent while the victim dog howls. Others grasp on and grind down. Some dogs may dart in and out, slashing at each other’s legs and bellies. The assailant can pursue the victim again if he manages to break free and flee. We are unable to perform any risk-free interventions. Two Golden Retrievers belonged to a client of mine, and one of them bit the other and fractured his leg. When the customer attempted to break up the altercation, the attacking dog tore her arm.

Must I allow my dogs to fight each other?

When one of the dogs has irritated the other, the dogs notify one another by growling or curving their lips. Additionally, warnings are not common.

If there aren’t many conflicts to resolve in the first place, you should only let your dogs to resolve them on their own.

What is “occasionally?” It varies! Most adult dogs that are in good behavioral shape will tolerate some puppy nagging. Expect the adult dog to be less tolerant after the puppy reaches the 4- or 5-month mark. For a few days, there may be fierce-sounding scuffles as Dogalini, a Middle School-age dog, adjusts to the new regulations. Regarding two adult dogs, I would be suspicious if they were constantly making offensive facial expressions against one another, even if they weren’t actually fighting.

What can provoke your dog to bite?

One of the most frequent causes for pet owners to seek expert assistance for their dogs is aggression. What, though, is aggression? Aggression is any aggressive, harmful, or destructive behavior directed at a person or an animal, whether they be human or another species.

In order to effectively address the situation at hand, it is crucial to identify the source of hostility. Dogs may become aggressive out of fear, frustration, prey drive, pain, or the need to protect their territory, resources, or family members. All of these circumstances have the potential to push a dog too far, causing it to quickly change from reactive, afraid, or guarding behaviors to violent ones.