One of the most difficult issues to deal with is two dogs (related or not) that can’t get along but have to live together. Sometimes the issues are sporadic and sometimes the dogs can’t even see one another. This causes the dogs as well as their families a huge amount of stress.
Situations of intra-household aggression can vary drastically and it’s important to not let dogs work it out on their own. One instance of aggression can turn into a cycle where the dogs either fight or one dog is bullied and as a result has a poor quality of life.
Many owners often describe these issues as coming out of no where but that’s generally not the case. Many times aggression can be caused by one of the following:
- A medical issue in one of the dogs (diagnosed or unknown)
- Resource guarding food, toys, humans, sleeping areas, water bowls, etc.
- Over excitement caused by the doorbell, dogs walking by the home, etc.
- Extreme attention seeking behaviour often described by owners as “jealously”
- Lack of appropriate exercise and activities
- An adolescent dog and a senior dog testing out the changing dynamics in their relationship
- Siblings (aggression among siblings is extremely common and makes up about 50% of the intra-household aggression cases I see). I highly recommend never getting siblings or even two dogs of the same age to help prevent this from occurring.
Here are a few suggestions for immediate relief however I strongly recommend contacting an experienced trainer to work with you and your dogs. It’s very difficult to see the whole picture when it’s your own pets.
- Feed dogs separately – this goes for meals, treats and bones
- Ensure dogs have multiple places to drink, sleep and play so they can have their own space if they desire it
- Give older dogs a break from high energy dogs. I recommend naps for puppies and even just separating dogs into different spaces for down time throughout the day
- Don’t ever leave dogs alone together who have a history of aggression. Issues can blow up when you’re not around to stop them
- Keep toys put away unless the dogs can share them nicely. If a dispute occurs remove the toy immediately from all dogs
- Ensure your dogs have adequate exercise and have a chance to do relaxation activities like smelling when out and about
- Spend one on one time with each of your dogs every single day
- Consider taking a class with your dog to get them out and trying something new
- Establish strong obedience with each dog so that they can be asked to move away from one another and settle in a selected spot
- Don’t ever allow dogs to work it out on their own. Even a non-injury causing fight damages the relationship and will increase the likelihood of an ongoing issue