How To Handle Dog Aggression Towards Other Dogs

An aggressive dog is a major source of stress for its owners. Taking your dog for walks or bringing it somewhere public might be difficult if you’re constantly worried about approaching other canines. This situation is stressful for both you and your dog, and it seems hard to resolve.

Believe in yourself; things may get better. Many canines show remarkable improvement after participating in formal training. Learn as much as you can about the problem and possible solutions for your pet.

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What Might Possibly Provoke My Dog Aggression Towards Other Dogs He Has Never Met?

Most dogs, even those that have been socialized, would rather avoid a fight than engage in an aggressive one. Dogs’ body language might indicate whether they want to play or run away from a confrontation. Similar to humans, not all dogs are born natural communicators with canine peers.

Fear, a lack of communication, defensiveness, possessiveness over resources (including, maybe, family members or other pets), and territoriality are all possible causes of dog suddenly aggressive towards other dogs they have never met before.

When dogs fight, both the dogs and the humans attempting to separate them risk being hurt. Growling, snarling, barking, lunging, snapping, and biting are all possible manifestations of this pattern of behavior.

Dog Aggression Towards Other Dogs

Behavior problems in canines

Inter-dog aggressiveness occurs when a dog shows extreme antagonism toward other dogs. This may include both familiar and unfamiliar canine companions. Despite the fact that this is often accepted as canine behavior, there are a variety of reasons why certain dogs become too aggressive.

There is a significant increase in dog aggression towards other dogs that have not been neutered. Symptoms often emerge between the ages of 18 and 36 months, when the dog has reached social maturity and has completed the arduous process of reaching sexual maturity (between the ages of 6 and 9 months). Male dogs tend to be more aggressive toward other canines of the same gender.

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Dog Aggression: Signs and Causes

Growling, biting, lip-lifting, snapping, and lunging are typical aggressive behaviors amongst dogs. Some common body language cues for fear or submission include crouching, tail tucking, lip licking, and retreating.

Discreet signals of social control usually emerge before overt antagonism between dogs in the same home escalates to a dangerous level. A dog’s strategy may include preventing another dog from entering a room by standing in its way and glaring. Even though my dogs get along nicely in general, there may be moments when my dog is aggressive towards other dogs, because of an unforeseen circumstance.

Root Causes of Dog Aggression

There is no one etiology for this illness. A dog’s history of mistreatments, such as abuse and neglect, might contribute to its present-day aggression. It might have had a painful experience with another dog or never had the opportunity to socialize as a puppy.

Similarly, dogs rescued from dog fighting operations are more likely to show signs of dog aggression towards other dogs.

In addition to the owner’s actions, the disease may not emerge (e.g., if an owner shows compassion for a weaker dog by punishing the more dominant dog). Aggression may also be due to other factors including pain, fear, or a need to defend territory or social standing.

Recognizing Dog Aggression

Inter-dog hostility is difficult to detect since there is no established protocol. Canine “play” behavior and eager, non-aggressive arousal share many signs with this condition. The outcomes of biochemistry, urine analysis, and other laboratory testing are often nondescript. However, the presence of any anomalies may lead the veterinarian to the root cause of the violence.

Advanced imaging, such as CT or MRI scans, may be required to diagnose a central nervous system (CNS) disorder or to rule out other underlying neurological diseases if a neurological ailment is suspected.

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Dealing with Aggressive Dogs

Inter-dog hostility cannot be effectively treated. Instead, the emphasis of therapy is on keeping the issue under control. Owners should learn to prevent canine aggression and safely intervene in incidents if it occurs.

Walks at the park, for example, provide an opportunity for the dog to act aggressively against others, therefore owners should keep their pets leashed and under close supervision at all times. The dog’s owner may also wish to accustom the pet to a basket muzzle and head halter for safety reasons.

Dog Aggression Intervention Training

The therapy of dog aggression towards other dogs relies heavily on modifying the dog’s behavior. It is crucial to use certified veterinary professionals for training purposes. Gradually, using a variety of positive reinforcement training methods, the aggressive dog is conditioned to no longer fear or respond to other canines.

Sadly, not all dog owners can prevent, adequately teach, or manage canine violence. In such circumstances, rehoming the dog into a home more suited to its individual needs is one alternative. As well as people, certain dogs may be considered dangerous to other animals. Humane euthanasia may be the most practical option for everyone’s well-being in such scenarios.

Unfortunately, there is currently no FDA-approved drug used to treat aggressiveness between canines. But there are several behavioral drugs, such as Prozac, Xanax, trazodone, acepromazine, and gabapentin, that may assist treat anxiety or hyperexcitability. A few of these medications are taken on a regular basis, while others are reserved for emergency situations.

Reducing the intensity or frequency of events is a common indicator of successful treatment of inter-dog hostility. In addition, the suggested treatments should be carried out throughout the duration of the dog’s lifetime.

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A relapse into violent behavior is possible even if it has been fully eradicated for a brief period if the owner does not comply with the suggestions in every circumstance. The owners of violent dogs need to collaborate closely with their veterinarians and veterinary behaviorists in order to get the desired outcomes of therapy.

Many dogs are capable of learning to regulate inter-dog violence and enjoying normal, happy lives; it just takes time and patience.

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How can I identify fear-based or protective aggression in a dog against an unknown canine?

This kind of behavior is typical in situations when one dog attacks another.

The dog’s body language and behavior, when confronted by another dog, are used to make the diagnosis. These stances and responses, however, may evolve over time as a result of the interaction’s outcomes.

If a dog discovers that an aggressive show might prevent future encounters, for instance, it may begin to exhibit more extreme forms of behavior and adopt more assertive body postures. Hence, it is essential to not only pay attention to the facial expressions and posture during the current interaction but also throughout the first few meetings.

A terrified dog will typically tuck its tail, pull its ears back, and try to go behind its owner. Possible actions include barking, lunging, and backing away from the approaching dog. Typically, the dog will not look you in the eye. If the dog has a history of aggressive assaults from which it did not successfully escape and suffered injuries, this behavior may have its origins in that history.

Some dogs may lack the social skills necessary to connect playfully and comfortably with other dogs if they were only briefly or insufficiently exposed to them as puppies. When there are two or more dogs present, the presence of one that is too excited and unable to be soothed or controlled by the owners may cause the other dog to become scared or protective, which may then escalate to violent behavior from both dogs.

The dog’s behavior is often influenced by the owner. The owner may tighten the leash as a “correction” or “reaction” to the dog’s anxious behavior, suggesting that the owner feels tense about the coming dog or the circumstance.

Furthermore, the dog will likely link the owner’s negative emotions (such as frustration, anxiety, or worry) with the arrival of the other dog (rather than their own behaviors). An already protective and aggressive dog might become even more so as a consequence of this.

An owner’s attempts to soothe an aggressive pet may instead encourage the behavior in question. On the other hand, if the owner threatens or punishes the dog in an effort to curb the behavior, the dog will become even more anxious and fearful of the stimuli.

Dogs are more likely to be protective of their territory when their owners lack proper leash control and are using restrictive collars (such as choke chains or pinch collars). Pets that are tied down or on a leash are safe.

Dogs with this disorder, as determined by their body language and response when confronted by another canine, are more prone to exhibit aggressive behavior out of fear.

How can I tell whether a dog’s hostility is the consequence of a misunderstanding between two strange canines?

To provoke this aggressive behavior, any dog needs just adopt an authoritative stance or gesture. These include making direct eye contact with the other dog, raising the tail high, and approaching with a rigid body.

Aggression may break out between the two dogs if one of them did not respond to the other dog with suitable appeasing or submissive behaviors. When owners react by tugging and tightening or correcting the leash, making threats, or using disciplinary measures, they may unknowingly increase the anxiety and arousal.

Possible warning signs for the dog that something bad is up ahead. In addition, the dog’s ability to respond rapidly and with a full repertoire of body postures, approaches, and withdrawals is hampered when it must remain on a leash.

For various reasons, some canines may be unsure of how to effectively interact with one another. This may happen if a dog hasn’t had enough exposure to other dogs, or if they’ve had bad encounters with other dogs in the past, both of which can add an anxious or fearful element to their personality.

Anxious or scared canines, especially those that aren’t well-versed in canine social norms, may experience the rapid escalation of issues. One or both dogs may become aggressive if the other is frightened by, for instance, an overly excited or domineering show.

When one dog exhibits submissive behavior, the other dog may see this as a cue to decrease its own displays, maybe even to the point of aggressiveness.

The second dog may react defensively if this happens. While effective movement, posture, and visual and verbal cues among a social group of known dogs will result in little fighting, this is not always the case when two new dogs meet and greet for the first time. 

Uncertainty and anxiety may be exacerbated by factors such as the variety of breeds and individuals, the variety of environmental and social factors that occur during walks, behavioral genetics, insufficient socialization with other dogs, prior experience, and the variety of environmental and behavioral factors.

Some dogs, especially those who are naturally confident or brash, may choose to fight rather than retreat if they are provoked. In the absence of firm verbal and physical leadership, an aggressive dog risks becoming excessively so.

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On walks, if a dog tends to drag its owners around, it is less likely to turn to its owner for guidance and comfort and more likely to respond to whatever it encounters first. When one dog is friendly or socially attractive to another, but neither knows what will happen as a result of the interaction, the two dogs might be in a state of conflict. Aggression is a possible outcome of settings including conflict or uncertainty (opposing emotions).

This kind of aggressiveness is often seen at canine strangers when the resident dog perceives that they are in his domain. A dog’s natural protective instincts kick in when it sees another dog on its territory, and some dogs may even breach their boundaries by breaking a window or door to get to the intruder.

How Can I Spot Possessive Aggression?

Dogs may show possessive aggressiveness when they react aggressively when they are approached while in possession of a resource, which can be anything from a toy to a bone. This might be in the form of a certain meal or snack, a favorite toy, a new or stolen item, or the presence of a specific relative.

The issue emerges when one dog is very possessive of the resource, regardless of whether or not the other dog shows any interest in sharing, or when both dogs are highly driven to use force in order to get or maintain possession of the item.

To avoid hostility, the dog’s resources (toys, food) should be taken away during social contact with other dogs if he or she shows no signs of aggression when they are not there.

In most cases of canine aggressiveness, learning and conditioning are at blame. If the other dog backs down in the face of threats or aggressiveness (or is removed by its owner), then the action was effective.

The owner’s attempts to soothe the dog may instead encourage the animal to continue its hostile behavior. When a dog shows hostility against another canine, one typical error is to punish it.

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