What are the causes of dog's biting other dogs?

The reasons why some dog's bite other dogs has two essential origins. The first is a dog that is dominant and is directing his aggression towards another dog to establish his dominance. Most frequently it is between dogs of the same sex, and usually males. The second is canine rivalry between dogs in the same household.

The trigger is usually jealousy, possession of a prized item, or a hierarchal struggle. Most often this takes place between dogs of the same sex, age and size.

This may sound like a contradiction but dogs are sometimes dominant and sometimes submissive. Not every dominant dog is ferocious, or every submissive dog a weak-kneed coward. Their behaviours change under changing circumstances. Most dogs that have been properly trained and socialised are well mannered and well adjusted towards people and other dogs.

A female dog will often see off unwanted attention from male dogs with a lifting of the lip or a growl, likewise adult dogs do this with over exuberant pups. This isn't aggression; it's normal dog behaviours.

Dog aggression problems do arise though, when a dog is confronted by an un-trained and poorly socialised dog-a type of canine hooligan. Or a strange dog comes in to the territory of another dog: this perceived territory can be wide-ranging indeed. This is usually a problem between males. Sometimes it's a sex-orientated problem, and providing that it's recognised at an early age can be arrested through dog neutering.

Puppy in bloom--no dog fighting from her!

Dogs have usually resolved any dominance issue before getting close to one another via body language. If one dog tries to dominate another the usual signal is that the dominant dog will put its head over the other dog's shoulder. The other dog, if submitting, bows down slightly, thereby giving recognition to the other dog's higher status.

  1. It is unusual for an encounter between dogs to end in a fight, even when they view themselves to be of equal status. They usually prefer to work things out peacefully. But it does happen.
  2. The classic signs are intense eye contact between the dogs, and a raised and stiffened tail. Aggressive growling frequently precedes the actual fight, unless one backs off. My own experience of these confrontations that turn in to an actual dog fight is that they're over very quickly. One dog backs off, and that's an end to it. Very little physical damage is done, but everyone concerned is in an animated state.
  3. Trying to foresee problems when your out with your dog and encounter another dog isn't easy. Some dogs come bounding at you, and look quite frightening. And all they want to do is play. Some dogs are angels off the lead and aggressive on. This is usually because they're protecting their owner, who they perceive to be of a lower status than themselves.
  4. Your best course of action is to study beforehand any dog and owner that is coming towards you. Is the dog taking an inordinate interest in your dog, or is it just sniffing and ambling along?
  5. Has the dog's body stiffened, and adopted an aggressive stance? What about the owner is he shortening the lead to gain more control over his dog? Is he recalling him, if he's off the lead? If so, play safe and try to avoid a meeting.
  6. If you are in a confrontational situation, don't pull your dog back by pulling on his leash, this usually exacerbates the situation.
  7. Try to take the steam out of the situation by cutting off the eye contact between the two adversaries by turning your dog's head away. If necessary let go of the lead, your dog can then flee, which usually ends the fight.

If your dog has a serious aggression problem with other dogs, and you can't resolve it, you need to do two things: Straight away you should fit a muzzle. And secondly seek professional advice- making your vet the first port of call.

When a dog may bite another dog: canine rivalry.

In many households with more than one dog a natural hierarchy is established. The top dog dominates the toys, bedding, and your attention, by frequently pushing the others to one side, or by forcing her way to the front.

When you try to undermine this situation by bringing your human values in to a canine world that doesn't understand them; trouble can break out.

Play by their rules. They've stood the test of time, many hundreds of thousands of years. Pay the most attention to the top dog, greet her first, feed her first, play with her first, and acknowledge that she is the top dog. In this way the order of things is maintained; everyone knows their place and are happier for it.

Make sure that each dog has itsown bowl, place them a fair distance away from each other, and supervise mealtimes. Steer clear of real bones, and make sure that there are more beds than dogs, and more toys than dogs. If a ruckus does break out pay most attention to the top dog first, and less to the others- afterwards.

If you don't recognise any type of dominant behaviour by one dog in your household treat them as equals, treats, toys, praise and attention all delivered on an equal footing-canine democracy!

Uncovering the causes of why some dog's bite other dogs is just one segment of our puppy-training guide.....

Dog on a hog

So why not find out all about teaching a puppy to stop begging.
Copyright© 2007-2008.