Why Do Dogs Attack Other Dogs?

It can be a frightening experience to be around an aggressive dog. It’s even scarier when it’s a dog that is usually docile and friendly but then suddenly becomes aggressive, growling, lunging, or baring its teeth. In an extreme case, the dog may bite or attack you or a family member it knows well and has never acted against before.

Knowing why your dog is acting aggressively is essential to figuring out the best plan for stopping this frightening behavior. If a dog that has never shown any sign of aggression suddenly begins growling , snapping, or biting, it may be caused by a disease or illness.

Some possible causes of pain include arthritis , bone fractures, internal injuries, various tumors , and lacerations. Conditions such as cognitive dysfunction and brain diseases or tumors may provoke the onset of aggression. If your dog is exhibiting sudden, unexplained aggression, talk to your veterinarian before attempting to address it as a behavior problem.

For example, this may occur if a dog is backed into a corner with no way out or if he thinks a hand raised over its head means he is going to get hit. A dog that exhibits possession aggression may growl if someone approaches his food bowl or gets too close when he is chewing a favorite toy.

How do I stop my dog attacking my other dog?

The Wheelbarrow Method. ….Assess the Situation/Determine the Aggressor. ….Break Any Strong Jaw Grip. ….Pull Backward on the Collar. ….Remove the Dogs from the Area. ….Know Your Limitations. ….Avoid Outings if Your Dog is Aggressive. ….Read Body Language.

What does it mean when a dog attacks another dog?

Many dogs shift toward aggression when they feel threatened in some way. For some dogs, even the sight of another canine is enough to come across as a threat. … Regardless of the source of conflict, the aggression itself is an attempt by the attacking dog to claim or re-claim dominance.

Why do dogs want to kill other dogs?

Dogs are opportunistic predators who exploit vulnerabilities. When dogs see an injured, sick, juvenile, or otherwise compromised individual, their predatory brain tells them to kill.

Do you own a four-legged Jekyll and Hyde? A dog that is sweet as pie to you and your family, and even to strangers, but lunges like a crazy animal when another dog passes by? Or maybe your dog is one of the inscrutable canines that is best friends with the neighbor dog one moment, and mortal enemies the next. So from where does this behavior come, and how do you stop it? Any interaction between dogs is a form of communication, so it is important to first understand how your dog perceives other dogs. But why does your dog attack other dogs and the neighbor dog does not? There are some common threads among all dogs, but the reason most relevant to your canine companion will depend on his history and temperament as well as his biology.

Other dogs only respond aggressively if a fellow canine encroaches on their territory, attempts to claim dominance, or appears to be competition for resources such as food or toys.

There has been no published study of the number of dog bites suffered by humans which resulted from an attack or attempted attack by one dog against another dog. Nevertheless, the experience of Attorney Kenneth Phillips suggests that a significant percentage of bites to humans result from such incidents. For that reason, it is his opinion that a dog’s propensity to attack other dogs clearly makes that dog dangerous to people.

It is a sad fact of life that the pit bull was created by mankind to kill other small animals.

Dogs are social animals whose evolutionary history makes them willing and able to live in groups. Group living enabled the dogs ancestors, wolves, to work together to obtain food, raise their young, and defend their territory. Much of a dogs communication with other members of its species is by subtle, energy-conserving body language and physical displays.

Dogs indeed show a preference gradient and a variable desire for certain resources and their ability to retain or secure these may be predicted based on observation of past experiences and confrontations. In addition, owners may not want the change and will intervene, which creates anxiety, may exacerbate the fighting and may inadvertently support and encourage the dog that is more suited to a deferential relationship.

If a pet’s responses, including aggression are due to an underlying disease process, the medical factors will need to first be addressed if a harmonious relationship is to be reestablished. People are rightly concerned when their dogs do not get along with each other but in reality we should be duly impressed anytime our random selection of canine personalities actually do mesh harmoniously. Because the aggression could be due to normal learned challenges, medical problems, owner responses, excessive anxiety, poor social communication skills or perhaps a lack of impulse control, a full behavioral workup is advised.

This would start with a physical examination including a neurological assessment, diagnostic tests to rule out medical problems, and possibly treatment trials to try to resolve the health issues and control the signs.

Why Do Dogs Show Aggression?

Knowing why your dog is acting aggressively is essential to figuring out the best plan for stopping this frightening behavior. There are several potential causes of aggression in dogs.

Illness and Injury

Some medical conditions can cause dogs to become aggressive. If a dog that has never shown any sign of aggression suddenly begins growling, snapping, or biting, it may be caused by a disease or illness.Pain is an especially common cause of aggression in dogs. Your suddenly aggressive dog may have an injury or an illness that’s causing major discomfort and stress. Some possible causes of pain include arthritis, bone fractures, internal injuries, various tumors, and lacerations.Other illnesses may affect your dog’s brain, leading to seemingly unreasonable aggression. Conditions such as cognitive dysfunction and brain diseases or tumors may provoke the onset of aggression. These problems are more likely to occur in older dogs but can happen at any age.If your dog is exhibiting sudden, unexplained aggression, talk to your veterinarian before attempting to address it as a behavior problem.You may be tempted to try giving your dog medication to relieve pain, but this is something you should not do. If your dog is sick, you’ll need to know exactly what is wrong with it before you begin any treatment. Don’t try to take matters into your own hands until you know what you’re dealing with. only a veterinarian can advise what medications are appropriate for your dog.

Fear

A fearful dog can easily develop aggressive behavior. Most dogs only exhibit aggressive behavior if they sense that they are in danger, cannot escape, and feel the need to defend themselves. For example, this may occur if a dog is backed into a corner with no way out or if he thinks a hand raised over its head means he is going to get hit.If your dog is a rescue dog that exhibits aggressive or fearful behavior more than is normal, it may have been abused, neglected, experienced a traumatic event, or not properly socialized as a puppy. Any information you can get from the organization where you adopted the dog could help you determine the best way to handle the situation.Sometimes rescue dogs need obedience training with an instructor who specializes in teaching dogs that have been abused or those that have not been properly socialized. In some cases, you may be able to manage your dog’s fear on your own with training and patience. You can speak to a veterinarian about the best course of action.To avoid provoking this type of aggressive behavior, approach unknown dogs carefully (better yet, let them approach you). Train and socialize your dog to help prevent fear down the road.

Possessiveness

Possession aggression, or resource guarding, occurs when a dog is possessive of something. This is often food, toys, or some other object of value. A dog that exhibits possession aggression may growl if someone approaches his food bowl or gets too close when he is chewing a favorite toy.A dog may also bite a stranger who steps into your home, which is the dog’s territory.The degree of aggression may vary from one dog to another and between objects. For instance, your dog might not care if you sit down and pet him while he chews a rubber toy, but he may turn and snap at you when you do the same thing while he chews a pig’s ear. It all depends on the value that the dog attributes to each object or resource.

Show of Dominance

Dogs sometimes behave aggressively as a display of dominance. This is often directed toward other dogs, but it can occur with people as well.It’s important to understand that dominance is aDogs that display dominant behavior feel that they must prove they’re in charge of a situation. The growling, snapping, or biting occurs when they feel their position is being challenged.Unfortunately, people often mistake the cause of canine aggression as dominance-related behavior when there may be another cause. In reality, aggressively dominant behavior is not nearly as common as the other causes of aggression.

Introduction

Do you own a four-legged Jekyll and Hyde? A dog that is sweet as pie to you and your family, and even to strangers, but lunges like a crazy animal when another dog passes by? Or maybe your dog is one of the inscrutable canines that is best friends with the neighbor dog one moment, and mortal enemies the next. So from where does this behavior come, and how do you stop it? Any interaction between dogs is a form of communication, so it is important to first understand how your dog perceives other dogs. But why does your dog attack other dogs and the neighbor dog does not? There are some common threads among all dogs, but the reason most relevant to your canine companion will depend on his history and temperament as well as his biology.

The Root of the Behavior

Evan MacLean, an anthropologist and psychologist from the University of Arizona, believes that hormones may be at least partially responsible. He and his team recently published a study in Frontiers in Psychology, where they discuss the relationship between the hormones vasopressin and oxytocin and canine social behavior. The team found that dogs who have a more even temperament tend to have more oxytocin in their blood, while those who are more aggressive have more vasopressin. MacLean recognizes that hormones are only part of the picture, however. Many dogs shift toward aggression when they feel threatened in some way. For some dogs, even the sight of another canine is enough to come across as a threat. Other dogs only respond aggressively if a fellow canine encroaches on their territory, attempts to claim dominance, or appears to be competition for resources such as food or toys. In some cases, two dogs may simply be in a personality clash, which can happen in dog society just as it happens among humans.Some dogs may be more prone to aggression because of their temperament, history, or situation. If your dog had a bad experience with other dogs when he was young, and even if his first owners didn’t socialize with other dogs, he may be fearful of other dogs and thus more aggressive as an adult. Some dogs also tend to feel more insecure when they are leashed or fenced, which makes them more aggressive to other dogs when in those situations. Regardless of the source of conflict, the aggression itself is an attempt by the attacking dog to claim or re-claim dominance. This rarely happens suddenly. Most dogs will give another dog a warning sign, such as a growl or a baring of the teeth, to show that the other dog’s behavior is not okay. Typically, this will only escalate to aggression if the other dog fails to show submission.

Encouraging the Behavior

There are probably many inscrutable behaviors in your dog’s repertoire, but aggression may be one of the most frustrating and scary. You may worry that your dog will do harm to the other dog, the other dog’s family, himself, or your loved ones. Your instinct to stop the behavior is spot on, but there are effective and ineffective ways to go about it. First, you as the human need to stay calm at all times. If you show fear or anger, your dog may become more upset and his aggression could become worse. Instead, work your way up to calm interactions with dogs that your canine companion perceives as safe. Experts recommend first walking past other dogs, then spending some time in the presence of another dog, engaged in a safe and enjoyable activity.Many dogs are motivated by treats, so you can try carrying some in your pocket whenever you expect to be around other dogs. If you instead offer treats when another dog is approaching or nearby and your dog acts calmly, you can build up positive associations. The most important thing is not to punish your dog if he shows signs of becoming aggressive. This causes the dog to associate the other animal with punishment and only worsens the insecurity, which can make aggression worse. If your dog is having real difficulties being calm in the presence of others, you may want to hire a professional trainer.

Other Solutions and Considerations

In rare cases, a dog’s aggression may come from a neurological condition or the onset of a disease that is causing your dog physical discomfort. If you suspect that something about your dog is not quite right or typical, do not hesitate to make an appointment with your veterinarian. In addition to examining your dog to see if he is in pain or otherwise uncomfortable, he or she may order an MRI to screen for a neurological condition that may be causing unusually high aggression levels. Your veterinarian may also choose to evaluate whether your dog may have an underlying anxiety that is contributing to the aggression. If so, the vet may be able to prescribe a medication such as a serotonin reuptake inhibitor or a benzodiazepine.

Pitbulls in particular

There is a side of this that is a current hot topic in the dog world: breed specific laws. It is a sad fact of life that the pit bull was created by mankind to kill other small animals. Like it or not, that is what the dog was bred for, and it remains the essence of the dog. Any one pit bull might be sweet to its owner, but is still “hard-wired” to kill other small animals. For that reason, pit bulls are dangerous to people because they have the in-born propensity to attack other people’s pets, which often results in a redirected attack against the other people, or a bite to another person.