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Dogs That Don't Get Along with Other Family Dogs

Does your dog want to “be the boss” of the other dogs in your family? Is one of your dogs a “bully” and gets grumpy if the other dog just looks at him wrong? Do your two female dogs get into nasty fights with each other? Do fights erupt that you don’t see coming and can’t understand?

These are just a few of the many types of problems that can develop between dogs who live together. Traditional wisdom labels all these problems as “dominance problems” , but this is simply not true and is dangerously misleading.

Many fights sound worse than they are, and often neither dog is injured. This is a good sign, but you should seek expert help to prevent the problem from escalating. If one dog has already been injured, you may be better off separating them until you can consult with a competent behavior consultant, preferably a certified applied or veterinary behaviorist who can help you.

Supporting one dog’s “dominance” over the other can sometimes be helpful, but can also actually cause an increase in conflict, because it is the wrong thing to do. Many dog-dog problems are not about dominance.

Using the right techniques to introduce dogs to one another can prevent some fighting problems. Avoid just putting your new Fido with your resident one and “letting them work it out”. For the best outcome, with the least risk to the dogs, introductions need to be carefully managed.

The first step is to manage the problem by not allowing fights to happen. If you can predict what causes a fight (perhaps when one dog has a prized chew toy and the other approaches), then for now avoid those situations. If you can’t predict when the dogs will fight, you may need to separate them temporarily. The more the fights occur, the more fear and animosity build up between your dogs and the lower the chances your dogs can learn to live peaceably together.

You MUST take steps immediately to ensure the safety of both dogs. This is especially important if you have a big dog-small dog pair, a young adult dog-elderly,frail dog pair, or a puppy with an adult dog. If necessary, muzzle one or both dogs if you cannot separate them. We recommend wire basket muzzles from NEVER leave a dog alone while muzzled.

These are potentially serious problems. Not seeking timely help may put one or more of your animals in danger of injury or death.


First, it will help you if you understand canine aggressive behavior from a scientific viewpoint. Start by reading our Collection of Articles on Canine Aggression.

To effectively work with and manage your dogs threatening and aggressive behaviors toward one another, you must be well versed in canine communication signals. There is no better way to learn how to ‘read’ your dog and be better able to recognize when a fight or conflict is brewing than our Canine Body Postures DVD. If you know what to look for you can often interrupt interactions before they erupt into fights. Used in many professional training programs.

Next, watch our DVD, “Understanding Canine Conflicts” that zeros in on the most common reasons for these problems and helps you begin to get a handle on the problem.

A Calming Cap™ will be a most useful tool for you. Essentially a comfortable hood that filters your dog’s vision, it will help your Fidos be less reactive when they are around one another and make it much easier for you to manage their behavior as well as have a better “starting point” for behavior modification. The Calming Cap™ can be worn under a muzzle.

Animal Behavior Associates - Helping Fido
4994 S. Independence Way
Littleton, CO 80123

Phone: 303-932-9095
Fax: 303-932-2298