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How to Prevent Dogs from Fighting

Perhaps your older dog tussles with the newest member of your ‘pack’ or an aggressive dog around the corner poses a threat each time you take a walk with your dog. A dog fight is an intimidating and scary event when it takes place – leaving owners in fear and distress. Thinking fast and knowing the signs of impending trouble can protect both yourself and your beloved companion from physical and mental harm. While a dog fight can become an unexpected experience – remember – there are still things you can do to prevent one from taking place…

How to Prevent Dogs from Fighting

Why Do Dogs Fight?

The fighting that occurs between dogs of the same gender is quite common and will happen naturally unless a canine is taught otherwise. Throughout history, dogs have always fought over the right to mate, food, their position in the pack, and to defend their offspring or territory. Nowadays, some of these same instincts are awakened under various circumstances. Other factors to consider in whether or not a dog is likely to fight includes breeding, level of socialization, and obedience training.

However, keep in mind that a dog of any breed can engage in a fight with another canine, especially when proper socialization has not taken place. Some breeds have been conditioned for their potential to fight and protect – increasing the chances of this action taking place when given the chance. Usually, male dogs fight with each other more than their female counterparts. Yet, female dogs will typically brawl with one another when “in heat.”

Typical Signs of an Approaching Fight

When two dogs are constantly barking at one another – you have entered one of the beginning signs of an impending confrontation. One of the best ways to prevent a dog fight is to recognize the common body language indicators of aggressive or agitated canines. When a dog is ready to fight, they may growl; refuse to listen to commands; stiffen up; intensely stare; display bristled hair on their neck and back; showcase pent-back ears; snap; snarl and show teeth; pant rather quickly; or lower their tail. Usually, a dog will fight out of fear, dominance aggression, and protection of their territory.

Dog Fighting Prevention

Dog fights can end in severe injury, ranging from a couple of scratches that can become seriously infected to extensive internal damage that can lead to death [1]. In order to avoid the unwanted outcome of a dog fight, consider the following prevention techniques:

a) Dog Mace or Pepper Spray:

To prevent a threatening dog from pursuing your pet, consider carrying one of the many safety products found on the market, such as pepper spray and other “dog mace” that works to deter an approaching canine.

b) Socialization:

Dogs that undergo the socialization process at an early age are less likely to fight with other dogs.

c) Contain Your Dog:

Do not allow your dog to roam freely about your property, as some pets will lay claim to the front yard, as well as the surrounding grass and roadside. In an effort to protect their territory and owner, fights can break out with dogs that may innocently pass by.

d) Stay Alert:

Just because you own a normally friendly dog does not mean they won’t display possessive tendencies over their owner. If another dog on a leash gets too close to you – there is no way to predict how your dog will react 100% of the time.

e) Create a Hierarchy:

When two dogs live in the same house with one another, their owner must assign dominant and subordinate roles. To prevent a dog fight – these positions need constant reinforcing.

f) Keep a Watchful Eye on Smaller Dogs:

Sad but true – smaller dogs become easy attack targets when a larger dog mistakes their movements and sounds for that of prey. To increase the protection of your small pet, pick them up (holding it high), while backing away from an aggressive dog [2].

g) Neuter:

Some male dogs lose their taste for fighting after undergoing sterilization, as they a change in their odor and amount of testosterone in their body takes place – known to facilitate aggression. Also, other dogs look at neutered canines as less of a threat [3].

h) Obedience Training:

While obedience training cannot prevent dog fights, the instruction does increase the control owners have over their dog. This can come in handy when you like to avoid or prevent a fight by using commands.

i) Learn Body Language:

An effective prevention technique involves learning the body language and facial expressions of dogs, especially your own. Body cues, such as bristled hair and erect ears are sure signs of agitation that can lead to a dog fight.

j) Leash Control:

When walking your dog, keep him or her on a leash in order to avoid fighting with other dogs and aggressive temptations.

k) Pet Selection:

When purchasing more than one dog, it is suggested to take into account breed and gender. The best outcome is seen when an owner selects one of each sex and pursues proper sterilization procedures when not breeding.

l) Physical Strength:

Do not bring into your home a dog breed you cannot physically control when taking for a walk. When potential confrontations arise – your chances of avoiding a dog fight greatly decrease if you cannot pull your animal away in a different direction.


[1] The Complete Dog Book by the American Kennel Club (pg 674)
[2] http://www.gsdhelpline.com/fightdog.htm
[3] http://www.paw-rescue.org/PAW/PETTIPS/DogTip_FightsBetweenDogs.php

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