Dogs, especially male dogs, fight for many reasons, but one of most common is the need for dominance and to establish their place in the pack. Working to establish yourself as the alpha leader can help to prevent fights, but you still need to use sone tools and techniques to prevent and stop fights.
Watch For Signs
The best thing you can do if you have two males who are prone to fighting is to learn about their body language. With time, you'll learn to figure out when a fight is imminent so you can separate the dogs and prevent the fight from happening.
Common signs that two dogs are getting ready to fight include:
- Mounting and other dominance behavior
- Growling and showing of the teeth
- Stiff body posture, including a stiff tail
Contrary to what you might think, dogs who are about to get into a fight don't always bark at each other. Silence isn't always golden.
Break Up the Fight
Interfering to stop two dogs from fighting can cause serious injury. Put your safety first. Never put your hands in between two fighting dogs or try to grab or pick up one of the dogs.
Things you can do:
- Pull on leashes if you have two people who can pull in different directions. Pulling on just one dog is unlikely to help, as the dog can turn around and bite you in response.
- Try to place an object, such as a cookie sheet or a piece of cardboard in between the dogs. This can be risky as well if the dogs turn around quickly to get to snap at you.
The element of surprise can work well to stop the fight. For example, you can try spraying cold water or a citronella spray near the dog's faces, as the sudden burst of something wet -- or the strong odor -- might distract the dogs enough to stop them from fighting. You also can use a sudden loud noise to distract the dogs, such as clapping, a loud "No!" or even an air horn.
Prevent Future Fighting Incidences
The best way to prevent fights is to show the dogs you're in charge. If you see a fight about to happen, say "No!" in a firm voice and call one of the dogs away so they get distracted and the situation dissipates.
Also, keep in mind you might be facilitating the fights by showing preference or paying more attention to one dog over the other. Dogs also might fight when they get excited over a toy or because you're coming home. Try to keep things calm. For example, don't make a fuss over the dogs when you get home. Instead, just walk in, say hi and go on to another activity. If the dogs fight over food or other dogs, separate them -- a good idea during eating times -- or buy them similar toys rather than expecting them to share a single one.
Reach Out to a Professional
If your dogs have never worked with a trainer, this might be a good time to start. Schedule separate individual sessions for each dog and work with the trainer to gain control over the behavior of each dog. This will give you more confidence and help you to establish your position in the pack.
In the case of male dogs, neutering both dogs may help to reduce aggression, although this depends on the dogs and their relationship before the surgery. Neutering has other benefits as well, including eliminating the need to roam and reducing the risk of prostrate problems. Discuss the options with your vet.