Numerous situations may require you to introduce a new dog to a current pet: (1) inviting your girlfriend/boyfriend and his/her dog to move in with you, (2) merging households with a dog owner roommate, or (3) adopting a new dog to grow your family. Whatever the reason, sometimes the canines won’t get along. Even though this is normal dog behavior, you need to find a way to ensure the blended furry families get along.
Dog Fights are Complicated
Common causes for fighting between two or more dogs include (1) protecting their territory, (2) asserting their authority, (3) refusing to share their food or (4) being a bully. On the other hand, new findings show that dogs sometimes fight other dogs because of severe anxiety or fear. Not socializing your dogs with humans and other canines may cause them to be aggressive towards those dogs because they don’t understand the other dog’s body language.
When Introducing Dogs to Each Other
Keeping your dog indoors or restricted to your property doesn’t provide them the opportunity to socialize with other canines. Socialize them when they are young so they don’t get confused or concerned when they meet other dogs. When your dog meets another dog for the first time, make introduction in a neutral territory so neither feels territorial, and bring dog treats with you so you can reward his/her good behavior.
Dogs are sensitive to other dog’s scents, so allow them to sniff each other so they can get to know one another. Encourage them to play but watch for aggressive behavior signs and separate them immediately before an altercation happens. Be consistent in rewarding your dog for good behavior so he/she will understand the proper way to socialize so it becomes second nature to them.
Signs to watch for
- Yawning could mean your dog is tired or is under heavy stress
- Lip licking or tongue flicking – dogs do this when they’re nervous
- Brief body freezing in preparation for an attack
- Stiffening and waiting for the fear source to go away
- ‘Whale Eye’ – the dog turns his head away but locks his vision to what he thinks is a threat to him.
- Head turn means that the dog doesn’t want to fight
- Curved eyebrows is one form of facial tension meaning the dog is stressed due to anxiety or fear.
- Tense jaw, growling and showing his canine teeth
- Hugging or going to his owner for protection
- Low tail carriage indicates discomfort and uncertainty
- Curved tongue is also a sign of stress
- Raspy, dry-sounding panting means that the dog is frightened
- Twitching whiskers is another form of facial tension
- Shaking means that the dog is anxious or fearful and is having an adrenaline rush
- Drooling is also a sign of deep stress unless he is hungry or tired from excessive physical activity.
- Lack of focus means that the dog is anxious
- Sweaty paws is also a sign of stress
- Piloerection is when their fur (the ones on their spine) is raised and they release some kind of odor from their follicle glands. You may also hear them growl then bark.
Breaking Up a Fight
It’s not safe to break up an intense fight between dogs without a shield or cover because they could bite you by accident. Use a pillow, blanket, cardboard or plywood to keep them from making eye contact. If the owner of the other dog is present, work with him/her to break up the fight as dogs will listen and obey their owners.
Keep them Busy
Another reason why dogs fight is that they have too much energy and can become stressed – a perfect combination for aggressive behavior. Make activity part of their daily routine in order to lower their energy levels. Walks and fun games will relieve your dog’s stress. Squabbles often begin when they attempt to retrieve scraps that fall on the floor during meal times so training your dog to behave is important. Being creative with routines will help keep your dog busy most of the day.
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