As a dog owner, whenever you see your dogs engage in a fight, the first thing that probably comes to your mind is shouting and punishing your dogs. If that has been the approach you have been using, you need to understand it is wrong. Instead, it would help if you learned ways to discipline the dogs.
There are different ways to discipline a dog after fighting, including sending the dog to the bad dog corner for some minutes and taking away the cause of the fight (it could be a toy or even food); this exerts your dominance over the dog. You should avoid hitting your dog during or after a fight.
As a dog owner, you should know that dogs do not fight to harm themselves; they fight to exert dominance. Dogs will naturally compete over control of things like toys, food, and attention and can even fight to get it.
Why Do My Dogs Fight?
Dogs could engage in a fight due to different reasons. In fact, no matter how close or friendly your dogs are, certain circumstances could make them get into a fight. However, regardless of what the cause of the fight is, the important thing is for dog owners to identify the actual cause and triggers.
Knowing these triggers would help you know how to stop and prevent a future fight between your dogs. A very common reason why dogs fight is food and toys. Some dogs are possessive regarding their food bowls and chew toys to the point that they hardly want to share either of those things with another dog.
So, if you have noticed that your dogs often fight each other when you are feeding them or during playtime, that could be a trigger. In such cases, ensure both dogs are not fed close to each other. In addition, once the dogs are done eating, ensure you take up their meal bowls, wash them immediately, and keep them somewhere the dog’s cant access.
Changing a dog’s social group is another reason dogs could fight each other. When a new dog is introduced to a home, a fight could arise between the new dog and the old dog to structure their social relationship. A fight could also happen between same-sex dogs living in the same house.
This will likely occur when the dogs reach social maturity, such that both dogs try to establish a social hierarchy and also respect each other’s breeding rights. Same-sex dogs that are not spayed or neutered could also engage in fights when experiencing hormonal changes, especially in females.
Redirected aggression in dogs could make friendly dogs engage in fights with each other. This scenario often happens when one dog becomes very frustrated and vents its anger on anything closer (another dog). In cases like this, the cause of the frustration could be another dog outside somewhere your dog cannot reach.
How To Punish A Dog For Fighting
Regardless of what could have prompted your dogs to engage in a fight, this behavior should never be encouraged. So, whenever your dogs fight, it is important that you learn how to discipline them. By disciplining them, they understand that they have done something wrong, and you do not condone such behavior. Below, we will explain how to discipline your dogs for fighting.
Stop The Fight
The first thing to do is to interrupt the fight. On no condition should you get into the midst of the dogs, hoping you could separate them while fighting. If you do so, your dogs might accidentally bite you. So, instead, you could make use of water either from a bucket or a hose to separate both dogs. If water does not work, you could use a vinegar spray or Spray Shield.
Separate The Dogs
Having stopped the fight, that is, if you met the dogs still fighting, the next thing you need to do is separate them. To do this, both dogs need to be locked up in different rooms, perhaps a room you often put them in whenever they misbehave. Alternatively, you could also lock them up in their cages until you are sure they are calm.
Identify The Fight Trigger
Once both dogs have been locked up in different cages, what you need to do next is to identify what caused the fight. Acknowledging the fight trigger would help you know how to manage the dogs and prevent future fights. Dogs pretend to fight sometimes during playtime, but you will be able to tell a real fight from a fake one.
If a toy or food bowl were the trigger, you would need to take it away; you should do this clearly for the dogs to see you. That way, they would realize that the fight was needless. If the cause of the fight is for your attention, ignore both of them. That way, they would also learn that fighting themselves will not get them your attention.
A proper way to discipline your dogs is by ensuring you are consistent and evenly distribute their resources. For instance, if their fight is due to food, ensure both dogs feed in different bowls and rooms during meal time. Also, if their chew toy was the trigger, ensure they only have access to the toys during playtime. Once the playtime is over, take the toys away and ensure they do not get further access to them.
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Should You Let Dogs Fight It Out?
Knowing when you should stop a dog fight and when you should not is important. There are times when there is no need for you to interfere when your dogs fight, and there are situations where your interference is crucial. We will look at some things you should look for so you can know when the dogs should fight it out.
Before dogs engage in a fight, there is a type of warning like a curled lip or a growl, and this happens when one dog has annoyed the other. If there is not much for you to work out between the dogs, you can leave them to fight it out. Situations like this occur between adult dogs and puppies.
Puppies are playful, and sometimes, their play can be a disturbance to the other dogs; you will find them growling, and the puppies will also respond by growling. This is not a serious fight, so you can leave them; this is a form of training for the puppies to be strong and also respect the hierarchy of the pack.
Another time you can let the dogs work it out is when you see that the fight is not serious; in most cases, noisy dog fights do not last, despite being noisy. These fights usually end without any dog sustaining any injury. Fights like these do not need your interference; the dogs will settle it.
How To Get Dogs To Get Along After A Fight
One thing you should know as a dog owner is that no matter how balanced a dog park is, no matter how smooth all the dogs relate with each other, there will be occasional fights. You are in control, and fights do not mean there is hatred among the pack. If a fight breaks out, you should end it calmly and quickly. Try to redirect the dogs’ attention, take them on a walk together, and watch the dogs become friends.
Positive reinforcement is one of the best ways of reducing dog fights; you should reward your dogs for being submissive and calm. If they fight, you can take away their favorite toy or stop giving them treats. Rewarding the dogs for good behaviors teaches them to be good every time.
Shawn Manaher is a serial entrepreneur but when he isn’t working, he loves dogs. He’s owned different pets over the years, and always gives a part of his heart to each pet.