Category Archives: dog fight

Why do Some Dogs Stop Getting Along?

By Linda Cole

One of the most commented articles here on the CANIDAE RPO blog is “Jealousy and Possessive Behavior in Dogs.” It’s easy to believe a dog is acting out and has bad behavior because he’s jealous of another dog in the family or he’s being possessive. Both may be true, but there are other reasons why dogs might suddenly stop getting along, as I discovered with my own pack.

Sometimes, dogs just don’t like each other

When we agreed to foster a friend’s dog, it was just supposed to be for a short period of time. But since he would be sharing space with ours, we socialized him with our pack. Dozer is a lovable terrier mix, and he adjusted well to his new environment. That is, until Dozer made a move to challenge Max, one of my dogs who is twice his size. We began to notice a change in Dozer’s body language around Max. Since they weren’t getting into fights, we decided it would be best to let them sort out their differences.

One day Max walked past Dozer and brushed against him. That was all it took; Dozer whirled around and latched on to Max around the ears. We got them separated and gave them time to calm down before letting them interact with each other. All was well for about a month before another fight broke out, then another month before the next fight. These were full-fledged fights, and we decided the best thing to do was to separate them and work on re-socializing them.

So far our attempts have failed. Dozer and Max just do not like each other, and I have my doubts they will ever be able to be together in the same room again without fighting. Sometimes the only thing you can do is adopt a management program to keep dogs separated permanently. Since Dozer isn’t ours and my friend is still not in a position to take him back, we will most likely continue to keep them separated to avoid more fights and keep them from hurting each other, or us.

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What to Do if another Dog Attacks Your Dog

By Linda Cole

Walking your dog is a healthy activity for you and your dog. Going to dog parks provides a safe and enclosed area where you can let your dog run off leash and play with other dogs. Sometimes, however, a dog comes from out of nowhere and attacks your dog. Breaking up dog fights between your own dogs at home is one thing, but trying to break up a fight when you’re away from home is something completely different. How can you protect your dog and yourself if another dog attacks your dog?

It can be hard to figure out why another dog suddenly attacks your dog. A dog’s body language can be subtle, and signals from both dogs can be missed by the person holding the leash. However, whatever it was that caused the hostile reaction doesn’t really matter when two dogs are locked in battle, with you on the other end of your dog’s leash. Of course, it’s best to avoid a fight all together, but that’s not always possible and breaking up dog fights can be dangerous for dogs and people.

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Dog Behavior: Understanding Dog Fights

By Linda Cole

Breaking up a dog fight can be difficult and potentially dangerous. If your canine family includes two or more dogs, they may all get into a fight at one time or another. It’s a scary situation, especially if you’re alone and there’s no time to think about what to do in the heat of the battle. Even a dog who is quiet and docile can turn into a raging bull when pushed too far. Breaking up a dog fight is one of the hardest things you may have to do. It’s a good idea to have a plan in place; even better, learn about the body language of dogs to prevent fights before they begin. Dog behavior that might lead to a fight is clear and easy to see, if you know what to look for.

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Etiquette at the Vets

By Julia Williams

If we are lucky, our mothers teach us all about good manners when we’re young. Hopefully, as adults we have a pretty good idea of what is acceptable behavior and what isn’t. Sometimes we slip up, not because we want to be discourteous, but more often because we just weren’t thinking. Then again, we don’t always know what’s expected of us in certain situations. That’s why I decided to write these tips on what to do – and what not to do – in your vet’s waiting room.

Contain your cat!

One of the biggest blunders pet owners make, in my opinion, is bringing their cat into a vet’s waiting room without a carrier. I see this nearly every time I take one of my cats in. You may think you have a really calm feline who isn’t afraid of anything, and they will just sit blithely on your lap until it’s your turn to be seen by the vet. That may well be true. But do you realize what could happen when a cat-aggressive dog comes out of the exam room or through the front door, and charges straight for your beloved kitty? At best, you’ll create chaos as you try to catch your frightened cat that just ran for cover. At worst, your cat will dart out the open door never to be seen again. Responsible pet owners contain their cats in carriers because it’s infinitely safer for the cat, and much less stressful to boot.

Don’t give dogs free rein

While in the veterinary waiting room, you should keep your dog close to you and under control at all times. If you can’t, then you should ask the receptionist if there’s a better place to wait, or take your dog outside until he’s ready to be seen by the vet. Also, use a regular leash instead of the retractable kind, so you’ll have better control over your dog’s movement. If you’re bringing in multiple dogs, make sure you can handle them and if not, have another adult come with you.


Don’t pet other people’s dogs unless you ask them first. This is a rule you should follow no matter where you are, but especially at the vets. Even normally friendly animals may react aggressively in this strange and stressful environment. And please don’t let your dog approach other people unless they tell you they want them to. Some people are afraid of dogs, and some just plain don’t like them. As hard as that might be for dog owners to believe, it’s true. I like dogs myself, but I don’t like being jumped on, licked or sniffed in private places.

Socialize at the dog park, not the vets

The veterinary waiting room is not the place to let your dog do the “meet and greet” with other dogs. No matter how well you think you know your dog, this unfamiliar environment could cause them to act unpredictably. Moreover, you have no idea how other dogs will react, and you could find yourself needing to break up a dog fight. Incidentally, it’s always a good idea to know ahead of time how to break up dog fights – read this article to get some great tips.

Don’t feed other people’s pets

Many vets keep a container of dog treats at the front desk for their clients to give to their pet. This doesn’t mean you should feel free to take one and give it to someone else’s dog, no matter how well intentioned you might be. You have no idea if a stranger’s pet has dietary issues, and giving them treats could actually cause them harm.

Leave the kids at home

A busy animal hospital is no place for children. You’ll have your hands full trying to control your dog or carry your cat. Who needs the added stress of trying to keep children from petting other people’s dogs or running amok in the waiting room? Plus, having kids in tow will make it more difficult to attend to your pet’s needs in the exam room and communicate with your vet about your pet’s problem or treatment.

Respect other people’s privacy

Most doctors’ offices have signs asking you to wait behind a certain line before approaching the front desk. This is to give the other patients some privacy as they pay their bills or discuss medications and treatments. Vet clinics don’t usually have similar signs; however, veterinary clients are entitled to the same privacy considerations. If there are other people at the front desk, give them some room to conduct their business privately.

Vet visits may not be one of your “favorite things,” but they are a necessary part of responsible pet ownership. Observing a few simple etiquette rules while you’re there can help your vet visit go a lot smoother, for all concerned.

Read more articles by Julia Williams

The personal opinions and/or use of trade, corporate or brand names, is for information and convenience only. Such use does not constitute an endorsement by CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods of any product or service. Opinions are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods.

The Difference Between Dog Aggression and Protection

By Linda Cole

My Terrier mix Kelly (pictured) is my protector. It’s been a challenge teaching her it’s alright if a family member, friend or my other pets want to approach me. I have no problem with her actions if I need protection and she is as loyal as she could be, but protection can turn into aggression. And protection and aggression are not the same thing.

We have dogs for different reasons. They may be our hiking partner or a friend on our daily run or walk. Some want to own a dog who loves playing in water, competing in obstacle courses or snuggling next to you on the couch. Without thinking about our dogs protecting us, most owners would admit that’s one of the advantages to owning a dog. My dogs are great at alerting me to noises and smells they detect coming into the house from outside.

Protecting the pack is done without even thinking for most dogs. A female dog will protect her pups, and it’s as natural to a dog as it is for us to protect our family. A dog will protect what he feels is his, but only if he feels threatened. If a dog moves in front of his owner when an unfamiliar dog or a person approaches them or quietly steps between his human child and another kid fighting, that is protection. A dog who is assuming a protective position will do so silently with no growling or snarling. He will reserve judgment to decide if a more aggressive response will be needed. A dog who is being protective will only become aggressive if it is necessary to do so. Once the threat has passed and he determines the dog coming up to you is friendly or the person means you no harm, he will back down.

Aggression is a response where the dog will use force or needs to display dominance in every situation they encounter. It’s important to remember that aggression is not protection. A dog who is displaying aggressive tendencies may not have been properly socialized with other dogs, could be a dominant dog who is trying to show his dominance over others, or a dog who is fearful. That’s why it’s important to make sure a puppy is properly socialized when most aggressive tendencies can be avoided.

One way to tell if a dog is being aggressive is if they are growling when there’s no reason for them to do so. When your dog steps between you and another dog or person and they are growling or seem to be upset, it’s time to take him away from the situation. An approaching dog or human should not garner anything more than your dog paying attention to them. Growling is a warning sign that the dog could initiate a fight or bite. A dog that’s in a protective position will have the good sense and judgment to understand each situation and you most likely won’t even know he was in protection mode.

My mom had a medium sized mixed breed dog, Ben. Late one night someone jimmied her front door open. Ben was in the back of the house with mom as she was getting ready for bed. He heard the person trying to break in. Without a sound, Ben raced from the back bedroom and hit the front door just as the person was about to enter. The only time Ben let out a snarling bark was when he caught sight of the man in the window of the door before the man ran away. I have no doubt that if the intruder had made it inside, Ben would have protected his home and his person. A dog in protection mode should stop once the intruder or reason why a dog felt his protection was needed has passed or the dog or person surrenders and leaves. That was exactly what Ben did.

Aggressive dogs bite people and other dogs every year. Knowing the difference between protection and aggression can prevent a lawsuit or the possibility of having a dog declared a danger to society. Having a good knowledge of a dog’s body language can aid a dog owner in knowing if a dog’s reaction is protection or aggression. It’s always easier and safer to avoid a dog fight to begin with and no one wants to have the worry of a lawsuit if a dog bites someone. Knowing your dog can help you understand if he’s being protective or aggressive. To defuse a situation if you are outside or at a dog park and you have doubts, the best thing you can do is to calmly leave the scene. Dogs do signal their intent and it’s our responsibility to learn and understand how to listen to and watch what they are saying and showing to us.

Read more articles by Linda Cole

The personal opinions and/or use of trade, corporate or brand names, is for information and convenience only. Such use does not constitute an endorsement by CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods of any product or service. Opinions are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods.

How to Break Up a Dog Fight

By Linda Cole

If you have multiple dogs, sooner or later you will have to step in to break up a dog fight. I have two Terrier/mix sisters who are the best of buddies. However, sometimes, out of the blue, one will be on the other in a flash. A fight has to be broken up quickly to avoid injury to them. The challenge is breaking up a dog fight without getting bit yourself.

Obviously, the best solution is to avoid a fight to begin with, but dogs are like people. One dog just rubs the other one the wrong way for reasons only they know. It can be a threatening glance or body bump one finds intimidating or a dog attempting to establish his/her rank in the pack. Perhaps it’s a jealous or possessive reaction to a toy, food or your attention to another member in your pack. It could even be a simple lack of exercise or stimulation. A dog’s mind is just as difficult to read as your kids sometimes.

Remember, dogs have an instinctive sense of social order in the pack. If one feels no one is in charge, he or she will take that as a sign of weakness and attempt to take control of the pack. Whatever the reason, you have to break up a dog fight quickly. Unlike the alpha male’s corrective posturing of making a pack member submit to his command, a full fledged fight is meant to cause pain and injury and can be deadly.

Breaking up a dog fight is a dangerous situation for everyone. Never allow children to get into the middle of a dog fight. They may be seriously injured by the same dogs who snuggle up with them at night. Fighting dogs hear, see, smell and feel nothing except the dog in their face. At this point, they are no longer your pet. In their minds, they are in a fight to the death. Make no mistake about that. Do not attempt to break up a dog fight by pulling on their collar, and forget about calling their names.

Thinking about how you will handle the situation is your best course of action. You need to remain as calm as you can and having thought about what to do will help maintain your composure if and when a fight breaks out. Your immediate purpose in breaking up a dog fight is to get them to release their hold on each other and get them separated. Not an easy task. It’s like trying to pull apart two vise grips locked together.

There is no silver bullet in breaking up a dog fight. That’s why you need a plan. If the fight happens outside, a garden hose can help dampen their spirits enough to get them apart. Spray directly into the eyes and muzzle/nose area. Once they have released each other, get between them using the hose as a barrier. Don’t stop spraying until both have backed off and you have secured at least one away from the scene. If a hose is not available, find something large you can use to separate the dogs, such as a trash can lid or folding chair. The idea is to put a barrier between them. This works better with two people; it’s much harder if you are alone.

Have a pair of sturdy chairs you can place over the dogs, laundry baskets you can use to trap them in, a large piece of plywood to put between them, or large blankets you can throw over their heads. Anything you can find, besides your legs and arms, to get in between the fighters to block them. These suggestions may sound harsh, but when it comes to breaking up a dog fight, they will cause far less damage than two out of control dogs can inflict on each other if the fight is not broken up quickly.

Smaller dogs can be grabbed and pulled up out of the reach of the other one. However, if they have a death grip on each other, you still have to get them apart. A squirt bottled sprayed directly into their eyes and nose should help break their grip on each other.

Never try to break up a dog fight by hitting dogs with a stick, kicking them or yelling. This will only raise their level of excitement. Your job as pack leader is to know each individual dog. Pay attention to body language, growls or snaps which can be early signs a fight is brewing. Step in with a stern no. Get their attention immediately to stop any impending aggression. Avoiding a dog fight is much easier and safer than trying to break one up.

Read more articles by Linda Cole

The personal opinions and/or use of trade, corporate or brand names, is for information and convenience only. Such use does not constitute an endorsement by CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods of any product or service. Opinions are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods.