Why Does My Dog Attack Other Dogs?
[Full Guide]

By kropek2021. • Updated July 1, 2021

Do you own a sweet dog as sugar with you and your family, but whenever confronted with another canine, it just lunges and attacks like a crazy beast? If yes, you are not alone. You might be wondering why your dog attacks other dogs while many others don’t.

Dealing with aggressive dogs can be quite a challenge. One of our dogs in the training academy, Bruno (Rottweiler), was a calm fellow on most occasions. But as soon as he saw another pooch, Doberman, he just went nuts. Our staff was worried about this behavior from Bruno. As a dog owner, you lose confidence in your dog’s personality. Whether they would attack anyone out of nowhere is a doubt that may arise in your mind. We assure you not to boil your brains over this situation. Fortunately, this issue is treatable.

This article will discuss the underlying causal links behind this behavior and, more importantly, how this can be controlled and prevented professionally. But please note that it is crucial to understand what your dog feels and try to say through this aggressive display.

Without any further ado, let’s first see the signs that show a dog about to attack.

Common Triggers that cause Dog-On-Dog Attacks

Inherent Dominative Mentality

Even in the wild, the alpha dog gets the right to eat the meat first. Only after the alpha has had their fill can the beta dogs get the leftovers.
There is this dominance drive embedded in dogs that make them attack another member of their clan. Dog aggression can also be shown towards another calmer member to gain their right over food, sleeping spots, toys, or even a mechanism to grab their owner’s attention.

This dominance needs to be treated at an early stage. Leaving it unnoticed can turn out to be a menace for you with time as the dog’s behavior can get into an authoritative overdrive in all facets of their daily lives. This scenario can get nearly impossible to control. Timely intervention is crucial in this case.

Jealous Mentality

We have often encountered cases where dog owners are concerned that adopting a new puppy has transformed the older one’s behavior to an angry side.

This response is an outcome of jealousy. Having received years of undivided attention and care from your owners and then suddenly this pup/cat shows up on the doorstep. Seeing you and your family member or a friend shower your love on the younger pup can rile up rage in the adult dog. They can get insecure and start feeling as if they no longer belong here.

As an anger venting behavior, they burst rage on the other pup when they see them sitting in their space, playing with their toys; that image is a rather unpleasant one for them. 

Socialization Issues

Generally, dogs are social creatures. They like hanging out with other dogs and humans. But in some cases, this may not be the expected outcome of socialization. 

When they arrive in a new home or environment, it will take time for them to adapt. The new location, people, and animals can be intimidating and stress-inducing triggers for some of them. Take Bruno’s example. When we brought him to our training center, he behaved well with our staff members. One day he came across our Doberman, Timmy. 

We had to intervene immediately. If not, both of the dogs would have torn each other apart. The mere presence of the other dog can irritate your dog at times. 

Redirected Anger

Canines can get frustrated due to a variety of reasons. They attack other dogs as a technique to let off steam caused due to some other issues such as:

  • Lack of physical activity causing boredom and stress
  • Prey drive
  • Physical injuries/pain
  • Cognitive issues / depression / loneliness
  • Hunger/starvation/nutritional deficiency (Food aggression)

One or multiple of these reasons can trigger an onslaught from your buddy out of the blue. A behavioral problem like this is not meant to be self-treated. These situations require immediate medical supervision and therapy if needed.

Pent-up stress is no silly issue. The longer it is left treated, the more detrimental it can be to your dog. As a responsible owner, seek the help of a registered vet or dog trainer at the earliest.

Aggressive Dog Breeds

Particular dog breeds are inherently more aggressive than others. For instance, Pitbulls, Rottweilers, and Dobermans are considered to be ideal resource guarding dogs. There is a myth that this quality makes them less tolerant to strange animals and people, temper issues, and attacking mentality. 

But like humans, each dog has their characteristics. Dog Aggression can not be linked to the breed alone. It will also depend on the dog’s age, sex, training, and so on. 

These are some of the commonly observed triggers that can lead to a dog getting aggressive toward another dog. Identifying the causal factor is the critical first step before coming up with a resolution method.

We highly recommend seeking the expert help of veterinarians to analyze the exact reason instead of self-identification and treatment.

In this next section, we will move ahead to the next step, i.e., how to stop/control this canine aggression. Let’s move on to the remedial measures.

Signs Shown by Dogs Before Attack

In this section, we list out some of the warning signs for you that indicate your buddy is warming up towards aggressive behavior on another dog. 

Growling and Baring of Teeth

Growling is pretty much the clearest indication that the dog is annoyed and on the verge of initiating an attack.

Raised Fur Around Neck and Back

When the dog’s hair/fur around the neck and back regions get raised, that could mean signs of aggressive mentality. Please note that raised fur can also mean signs of fear. So we recommend you observe the context before jumping to a conclusion.

Glaring 

If you notice your dog glaring at another dog for more than a few seconds, it is safe to assume that things are not calm between them. It is best if you move your dog away to break their eye contact, in this case.

Stress or Nervousness

Nervousness or induced stress can be one of the less obvious signs a dog showcases before an attack. (Fear aggression

Check if your dog is shaking or maintains a stiff body posture. If the other dog does something that irritates your aggressive dog, this can act as a trigger for the upcoming assault between them. 

In the next part, we will dive deep into the reasons for dogs attacking other dogs.

Ways to Stop Dogs Attacking Dogs

Once the trigger is identified using medical consultation and help, the remedies come into the picture.

Avoid Negative Reinforcement 

As concerned dog owners, we may lose control and vent our tensions on dogs when they exhibit this type of aggressive behavior. Although they may deserve your scolding, this response can only make things worse.
The best way to control the fight is to isolate your dog from the other. This response will help calm down things and give you time to analyze the course of action to prevent these situations in the future.

In case physical injuries have already occurred to you or your dog, get medical help without fail!

Identify Item of Possessiveness 

Often, the dog fight occurs as both of them are trying to monopolize a single object of desire. This item could be a toy or bone. This type of canine behavior is termed possession aggression.

To avoid this pickle, give both of them separate toys or bones. This type of automatic escalation of rage can be easily avoided by following this response.

The dogs in our training center, Bruno and Timmy, were obsessed with a chew toy a while ago. They tore the toy into two pieces while fighting over the same. We decided to give them different toys. This response helped to calm things down a bit in the beginning.

Obedience Training

Unwanted anger is often the result of a lack of physical training and outdoor activity. Engage your dog in physical exercises like jogging, sports based on age and breed. Teaching your dog basic commands can ensure they stand down when you want them to. 

This step can even be useful to dogs that bark often. Training is an effective technique to make sure that your dog remains well-behaved under all circumstances.

Making them stimulated mentally using puzzles and toys is of equal significance. These measures will minimize the chances of unwanted behavior from dogs and will aid you in quickly regaining control of your buddy during times of aggressive mentality.

Training shows the best results when done at the puppy phase. If dogs feel comfortable socializing from a young age, it is more probable they will not showcase an unwanted attacking behavior towards other dogs during adulthood.

Encourage them to behave well using positive reinforcements in comforting lines like “Good boy/girl” or give them some tasty food treats. This action will model a behavioral change in them for the better. Usage of shock collars can also help.

If training does not prove to be effective, try the combination of training with therapy programs. Therapy can help them prevent getting overly aggressive by making them more disciplined and calm.

I can personally vouch for therapy experience because of the improvement Bruno has been showing to therapy. He is way calmer than he used to be, not only to Timmy but also to new people and places. Therapy is an excellent solution that will enable your dog to adapt to changes in a peaceful way.

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Attempt Reintroduction

Two dogs who got off on a sour note need not stay the same way at all times. Allow a time gap after the aggressive incident to calm things down a bit.

After that, you can think of a better reintroduction the second time. Ensure both the canines are on a leash. If things seem comfortable, take them on a walk along with a few distractions like games and treats.

If this session proves to be fruitful, gradually try unleashing the less aggressive dog the next time.

Perform this activity only after getting prior approval from someone like a veterinarian or dog trainer. This particular step is easier said than done. Therefore, we recommend attempting the reintroduction in the presence of a vet or a professional pet trainer.

Encourage Avoidance

It can be common to come across another dog on the streets or in the park while you are out for a walk/jog with your canine pal. Try making these dog-to-dog meetings as neutral as possible. Behave as if they are nothing and walk along with an avoidance attitude.

After all, dogs are sensitive creatures. Dogs may feed off from your energy on many occasions. Getting over-excited, making noises, and other forms of displaying energy can make the dog feel the meetings are a big deal—the right body language matters.

Just avoid and walk along as if nothing happened. This neutral behavior will make your dog more relaxed and steady while they encounter meeting another dog.

These are some of the proven ways you can control/prevent dog-on-dog attacks.

How to Respond When Your Dog Attacks Another Dog

  • We empathize with you that this can be a challenging situation. It is still better to respond calmly. Shouting or harshly reacting can aggravate the already existing violent mood and can make things worse, like the dog may bite you or some others nearby.
  • Being the owner of an aggressive pooch, make sure the dog is on a leash while you go outside. That will help to pull them back if things go south.
  • If there is a possibility to establish a barrier between the dogs, like closing a gate, we recommend that. This action can help control the dogs’ rage.
  • Do not try attempting to pat the dog or any other form of touching while the dog is in an angry mode. The chances are that they may bite you to release the tension.
  • If the situation is mild, you can always try distracting the dog with a toy like a ball or a frisbee to get their minds off.
  • The importance of training your dog for situations like this cannot be stressed enough. A fast and strong command from the owner is all it takes to prevent the problem from getting worse.
  • In case your dog or the opponent dog gets injured during the angry affair, get the wound checked by a registered vet. Even a small cut is all it takes for an infection to develop.
  • If you or your family members notice the presence of any rabid dogs in your locality, never hesitate to inform the local authorities immediately.

Conclusion

Dogs can get aggressive around other dogs due to a plethora of reasons. Sometimes there may not be a reason too. Just the mere presence of another canine can be the thing to rile up your dog. To avoid harm for you, your dog, or anybody around, you must identify the trigger that prompts your canine buddy to act aggressively.

If this behavior problem of rage towards fellow members of their species or any related illness continues, never involve in self-treatment. Get it checked over by no one but a vet. Aggression training and dog therapy are great methods to calm your dog who has a short-temper.
Ensure your buddy receives the required training that will enable you to gain command over them during these tricky situations. Gifting them treats and other positive reinforcements for even the slightest improvements in behavior are the right steps. Our dog, Bruno, responded very well to aggression training and therapy. He is as well-mannered as ever these days, thankfully. He and the adversary Timmy are buddies. 

Pent-up rage can often be due to a lack of physical activities. Train them, play outdoor games with them. This measure will help you channelize their excess energy in the right direction. Dogs crave their master’s attention. Make it a point to spend quality time with them regularly. This response will make them feel wanted and less prone to showcasing such acts of unwanted rage.

Anger in dogs may be dealt with at best with a calm demeanor. Never beat or scold them as that can aggravate their pain. In case of injuries, seek medical help at all times.

We hope you could gather some valuable pointers from this article. Anger management in dogs requires patience from the owner. Radical results cannot be achieved overnight.