In households where dogs exhibit aggression toward each other, there are certain common elements – the dogs are the same gender, they fight only when the owner is present, the dogs are both adults (over four years), and they fight over who will be dominant.
If you find yourself with bickering canines, there are a number of things you can do to calm things down, according to animal experts. Here are some of the actions they recommend.
- Give the dominant dog more privileges. That usually means feeding him or her first, petting him first, walking him first.
- Make sure you are consistent about family rank – which dog is on the bottom and the top.
- If the less-dominant dog steps out of line, you must discipline him. You can do this by getting him to stop his behavior with a loud command, getting him to give you his attention, and then giving him a reward for his efforts.
- Give the dogs your attention only when the dogs are together, and attend to the dominant dog first.
- You also need to condition the dogs’ behavior every day. You can do this by putting each dog on a leash, and have a person take them to opposite sides of the yard. Then, the people tell the dog to sit 10 times, lie down 10 times, and stay for five minutes. The dogs should be given a reward for obeying each command.
- After two to four weeks of this kind of training, bring the dogs closer together as they do their sit/stay routines until they are doing the commands next to each other. If a dog becomes aggressive toward another, he or she should get a reprimand. At six to eight weeks, remove the leashes during training.
- When you leave the house, you need to separate the dogs. If you cannot give attention to both dogs, don’t interact with any of them.
- Each dog should eat in a separate area.
- Make sure you are always on a higher level than your dog. You are supposed to hold the dominant position, but if you bring yourself down to the same level as the dog, he will not respect your dominance and will not listen to you if you try to get him to stop aggressive behavior.
- Ignore any dog’s demand for attention. This is another way of undermining your authority.
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