How To Get Dogs To Stop Fighting?


The Canis lupus familiaris (domestic dog) is a social species, but some dogs do not get along with each other. We, humans, are a social species, and we certainly aren’t all on friendly terms all the time! Within our culture, it is unavoidably common for two dogs to fight within a household.

I probably see more than my fair share of it since I am a professional behavior consultant who works with aggressive dogs (dogs with challenging aggressive behaviors).

By far the most difficult and distressing cases of tension between dogs are those that involve inter-dog aggression: dogs in the same family who don’t get along “how to get dogs to stop fighting ?”

Why Do Dogs Fight?

Why do dogs fight with each other’s dogs? It’s not a sign of rivalry between dog and owner, when one dog is aggressive towards each other in the house it is due to stress. The only exception is of idiopathic aggression which was in the past, it was referred to as ” rage syndrome,” “Cocker rage,” or “Springer rage” and grossly over-diagnosed in the 1960s and 1970s it is the result of stress that causes a dog to go over the threshold of his bite.

It is possible to compare it with instances that are a result of “road rage” in humans. If you’ve seen the story of the guy who takes out his .38 revolver after a motorist hit him on the freeway and then blasts the offending driver, it is likely that there was more to it for him than an unintentional traffic offense. This is the man who probably was laid off his job and lost his retirement savings and had his wife inform him that she was going to leave the house, and received notice that the bank was preparing to foreclose on his house. 

The possibility of being blocked on the freeway is just the end of the line – the stressor that finally pushes you over your “bite threshold.”

This is also true for dogs. If tensions are rising among Missy and Lucy I must consider the possibility of additional stresses in their environment that could be making them more susceptible to or even beyond, their threshold for a bite.

From this perspective, “snow aggression” is an actual possibility: With the record-setting snowfalls that have reached 50 inches and the consequent reduction in opportunities for exercise, along with the increased stress levels in family members of humans who do not like snow (guilty! ) could be stressful for dogs in the family.

In order to resolve any issues with aggression within your dog’s family, You’ll need to pinpoint not only the primary reason for the conflict such as fighting over a large bone, for instance, but also all aspects of your dog’s world that could cause stress for him. The more stressors that you can take away from his life as a dog, the less likely it is that he’ll make use of his teeth, which is the dog equivalent of pulling out the .38 revolver.

The Signs Of Aggression Before The Dogs Become Combative?

1. Combatting Stressors

Taking steps to address stressors will decrease the likelihood of your dog/dogs being aggressive towards each other. Taking steps to address stressors include:

You can alter how your dog perceives the stressor. For instance, suppose the hoover stresses your dog. Let your dog investigate the hoover by setting it in the middle of the room, not turned on. Make sure you demonstrate that you aren’t afraid of the hoover after a while by turning it on and leaving it sitting still. Place treats near the hoover in an effort to get your dog to investigate it.

This should be done frequently until your dog is no longer afraid. Then you can walk around with the hoover without worrying about your dog running away. Every time you vacuum, you can even give your dog a treat. It teaches the dog that the vacuum isn’t something to be afraid of or stressed about, and encourages neutral or positive responses.

People passing by the window have the same effect on your dog, so maybe close the blinds/curtains if your dog becomes stressed. You can help your dog associate doorbells with something positive even if they ring. Give them a treat when the doorbell rings, for example.

You can try limiting your dog’s exposure to the stressor if this does not work. You can let your dog out in the garden while you hoover, or even while they are out for a walk while you hoover. There is a way, however, to limit your dog’s exposure to car rides if they hate them.

The stressor may even be removed in some cases, such as closing the blinds so the dog cannot see people walking by outside or getting rid of a toy that stresses him out.

Occasionally, you aren’t able to eliminate stress from an object or experience, so you just have to accept it in terms of stressors that don’t cause too much stress to your dog, such as going to the vet.

2. Food Aggression

When your dog is eating, that dog’s aggression toward yours usually shows. It is helpful to observe the signs of aggression before they become combative, such as growling, snarling, staring, raised hair, or tense posture, and then defuse the situation before it becomes combative.

3. Stressors In Your Other Dog

How does your other dog behave when your dog snaps at his other dog? Many factors can lead to your dog becoming on edge, but other stressors in the household, it can make matters worse. Eventually, your dog will associate the actions of your other dog with negative things. Your other dog may become a source of stress for your dog and this is why it reacts aggressively.

This kind of situation could occur when your dog is laying there enjoying its chew when your dog walks in to say hello or perhaps want for your pet to have a play. Because of mixed signals and miscommunication, it could lead your dog to get angry by your dog’s presence because it is convinced that your pet is trying to take the chew away and could lead to the possibility of a fight. It doesn’t have to be food however it can happen sitting on the sofa, or in the dog bed, or even in a position close to yours.

4. Pain stressor

Another stressor that is less obvious to look out for is when your dog is suffering from discomfort. Being afflicted with arthritis, for instance, could result in your dog becoming self-protective. Having an older dog and an older dog together usually leads to this problem. In this case, the older dog may become aggressive when your puppy gets too close.

How to Stop Dogs From Fighting?

1. Dog Aggression Counter-Conditioning

My first option with my most clients is the method I mentioned earlier to change dogs’ perception of each other by De-sensitizing and CounterConditioning (CC&D).

CC&D to combat intra-pack aggression requires altering your dogs’ relationship with one another between positive and negative. The most effective way to create the majority of dogs a positive relationship is to provide them with tasty, delicious, and high-value foods. I prefer chicken that has been thawed and cooked in pre-cooked chunks of frozen chicken (no breading or other spices) baked, canned, or boiled, as most canines love chicken, and it’s low in fat and calories.

2. counter-conditioning Your Dogs to Get Along:

1. You should determine how long your dogs should remain in the same place while remaining vigilant or cautious, but not scared or agitated. This is known as”the threshold. In the event that one breed has a higher threshold distance to hold than the next (often this is the case), you should you will have to work at the distance that is greater.

2. When your dog is able to see the other dog, you can begin feeding chicken pieces continuously. If you are holding Dog A on a leash, ask your assistant to bring Dog B to a distance of “X.” Your helper will begin feeding Chicken to the dog also, as soon as she sees your dog.

3. The helper steps out of sight with Dog B after several seconds, and you both stop feeding the chicken.

4. Continue to repeat actions 1-3 until the viewing of the dog in the distance of “X” consistently causes both dogs to stare at their owners with a joyful smile and “Yay! What’s the chicken?” expression. The expression is a physical manifestation of the dogs’ Conditioned Emotional Reaction (CER) and each dog’s interaction with each other at the threshold the distance “X” is now positive which means they will look at you in order to grab their chicken instead of being focused solely on one the other.

5. Now you should increase the duration of Dog B’s sight by increasing the intensity of the stimulus. Continue to feed chicken when they are looking at each other, occasionally pausing for them to look at each other again and feeding chicken immediately when they do.

6. When the length of time doesn’t seem to matter to either dog – they consistently respond with “Yay, where’s my chicken?” regardless of how long Dog B remains in sight increase the intensity again, this time by increasing Dog B’s movement. Have the Slowly at first, then with more energy, even including some other behaviors such as sitting, down, and rolling over as the handler walks back and forth with her dog.

7. It’s time to start decreasing the distance between Dog A and Dog B by moving Dog A closer to the location where Dog B will appear. After consistently obtaining CERs at each new distance, you can gradually decrease the distance until both dogs are happy to be very close to each other.

8. Return to your original threshold distance and gradually decrease the distance over time while Dog B moves around more and more, obtaining CERs along the way from both dogs until they are eager to be near each other.

9. Return to the beginning distance, and increase the intensity with each dog slowly moving closer to each other, offering CERs at each distance reduction, until they are within six feet of each other, still relaxed and enjoying the chicken.

10. Finally, try to find ways for your dogs to engage in mutually enjoyable activities apart from each other. The two of them may enjoy a drive together, but do not seat-belt them too close together, or use a crate that is far enough apart to prevent tension.

Taking them on parallel walks, one with you, one with your training partner, with humans between them at first, and eventually with dogs between humans, when you’re sure their emotions are appropriate, is a great way to get them used to hike. In addition to parallel swims, parallel swimming can be beneficial for dogs who love the water.

You should take care not to undo all your hard work once the dogs are ready to interact again. A baby gate or exercise pen could serve as a barrier through which they can first greet.

When you’re ready for them to interact together, it helps to desensitize both dogs to the muzzle over a period of time (no overlap), so that they can’t hurt each other the first time they’re muzzled.

It is more difficult to modify a dog’s behavior when there is a strong relationship between the two dogs. Negative interactions, injuries, tensions, and strong emotions will prolong the process of reprogramming their reactions to each other the longer they’ve had negative interactions. You’re likely to find it easier if your dogs were good friends once and then started fighting.

If you are not confident or competent about working with your dogs on your own, consult a qualified positive behavior professional.

How to Stop Dogs From Fighting in Your Household?

When you have two or more dogs in the same home, you may need to defuse a situation if they fight. Here is what you need to do if your pup suddenly starts biting your other dog or if it attacks other pets in your house without any reason.

Dogs Fighting In Your Household: What to DO? 

  1. Make sure your dogs don’t have any opportunity to antagonize one another by managing their environment.
  2. To keep your dogs from exceeding their bite threshold, identify their stressors and eliminate them as many as possible.
  3.  You may need to seek the assistance of a positive behavior professional if you find yourself overwhelmed. Dogs who display aggression towards other canines are a serious matter!

Why Are We Seeing Problems In Dogs Now?

Around 8 to 20 months of age, aggression in dogs usually manifest.

It is clear from all of this that our writer is in a tough spot. Sibling aggression is a very common occurrence in dogs and is incredibly difficult to manage. Unfortunately, good training will not prevent it from happening. Even if your dogs know all kinds of tricks and cues, they may exhibit aggression.

For dogs who live in the same home and fight with each other, there is a basic framework to follow:

  • Put the dogs completely apart for the time being. This might mean a “crate and rotate” set up, where one dog is in the crate (or in a separate room), while the other is free. The dogs are safe and everyone is happy.
  • The fights were the result of what caused them. It’s time to identify the “triggers” that cause your dog to fight now that you have some time to think. Food, toys, attention, sleeping spaces, doorways, and things outside (like squirrels or visitors) are some of the things that cause triggers.
  • Muzzle training should begin with the dogs. If your dog needs a muzzle, make sure it’s comfortable (see our muzzle fit guide). Check out our favorite muzzle-friendly treats and check out our video on how to give treats through a muzzle if you’re interested in trying them out). You can then reintroduce the dogs to the world with maximum safety for them.
  • Teach both dogs the go-to-mat behavior and hand targets. Before introducing cues to social situations, make sure the dogs can easily “relax on the mat” and “target” when there is food or toys on the floor. Find out how to build up the difficulty of training by “proofing” behaviors here. It allows you to separate the dogs without putting your hands at risk. By pulling the dogs apart, you can also cause tension in the situation, which can lead to a fight.
  • Neutral situations should be used to reintroduce the dogs. Take the two dogs on walks together (the parallel walk method works well for him) and take them on other activities where fighting is extremely unlikely. This will give the dogs the opportunity to remain friends. While both dogs feel relaxed and happy, practice going to bed and hand target behaviors. Avoid triggers as much as possible.
  • De-sensitize and counter condition the dogs to help them relax. You can tie the dogs up to the door with one trigger. Put their mats down for them. Afterward, reintroduce a low-intensity trigger. You can, for example, place a food bowl in a place far from both of the dogs. Both dogs should then be fed copious amounts of chicken. This way, they learn that Brother + Trigger = Chicken. This will help them learn to relax. This is pretty tricky to do well, and I highly recommend getting the help of a Certified Dog Behavior Consultant.
  • If needed, use hand targets and go to mat behaviors to divide the dogs. Send the dogs away from each other to their beds around their former trigger points. When possible, avoid triggers unless it’s a training situation (this is called management), and do not be afraid to call the dogs apart before things escalate. Therefore, if Fido gives Rover the stink-eye, call them apart before things get ugly.
  • The majority of dog-dog aggression cases do not resolve well. Many times, rehoming one of the dogs is the best thing for the dogs. As a result, the dogs can live full lives without constant supervision, crates, or squabbles.

  • It is not uncommon for dogs fighting with their siblings to be friendly to other dogs. Those who love their families but cannot imagine moving back into their homes can sometimes be friendly and playful with their siblings in moderation, but not 24/7 (this may sound familiar to those of us who love our families but cannot imagine moving back home).   

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The Feature Writer at Healthy Talks, Khadija, has written hundreds of how-to and troubleshooting pieces on a variety of topics. She is a former Associate Editor for Healthly Talks magazine and has previously written for the Iowa Source and educational marketing websites. Khadija holds a bachelor's degree in science and an associate's degree in education with a concentration on curriculum development.


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