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Dog on Dog Aggression

Updated on March 22, 2013
Dog on Dog Aggression
Dog on Dog Aggression | Source

The Dog And Wolf Connection

The domestic dog lives his mundane life laying about while waiting for his human to provide food and nurture. But, seething below the surface is a predator at heart. We must not forget that this beast is descendant of the great ancient wolf after all.

Why Dogs Fight

What's a Nice Dog Like You Doin' in a Fight Like This?

So deeply mapped into his being is his wolf ancestry and with it comes his predatory nature. This instinct reminds him each day that if he gets injured, he cannot hunt. If he cannot hunt he does not eat. If he does not eat, he will die. Stepping through his days this truth drives him forward while loudly reminding him that the fewer injuries he encounters during dog on dog aggression, the more likely he is to stay healthy and injury free, thus able to hunt. When left up to the dogs, very rarely does the most horrific-looking dog fight result in anything more than a few scrapes and scratches. We humans then ask ourselves, why do dogs cause fights at all?

K9 Teeth Fencing

"On Guard Fido!"

The truth of the matter remains as it has since we first began to domesticate dogs; dogs don't start fights, humans do. The moment one or the other dog shows the slightest bit of aggression, we raise our voices and begin to shout. This screeching, startles the dogs, making them display the incorrect posture which takes the encounter to the next level. This next level generally looks something like front feet sparring and teeth fencing (lips curled up and back, mouth open, muzzle to muzzle - teeth to teeth contact). When fencing begins, people often totally freak out, escalating their vocal tones, while grabbing at one or the other canine. Again, our involvement in the 'fencing' accelerates the aggression causing to rise again to the next and more serious level. Once we discover our actions are not working, we tend to resort to inflicting pain by hitting, yanking on the leash, and/or kicking at the dogs. This is the level where injuries may begin to appear for the dogs, however it is more likely that people get the worst of it.

People Get Hurt More Than Dogs In A Dog Fight

Most of the clients I have helped with the so-called dog to dog aggression scenario, have been hurt when they try to break up a fight. This is because when a dog fight is viewed through our fragile human eyes, it appears to be a fight-to-the-death for sure! I always ask my clients/friends what damage was done to their dog? The response is almost always that their dog was hardly injured, if at all. When I inquire about the injuries of the opposing dog, more often than not they report no injuries to that dog what so ever. Because we have a higher probability of grabbing our own dog (it is just human nature to control what is ours) he is likely to get hurt due to the fact that by grabbing him we put his body into a vulnerable posturing, and thus it is our actions that are truly getting our dog hurt during the fight.


Dogs Do Not Like to Fight

Your Dog Doesn't Want to Throw-Down!

The best thing we can do should an aggressive dog to dog situation happen, is to turn our back and walk away(you must understand getting elderly Mrs. Merrill who sees her little Dachshund flipped upside down under your full grown Rottweiler "Rex" to walk away is going to be a supremely difficult task). Also realize that Mrs. Merrillis not going to believe that whacking your Rottie on the head with her garden rake is the only reason Rex is going to clamp his jaws around her Wiener dogs neck and shake it to bits. My experience absolutely tells me that very rarely do dogs get seriously injured, however more often then not, we the people do.

Allowing your dog to greet in a relaxed manner  and with a slack leash, can prevent any unnatural posturing that might cause the other dog to feel threatened.
Allowing your dog to greet in a relaxed manner and with a slack leash, can prevent any unnatural posturing that might cause the other dog to feel threatened.

Do People Cause Dog Fights

Humans Increase Aggression in Dog Behavior

The cycle of behavior humans bring when dealing with dog on dog aggression is understandable; but it will increase the probability of the aggressive behavior escalating. We condemn our dog to leash exercise only. This is very emotionally scarring to the dog, depleting the mental stimulation he needs.

On Leash Dog Fights

Every canine requires the freedom of off lead exercise time. We also become more 'on guard' during these leash walks, tightening the leash which decreases the dog's interactive vital distance—the speed and distance a dog needs to assess an approaching unknown dogs' mood and intentions. The tightening of the leash causes your dogs front end to lift into a dominant posture, making the approaching dog believe he is being threatened or at least challenged. To add insult to injury, if you are walking your dog over a location that the other dog thinks is his land or territory and your dog appears to be displaying a dominant attitude (raised front end due to leash tension), you can bet your last dollar that trouble is most certainly brewing!

Leash Control

When you have excess tension on the leash, this sets your dog on-guard. He will take up an unnatural posture with raised head that can get him into a dog fight!
When you have excess tension on the leash, this sets your dog on-guard. He will take up an unnatural posture with raised head that can get him into a dog fight! | Source

What Your Dog Thinks About Fighting

If your K9 could speak English, he would most likely say,

"Dude, I need to drop my head, so relax the leash. I am totally trespassing on this approaching dogs diggs and I know it. I don't want to throw down, but you're kinda forcing me to."

Even the smallest of K9 breeds have that built-in predatorial instinct: a predator is always a predator!
Even the smallest of K9 breeds have that built-in predatorial instinct: a predator is always a predator!

A Predator is Always a Predator!

If we could be more confident in our dogs' social know-how, our experiences with our four-legged partners would probably go far more smoothly. As people force canines into situations that make them reassess the wolf instinct, we can, all but be certain, that aggression is apt to come into play. By expanding our knowledge of our favorite domestic being, our dog companions, and learning how to comprehend his naturally proud, yet kind and non-confrontational instincts, we may just find this descendant of the great wolfs' genetic mapping, to be a guide to a more cohesive human existence as well.

Dog Etiquette (1 min. 43 sec.)

About Aggressive Labeled Dog Breeds

It is good to note that in every species their are those who stray from the general populations' known and proper behavior. Any predator can be forced into an aggressive mind-set, and as such we need to always use logic and awareness when in the presence of all predators.

Certain dog breeds have been labeled as more likely to become 'dangerous' than others, which may miss-lead us towards a false sense of safety when around the determined 'safe' breeds.

Never underestimate or overestimate the personality of any dog, regardless of the breed. Just as you would thoroughly assess a human being that is not known to you on his/her own merits, so should you with all dogs. Safety with any predator must remain the rule.


SIDEBAR: A Stress-Free Dog is a Nice Dog!

Keeping your dog well exercised and well fed will help keep him calm and amiable. Chewing is a natural way dogs release a certain measure of stress and anxiety. If you would prefer that your canine not chew on your furniture, remote controls, shoes or other forbidden items, consider bringing rawhide to the show. It is very important that dogs be supervised while chewing on rawhide, and when it gets soft and pliable it should be switched out with a new dry piece, while the soft piece dries again and returns to a hardened state. If your dog is chewing on a soft hunk of rawhide, he may swallow chunks which can (rarely) cause blockages or choking, for this reason I re-state, trade soft rawhide for the hard stuff when it goes too soft.

I prefer to give rawhide products over any other (when chicken jerky is not available). Inspectors set-feet in manufacturing buildings to monitor the quality and safety of every rawhide item offered on the market. This also translates to the best products being made in the United States, in most cases. Some of the items are made in South America or Canada, but be reassured the process has been subjected to much scrutiny by animal food and safety organizations . They are particular about the way the hides are treated as well as how they are shaped. Always placing safety and humanity first!

About You and Your Dog's Aggression

Have you ever been the cause of dog-on-dog aggression?

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Comments for "Dog on Dog Aggression"

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  • profile image

    mark schuette 

    7 years ago

    dog powered exercise - godd for even aggressive dogs

    unlimited dog exercise- under excellent dog control.


    much safer than using a bicycle or any "dog out front " method of mushing.


    any chance of a link?

  • K9keystrokes profile imageAUTHOR

    India Arnold 

    10 years ago from Northern, California

    Thank you to each of you who took the time to stop by to learn a bit about dog behavior. SGFR, thanks for the query to another hub, i'll see what i can come up with. Gus, your war dog sounds like a k9 I would love to meet! I am so appriciative of each one of you for your comments and I look forward to seeing more of you soon!

    ~Always choose love~


  • glendoncaba profile image


    10 years ago from Somewhere in the hubverse

    I learned a lot.

  • LeanMan profile image


    10 years ago from At the Gemba

    Great hub and some useful insights into our dogs behavior. Thanks..

  • Susan K. Earl profile image

    Susan K. Earl 

    10 years ago from North Central Texas

    Thanks for the info K9. I never thought of primal instincts as the key cause of dog fights, but it does explain a lot. Our older dogs always approaches other dogs in the dog park in a subservient stance, and then enjoys "playing " with the other dogs. Our younger "rescue" dog struts in with a challenging attitude and we have to monitor her before she runs off to play. She must be on guard for some other dog to challenge her authority. Good to know, thanks K9!

  • schoolgirlforreal profile image


    10 years ago

    Hey K9! perhaps you have written, or can write a hub that would IMMENSELY help me about dogs! See, I'm afraid of big and "scary looking " dogs. I love golden retrievers and mellow dogs...I actually never had one of my own, so I know my fears are unfounded, but I don't know why dogs bark, and how to feel no fear etc.

    You are after all, the dog 'expert'! But thanks for showing how dogs really don't like to fight.

    I look forward to your next hub explaining dogs:)

  • GusTheRedneck profile image

    Gustave Kilthau 

    10 years ago from USA

    K9KS - Fun-to-read article. It helps explain why our small "War Dog" was always so tough on the big pit bull who used to live on the other side of the fence.

    Gus :-)))

  • viking305 profile image

    L M Reid 

    10 years ago from Ireland

    Yes I do agree dogs have their own feelings and thoughts. We humans have kinda limited their natural ways with our own expectations of these dogs when we want them to behave to our code and ways.

    Dogs do always make fantastic companions but we should really give them the freedom too to be what they were born to be.


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