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What to Do if Your Dog Bites Another Dog

Updated on August 4, 2010
alexadry profile image

Adrienne is a certified dog trainer, behavior consultant, former veterinary hospital assistant, and the author of "Brain Training for Dogs."

Playing rough at times may turn into a fight

Balanced dogs are generally natural conflict solvers. Given the opportunity, they will try their best to avoid a fight. In the wild, indeed wolf packs will not waste energy on fighting among each other. They have more important priorities to think about such as hunting or raising their pups. They therefore have a hierarchal structure so there is clarity on the social status of the pack members and they can effectively use posture and calming signals to avoid conflicts.

In dogs, the scenario is somewhat the same. If socialized well with other dogs during their critical imprinting phase taking place generally between four weeks and four months of age, they will have learned how to behave around other dogs and interpret body postures properly. However, sometimes problems happen. Same sex dogs can turn quite aggressive towards each other when they reach their teen age phase and social maturity or dogs that are quite similar in social rank may become competitive.

Dogs who have been corrected for growling at other dogs may have stopped giving this warning signal and decided to escalate into full blown aggression. Some dogs on the other hand may be reserved and not like other dogs to invade their personal spaces. Others may not want to ''take rude behaviors'' from other dogs and in order to avoid being bullied may give a ''correction'' under the form of a bite to stop the bad behavior. Some dogs on the other hand, may be possessive of food or toys or may simply be ''illiterate'' in recognizing threatening body language getting into trouble easily. 

What to Do If Your Dog Bites Another Dog

  • The very first step is separating the dogs in a safely manner. Re-directed aggression is common when two dogs are fighting and are highly aroused. To avoid getting bit, try to separate the dogs by making a loud noise or spraying them with a hose.

  • Another method is to grab both of the dogs by the hind legs and pulling them away. Unbalanced, the dogs should let go. Watch for attempts to curve around and try to bite you as well. Make safety your top priority.

  • Safely contain your dog and prevent him from getting again to the other dog.

  • There are likely different scenarios that may take place following the biting episode. The owner of the dog getting bit may be upset and even accuse you of owning a vicious dog. He may make a big deal of it, rightfully so and you should try to be as apologetic as possible.
  • On the other hand, you may be fortunate and encounter another dog owner that will not make a big deal of the bite and knows that accidents happen.

  • At a minimum after apologizing, if applicable you should offer to pay for the dog’s vet visit. If your dog broke the skin risks of infection may be high because if the high number of bacteria ina dog’s mouth.

  • Provide your name and be ready to demonstrate that your dog is up to date on shots, especially the Rabies shot.

  • Refusing to pay the vet bill may cause the owner to seek legal action in a small claims court.

  • Check if your home owner’s insurance covers any bites caused by your dog to third parties.

Being a responsible dog owner and paying the veterinarian’s bill is a must. Just think if this happened to your dog. Also consider that the victim of the bite may not only sustain physical injuries but emotional scars as well. The dog may become fearful of other dogs and the owner may become tense every time another dog approaches.

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    • alexadry profile imageAUTHOR

      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 

      3 months ago from USA

      In certain cases, the kindest thing is to rehome one dog if the other dog has to live in fear of being attacked. It is hard to say what triggered the attack as there may be several dynamics going on (resorce guarding, redirected aggression, medical causes etc) You may want to consult with a veterinary behaviorist or Certified applied animal behaviorist for an assessment.

    • profile image

      Shelley Snider 

      4 months ago

      I’m at a loss and need some help. We have always been a multi dog family. Most recently our boxer passed at age 14. We have a 11 year old pit bull and my daughter has a 1 1/2 year old American bulldog ( adopted as a puppy, 10 weeks old) All our dogs are also female. We’ve always adopted our dogs and raised them in a family environment on a farm with lots of love and outside time. Recently after the passing of our boxer our American bulldog attacked our pit bull when she came outside, unprovoked attack. And several months have passed and then again last night our American bulldog attacked our pit bull. We’ve never had any aggression problems with any of our dogs. My husband is saying we must find a new home for my daughters American bull dog because he believes she’s unstable. Is there any advise on what to do. Our daughter and our entire family will be broken hearted to give up a member of our family. I just can’t see our pit bull having to live out her last few years being afraid of being attacked while outside on the farm. Nothing has ever happened indoors. Only twice since the passing of our boxer. Is the younger dog trying to establish dominance? Any suggestions will be helpful.

    • profile image

      Other Dog Aggression 

      7 years ago

      Your pet is acting like this to protect you and himself

      You must learn to take control of your pet by becoming the alpha male. By doing so, your pet will start to take cues from you and quickly learn what is good and bad behavior.

    • profile image

      Kathy 

      7 years ago

      My dog bite another dog supposadly I was not present. I have never seen her bite before she is 2. I am completelly understanding to them but I DO NOT have the money the are saying the vet bill is over 4000.00. What do I do? I have told him neither my husband or myself are working and do not have any money to pay this. He thinks I should write him a check when he hands me the bill tomorrow. I feel really really bad that this happened but I just can not pay that. Can not get a loan or borrow. What do I do?

    • ELeeH profile image

      ELeeH 

      7 years ago

      Nice hub. I have a mastiff that I am very weary about bringing out for a walk because I am afraid of not being able to physically control her (luckily, we have a large, fenced in backyard and another dog that loves to play with her). But that is something that is always in the back of my mind.

    • alexadry profile imageAUTHOR

      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 

      8 years ago from USA

      Bayoulady: some insurance have increased their premiums if you own a ''black listed breed''. Some will not even cover you if you own one of those ''dangerous dog breeds''. You need to call your insurance and see if the have dog bite liability included.

    • K9keystrokes profile image

      India Arnold 

      8 years ago from Northern, California

      This is a realistic event in the dog owners world. Controlling your dog is a task under normal conditions, but when extream conditions arise, and you think your dog would never do such a thing, you may find yourself to be caught in the middle of tangled leashes in an instant! Good advice here and a very logical approach to the aftermath. Thank you for sharing this needed hub. I continue to appreciate your work.

      ~Always choose love~

      K9

    • bayoulady profile image

      bayoulady 

      8 years ago from Northern Louisiana,USA

      Would homeowner's insurance pay for it? We had a chow once, and our insurance went up when they found out we had her.

      good hub!

    • ocbill profile image

      ocbill 

      8 years ago from hopefully somewhere peaceful and nice

      We used to get a broom or rake to separate our dogs which were kind of vicious at times (St Bernard and Old English sheepdog)

    • valeriebelew profile image

      valeriebelew 

      8 years ago from Metro Atlanta, GA, USA

      I had this happen to me about a year ago. My dog is classified as a dangerous dog, and I fork out $400 annually due to the incident. The cause of the incident was my Golden Retriever being in season, and an un-neutered poodle showing an interest in her. My Aussie stud was on a lease that happened to break, and he went after the poodle. I have sense had my females, both spayed, but the incident was not without consequences. IN this county any dog bite is automatically reported to animal control if A dog or person is treated by a doctor for a dog bite. He now wears a muzzle anytime he goes outside, and I only allow him to go to my kennel to use the bathroom, and come back inside. I also paid for the other dog's vet care which was the least expensive part of it. That only cost me $53. I had no way of knowing the lease was going to break, but the muzzle will eliminte any similar problem in the future. (:v

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