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What to Do if Your Dog Bites Another Dog

Updated on August 4, 2010

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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