Watching your dogs go after one another can be frightening, especially if they are injured or it continues for more than a few seconds. In most instances, fights between your pets don't involve injury despite loud growling, snapping and biting. If your dogs aren't getting along, there are measures you can take to promote peace between pups.
When a second dog comes to live in your house, your first pup usually regards the home as his territory. Turning a second dog loose in the home can result in your faithful companion defending his territory. Make introductions away from home in a neutral location such as a neighborhood park. Have one handler per dog and introduce them on a leash. Go for a walk side by side, allowing them to stop and sniff one another when both are in a calm state. If they growl, interrupt them with a tug on the leash and walk them around separately until they are both calm and try again.
Fighting vs. Roughhousing
Play fighting is natural dog behavior and a great way for your dog to burn off some extra energy. Sometimes loud growls, teeth snapping and holding each other by the throat can leave an owner to wonder if it's progressed beyond play. If the wrestling is punctuated by running figure 8's around the yard, or they are distracted by calling them or tossing a tennis ball in their direction, it's all in good fun. If you think they are playing too rough, put them on a leash and separate them until they have calmed down. If one or both are injured, take the appropriate action.
All About Sex
Breeding urges are one of a dog's primary drives. Two unaltered dogs of the same sex will feel the need to dominate one another. Spaying and neutering your dogs is the best way to prevent hormone-driven aggression between them. Even after they are fixed, avoid putting them into competition by feeding them in separate rooms or individual crates. Each dog should have his own bed, crate, toys and bowls. Keep chew toys and bones picked up except when you are supervising their play or they're enjoying a treat in their own crate.
Call In a Professional
If your dogs suddenly can't get along after living in peace, it may be due to an underlying health issue. Declining eyesight, internal pain or feeling ill can contribute to a dog becoming short-tempered with a longtime companion. Watch your dogs to see which one is going after the other and have him examined by a veterinarian. It might be necessary to separate your pups temporarily to allow the sick dog to heal. If health isn't an issue, call a professional trainer to help you evaluate their behavior and eliminate the aggression.
Breaking Up a Fight
Never grab a dog by the neck or collar to break up a fight as you could be bitten. Shout loudly, clap your hands or stomp your feet to distract the dogs. If they continue to fight, squirt them with water, blast with an air horn or squirt citronella spray at their noses. Throwing a blanket over them or putting an object between them such as a baby gate also may make them stop.