Fighting is never the answer, people. Especially between dogs who live in the same household. So why do we see it so often? Dogs fight in the home, and what can you do about it? Is it inevitable in a multi-dog household with everyone vying for your attention or scraping over treats, toys or food?
In this guide, you will learn why dogs in the same households often fight, how to prevent dogs in the same house fighting, and our tips to ensure your littermates or sibling dogs get along hunky-dory.
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Why do dogs from the same household fight?
Just like human siblings, dogs sharing a household will frequently fight over resources like toys, food, treats, or cuddles from their favourite people. Hormonal changes might also be the culprits to fighting – this is especially true if they are of the same sex and one of them is sexually maturing.
Our full guide to resource guarding has more useful information to know about dogs in the same household fighting over resources – you probably want to know all the details on how to prevent this.
How to stop dogs from fighting in the same household
Here’s some things you can do stop dogs in the same household from fighting: Supervise interactions, provide them plenty of resources and remove ones causing competition. Give each dog individual attention away from one another, and develop a training plan that aims for them to be comfortable around each other.
Get a vet check
If the fighting behaviour has come out of the blue or one dog is attacking the other for no reason, it’s wise to book an appointment at the Vet. Pain, illness, hormone irregularity and other medical problems can also cause aggression or grumpiness which can cause one dog to tell another dog off and escalate into a fight.
Develop a training plan
If you have dogs fighting in the same household, it’s good to sit down and work out a training plan. Ain’t nobody got time for violence. This will include some of the management options we discuss in the following points, and also counterconditioning and desensitisation so that they feel more comfortable being around one another.
It’s worth considering consulting a qualified trainer or behaviourist who’s dedicated to using positive reinforcement based methods to help with this.
Supervise and manage interactions
Depending on how often your dogs fight, consider using baby gates or play pens to keep them apart so that they have their own areas with their own bed, water and food bowls. It is to keep them apart – not to encourage them into MMA cage fighting. Do this until things have calmed down, or while you’re doing training.
This is especially important if you have a puppy who’s being introduced to a new dog in order to keep everyone safe, and give each other time apart. If you already have a dog at home and introduce them to a new one, read our full guide to introducing your puppy to a dog to know the ropes.
Prevent resource guarding
While dogs will naturally want to protect resources like holding onto chews they like or wanting to keep their favourite toy for themselves, fighting over them can cause issues. Issues you probably wish were never there.
Here’s how to stay ahead of the game: Pick up their food bowls after mealtimes and provide them plenty of water bowls (one for each of them plus one extra as a minimum). If you give them chews or bones, then put your dogs in separate areas to avoid squabbles. Pick up any leftovers, so it doesn’t cause issues later!
Give your dog individual attention
Make sure your dogs get plenty of individual attention from you. This includes walks, playtime with toys or even just sitting and grooming them. You’ll quickly see that spending all this quality time together will be of great help with your bonding.
Teach stationing behaviour
Teaching your dogs to lie down in separate beds or mats in the same room can be very
useful to show them that nice things happen when they are in the presence of one another…and that there’s absolutely no need to fight. Teach them separately to go to their mat or a particular place, and when they are ready you can practise in the same room, building up duration as you go on. Make sure they have their ‘own’ bed that the other one doesn’t get into and that they’re both the same distance from you to prevent any concerns about sharing.
Train basic obedience cues
Training your dogs with positive reinforcement will help to strengthen your bond and make them listen to you more. This is, essentially, the key to success. Teaching them basic obedience cues like sit, down, or leave it will help to tire them out mentally so that they’re less keen to fight out of boredom.
Top tips for making sure dog siblings get along
If you have dog siblings, then you’ll want to follow these tips to make sure they get along well:
- If you’re bringing a new dog into the home, then have both dogs meet for the first time on a lead on neutral territory away from home. This will stop the ‘old’ or ‘resident’ dog from being territorial and feeling like they’re being invaded, and the new dog or puppy get used to the resident dog in a safe place.
- Don’t favour one dog over another! This can be tempting when you have a new puppy, but it can leave the older dog feeling pushed out.
- Feed your dogs in separate areas. Households with multiple dogs are often more harmonious when dogs don’t eat near one another because it leaves them no chance of competition or one dog stealing the other dog’s meal.
- Give both dogs their own beds or crates. Plenty of dogs don’t have problems swapping beds, but some might think the world is ending. If you have a new dog or rescue pup join the household, make sure to keep your resident dog’s bed in the same place, and don’t make them share if they don’t want to.
- Littermates often fight because they’re allowed to play fight for extended periods, but this can escalate into aggression if left to go all day. Giving the puppies separate crates when they are small can help them have a safe place to go to, as well as give you time to relax while they’re away from one another.
- Littermates of the same sex can also fight as they go through developmental periods and sexually mature at around the same time. Time spent apart can help them not to build up negative feelings, so train them and walk them separately if you can.
Learn to read dog body language so you can easily spot any subtle signs of discomfort around one another or initial stages of aggression.
If the fighting has come all of a sudden, we recommend a Vet check for both of your dogs to rule out any medical reasons why they might have started fighting.
You might also ask a behaviourist or trainer to come and assess your dogs. Fresh (and professional eyes) can always help get a better look at a situation. They’ll be able to tell you what they think the cause of the fights might be, and help you develop a behaviour modification plan to help your dogs finally get along. In some sad circumstances, dogs who continually fight can create such a bad atmosphere that rehoming should be considered as an option.
Staying optimistic, having two dogs can also be a lot of fun, and many dogs enjoy having company from other hairy friends.
Well, that’s about it. We’re hoping you feel more confident about your dogs interacting with each other without turning you into a boxing referee.
Since we suspect you want to prepare for your new puppy, why not check out our guide to what to do in your puppy’s first week, or how about teaching your dogs some tricks?
Oh, and don’t forget to download the Zigzag app today and embark on your wonderful training journey. We have a team of professional dog trainers to help you with every stage, and are available to talk 24/7 via our in app chat, or a phone call.