Help! My dogs are fighting!

Updated: Oct 5, 2021

Step 1: Separate and Regroup

After a traumatic experience it is natural to want to dive right in with analysis and quick solutions. Take a deep breath, the worst is behind you, now is the time to focus on prevention and healing.

Separate the dogs so that they cannot access one another, ideally we would like them to be separated so completely that they are not aware of the other's presence and cannot see or hear one another. If that is not possible, do your best. Use a double barrier system to prevent management failures. Always have a secondary barrier in place when one can be opened; for example, if you have a dog in a bedroom, have a baby gate in the hallway to catch them if they escape. This will greatly reduce household stress and prevent any accidents which could cause another conflict.

It is important to remember that fights are traumatic for the dogs as well. They are most often a manifestation of the fight or flight response, a survival instinct, as a conflict spins out of control and fear and distress kick in. It is vital that you do not make attempts to punish your dog as it will only further traumatize your pet, seriously compounding the problem. Instead, Take time to allow your pet to heal if they were injured. Provide them with fun and calming activities, and keep them away from other dogs until an appropriately accredited behavior consultant or trainer can assist you with assessment, training and a plan to keep everyone safe.