Why does my dog lick me when I cuddle him?

Dogs lick humans for many reasons. Some dogs lick humans as a sign of affection, while others lick to clean them or to remove dirt or saliva. Some dogs also lick humans as a way to cool them down.

Adrienne is a certified dog trainer, former veterinary assistant, and author of "Brain Training for Dogs," an online dog training course."

Why does my dog lick me when I cuddle him?

Are your dogs suddenly fighting?

Why are my dogs suddenly fighting?

This is one of the most serious issues confronting dog owners with multiple dogs, and it is also one of the most difficult to resolve. Despite the fact that dogs are frequently portrayed as social animals, squabbles and even serious fights are common.

The circumstances are diverse, and several dynamics may be at work. Two puppies who got along well as puppies may suddenly start fighting as they get older. Despite having lived peacefully with an older dog for some time, a younger dog may suddenly attack it. A new dog introduced into a household of two dogs who have been getting along for years can cause fighting.

Unfortunately, these scenarios are not uncommon. Numerous dog owners have to deal with them on a daily basis. Why is this the case, and what causes dogs to fight?

There are numerous causes of inter-dog aggression (aggression between dogs) in dogs living in the same household. As a result, pinpointing the precise triggers is critical. Sometimes, as with people, it appears that two dogs will never get along. This should not be surprising.

Some of the most common causes of dog fighting are listed below.

Same-Sex Aggression

Fighting is not uncommon if you have two female or two male dogs. Some dog breeds are predisposed to same-sex aggression. Alaskan Malamutes, American Pit Bulls, and Boxers, for example, are dog breeds known for being same-sex aggressive.

According to Nicholas Dodman and Alice Moon Fanelli in a Petplace article, terriers may be prone to fighting because they were purposefully developed as a breed to work independently.

However, given the right circumstances and predisposition, any breed of dog can develop inter-dog aggression. These dogs may get along well as puppies, but once they reach social maturity (usually between 12 and 36 months), things change dramatically. Fortunately, this shift can be explained.

It would be quite unnatural in nature for two female dogs or two male dogs of similar ages to live in the same social group. In nature, when females and males reach maturity, they leave their social groups to form their own.

If they stay in the group, they must respect the other female or male's breeding rights. "A pack with several adult males and females of the same age would rarely, if ever, be found in the wild," says Gail Fisher, a dog trainer and breeder with over 40 years of experience."

This is supported by the Merck Veterinary Manual.:

"At social maturity, dogs that challenge the established social hierarchy in free-roaming packs may leave and form their own groups if they do not succeed in changing the existing social order.". This situation is similar to one type of inter-dog aggression that occurs in multi-dog households. Social maturation is also the time when problem aggressions and anxieties emerge. The highest-ranking animals in multi-dog groups may be the only ones to breed."

If the dogs are not spayed or neutered, the fights may have a hormonal component. The hormonal changes that occur during the estrus cycle and pregnancy may particularly elicit fights in female dogs. Fighting, however, may continue due to hierarchy and breeding rights even when the dog is not in heat or pregnant. "Why Are Intact Females Fighting?" explains more.

The hormone testosterone may promote inter-dog aggression in male dogs. Dogs prone to inter-dog aggression may no longer fight due to hormones once spayed or neutered, but they may still fight viciously for other reasons that we will discuss below.

Why does my dog lick me when I cuddle him?

Resource aggression can cause dogs to fight.

Access to Resources

One of the primary causes of inter-dog aggression in multi-dog households is social hierarchy. "Social hierarchies do exist in groups of domesticated dogs, and hierarchy can be fluid," says Pat Miller, owner of Peaceable Paw." Dogs are naturally good problem solvers.". They are, indeed, masters of ritualized aggression.

When dogs resolve conflicts without biting, this is referred to as ritualized aggression. As dramatic as growling, raising hackles, and flashing teeth are, they ultimately help to avoid actual confrontations. Spending a lot of energy fighting over minor issues is counterproductive in nature because animals must save their energy for more important issues like hunting and survival.

So, what causes actual fighting in multi-dog households? Why are dogs biting and actually breaking skin if they are good conflict solvers? Let's look at dog hierarchy.

Karen Overall believes that rank is contextually relative. A true high-ranking animal would usually tolerate lower-ranking members. The social hierarchy is determined by the behavior of lower-ranking members toward higher-ranking members. Lower-ranking members, in other words, make the hierarchical status clear by "withdrawing.".

Higher ranking members regulate and maintain access to certain resources; however, such access is conditional. A resource may be highly maintained at times but not at others, or other resources may not be maintained at all. As a result, resources can be both contextual and subjective. What are some of the most common resources from the perspective of a dog?:

  • Owner/guest attention (greeting the owner, interacting with the owner)
  • Food (respect space when feeding dogs, or crate them separately for safety)
  • Toys (especially newer ones or toys that haven't been seen in a while)
  • Sleeping areas (this could be a favorite bed, a higher position, or a favorite location)
  • Bones (these are highly valued even among dogs who get along, so use caution)
  • Space (many dogs have a space threshold, an invisible barrier that, if crossed, may result in a disagreement).

A high-ranking dog will generally maintain access to resources through a ritualized display; however, problems arise when such displays are ineffective. This is why, when the ritualized displays are ignored, we frequently see fights between dogs of similar or equal rank.

Ignoring a display may not always be voluntary. Lower-ranking dogs may disregard a display because it is overshadowed by an event that temporarily blurs the hierarchy's status. Such circumstances will be discussed further below.

High-Arousal Levels

As previously stated, events can sometimes blur social boundaries. For example, if both dogs have not seen the owner in a long time, the lower-ranking dog may not defer to the higher-ranking dog's desire to access the owner first because it is too excited, or he may feel safe and confident that the owner will protect him.

Over-excitement is frequently the catalyst for large fights among multi-dog households. It is easy for excitement to blur social rules/etiquette, resulting in a fight. When dogs are playing, their high arousal levels may occasionally result in a fight.

Another example is territorial barking. A fight may occur when two dogs are highly aroused by a trigger heard or seen behind a fence. The fight could be the result of redirected aggression caused by high arousal levels.

In re-directed aggression, highly aroused dogs become hyper-vigilant, triggering reactive responses that would not occur in a normal setting when the dogs are calm. Because of this possibility, it is always critical that owners of fighting dogs never physically get in the middle of two fighting dogs in order to separate them.

The dogs are in fight mode due to their high arousal levels, and anything between them could result in a bite, which is not delivered voluntarily.

Changes in the Social Group

A common scenario affecting social hierarchy occurs when a higher-ranking dog becomes weak or old. A younger dog that has reached social maturity may thus ignore the older dog's ritualized displays, which will result in a serious fight.

At times, the senior dog may want to relinquish the top spot but is unable to do so effectively due to loss of sensory or motor abilities, which can lead to serious fights. Because a dog's social group cannot be successfully led by a weak member in nature, fights can become quite bloody and even fatal in some cases.

Another instance of social group change occurs when a new dog is introduced. The dogs will need to be adjusted in this case. Fights are common, but they are only temporary until an agreement is reached.

The owner's handling of the situation may sometimes aggravate it. Giving the new dog too much attention may result in more conflicts. When a dog has been away for a while and is then re-introduced to the pack, there may be some issues because the social order must be re-established.

At times, dog owners may exacerbate dynamics by interfering. Owners frequently have no idea they are causing problems by defending a lower-ranking dog. The owner escalates the problem by protecting a lower-ranking dog and correcting a higher-ranking one.

Stan Rawlinson, a dog behavior expert and obedience trainer known as the "Dog Listener," advises dog owners not to add fuel to the fire by feeling bad and rushing to protect the would-be subordinate from being "bullied."."

This can lead to issues and potential fights. According to Nicholas Dodman, this type of aggression is known as "alliance aggression," and it typically occurs when the owner interferes with the establishment of a stable hierarchy.

What About Interactions Between Dogs and People? The "Alpha Myth"

While there is a social hierarchy in multi-dog households, it is important to note that humans are not dogs, and thus assuming the "alpha role" to earn respect is pointless.

The dominance myth has been debunked, and new research indicates that dogs, for the most part, are not status-seeking entities attempting to rule the home, but rather opportunists who will do whatever behaviors are reinforced in them.

Poor Social Skills

Not all dogs are endowed with exceptional social abilities. If a dog has not been properly socialized, it may fail to recognize normal social behaviors. These are dogs who feel compelled to attack other dogs for seemingly insignificant reasons such as panting, wagging their tails, or sniffing under tails. These dogs are socially illiterate and must be taught the ABCs of basic social language.

While some dogs may have been socialized with other dogs as puppies, if their inter-dog socialization ends at some point, they frequently forget the language.

However, some breeds are not social butterflies by nature, and this must be respected. They may never happily romp in dog parks, but they should be able to tolerate dogs walking by without becoming aggressive.

Escalation of Stress

Aggression between two dogs can occur as a result of a phenomenon known as trigger stacking.

Essentially, the small triggers to which a dog is exposed accumulate over time, causing the dog to appear to have "attacked the other dog out of nowhere."."

Consider Bloom, who is easily stressed by noises and changes in routine, while Maggie is unconcerned. Bloom ensures a thunderstorm on Monday, which is perceived as a terrifying event, leading to hiding in a closet and trembling. Maggie inquires about her in the closet, and Bloom "greets" her with a snarl, revealing her pearly whites.

The next day is little Bob's (her owner's child) birthday party, and she has invited a dozen friends. Bloom spends the day hiding beneath the couch while Maggie interacts with the children.

The following day, a construction worker comes by to repair a leaking sink. Bloom barks at the worker and ducks beneath the table. Maggie goes under the table after he leaves, inviting Bloom to play with a play bow. Maggie comes out of the table, bothered, and as soon as she rushes up to her in the hopes of playing, she is attacked. Fortunately, her bite was inhibited, resulting in only a minor tooth scrape, but their squabble was loud and frightening for the owner to witness.

"Sometimes, inter-pack aggression is the result of a phenomenon known as "trigger stacking," in which small, sub-threshold triggers accumulate over time until the dog's patience runs out for the day.".. Each trigger reduces the dog's patience for the day, and when they all stack up in a short period of time, the dog develops road rage."

— ACDBC, CBCC-KA, CC, CPDT-KA Michele Godlevski

Why Call the Pros

As previously stated, dog fights are serious issues that can be exacerbated if the owner does not intervene appropriately. Trying to "sort things out" with the dogs is not advised. Many owners try to "step aside," only to find out weeks later that their dogs got into a dangerous fight that cost hundreds of dollars in vet bills for stitches.

If your dogs are fighting, contact a professional, such as a reputable dog trainer who has experience dealing with dog behavioral issues, a veterinary behaviorist, or a certified applied animal behaviorist.

A Strong Recommendation

If your dogs aren't getting along, prioritize management and seek advice from a reputable professional. This article is not intended to be a replacement for professional advice, as only a professional can provide advice after assessing and evaluating your dogs in person. You automatically accept this disclaimer by reading this article.

For Further Reading

  • Aggressive Behaviors in Dogs: Medical Causes
    medical causes of aggression in dogs, It is an unfortunate fact that many dog owners feel compelled to abandon their canine companion as soon as he exhibits aggressive behavior, either by giving him away or by euthanizing him..
  • Dog Behavior: Considerations for Re-homing Aggressive Dogs
    Learn why rehoming an aggressive dog is a bad idea. So, what should you do with an aggressive dog? There are a few options, but dogs with a bite history have few options.
  • The Dangers of Having Two Female Dogs
    Learn why female dogs may not get along as well as they should. Same-sex aggression is common in dogs, and fights between two females can be fierce. Discover the significance of good leadership.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author's knowledge, but it is not intended to replace formal and personalized advice from a qualified professional.

Questions & Answers

Question: For the past five years, two of my dogs have been best friends. They've had a few fights in the last four months that I've never seen before. They have literally attempted to murder each other. And, as you mentioned, the smaller dog has been to the vet twice in the last two weeks because my other dog has badly cut her. I called a couple of professionals but have yet to see one because they are all booked up. Is there anything I can do to help in the meantime?

Answer: Yes, as you wait to see a professional, management is your best friend. Basically, keep the dog separated. This could be in crates or in different areas of the house where they can't reach each other. Baby gates are another possibility. You may need some sturdy ones and some mesh wire to prevent access to each other.

Question: My dogs fight, and we stop them, but one of them starts it again. It's becoming too difficult for me. What can I do?

Answer: You have several options: You can keep them separated at all times, rehoming one or consulting with a behaviorist. It is critical to provide the professional with information on what appears to trigger the fights, in what context they occur, and whether there is a history of injuries. The professional can then assess the situation and advise on the best course of action. This is also important for safety, because when stopping fighting dogs, there is always the risk of a redirected bite.

Question: I have two dogs, one male and one female. They are only two years old and are brother and sister. They have suddenly started fighting. What can I do to make things right?

Answer: Dogs can fight for a variety of reasons. They are frequently triggered by some form of resource guarding or access to a resource. It is critical to determine whether these are actual fights or just loud "discussions," or whether they are actual fights. Both dogs have reached social maturity at this age, and disagreements are not uncommon. You may need to consult with a dog professional on this one, especially if the fights are genuine and not just ritualized aggression and there is a risk of tension and injury among the dogs.

Question: After a recent loss left us with a lonely 6-year-old greyhound, we decided to introduce her to another dog. They've been playing for a few weeks and have been getting along fine. They did not get along in two instances, however. Why could have caused this?

Answer: There can be many possibilities. It is critical to consider the context in which this occurred. Was it near toys, food, bones, or a sleeping area? Was one dog resource guarding you? Was it through a doorway or a small space? Did one dog insist on playing while the other refused? Most importantly, was it just a noisy squabble that ended there and no one was hurt?. If both dogs were involved and there appeared to be a genuine intent to harm each other, it would be best to have a professional assess the situation.

Question: My dogs get along 95% of the time, and then all of a sudden out of the blue, they start fighting and don%27t get along. It appears to last about a week before they return to normalcy. I'm not sure what causes it. What can I do to re-establish their friendship?

Answer: It is critical to determine what causes the behavior. Although it may appear that there is no trigger, there most likely is, and work must be done to address it. For an evaluation and behavior modification, you would require the assistance of a behavior professional.

Question: I have a neutered 3-year-old male French bulldog. They've always gotten along fine; in fact, they frequently fight, but nothing serious. However, the male has attacked my female twice in the last week over treats. Why has my dog suddenly become aggressive over treats? They both get three treats per day and they are identical. I'm not sure why he's become so enraged about it. What can I do to stop my dog from being aggressive?

Answer: We may never know why dogs behave in this manner. We can only make some assumptions. Things that come to mind are that once dogs reach social maturity (between the ages of 12 and 36 months), there is a tendency for relationships to shift and aggressive behavior to rear its ugly head. Another possibility is that your male is suffering from a medical condition that causes increased hunger, or that he is not feeling well, which can lower his aggression threshold. Maybe one day when you were feeding the treats, the dogs got too close and your male felt threatened by your female.

While dogs can get along, few will accept another dog too close to food and valuable treats. Distance is necessary to ensure that everyone is comfortable and relaxed. I recommend giving them more space when feeding treats so they are not alarmed. Even better, give the treats in different rooms or crates. Be cautious, as these incidents tend to reoccur and may sometimes involve toys or other valuables.

Question: My dogs, who used to get along fine, have started fighting when I'm gone. The females used to fight, so they are now separated, but recently, two of my males have been fighting viciously when I am not present and the weather is bad. Everyone is spayed/neutered. Why are they becoming aggressive after living together for six years?

Answer: This is difficult to say because various dynamics may be at work. Dog-to-dog aggression is common as dogs mature, and we see a lot of changes once dogs reach social maturity around the age of 2 to 3 years. However, because you mentioned that these fights take place when the weather is bad, there is a chance that they are afraid of thunder, which lowers their aggression threshold.

© 2012 Adrienne Farricelli

Comment on why your dogs are fighting.

Emily on August 31, 2020:

I haven't added a new family member in years and am having difficulty correcting what appears to be random acts of snapping/biting between my resident Olde English Bulldog and my newly rescued English bulldog. Background: I've had my OEB since she was a puppy, which is six years. She is incredibly patient, had a large rotti-Sheppard brother until recently, assisted me in fostering adults and puppies, has never met a dog she doesn't like, weighs 80 pounds, and her name is Leela. I come across a new dog, an English bulldog ("N" for this story). He doesn't seem to like dogs passing by his kennel, but the introduction with Leela goes swimmingly. N is neutered, about 4 years old, weighs 50 pounds, and I'm working on all of his bully skin issues.. (He was surrendered because an elderly lady could no longer care for him and his Boston brothers.). Now comes the aggression: at 5 a.m., both dogs are in bed with me, and N pops his head up from his sleep, tenses up, and goes full crazy, teeth and sharp growls aimed at Leela's face. She tries to restrain herself while fighting back. This has now happened several times, and not always in bed or over me. N will occasionally pop his head up and go after Leela while they are laying on the floor with space between them. I'm looking for the source or spark of these incidents of violence because they usually get along and play well together. Finally, how do I properly correct/prevent this behavior from occurring again?

ChxcxCvry on July 27, 2020:

I have two female dogs, one of whom is pregnant, and she suddenly began fighting and attacking another female dog (they kept growling whenever they saw each other), despite the fact that they used to get along quite well. So I separated them in a different room in the hopes that they would forget what had happened.

After a week, I tried to get them to interact by taking them for a walk, but it didn't work. We also have a 5 month old female dog, but the pregnant dog did not growl or fight with the 5 month old. Also, when they're about to fight, the pregnant dog won't listen to me, but the one who didn't start the fight does, and she's now afraid of the pregnant dog. The one who was attacked nearly bled in the eye twice. What do I do?

kenny on July 13, 2020:

My 15-year-old male dog gets into a bloody fight with his 5-year-old male dog..What could be the cause, and how can I fix it?

Beth on July 02, 2020:

I have two male dogs who are both approaching the age of two. They have never fought frequently, except for food. We just moved a few weeks ago, and their fights have escalated rapidly since then. I was supposed to have them neutered, but they won't be available until August. What can I do to assist these two in getting along?. When we are out and about, they seem to only fight when they are near their pins and food.

Tracey on June 25, 2020:

Hello, I have four spayed female dogs. Two 11-year-old lab/boxer mix sisters and two 5-year-old lab/australian shepherd mix sisters. Three weeks ago, I played with an unneutered male puppy, and when I got home, my five-year-old and eleven-year-old started sniffing me like crazy. A fight broke out. Monday, one dog was sniffing bird poop in the yard, and the other went over to sniff, resulting in another fight. They've always gotten along well. I'm perplexed and nervous to have them in the same room with each other. What can I do?

Adrienne Farricelli (author) on the 20th of June, 2020:

Hello, Haley. This is difficult to predict because, while the fights were mostly caused by hormones, there is also a learned component at work when dogs fight. Not to mention that many dog-dog interactions deteriorate around the age of social maturity. Only time can tell. Please keep in mind that hormones continue to circulate in dogs after they have been spayed or neutered for some time.

Adrienne Farricelli (author) on the 20th of June, 2020:

Hello Reagan, it's unfortunate, but the addition of a third dog occasionally appears to disrupt the harmony. This could be due to the stress of the new addition and/or changes in the social group dynamics. Seeing a dog behavior professional who uses force-free behavior modification can give you an idea of your options based on your observations.

On June 12, 2020, Sarah J:

Hello, I have three dogs (lab-male, 8 years old, german shepard mix, 7 years old, and saluki-lab mix-male, 2 years old). From the day we adopted Saluki as a puppy, the lab and saluki were inseparable. However, in recent months, they have occasionally attacked each other. Mild biting occurs during the fight, but not all of the time. Unless we are present to supervise them, we keep them crated. It seems to happen more when the saluki sees me paying attention to the lab or taking the lab for a walk or playing alone. My family got the saluki while I was away at university, and now that I'm back, he's responding to me better, being more calm and behaved. However, these fights continue to occur, and I was hoping you could offer some insight or assistance because I cannot afford a trainer.

On June 12, 2020, Janine Reynecke:

Hey, I have a nearly one-year-old yorkie female and a three-year-old maltese poodel. They were crazy about each other until about 4-5 months ago, and now all they do is fight. .It's gotten to the point where they don't stop, especially the yorkie, who is also a female, because there are no explainable reasons for them to fight. It gets worse every time, and the last time I tried to stop them, I ended up in the ER for four stitches.It appears that the yorkie does not know when to stop or when to let go of the poodel; I have to stick my fingers in her mouth to allow the poodel to escape...Please assist me; I adore my dogs, but this cannot continue.THANKYOU.

Jen on June 10, 2020:

I have four dogs of varying ages. When another dog is on the other side of the fence or when they believe someone is at the door, they fight. We removed the doorbell. We can't keep the dogs out of the other yards. How do I stop my dogs from fighting at barriers when there is an uncontrollable trigger? They all attack each other, not just one or two. They all do it. They don't stop talking, so we have to intervene and separate them. I am concerned that they will cause each other harm. They're all fine the rest of the time and even sleep all over each other.. only issue is with barriers. Any suggestions would be great.

Haley Burge on the 8th of June, 2020:

I have 3 labs. We bred our male and female and kept a male puppy as a result. The puppy is now 1.He was 5 years old when he and his father began fighting seemingly out of nowhere, but the female was also in heat. We have now repaired all three (our fault for not doing so sooner), and the boys are recovering in separate homes. My question is, do you think they'll be able to get along now? And how do we go about re-introducing them? The fights were terrifying, and I'm nervous about reuniting them! Thanks!

Reagan Schwirian will be born on June 2, 2020.:

I have two male Belgium Malinois (one is three years old and the other is two) who have been together since they were puppies. We recently adopted a female German Shepard puppy (she is now 4 months old). Since we got the puppy, the older male has been wary of her, but he is gradually warming up to her. Since we got her, the younger male and the puppy have become inseparable, but the two males have been viciously fighting each other, and we can't figure out why. We've tried to keep them separate during their most active time of day (when most of the fights have occurred), but the older male has been starting the fights when we let the younger male in from going to the bathroom outside, so we started playing musical dogs by putting them all in separate rooms to try and reduce the problem, but I don't want to do this forever. I miss my boys being friendly with one another and am at a loss for what to do.

Ashley on May 10, 2020:

I have a 7-month-old boy and a 6-month-old girl; my boy has been fixed, but my girl has not yet; she will be soon. My male dog refuses to let the female have anything; every toy, every bone he wants to be hers, not his. He also gets upset if he can't sit on me, and they fight over me and everything else. They were purchased two weeks apart and used to be in love.

Audrey on May 04, 2020:

My friend owns three huskies and a border collie. The father of the other two huskies is the older male husky. The younger puppies continue to attack their father. The pups have become aggressive. What could be causing them to act in this manner?. Also, there are two young boys in the house; will they turn on the kids?

Sam on April 16, 2020:

My two Jack Russell terriers. The first is three, and the second is one. They would occasionally get into fights, but there were no serious injuries. They recently got into an argument, and the one-year-old (Aggressor) took the three-year-old to the emergency vet. Since then, our one-year-old has chased after our older female at the slightest movement. Please assist! Both are females who have known each other since the one-year-old's birth.

Jackie Branco on the 14th of January, 2020:

I have two male rescues, both AmStaf/Blue Heeler mixes, one is 7 years old and weighs 60 pounds, and the other is 5 years old and weighs 85 pounds. In addition, I usually have one smaller female foster dog. My dogs have been living together for over 4 years and have had at least three fights within a week. The older one is the confident, even-keeled one, while the younger is not, but has always followed the older one's lead and looked to him for assurance. It appears that the younger one is starting the fights, but the older one is not backing down. My current foster has been with me for 6 months; they all get along, and she is crated during the day. This happened once at my boyfriend's house while I was not present. They've never been aggressive with food or resources, as they'll play tug of war with the same rope or lay down and chew on the same toy.

On January 14, 2020, Adrienne Farricelli (author):

Unfortunately, when there are new additions, these conflicting situations are not uncommon. Fights between same-sex dogs are more common. Short of having a dog behavior professional assess your dogs and determine whether intervention is necessary (a few loud discussions here and there where no one gets hurt may not require intervention), it's important to determine whether there is hope for behavior modification, because there isn't much else to do other than management (crate-rotations, keeping in separate rooms, muzzling (ask a trainer to help you choose one of the proper fit), etc.). If caught at the first signs of tension, some dogs can be separated by training a fluent response to a cue, but it is difficult to always catch them at the first signs, so safety must be considered, especially if these fights are more than just noise and result in injuries.

On January 13, 2020, Kim T:

We have two male Frenchies and an elderly Boston terrier. We adopted another male frenchie. At 3 years old, he falls between the two male ages.5. For no apparent reason, the older male and him lock horns and begin fighting. Every time, I break it up and separate them. He appears to have attached himself to me since I took him in. I try not to give him any attraction that would make anyone envious. None of the Frenchies appear to be my children. My Boston is and has been the pack leader, but the older male has attempted to take over since the Boston became ill. But, in my opinion, he has not yet won that title. The male and the new guy play all the time, but they occasionally fight and draw blood. I'm at a loss for what to do.. do I rehome him again??

Savannah on January 09, 2020:

I recently acquired a lab puppy and an 8-year-old Havanese male dog. My male dog weighs eight pounds. They got along for 5 months, but now that it's 6 months, they're fighting, and she's chasing after my male dog. I'm at a loss for what to do.

On November 25, 2019, Adrienne Farricelli (author) published:

These are difficult situations. Other than management (crate rotations, keeping in separate rooms, muzzling (ask a trainer to help you choose one of the proper fit), etc., there isn't much else to do except have a behavior professional assess your dogs and determine whether there is hope for behavior modification to be implemented.). Some dogs can be separated by training a fluent response to a cue if they are caught at the first signs of tension, but your dogs appear to be too aroused to listen at this point, and it is difficult to always catch them at the first signs, so we must prioritize safety.

RJKnott on November 11, 2019:

We have 5 dogs. 4 of which are rescues. All are spayed and neutered. A female lab, a male Samoyed, a female shih tzu, a male pitbull mix, and a male boxer mix are among the dogs.

We rescued our boxer mix (we believe mix with bull dog) about a year ago from an abusive situation. He is very submissive and fits right in. He and my male pit bull have been inseparable. They play. They sleep together and, despite having separate bowls, they eat from each other's food.

My wife and I went on vacation for a week, and our daughter looked after the dogs while we were gone. My pit and boxer have been fighting since we returned, literally as soon as we got home and let them out. Sometimes the boxer starts it. Sometimes the pit. And it gets bad. I've been able to separate them by using a firm "heel" command or spraying them with water.

But there has been a fight every day for the past week since we returned home.

I had them all outside two days ago. They were getting along fine. I was training with them at the time, and they were all lined up. My female lab decided to jump on the boxer and push him into my pit, and the pit exploded and viciously attacked my boxer. He bit his lower lip and wouldn't let go. They refused to obey my command to heel, and it took some time to separate them. Thankfully, no serious injuries occurred, and I have kept them both crated since.

I alternate letting one out to keep them from getting too antsy. And they'll sleep next to each other's crates. Try to let the other person out. Will nestle through the bars. Will bring each other treats.. But if I let them both out, they start fighting.

I've had dogs my entire life and am pretty good with them, but I'm getting frustrated with the situation and am open to suggestions.

on August 21, 2019 Adrienne Farricelli (author):

Hi Jennifer,

Having six dogs is difficult because you have dogs of varying ages, genders, and personalities, and squabbles are more likely the more dogs you have. When playing, dogs' arousal levels are easily raised, which can easily lead to a fight. And, while you are correct that you can often provide as many toys as possible, dogs will always want the one that the other dog has. Many dog parks have banned toys like balls for good reason: they cause too many fights. Separating the dogs is the safest and quickest way to address this.

Jennifer Richard on the 21st of August, 2019:

I have 6 dogs total. 4 male and 2 female. When I try to play with the dogs, my most dominant male and dominant female (both neutered/spayed) fight. I always have several tennis balls on hand (for example), and we have a large yard. When I throw them, they always want the same one and frequently fight over it. There are no injuries, and it always lasts less than 10 seconds. But it's terrifying! Do I just have to play with them separately all the time, or is there a technique I can try?

on August 19, 2019 Adrienne Farricelli (author):

If the fighting coincides with the heat-cycle, then the aggression is most likely a hormone-induced behavior.

Stephanie on August 18, 2019:

I've been running Chihuahua Dash and Yorkie Maltese from one day to the next, and I'm finding it's getting more and more aggressive. I have the crates in the living room separate, and I'm heartbroken because neither of them has been spayed, and they're both on heat, which is why they're fighting.

Dalton on July 09, 2019:

I have an 8-year-old male boxer (father) and a 5-year-old male boxer/American bulldog (son). They started fighting one day and haven't stopped since. We've kept them separated by doors for many years, but the moment they're exposed, they fight to the death, and we're at a loss for what to do.

Hi on July 04, 2019:

I just rehomed one of my dogs, and my guilt and sadness are out of this world. I had three dogs, one girl and two boys, all of whom were around three years old. During the first six months, the boys would fight all the time, at least three proper fights per week. We separated them before reintroducing them later. It appeared that the first male we had started them, so the other male became very fearful, and every time the first male looked at him or walked past him, he would cry and a fight would break out. We persisted because we loved them more than anything else. (They are both neutered). After a few months of no fights, they began fighting over toys ALL THE TIME. Toys were not permitted in the house. We got rid of all our stuffed animals and anything else they could fight over. A few months would pass before another fight, and the cycle would continue for the next two and a half years. People are not permitted to enter the house because if they go to sniff the person at the same time, there may be a fight. (This did not happen all the time, but it did happen on occasion.). My partner and I were afraid to eat anything because this was one of the most common causes of fights. There could be a fight if they both tried to get through the door at the same time. 90% of the time they were fine, though they kind of kept their distance from each other . They were clearly in charge of the house, and all we wanted was peace and to keep them both. I'm 4 months pregnant and have had to break up a few fights on my own in the last month because my partner was at work (works later than me) and I got bitten in the process. We've been woken up in our sleep a few times by a fight. I just want to know that I made the right decision because guilt has overtaken me and I'm an emotional wreck. My fear is that something bad will happen to the baby and one of the males will be put down because I selfishly wanted to keep him despite knowing the risks. Didn't I do the right thing?

Cassidy on June 27, 2019:

My three-year-old male dog was fine until recently, when he began jumping on our other two male dogs. One of the male dogs has been here since he was a puppy, but out of nowhere, the dog leaps to the kill. My dog only appears to jump the other male dog when they are both walking around me in a small space. What can I do to resolve this?

Tracy on June 22, 2019:

I have two dogs, one 13 (male Jack Russell X) and one 11 (female unknown mixed), and they have started fighting in the last six months. It began at barbecues with friends over food on rare occasions, but has recently escalated to fighting/growling over their daily feeds, water bowl, fighting over getting on the lounge chair, who lays under my chair, who gets a pat first, and so on. The female pins and injures the smaller male. We live in a small town and do not have access to a behavioral consultant, so any assistance or advice would be greatly appreciated.

Aica on June 20, 2019:

It was raining in the afternoon when our four-year-old male dog attacked our one-year-old male dog. I heard a cry from our one-year-old male dog, and we tried to separate them, but our four-year-old male dog continued to attack our one-year-old male dog; the one-year-old dog then fought back. They were fighting by biting each other's faces and attempting to bite each other's neck. My younger brother didn't know what to do or how to separate them, and it occurred to me that they were fighting for alpha position, but I didn't want them to suffer severe injuries from each other, so I attempted to separate them; after 10 minutes, I was successful. I wanted to assist our one-year-old dog, but he was hiding somewhere and refused to be touched by me. I dried our four-year-old dog and examined him for wounds (face); he couldn't even walk because one of his legs was injured (small wound).

Even though it was raining, our other 1 year old female dog and 8 month puppies were scared and hid somewhere. I'm concerned because they were all vaccinated (anti-rabies) on Tuesday. I dried all of them except our one-year-old male dog, who is still hiding from our four-year-old male dog.

Carole on June 09, 2019:

My 7-year-old female border collie and 10-year-old male cocker spaniel have begun fighting, with three fights in the last two months. . I have no idea what the triggers are.. I already keep them apart when I go out because they had a bad fight over food two years ago, and there was blood all over my cocker spaniel.. I dropped the treats for both of them, which was never a problem before, but since then I've treated them separately with food.. But then they start fighting, and I have to separate them because I don't know how bad it will get..When I get home, they are all together.. I don't know what to do... It's making me nervous because I'm constantly watching their every move when they're near each other..

Adrienne Farricelli (author) published on June 2, 2019:

For this, you may need to hire a dog behavior consultant. Look for one that employs non-coercive behavior modification. Some cases are manageable, but others may be more difficult and tricky. Because there are so many variables to consider, predicting the outcome is difficult.

Sue on May 20, 2019:

My 8-year-old female attacked my 9-year-old male her son twice in three months; both are fixed and get a long 99 percent of the time. It was so bad that I had to break them up. .They are now fine; should I keep them apart while I am at work?. I'm not sure what's causing this.

On May 19, 2019, K D PAUL:

I've had my two Staffordshire Terriers for three years. They grew up together (they are not related, and one is male and the other is female). For the first three years, they were inseparable. Then we decided to bring home a new puppy, a four-month-old male pitbull. We did everything correctly, such as holding the meet-and-greet in a neutral location. But when we all got home that day, my two Staffies got into a terrible fight - their first fight - and nearly killed each other. We thought it was one of them protecting the new puppy, but it scared us so much that we gave up the puppy the next day. Everything was fine again until my two dogs had another unprovoked fight about two months later. . They have been fighting on and off since that first fight. Then we separated them and kept a close eye on them; everything returned to normal; they slept and played together; then another month passed, and it appears one of the dogs intruded on the other's space, and Bam, they fought again. So they got along six times before deciding to kill each other. We had to pull them apart each time, which was extremely difficult. I believe my female has a problem with space. It appears that whenever a male gets in her way, the fights begin. My female would suffer as a result. My male did not bite her hard, but he did hold her neck in his mouth and would not let go, causing two puncture wounds on her neck. Yes, they are both fixed. What should we do? Is it better to keep them separated for life, or to give one away to a good home and let them live a peaceful life apart? I adore them both, but this is a terrible way to live, constantly worried about what might happen. :(

Debra on May 07, 2019:

I have 3 dogs. A 12 year old Pekingese, a 7 year old large Yorki, and a 1 and 1/2 year old boxer. They were all getting along until today. My boxer has bullied smaller dogs in a playful manner. Standing over and mouthing the neck. Today, I believe my boxer unprovokedly attacked both of my small dogs in two separate incidents. She has a new toy that she has brought to her kennel and is very interested in staying in her kennel. Which is unlike her. She is very loving. She does her best to divert my attention away from the small dogs. Help!!

on April 5, 2019 Adrienne Farricelli (author):

Tamera, your dogs must be completely separated. Install sturdy baby gates for when you are present to supervise, and keep them in separate crates in separate rooms when you leave the house. It is not fair to attack a dog in this manner, especially when it is unprovoked. This creates tension and significant risks for the dogs to be injured, as well as you or your roommate if you get between them while they are fighting (redirected bite).

Tamera on April 04, 2019:

My roommates' really old dog has snapped at my younger dog for months, but my dog has never attacked. This time, my dog tore into her, drawing blood and necessitating stitches. She is now unprovokedly attacking their dog. The older dog has cancer and arthritis in all of her legs, and she is unable to defend herself. I'm at a loss as to how to keep my dog from attacking her.

Sue Ann Wilson posted on March 1, 2019:

My two four-year-old jack russells are arguing over me. One will sit and stare at the other, and for no apparent reason, she will attack. One is 18 pounds, and the other is 9 pounds. We have separated them, but if they are together for too long, the bigger one will start the fight over nothing. I believe I am the focal point of her aggression. Please assist me as this is my last resort.I'd like to keep both of them.

Worried on February 21, 2019:

I have two dogs: a male with a smaller dog, a mini pin, and a female with a larger dog, a bulldog and a boxer. They are 5 and 7 years old, and they do everything together. But now she wants to fight growl with my smaller dog, and I have no idea why.

on February 12, 2019 Lisa Chavez:

I have four dogs a male Staffordshire that is 7 years old and three females a labrador 2 and 1/2 a bully 2 and a Pitbull six-month-old the Labrador and the bully have recently begun fighting about 2 months ago recently I got the Pitbull pup about 4 months prior to the fights so I don't know what to do I have to keep them separated people are telling me to get rid of my dog's but I can't

Susie on February 11, 2019:

I have two dogs, a German Shepard and a German Shepard cross lab. They have been living together for two years and have had two litters of puppies together. They have recently started fighting over food and can get quite heated, to the point where we have to risk our hands and pull them away from each other. They don't do this all day, but once every few days the male will start to growl and the female will go insane and start the fight. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

antandam on February 03, 2019:

I have a 3 year old male pit bull and a 6 year old female pit bull. They've gotten along just fine. They had puppies, and we kept one of them, a 7-month-old male. Since then, the oldest male has been neutered. I've recently had a problem with the oldest male and female fighting whenever they're near each other. The female has always been the dominant one, and the other dogs have never dared to challenge her. Even before he was neutered, the oldest male was submissive, but even more so afterward. If it was the two males fighting now that the pup is maturing, I could understand. I'd understand even more if the oldest male had not been neutered. However, it is the male and female who are at odds. I've considered that my female is about to go into heat, but why would she attack the neutered, submissive male? Please help! These are inside dogs, and it's difficult to keep them apart. I've even considered rehoming them, but they're like family to me. Would it be beneficial to spay or neuter one of the others? I intend to fix both the female and the pup, but I can only afford one right now. Which would be most beneficial?

HML on February 01, 2019:

I have two dogs. One is a five-year-old Jack Russell, and the other is a 20-month-old Cocker Spaniel. They've done everything together without a hitch and have always gotten along. But in recent months, there has been fighting, sometimes very bad fighting. We only had them neutered a few weeks ago, and their body language appears to be much improved. But they still have the occasional fight, which makes us nervous. We have worked very hard to find a cause, but there is no consistent pattern as to why they fight.

We've reached the end of our rope.

Nina on January 13, 2019:

I have two dogs, a male cocker spaniel and a female poodle, both of which are three years old. They mostly ignore each other, especially when I'm not around. When I put them on leashes and take them out, the male sometimes gets overly excited, licks the female, and tries to jump her. The female raises her leg so he can lick her. When he tries to jump her, she snaps and becomes aggressive; this lasts about 3 to 5 seconds, and I have to redirect my male to come to me. How do I stop this?

Mallory on January 02, 2019:

.. but the lab has recently displayed relatively neutral body language prior to fights breaking out. He remains aware of his surroundings but does not lick his lips, raise his tail or hackles, or make eye contact with the boxer. The boxer, on the other hand, pins his ears back, licks his lips, has his tail up, and a split second before each fight, he lets out a low growl that is so quick that you can't hear it unless you're only a few feet away from him. Also, the boxer will lunge and pull to get to the lab first, and when the lab is removed, he will usually stand next to me while remaining alert on the boxer. We live in a busy house with the youngest child being six and the oldest being eighteen, and everyone says they see the lab attacking the boxer for no apparent reason, but they haven't researched or trained dogs the way I have, so they don't know what they're looking for, and it's creating a very unbalanced situation in which they're coddling the boxer while trying to punish the lab, which I know can cause even more confusion among the society. Also, except for minutes before each fight, the boxer is very submissive in almost every situation, and he frequently greets the lab with kisses, a low head, and a wagging tail/butt, and they play just fine with each other when no toys are involved. I'm at my wits' end and ready to separate them most of the time if we don't find a solution soon. My lab is also my service dog, and despite being the dominant dog in the house, he has never done anything like this before. We are very in tune with each other and spend almost all of our time together, and this isn't how he would react unless pushed to his breaking point. I know I have a bias because of this, but I want this to be fixed so badly that I'm doing my best to look at every reason why he would react this way, and the main conclusion I've come to is that fighting is a team effort, and he feels obligated to fight in order to keep his rank. I know this is unacceptable behavior, and if he showed any signs of aggression or dominance while working, he would be fired.s.a.p. Fortunately, he hasn't done so yet, and I hope he never will. After a fight, my family members insist on an alpha roll to force the dog into submissiveness, and I usually remove the lab and place him in a down stay to cool off, and he goes into a submissive state on his own. If you do read through all of this, I would be extremely grateful! I know it's a lot of information, and I'm not paying for feedback, so I'm not expecting a huge response with a magic cure or anything, but I would greatly appreciate your opinions and thoughts!

Mallory on January 02, 2019:

hello! I have two dogs in a pack of four that are constantly fighting. The first is a lab-German shorthaired pointer mix, and the second is a bulldog-boxer mix. The lab is three years old and the dominant dog in the house, but he is not aggressive and has never been until these fights. The boxer mix is just under two years old and is the pack's middle man. He is known to be an instigator in many situations and has never shown aggression until now. Both are going to the vet in a few days to make sure everything is in order and that nothing is going on internally. So far, they have fought around our sofa, near feeding time and shortly after, and around chews and bones, and there have been a few instances where there does not appear to be an external trigger. I have been doing loads of research and what I see is the boxer mix showing very negative body language before almost every squabble and about 30% of the time my lab will have his hackles up a few seconds..

HL on December 16, 2018:

I have two dogs, both boys, who have been best friends for two years and have suddenly started fighting over food, space, and everything. They will stare at each other across the room before attacking each other. What is causing this? How can we stop it? The two-year-old is a shar pei terrier mix, and the one-and-a-half-year-old is a Pomeranian husky.

Adrienne Farricelli (author) published on November 4, 2018.:

It appears to be a case of redirected aggression, which occurs when arousal levels are high. It is not unusual when you have two dogs who react to a trigger that causes high arousal which then spills into redirected aggression. Avoiding this in the future would require minimizing access to triggers as such.

Angela C on November 04, 2018:

I have two female Pekingnese. They were outside on our balcony when another dog walked by below the balcony. When my younger dog saw the strange dog walking by she started blocking my older dog then jumped on my older dog trying to fight her? They have been together their whole lives! And snuggle together at bed time. Why would my younger dog start a fight with my older dog at the mere sight of another dog? Im upset about it and very confused. Please help me to understand so we can hopefully avoid this in the future. Just a note. The younger dog is the alpha and always has been if that matters?

Jennifer king on April 29, 2018:

Why does my youngest male all of a sudden try to mount my older male dog !!.Both have been fixed???? What di i do??

GrammyP on April 18, 2018:

We brought home a 4 year old pug/beagle mix as a rescue dog about 2 monsths ago. The center where we got Lulu had us bring in our older (12+ yrs.) black lab mix to make sure they got along. Everything was going well until recently. Lulu is getting aggressive with the older dog. The older dog has weak back legs and often has a hard time standing and often has to be helped. When Lulu hears her "scratching" at the floor, she has started to bark and today went after her. I've read your article and was wondering if this is normal "pack" behavior or if I should be concerned. Secondly, Snowball has started to exhibit some "jealous" behaviors of her own. Lulu likes to follow me around everywhere--including the bathroom and now Snowball has to do the same which she never did before! I'm very concerned about both dogs and want to do what's best for both of them. If you have any advice, I would be most pleased. Thank you.

Katie on April 15, 2018:

I have a 9 month old pitbull pitbull and an 8 week old pitbull he's attacked him twice and this last time he hurting pretty bad what do I do

Rose Ann Hall on March 19, 2018:

two females one terrier new as of Nov other is a yorkie poo 2 1/2 with us since 8 weeks old.

They have gotten along until now. I am afraid for the Yorkie she is tiny

I need a trainer help. so stressful when they fight one time big dog actually bit and caused blood on little one.

I want them to go to a trainer if there is a solution, I do not want to

give the bigger one up. actually neither of them

Tiffany on March 05, 2018:

I have 2 male pits. One is 3 the other is only 1 year old. When the youngest was still a puppy they loved each other. Now he is constantly annoying the other pit. Getting in his space, chewing his ears, and nipping. Then the old pit lunges. I break them up and try to stop the youngest from annoying him. But nothing seems to work. The youngest is fixed now as well.

Rodney black on February 22, 2018:

I have a boston terrier thatsabout 10 years old female and a pomerianan female about 6 years old lately the terrier has become more aggressive to the pomerianan now the younger dog is acting timid around the older dog and theyounger dog is less playful and want jump up to sit in wifes lap ty [email protected]

Adrienne Farricelli (author) on February 07, 2018:

It's difficult to determine what caused this attack. If one dog seems to be mounting the other dog when you are play fighting, it might be that some commotion from your interactions between you, your boyfriend and your daughter (like talking in an emotional way or gesticulating) may have been a trigger. It could be this dog gets stressed by commotion and redirects on the other dog. Of course, this is just a theory. You might have to keep the dogs separated from now on or get a professional in person to offer help.

S- on February 07, 2018:

Hi! I have two male Pit mix about the same age (approx 5 years old.) One is mine and very docile. Love everyone even the cats. Our other came in to the picture about 5 months ago with my boyfriend. He’s always on high alert when we’re outside and hates cats/squirrels or anything that moves fast and is small. He shows dominance by mounting my dog often especially when my boyfriend and I are play fighting. He gets along quite well with my dog, but the other day my boyfriends dog attacked mine when my daughter and her friend were standing close by. He held on to my dogs ear and wouldn’t let go , but it seems like my dog “won the fight” because he barely had any marks on him. The other dog has quite a few puncture holes and was bleeding. I don’t know what triggered it because I didn’t see it happen, but my daughter says that our dog was walking next to her while the other dog walked out of the bedroom and then charged ours. No signs of preaggression were displayed. I don’t understand. Please help. Thanks

Christina on January 04, 2018:

I have to pitbulls my mom raised them but she recently passed I need them since they were babies but now they're starting to fight and I don't understand why they're both in the bed right now I got one out this morning and now I have to get the other one but I'm afraid to bring them back together I don't know what's going to happen!

carol on December 31, 2017:

I have two labs, male. They are from same litter. They are almost 7 years old and my husband and I are the only owners they have had. Up until about 6 months ago they get along. One is way more dominant than the other. The dominant one have been attaching for no reason at unpredictable times. The most recent was due to my affection. The less dominant one never fights back, but instead retreats to his crate out of fear and disbelief as to what has happened. The less dominant one is the one whom instigates Most of the playing between the two of them. They have fought over water bowl, a place to lay down, and today my affection. Any advice?

Paul on December 31, 2017:

I have 2 male whippets 1 of them is getting very aggressive towards the other & has also attacked me on a number of occasions 1 is 18months he’s the 1 that is aggressive the other is just ove 2year & very laid back please help

Angel on December 02, 2017:

I have two old English bulldoggie, they are sisters and they are beginning to fight and each one is getting hurt, they draw blood and wounds, I'm at a loss for what to do. pls help. I can not tell what or why it starts, but it is vicious, sometimes I can tell when it is going to start because one of the females will start pressing her nose against the other one.

Kari on November 07, 2017:


I have a question . I have two female pit bulls who have been around each other since they were about 6 month ago. One the them (diamond) we have had since she was about 6 weeks ago. Crystal who we got when she was about 6 months old. All of a sudden now they are probably about 11 months old they fight all the time. They both can be outside in th back yard together and be fine not fight but as soon as someone goes outside with them or even if we let them in the house together they instantly fight . and it’s like bad fighting they will not stop. We do not want to have to get rid of either dog because we don’t know anyone who can take them but we can’t not have them fight. These last few times of me breaking them up I have gotten bite. Is there anything we can do, please let me know. It’s to the point I’m scared to go outside because I don’t want them to fight.


Adrienne Farricelli (author) on September 25, 2017:

Sandra, your best and safest option is to have a professional come to your home and help you out.

Adrienne Farricelli (author) on September 25, 2017:

It might be they are resource guarding their sleeping spots.Where are they sleeping? If on mats, then you can try to move them farther away or use crates instead. If one is sleeping closer to you, it could be he is resource guarding you. It would help to see the behavior to get a better idea of what may be going on. More distance may help, but crates would be the safest option.

Mary on September 22, 2017:

I have two male pit bulls that are litter mates and got them both week apart. They are 8 months now and they will play together and nothing be wrong, but when it's bed Time they are go to bed great at first but then just looking at each other starts one or both to growling or them fighting . It's worse at night, but they do go at it during the day. But they are usually calm and not playing when they start to fight . I just got them both fixed a few days ago hoping it will help (I know it will take a while to get the testosterone out of there system). I just want them to stop. Any idea what's agitating them at night?

Hannah Bridges on September 09, 2017:

I had a male dog first and he was neutered. A few years later, we got a female dog that was spayed, and they got along right away and got super close. Never used to want to be close to each other, but now they make sure they sleep right next to each other. It's been about five years, but my female dog starts acting dominant when the male just picks up a toy and walks by, she slightly growls or barks. And usually when they start play fighting like they always used to do, it has become more violent the past few months. Last year, I was attacked by a dog at my job, so I'm not sure if I'm just overthinking it when they start play fighting, but I think I focus more on how they play fight because of it, and to me, it has gotten more violent and I don't know what to do. It always scares me when they start.

e. on September 09, 2017:


Sandra on September 06, 2017:

We need HELP we have 4 dogs living in our house with us three of them are rescues the other we've had since he was a puppy. 3 are males one is a female they are all fixed. We have three little ones that are Chihuahuas and a larger dog that has a black mouth Cur. About 4 to 5 months ago we adopted our last rescue dog the third Chihuahua and all the dogs got along great until about two months ago the newest addition and the Chihuahua that we had since he was a puppy have started to fight really bad they just stare at each other and go out it instantly I don't know what to do. We separate them and reprimand them and then they could be playing 30 seconds later but it's a constant all day thing and they fight so bad they actually hurt each other.

Hopefully somebody can help us we're at a loss

D on July 06, 2017:

Hey I have two dogs the father and the son they would always get a long and be able to coexist now the father is starting to get a little on the older side and his son is starting to get very aggressive with him always trying to fight and bite him when the chance arrives he's also been trying to run away actually has like 4 times and just jump back inside like if nothing ever happened the dad is a full German Shepard and the son is half German/ half husky

We had a chihuahua that ran away and was never able to find it was 2 weeks ago ever since then they've been fighting a lot and that's when him running away started I don't know what to do so he won't run away and so they won't fight as much

Karley Bassett on June 02, 2017:

I found this article really helpful in understanding what's going on with my two male boxers. A lot of these pin point exactly what's happening in my house. Recently, my 16 month old male boxer has been going at my 6 year old male boxer. This happened 3 times, we separated for about an hour and then put them together again with no issues. This final time, the 6 year old went right at the 16 month old. We have kept them apart since. The 6 year old is neutered, the 16 month old is not. He is scheduled to be neutered on the 12th. I'm hoping that this really helps what's going on in my house. If not - I don't know what to do to help alleviate the tension in the house. Nothing has changed - they went from loving each other and laying on top of each other to not being able to be in the same room in a matter of days. Thank you for writing this article because now I understand why. I just hope that I can figure out what's going on and stop it.

Debra on May 15, 2017:

I got my first female shiv tzu Perrie she had some aversive behaviours from a tiny pup when she didn't like things being brushed and bathed I worked with her she's a lovely dog but when I try brushing she shows teeth and growls when she was a year old I got Roman who's a male shiv tzu at first perrie was jealous again I worked on it now the female is 1year 7months and the male 7 minths. They have had 3 fights so far without hurting each other but there is jealousy mostly from the female and now dominance from the male the male takes everything off the female and sits on her when she's relaxing or barks at her to get up he's also trying to mount her when walking them the make starts jumping on the female it looked like play with lots of growling but when I try to separate them the male seems to be intense and won't listen do I leave them to it or continue to let them know what's not right and the male has not yet been nurtured.

Adrienne Farricelli (author) on April 29, 2017:

A vet check is always in order when there are behavior changes like that out of the blue.

Jessica Reeves on April 28, 2017:

We have 3 dogs in our family. Our oldest is a 7 year old yellow lab. Next we have a 5 year old German Shepard. Lastly a 1 year old Cocker Spaniel. We have had all of them since they were 8 weeks old. In the last few months our German Shepard has been instigating fights with our Yellow Lab. I can't really tell what causes it. Sometimes they will be outside without any of us around and start fighting. I don't know what to do. They have lived harmoniously for 5 years together and now this. They are spayed.

Mary Beckett on March 13, 2017:

Son fights with dad chichuia dad try to back down n they only fight when I'm around I'm getting my youngest one fixed on the 22 he also getting distemper shot n rabies on the 31 I'm getting the father fixed I pray this works I find if I don't pay attention when they growl at each other they walk away from each other so the youngest is probably doing it to.get my attention

Adrienne Farricelli (author) on March 07, 2017:

Sounds like resource guarding, would recommend seeing a behavior consultant for that.

Rosmery on March 01, 2017:

My dog keeps attacking the other one if there's any food or toys around. Even when she throws up she growls is any other dog get close to it. I don't know how to help her or what to do but yell a command when they are fighting. Would appreciate your help.

Graeme on January 16, 2017:

We have a 9mth old blue staffy female, but for the last month or so she been attacking our older staffy male or 10yrs, sometimes these fights are horrendous to witness, we just dont know where its come from, they got on fabulous at first they would do everything together but since she came on heat for the first time, she's started attacking him, the other day she just attacked him for no reason whatsoever, we've as a family have never favoured one over the other both equally in everything we do and give. But now we've had to separate them which isn't right for either dog. Am really upset has i dont know whats happened for us to get to this. Like i say these fights are absolutely awful to witness, please please if anyone knows what we need to do to make this better am all ears....please help..... Thank you...

Adrienne Farricelli (author) on December 15, 2016:

Generally, aggressive behaviors do not tend to stop once they have started, unless early intervention is taken. It sounds like there is some competition going on over your presence, which may start from the arousal of greeting you and then spills out to aggressive displays. Sounds like sleeping areas are also culprits. Unfortunately, these things are apt to happen when housing several dogs in the home. Why they have gotten along well for 5 year and now they are fighting may be not easy to comprehend, but sometimes if a dog is getting older he/she may not be able to communicate as well as before. This assuming one dogs is getting old. You will need a professional to come take a look and gather a history of your dogs and plan something out, but in most cases, keeping the two parties separated is the best and safest option.

Adrienne Farricelli (author) on December 15, 2016:

Nat you need to take action before the behaviors you are seeing put roots. At 2 years old, Rottweilers are in full doggy adolescence, They start becoming discriminative on who to befriend and are no longer the puppies that got along with each other as in the past months. At this age, they are more serious and may no longer tolerate certain behaviors of other dogs. No more dog park but if you know some pals he gets along with that aren't into mounting or engaging in bully behaviors, have some play time with them under a controlled setting. Rotties are always blamed at the dog park no matter what and puts them in a bad light. About the growling of others, it's hard to say what may have started it, but you can work on it, by finding a trainer who uses positive training techniques based on countercondiitoinng and desensitization. My boy also went through a period like that, when he was 2 and a half, never growled at people but then after a stressful period (a move) he started doing that, but we nipped it in the bud before it established. If you look up my profile, my pinterest account Daily Dog Discoveries it has a dog aggression category with all my hubs and lots of tips. Best of luck!

Wendy on December 15, 2016:

We have a total of four dogs in our home, a min pin, a dachshund mix, a beagle mix, and a golden retriever. Recently our golden and our beagle have began fighting. They have lived together for over 5 years together and we have never had any problems.

The first fight appeared to have broken out over a new sleeping area, we were awakened by the sound if them fighting late at night. We were able to stop the fight but our beagle ended up with a small puncture wound to her ear. Thinking it was a one time thing, we closed off the closet they were attempting to sleep in, separated the dogs for the night, and they seemed to be OK the next day. I had been at work but my son said they gotten along just fine. Until..I got home from work. I came in the door and all dogs came very excited to greet me as usual and again a fight broke out between the same two dogs. Again our beagle ended up with a couple of small wounds. Our beagle has always had a little more of an aggressive personality, but our golden has never shown aggression at any time. Though they appear to be getting along fine now, its only been a couple of days since the fighting. I'm afraid that my tension and worry may cause them to be aggressive with each other again. Is it possible that this is an isolated occurance?

Nat on December 13, 2016:

I've got a 2 y/o Rottweiler who has suddenly started showing signs of aggression. He recently attacked a staffie that had been growling/nipping and mounting the other dogs at the park. I don’t feel as if it was an 'aggressive attack', rather he was trying to tell the staffie off for growling and dominating the other dogs (my dog pulled him off and then dragged him away). However the other dog needed quite a few stitches so I’m by no means trying to say we weren't at fault. He has also started showing fear toward strangers who approach us and will growl at them. We got our dog as a puppy, and he has been thoroughly socialised from the get-go. Do you have any thoughts on what this sudden change in behaviour could be due to? Obviously we are getting professional help from a trainer as well. I was always so proud of our Rottie for changing peoples negative perception of the breed! We have worked so hard to keep him socialised and well-trained but his behaviour lately is so worrying.

Adrienne Farricelli (author) on December 04, 2016:

You can try some different things but it really be ideal to have a behavior consultant guide you through. Feeding in different rooms is great management plan. When your son comes in the door try keeping both on leash, you have one, somebody has the other, keep them at a distance from each other, if they get show any small sign of conflict, son goes out the door. If they are calm, son enters and ignores them. With him ignoring them, the dogs will figure it out there's nothing to fight over. Keep rehearing this over and over several times a day. Dogs should also be trained to respond to an interrupter sign that you can use that tells the dog to stop the beginning of a squabble in its tracks and that means to come to you. This should all be trained with a trainer as it requires several rehearsals and for safety.

Lisa on December 02, 2016:

Feeding time was the most important, so we fed in different rooms, but the silly things could be a toy, my son walking through the door, or anything else. . Sometimes I know and can stop it, and it's fine; other times, you don't, and it's a big deal. Thank you for responding. .

On November 30, 2016, Adrienne Farricelli (author) published:

Lisa, could you describe the "stupid reasons" that cause their fighting? It might be useful for management.

Lisa on November 28, 2016:

I have three French bulldogs: the father, the mother, and one of their puppies, a little boy. He is 16 months old . Most days are peaceful and calm in the house, but every now and then, Dad and son fight for no reason, and we have to jump in and separate them; sometimes they have small cuts on them, and it's very upsetting when this happens. .they trott off together, cuddle up, and sleep . I hated it when it happened; they'd both been neutered, as had their mother. . Any suggestions on how to stop? I've tried to read the signs, but it just happens!

On November 24, 2016, Adrienne Farricelli (author) published:

Separation, use baby gates to keep the fighting parties apart, or hire a trainer/behavior consultant who uses positive training methods/behavior modification to assist you.

ciaraisworried on November 19, 2016:

I have two older dogs, one large male who is about 7 or 8 years old and one medium female who is about 8 or 9 years old.The male is a begale, and the female is a lab.They don't always fight, but when they do, the female is usually left bleeding. . I believe it is related to food, but I'm not sure what to do about it.What should I do if I don't want to give up the male?

On November 14, 2016, Adrienne Farricelli (author) published:

Deb, was it just a "discussion" like a growl with no one getting hurt, or was there actual biting? If you can't afford a trainer, your best bet is management, which is basically just keeping separated (you can get a baby gate).

Deb on November 13, 2016:

I have 5 dogs. Three of the pups are from one of the males. The puppies are now three years old. Max, the male puppy, began fighting with his father, Kota, yesterday. This was unexpected and had never happened before. We can't even have them in the same room anymore. My husband is a disabled veteran, and we cannot afford to hire a trainer. Help anyone.

Amanda on November 06, 2016:

I have two female mixed terriers who were born in the same litter. They are now five years old and have never had a problem fighting. They have a two-year-old female English setter and have no problems with her in their pack. We inherited a two-year-old fixed male chihuahua this summer and had no problems with him either. The two sisters are now fighting whenever they come into contact with each other, and it's only getting worse. Our younger setter even steps in between them to try to stop the fighting. I've read about breeding, packs, and aging, but I'm having trouble getting a straight answer on what can be done to stop or help with this, other than keeping them separated all the time and disrupting a five-year routine.

Carla on October 23, 2016:

I have two rescue dogs: one is a female mutt with no clear dominant breed (according to a DNA test), but she appears to be a Pit/Shepard/Border Collie mix, and the other is a male Corgi/Cattle Dog mix. The female is about 5 years old, and the male is about 2 1/2 years old. The Female suddenly began smelling the Male and attacking them. They used to play together all the time before this. Just to clarify, they are fine when we walk them, leave them at home, or are just around the house. The attacks seem random. I'm not sure what to do at this point.

eerin on September 01, 2016:

I have two male poodles, both of which are fixed. One is my husband's, and we've been living together for 5 years, and the dogs have never caused any problems. My husband's older dog has recently become extremely aggressive toward my dog; they have never fought before. I've noticed that this problem only occurs when my husband is not present. What could be causing this?

On February 18, 2013, Adrienne Farricelli (author) published:

Thank you, solaras! It has been debunked by numerous websites and professionals, but the concept is still alive and well if you search dog dominance, human pack theory, and alpha dog.:(

On February 18, 2013, Barbara Fitzgerald from Georgia:

Interesting hub with a wealth of useful information. It gets my approval. I'm glad to hear the Alpha human myth has been debunked!

kingkos on January 13, 2013:

This article piqued my interest..I now understand why my two-year-old boxer dog bit my six-year-old shih-tzu..My boxer dog does not want any other dog to approach me. "overprotective," and my shih-tzu sometimes gets angry and fights with my boxer when they play.

Adrienne Farricelli (author) on 12/12/2012:

I'm not sure what you're doing for punishment, but if it's based on aversion (scolding, pinning dog to ground, etc.) it won't help. All you can do at this point is keep the troublemakers apart. I wish I could be more helpful, but there is no easy way out or safe way to make them all get along. In this case, a dog behaviorist is the best option because he or she can assess your dog and observe the dynamics. I believe that management at this point is much easier and safer than attempting something without the assistance of a professional, which may have a low success rate with your dogs at risk of injury.. Best wishes.

4mutts on December 12, 2012:

I have two females (one pure-bred Australian cattle dog (ACD) 13 years old and one Great Pyrenees/ACD mix 7 years old) and two males (one Border Collie/ACD 9 years old). All 4 are fixed. The female pure ACD was a stray that we found and could not place. The Bernese mix (the largest at 106 pounds) was a rescue. The dominant dog is a Border Collie/ACD mix. We've had several bloody fights between the females (the pure ACD will not fit in and believes she should be the top dog - she was a breeding dog before we found her but we had her spayed right away), with the smaller ACD requiring multiple surgeries to patch her up. We have now completely separated the two females. The two males (border collie mix) arrived yesterday. My husband was able to separate the dogs (. Surgery in an emergency. The other two are the Pyrenees. My husband is convinced that the pyrenees mix is the root of the problem, and that if she hadn't gotten involved, the squabble would not have gotten so heated. I'm thinking about hiring a dog behaviorist, but we don't have a lot of money right now and are struggling. Any advice or insight into how we might handle this is appreciated. We believe that part of the problem stems from the fact that we have to keep the two females apart, and they are jealous of one another (the ACD stays in the kitchen with me while I work). Are we sending the wrong message by punishing the two dogs who harmed each other and keeping the two females apart? Is it likely that the dominant female (pyrenees mix) is the main issue?

Alabama wetnosedogs on April 19, 2012:

My dogs appear to understand "enough," but we've had some interesting moments. They all seem to have learned boundaries, and sometimes it's remembering in the midst of whatever is going on. Great hub.

On April 19, 2012, Adrienne Farricelli (author):

There is no need to intervene if they are playing. When my Rottweilers play, it sounds like they're fighting, but it's mostly drama. If I notice that things are getting out of hand, I step in. It can help to teach dogs a "that's enough" command so they can take a break and then resume playing when they are a little calmer. Here's a useful hub I wrote a while back.:


On April 19, 2012, Clive Donegal from En Route:

This article was very helpful in understanding the behaviors I see in our dogs. I'm not sure how I'd go about releasing tension. Young female and adult male pits usually get along well, and when something serious breaks out, it usually blows over in a minute or two. I'm not sure if I should do anything to relieve stress.

Why licks my dog so much when we cuddle?

Dogs frequently show affection by licking. It's an instinctive behavior related to the comfort they felt as puppies when their mother licked them. . Licking is an important part of how they bond with others, causing dopamine and endorphins to be released, making them feel relaxed, calm, and happy.

Why is my dog licking me as I pet him?

One of the most common reasons dogs lick their owners is to express their affection. You're essentially their world because you're the one taking care of them! When dogs lick, pleasurable endorphins are released into their bloodstream, making them feel calm and comforted.

Why is my dog licking my hand as I pet him?

Licking is an expression of affection. . Because they love you, your dog may lick your hands and face! Licking may feel good to your dog because it releases endorphins. Some experts believe that licking, in addition to affection, is a sign of submission.

When we cuddle, why does my dog lick his lips?

A dog licking his lips excessively while flicking things around This could indicate that they REALLY enjoy your petting. . If you have been petting the dog's favorite spot, they may begin to drool with delight. They'd then lick their lips to get rid of the drool. Read more: Where Do Dogs Prefer To Be Petted?