Some Tips to Stop a Pair of Dogs From Acting Aggressive to Other Dogs

By: David Codr

Published Date: June 17, 2021

For this Omaha dog training session we worked Yoshi, a 3 year-old Lab mix who is overly protective of his roomie, 4 year-old American Cocker Spaniel Holland; going over ways to stop the dogs from acting aggressive to other dogs.

Knowing that Yoshi liked to jump up on people who visit, Christina and I held our hands at our waist with some high-value treats. The plan worked with Yoshi sniffing our hands eagerly which gave us the opportunity to ask him for some sits. We also delayed the entry a little bit which helps the dogs get past the initial surge of excitement. These are two tips that you can use to help dogs be calm at the door when people come to visit.

We sat down with the guardians and dogs to discuss the situation and how we could help. Holland took the opportunity to drop several bully sticks between the cracks in the deck which gave us all a nice little chuckle.

After going through an evaluation and sharing a number of tips on the benefit of using marker words, petting with a purpose, celebrating desired actions and increasing structure and exercise – we were ready to address the primary issue, acting aggressive to other dogs.

Anytime you’re dealing with dog on dog aggression or reactivity, it’s important that you first to make sure that you’re taken care of all of the dogs needs and providing them with an environment that makes them feel confident and comfortable. Often as humans we think that removing rules and structure is a way to help dogs but in some cases this can cause them to act more protective, territorial or sometimes reactive reactive.

In this case, a dog fight that happened was most likely the result of several things that happen in a row that caused a dog to be stressed or anxious. The dogs went to visit a relative at a family gathering in which other people were there. One of the guests arrived with her dog and let it into the house unannounced. Holland got upset and started to bark at the dog which caused Yoshi to get fired up and caused a dogfight to happen.

Ideally, you want dogs to meet one another in a calm scenario after they’ve exercised a small amount and given a time to catch their breath. Another tip is to have them meet in a large open space, preferably on neutral territory.

As Omaha’s dog behaviorist I have found an easy way to get dogs to stop acting aggressive towards other dogs is to build up positive associations between them. A great way to do this is something called the engage disengage game. This game involves rewarding a dog for looking at another dog or looking away from another dog without reacting. You can learn how to use the engage disengage to stop dog aggression by watching the free positive dog training video below.

One of the crucial aspects of this exercise to stop dog aggression is to make sure that the reactive dog feels comfortable. If it’s barking, whining, lunging or air biting, it’s indicating that it does not feel comfortable and it’s trying to make the other dog go away. That’s where the human handler can help the situation by moving the dog further away until you can find a distance where the dog is aware of the other dog but not reacting to it.

The wonderful thing about the engage disengage game is how easy it is. Anyone can do it, you don’t have to be a professional Labrador dog trainer to do it. All it takes a little time in practice to get the technique down but eventually your dog turns in and starts to look forward to looking at other dogs or looking away from them rather than acting aggressive or lunging at other dogs.

Shortly after we finished the exercise, the dogs guardians mentioned that they were planning on going back to the relatives house over the Fourth of July for a big family get together. Christina and I strongly recommend that the dogs not go to this event because there’s just not enough time for them to practice what we went over in the session and take hold.

Since The Fourth of July is one of the most stressful days of the year for dogs and the fact that the bulldog will be at this event, the likelihood of the dogs getting into another fight are substantially higher.

A much better idea is to arrange to meet up with the bulldog at a park and do a little bit of the engage disengage game or perhaps even walk them together in a supervised manner to ensure that everything goes well. Christina offered to help with one or two of these get together‘s which I think would be amazingly helpful and productive.

If you have two dogs that are fighting each other, creating positive associations and then building on top of them is a great way to rebuild or establish a positive relationship. This is one of the fundamentals that is crucial when it comes to putting an end to dog on dog aggression.

We wrapped the session up by shooting a roadmap to success video to summarize all of the tips we shared in this in-home Omaha dog training session. You can check it out below.

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This post was written by: David Codr

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