Reviewing Canine Body Language to Stop Infrequent Dog Fights

By: David Codr

Published Date: August 23, 2018

For this Omaha dog training session we helped 6 year-old Miniature Pinscher mix Zoey (left) stop her infrequent fights with her 7 year-old Shih Tzu mix roomie Dizzy.

It’s hard to appreciate how cute these dogs are. The picture really doesn’t do them justice. I’m guessing that that cuteness is actually somewhat contributed to the dog behavior problems I was called in to solve as a min pin trainer.

When explaining who is who, the guardian mentioned Dizzy was a princess and when I dug a little deeper I learned she really didn’t know any commands. She also had different rules than Zoey. Dizzy was allowed on the furniture whereas Zoey was not.

One of the suggestions I made during the session was to keep both dogs off the furniture for at least one month. I made the suggestion for multiple reasons; first of all the higher a dog sits, the more rank or social status they have. So by letting Dizzy on the furniture and not allowing Zoey the same access, the guardian was inadvertently playing favorites. It’s easy for rivalry or resentment to grow in those sort of scenarios.

Secondly, some of the fights between the two dogs occurred when one or the other was in a heightened position such as on the bed. Denying both dogs access for a limited period time can help them see and respect the guardian as more of an authority figure while eliminating a possible contributing factor.

The dog fights between Dizzy and Zoey are infrequent which makes it more challenging to fix. Although no one wants an aggressive dog, consistent dog aggression is actually easier to fix. Infrequent behaviors are some of the most difficult things to change as a dog behavior expert.

I spent most of the session going over the importance of rules and structure, showing the guardian different ways that she can delay gratification to build up more self control in the dogs as well as how to act like a leader from a dog’s perspective.

Petting with a purpose instead of petting on demand or for no reason can help boost the dog’s self-esteem and respect for the guardian’s authority. Rewarding desired actions and behaviors when they’re offered through Passive Training can also help motivate the dogs to engage in activities that we like rather than those that we wish they would stop.

To help the guardian spot any potential disagreements before they start, I pulled out my camera and handed it to her so that I could discuss canine body language as well as common dog warning signs in dogs.

If the guardian gets good at recognizing the canine body language and communication from both dogs, she can use a focus exercise or call the dogs away from one another before an actual fight starts.

This link shows how to train a dog to focus on command. If the guardian practices this exercise as detailed in the above free dog training video, she will have a powerful tool that can get the dogs out of trouble at the first warning sign. I also share how to teach your dog to turn around which is a great plan B if you run into a dog on a walk when you are leading a dog aggressive dog.

I’m not entirely convinced that it is Zoey who is the problem with the occasional dog fights in the house. Although she is a bigger dog and has more energy, it’s entirely possible that Dizzy initiates these dogfights. I didn’t see any indicators either way, but the guardian mentioned there were times it looked like Dizzy was giving Zoey “looks.” Good thing they called in a Shih Tzu dog trainer expert!

I recommended that the guardian go to YouTube or hire our in-home dog trainer James to teach the dogs some new tricks and commands. Just like humans, dogs get a boost of confidence or self-esteem when they master new skills. Considering that Dizzy only knew how to dance and sit, it’s long overdue that she learns some basic dog commands and skills. Not only will it boost her confidence, it can deepen a dog and human’s relationship

To help the guardian remember all the dog behavior secrets I shared with her in this in-home dog training session, we shot a roadmap to success video that you can check out below.

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This post was written by: David Codr

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