How To Stop Dogs From Fighting In The Same Household?

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Author: Jacob Kay

If you own multiple dogs, you may have witnessed or experienced aggressive behaviour or fighting among them. Learn the causes, consequences, and prevention tips for dog fights in this article.

How To Stop Dogs From Fighting In The Same Household

Key Takeaways

  • Dog fights can be triggered by various factors, such as territorial marking, resource guarding, fear, dominance, pain, lack of awareness, frequent changes, or predatory behaviour.
  • Dog fights can have serious physical, psychological, and social impacts on both dogs and owners, such as injuries, infections, trauma, property damage, legal issues, and loss of trust.
  • Dog fights can be stopped by using different methods, such as distraction, separation, sprinkling water, or grabbing the hind legs, but these may not always work and may pose risks to the owner.
  • Dog fights can be prevented by taking measures such as providing separate crates, feeding them separately, spaying or neutering them, training them to obey commands, exercising them regularly, socializing them with other dogs, and avoiding sudden changes in their environment.

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How To Stop Dogs From Fighting?

Stopping a dogfight is tough. As a dog owner, you can control the aggression to some extent but, if your furry friends get into a fight it’s difficult to break up the fight. The simplest way to break the fight is by distracting them using their toy, food treat or whatever suits them best.

There are plenty of methods that you can use to stop dog fighting in the household but, before getting into these methods, you need to understand why dogs fight in the household in the first place.

Why do dogs fight in the household?

The common reason for dog fighting in the household is the conflict over their marked territory. They may also lash out at each other because of their own frustration and start fighting. While they are social creatures, they don’t play well with each other.

Also, at times, the aggressive trait of some dogs takes over and they begin to bark at their fellow canines. This aggression triggers a fight and there is no stopping them in such situations. So, what are the possible triggers?

The potential triggers are:

  • Resource guarding
  • Territorial marking
  • Pain
  • Fear
  • Frustration

let’s extend on these triggers and get a precise insight explaining why they fight.

  • Territorial marking – dogs mark their territory wherever they go and they follow the same pattern within the household as well. So, if a fellow canine is trespassing, they will warn them and if they don’t move there is an intense fight. Because they try and defend their territory.
  • Resource guarding – dogs are very protective of their toys, bones, and other food items. So, when you provide each of your dogs with some toy or food item, they will guard them. Most commonly dogs fight over food, and sometimes they tend to fight because one of them is trying to grab the other’s stuff.
  • Fear – your furry friends may start fighting with each other because of some strange sounds coming from the outside, or they see a stranger near the house. This may seem strange but, when there are multiple dogs in close proximity excessive barking from one of them more than often leads to a fight.
  • Dominance – dogs in the pack fight with each other to establish their rank and to exhibit their dominance they fight amongst each other. So, if your dogs have bonded in the household and are now suddenly fighting you shouldn’t be surprised.
  • Pain – when your furry friends are in pain because of any injury they are more aggressive and the smallest of instances can unsettle them and they might fight amongst each other.
  • Lack of awareness – when a dog is not trained well or lacks social skills, it may not respect other dogs’ personal space. So, if a single dog in the household lacks this behaviour trait you will see them fight more often.
  • Frequent changes – our furry friends don’t respond well to the frequent changes around them. Also, changes in their routine may affect their hormones and neurotransmitters resulting in stress or anxiety which can lay grounds for radical behaviour.
  • Predatory behaviour – at times, it’s possible your dog may see their fellow dog as prey and chase them across the house. So, when they fight amongst each other chances are one of them may severely get injured, and the dog with the predatory behaviour may end up biting them or even the owner if they try and stop it.

Preventing Dogs Fighting in the Household

The previous section provided you with different prospects and answers to your query – why do my dogs keep fighting? So, now, it’s time we have a peek at some of the tips and tricks which you can use for stopping dog fights in your household.

Image by: studioworkstock / freepik

#1 Separate your dogs

Separating your dog is one of the basic steps you can consider while stopping a dog fight. You have to stop the fight because if they continue to fight, it will get nasty and they might start hurting each other. Separating the dog fight may seem an obvious and simple process but, it isn’t.

I say this because a dog fight is intense and if you are trying to calm them down or stop, they might redirect their aggression towards you and hurt you. You can use different commands for making them stop.

#2 Make noise to distract

You can try clapping, banging some metal objects or some other material to distract them. They might respond to the sound and stop fighting. In addition, you can use air horns to completely disrupt their fight but, make sure you don’t overdo it. In any situation avoid screaming or scolding them because they might revert their attention towards you and things may escalate quickly.

#3 Use a blanket or cloth

While your furry friends are fighting you can use a blanket or cloth for stopping their fight. The chances of this trick working are high. The reason is simple, the cloth piece or the blanket is easily entangled within their legs and blocks their movements.

The only backlog of this method is that a dog may suffer some leg injury and worst rupture because of the immediate halt in their movement.

#4 Lift the hind leg of one of the dog

This trick can come in handy if you manage to grab a leg of even a single dog. For better results, try targeting a weak one. As a dog owner, you know which dog is likely to get scared in such intense situations. Grab the top of their hind legs, just under the hips and lift their paws off the ground.

Maintain a wheelbarrow position and then pull them out in a backward direction. This will ensure they won’t bite you. This method is only recommended if you have some experience of dealing with multiple dogs otherwise the dog’s strength is going to pose a significant challenge for you. If you have strong dogs it’s best to avoid using this method.

#5 Sprinkle water

You can sprinkle some water or some liquid for distracting your furry friend’s attention from the fight. Use a hose, cup of soda, bucket, or spray bottle for sprinkling. The dogs will get distracted and might stop fighting.

But, some dogs enjoy the sprinkling of water on themselves and may not stop or it could help lighten the mood. There is uncertainty about this aspect and maybe this trick won’t work still, it’s worth a shot.

So, use these tricks and see if it works. Normally, I recommend using them as a tactic to buy some time until you call for some professional help. I’m sure you may have the vet on your speed dial, so, call them! They will handle the situation with more care. You can also call a professional dog trainer, or even the police.

Techniques to avoid dog fights in the house

These were some of the tips on how to stop a dog fight in the household. But, if you wish to prevent this situation here are some of the preventive measures you take for ensuring they don’t fight at all.

  • Have a separate crate

The majority of the time your dogs will remain alone or unsupervised in the house. The main reason for this is your professional work, business or any such gig. So, having separate crates for your furry friends is crucial.

The separate crates will provide you with a personal space and they can spend their alone time there while you are gone. Using crates can significantly reduce the chances for a fight and you can remain assured while working in the office.

  • Provide separate food treats

Dogs fight over food and so, you must try and feed them separately. If you have allotted them their separate crates or space then it is easy to feed them without grouping. If not, you can give them separate bowls while you feed them.

In addition, make sure you clean up the bowl after they have eaten their meals. Because at times dogs will try and lick the remains in different bowls and this may trigger aggressive behaviour in the fellow canine.

  • Assign different resting areas

If the crate you assign is small assign them with comfortable beds or mats for resting. You can instruct them to use that space for resting and sleeping. This will prevent any instance where a fellow dog might get disturbed because of the other one.

  • Don’t reward aggression

You may accidentally encourage or give them food treats after their aggressive behaviour. Your furry friend will consider this a positive gesture. They might continue to growl, snarl, and lung. While they keep reflecting this aggressive behaviour your dogs may fight amongst each other as well.

  • Socialise your dogs

Lack of socialisation can trigger fights among the dogs. So, take your furry friends to meet other people, and dogs to interact with them. This will help in inducing positive behaviour in them and in turn help maintain it in the house as well.

  • Spaying or neutering

If you have a group of male and female canines, their urge for reproducing may take over and they will fight amongst themselves. Both surgeries address the hormonal issue and help in controlling the urge to reproduce in dogs. In females, the surgical procedure will ensure that they don’t get an unnecessary pregnancy.

  • Training

Training your dogs to behave properly is the best way to prevent them from fighting with each other. You can lay out a training plan yourself or get advice from a vet, behaviourist, or professional dog trainer to include the activities. Here are some of the activities that you can consider:

  1. Obedience training: this simple activity can work wonders. Teach some basic commands to your furry friends like “Stop it”, “Stay”, “Sit”, or any other to stop the fight. In fact, you can also train them to follow commands such as “look”, or “what’s that” for redirecting their attention.
  2. Exercise: your furry friends need physical and mental stimulation. Using this activity your dogs will get the necessary stimulation and, you will indirectly prevent them from fighting. Because exercising will release their energy and also create a bond between your dogs.
  3. Puzzle food treats: providing them food treats with puzzles will help them provide variety in their daily routine. They won’t get bored and cheerfully get involved in this activity.
  • Restrict their playtime

Many dogs engage in fights while playing because they get excited or aroused while playing. So, it’s crucial to observe them while playing and if you sense that they are getting aggressive you can immediately stop their play.

  • Provide a good environment

Providing your dog with a good environment is necessary. The challenging aspect is to maintain the same environment for longer periods. Because once they get used to the smell, scent and surroundings slightest of changes may trigger an unusual response. They may get aggressive or defensive and begin to fight among themselves because of such changes.

Why Do Dog Owners Find It Difficult To Control Dog Fights?

dog-suddenly-aggressive-to-other dog-in-house
Image by: freepik

Even with ample preparation, many dog owners find it difficult to control their dogs while fighting. One of the main reasons is the inexperience of handling multiple dogs. Often newbies panic in such situations and are unable to contain or control them.

Let’s have a peek at some other reasons why owners find it difficult to control fights:

  • Lose control: dog fights are intense and they can scare the owners. They lose control and react irrationally, especially if they are having multiple dogs for the first time. They scream and yell at their dogs in an attempt to control their dogs but, fail miserably.
  • Difficulty in identifying: many times owners find it difficult to identify a dog fight. They misinterpret the behaviour and cannot recognise the body language. They think their dogs are playing but, it’s not the case.
  • Lack of knowledge: dog owners don’t have knowledge regarding different tricks or strategies to contain fights. But, sometimes even with the knowledge of strategies like – sprinkling water, or tossing a blanket, they don’t know how to use these strategies effectively.
  • Less support: sometimes the dog owners are outnumbered or have less support while their furry friends are fighting. So, even if they have the tools to contain the fight, if there is no assistance available they find it difficult to contain the fight.
  • Unreal trust: many dog owners have an unrealistic trust in their dogs. They have a perception that they will remain well-behaved regardless of the environment or condition. Having this sort of trust is fine but, not preparing for a situation where the dogs may fight is just a lousy approach.
  • Blame themselves: there are many owners who blame themselves for a dog fight. For instance, a fight broke out after them scolding one of the canines. They think it’s because of them rather than exploring different possibilities or considering their behavioural aspect.

We saw some of the potential reasons why dog owners have a tough time controlling dog fights. In such scenarios, dog owners must consult a vet, or behaviourist or hire a professional dog trainer for resolving the issue.

But, what happens after a dog fight? Let’s have a look at the consequences of a dog fight.

Consequences of a dog fight in the Household

There are some severe consequences of a dog fight in the household. And here, not only dogs are at risk but, the owner and their family members are as well. Even if you control the situation there are some unwanted consequences, especially pertaining to the physical condition.

Let’s glide into the details and have a peek at the potential consequences:

  • Physical injuries to dogs and owners

When a dog fight breaks out, regardless of the intensity, both dogs and their owners sustain some physical injuries. Dogs sustain the injuries because of their fight and the owners suffer from the injuries in an attempt of stopping the fight.

The dogs may sustain the following injuries – puncture wounds, lacerations, ruptured knees, broken bones, blood loss, or sometimes death. Yes, death! The dog owners may get scratched or bitten and they risk getting an infection. Sometimes a heavy blow could create a severe wound which may require stitching.

  • Psychological trauma to dogs and owners

Witnessing or experiencing an extreme situation can leave a psychological impression in our minds. Likewise, dogs also have psychological trauma and a fight can emotionally disturb them. Their owners may also have an emotional breakdown.

After a fight, dogs may end up constituting fear, aggression, anxiety, or depression in them. The owners also feel the same emotions, they get angry, feel guilty, sad, or helpless.

  • Household hazard

A dog fight can cause some serious damage to a household. May seem unusual but, while fighting they won’t stick to one place. You will see them run around and fight. So, if you have a piece of furniture or any other stuff near the area, it will get damaged.

Also, while your stuff gets damaged, remember, your furry friend also faces some physical injury after making contact with them. For instance, a dog’s knee may be struck with wooden furniture and it can get ruptured.

  • Health issues

If one of the dogs is suffering from any health issues such as rabies, or has any infection then, other dogs and the owners also risk getting exposed to it. In addition, if a dog is having an injury wound which is exposed, contact with such a wound may also cause infections in other dogs and the owner.

  • Social Dilemma and legal challenges

A dog fight is loud and the neighbours can always criticise the owner for mishandling their dogs. In fact, they may even file a complaint against them if they feel that the dogs can pose some significant danger to the community residing in the area.

On such complaints the local authorities can take some stringent steps and a dog owner may face some jail time as well. Because as per the government guideline for dangerous dogs, they have complete right of lodging such complaints.


How to tell if dogs are playing or fighting?

To identify whether dogs are playing or fighting you need to monitor their behaviour. If they are relaxed it means they are playing and if you see them tense or anxious they are fighting. In addition, while playing dogs will exhibit their friendly intentions and if they intend to fight, you will see an arched neck, ears pinned, and hackles raised. Also, if you see them bite each other but, gently, they are cuddling and if with aggression then a fight.

Why are my dogs fighting over toys?

Our furry friends are very protective of their toys, food items, and many other things. They have a close relationship with their toys and consider them valuable. So, when a fellow canine steals their toy they get aggressive and attack them to get back their toy. You will have a hard time stopping their fight so, use a proper strategy or consult with a behaviourist.

How to stop dogs from fighting quickly?

The quickest way to stop a dog fight is to distract them with a loud noise. You can also try throwing a blanket over them, using an umbrella for redirecting their attention, or simply sprinkle some water. There is no guarantee of these methods working but, if the fight has just begun you may see these tricks work.

Can dogs remain together after a big fight?

Normally, dogs revert back to their normal routine after a fight. It may take roughly 30-40 hours for them to get back to their normal behaviour. But, it’s not always the case. Whether they remain together or not, relies on various factors. For instance, if a dog has suffered some severe injury, it may get fearful and feel anxious around its fellow canines. In such cases, you may need to consult a behaviourist or seek a professional opinion from the vet.

Final Take

If you have faced some challenges or aren’t able to control dog fights, you must consider using different tricks mentioned throughout the article. Try using them and see if it works because it’s possible that this method may not work and the situation might get worse.

So, if you are unsure about stopping the dog fight, it’s best to seek professional help. For instance, a professional dog trainer will easily handle the situation and you can get some insights by seeing them live. Another benefit is that you will remain safe and face no physical injuries.

Lastly, make sure you visit a behaviourist or a vet for helping dogs recover from the traumatic experience. Follow the instructions suggested by them as it may help in avoiding such a situation in the near future.

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Jacob Kay
Jacob Kay is a Veterinary Advisor and Editor at WWD. He’s also a dog lover and has two pet dogs of his own. He has extensive knowledge in the field of veterinary medicine and is always happy to share his insights with others.

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