Dog Fights at Home

It is so unsettling, in some cases tragic, when family dogs fight. It’s the most common problem seen by veterinary behavior specialists, with loads of research to support our treatments. Some do well but despite our best efforts others fail to improve. You need to recognize the early indicators of trouble.

One of the dogs in this video wants to play. The other would like to engage but then gets agitated. Notice the hair standing up over the pit bull’s shoulders (piloerection). He threatens the brown dog but does not bite. That muzzle is not a good solution. If it were smaller it would prevent panting. A muzzled dog can’t bite but his fear and hostility will still worsen. Is it OK for this to continue?

The pit bull is not enjoying a peaceful life. He is trapped in a small room with no escape from his pesky housemate. In other dust-ups, he has inflicted only minor wounds. Loss of impulse control may be imminent. Don’t be fooled by the tail wag. We see that in dogs who are highly aroused, not just the happy kiddos.

Never reach into a dog fight to try to break it up. Severe human injuries can result. Carry a small aerosol can of citronella Spray Shield to distract your dogs long enough to drop leashes over their heads. Or you can leave leashes attached to their collars (drag lines) so you can safely disentangle them. My best advice is to keep them completely separated until you get help from a veterinary behaviorist.