It is a mistake to assume that your dog will not fight with other dogs. Dog on Dog attacks can occur no matter how well behaved the animals are. The fact is that dogs will act out against people or other animals if they feel any of the following:
- Stressed due to lack of space.
- Dogs are pack animals, meaning they may feel the need to dominate.
- They may be protective of you.
- Or they may simply be over excited.
Below are a couple tips on how to help your dog cope and act in the presence of other canines in order to prevent a confrontation.
Be Calm and Decisive
One of the most common mistakes made by people when encountering another dog is to tense up and become fearful of what your dog may do. If you become afraid when encountering another dog, you will subsequently tense up, leading your dog to pick up on your energy which will likely trigger an aggressive reaction from your dog. Remain calm throughout the encounter, while still reading your dog’s expressions. If you feel the encounter is becoming too stressful, intervene and cut the meet and greet short. You may also want to redirect your dog’s attention back to you from time to time during the interaction with another dog to remind him that you are there and he is safe.
From my experience with dogs, I have found this technique to be most effective when started at an early age. Not to say that it is impossible if not started at an early age, just a lot more challenging to imply. When going out for a walk with your furry friend and passing by another dog, you should make it a point to ignore the other dog and its owner. This will teach your dog that when you see other dogs it is best to ignore them instead of confronting them. Be careful not to crowd the dog when walking past another dog. Since we now know dogs love space and aren’t too keen on it being invaded, this might send the wrong message to your dog causing him to lash out. If rather than ignoring the dog, your dog decides to confront the dog and starts barking and showing aggressive behavior. As a substitute to standing while tugging at the dog, try walking away and tugging at the dog. This will help create space while at the same time hopefully creating comfort.
Remember that German shepherd I spoke about, the one that enjoys chasing after flying bugs? Well she also enjoys staring at dogs intensely as they stroll by for their walks. This is not good behavior. Just because they are in a down position and not barking or growling, doesn’t mean they aren’t thinking about acting. It may actually mean that they are just waiting for the right moment. When she does this it usually leads to a “go inside” command. Teaching your dog how to ignore the presence of other dogs will be one of your best defenses against your dog’s aggressiveness to other dogs.
Generally most dogs are sociable creatures meant to live in groups and packs. However, since they are man’s best friend, and are not living wildly in the streets this is not always the case. Dogs are not always properly socialized with other dogs enough for them to feel comfort around them. This often times causes aggression when meeting a new dog. According to the ASPCA, it is best to introduce your dog to new experiences between the age of 3 and 12 weeks. After that time period your dog will become less prone to accepting new experiences without becoming wary and uncomfortable. When it comes to introducing adult dogs to new experiences you will find that you need a lot of patience, vigilance, and a couple treats never hurt anyone.
To wrap it all up, when your dog meets a new dog for the first time, it is best to remain vigilant and observant of your dog’s mannerisms and behavior. Remember nobody knows your own dog’s tell-tale signs like you do. If you see him/her becoming anxious or uncomfortable step in and interrupt the situation before it escalates.