Dog to Dog Aggression

Dog to dog aggression may be caused by genetics, fear or resource guarding. Treatment varies depending on the cause.

Fear Aggression

Most aggression is caused by fear. This could be caused by lack of socialization as a pup or brought on by a scary event. No matter the cause, it's important to reduce your dog's fear.

Teach your dog a "watch" command from your left side. Practice this by calling your dog to your side when on leash, not pulling. If you tighten on the leash when you see another dog, this will put additional fear in your dog. 

In addition to practicing "come," practice "watch" at least 25 times per day by saying "watch" and rewarding your dog for looking at you. Practice first in a quiet room. When your dog is perfect there, move to the front of the house, then the back yard, front yard etc. Increase the level of distraction only when your dog is excelling at the previous level.

When you see another dog, keep a safe distance. If your dog looks at you, reward. Give a steady stream of treats until the dog is gone. If your dog reacts, don't talk. Turn and swiftly increase the distance. When your dog stops barking, start giving treats again.

Ask friends with well-behaved dogs to go on walks with you and your dog. Reward your dog for any calm behavior. Don't force him to greet. If he initiates contact with the other dog, praise. If he ever gets upset, give him distance from the other dog. Practice this until your dog is comfortable with that dog and then introduce another.

Never introduce your scared dog to an unknown dog. You don't know if that other dog is well-behaved, no matter what the owner says.

Territorial Aggression

If your dog becomes aggressive when guarding treats, toys, property or humans, those items must be removed in the presence of other dogs. Your should lose access to anything he guards or be allowed to have it only in his crate.

If he guards territory, have him on leash when another dog enters. Wait for him to calm down. When he does, reward him profusely. After only a minute or two of calm behavior, the other dog should leave. This way, his calm behavior causes the dog to leave.

If he guards you from other dogs, you should leave if he starts to growl. Hand your dog off to a friend and storm away. Don't return until your dog calms down.

Genetic Factor in Dog Aggression

Just as not all humans like one another, neither do dogs. Your dog will not necessarily like every dog he meets. Some dogs are just more "grouchy" and don't want a lot of friends.

If this is the case, accept your dog's personality. Use the watch command to teach him how you want him to respond, but don't force him to meet. If you have another dog over, reward your dog for ignoring the other dog, and don't allow that dog in your dog's personal space. If your dog reacts, put him in a crate or different room. This may cause your dog relief, and he may seek out that space on his own.

Your dog can't be trained to have a new personality, but he can be trained to have a new reaction to things he doesn't like.