Inter-Dog Aggression: Problems, Solutions and Learning As We Go

Anyone who’s experienced inter-dog aggression at home knows of the trauma and resulting stress it can bring to both dogs and their parents. Know that you’re not alone – we, too, have experienced this unfortunate reality, and we’re here to guide you through statistics, possible root causes, and typical solutions.

Surveys show that having more than one dog at a time is standard for nearly one third of dog-owning households in North America. In-depth research on 38 pairs of inter-dog aggression participants proves that female dogs are more likely to be involved in incidents. (About 68% of fights involve a female.) Further, about 70% of the time, the aggressor is the newer household resident, and in 74% of cases, also the younger of the two dogs.

inter-dog aggression When dealing with inter-dog aggression, it’s important to keep root causes in mind. If we can find the cause of the aggression, we should be able to mitigate it, right? What we do know: dogs, like humans, have a stress threshold. When stress becomes too great, abnormal aggression can occur.

But finding the cause of the stress can be harder than we think. If the cause is anxiety, what is causing the anxiety? If it is jealousy, is it about possession of food, toys, or owner attention, as in 46% of reviewed cases? If it is a phobia, what is the aggressor afraid of? (In truth, there are many types of aggression with many root causes. Check out the eleven types the ASPCA has defined here.)

sad dog

Sometimes the root cause is obvious, such as when dog A only attacks dog B when mom feeds dog B first. Other times we need the opinion of a veterinarian or behavioral expert to help us determine the underlying cause of stress.

Whatever the cause, though, the solutions can be similar: Institute behavioral techniques at home—and stick to them!

In the same 38 pairs of dogs, 89% responded positively to a “nothing-in-life-is-free” technique, wherein both dogs learn to respond to a command before the owner gives anything of value to the dogs (including supper!).

Another technique that showed improvement over time was simple support. As owners, we should choose one dog to support in all of its activities. Generally, this should be the stronger, larger dog (to avoid harm in incidents). But seniority matters too. 67% of study participants noticed improvement when they supported the dog that had been in the home for a longer period of time.

No technique is guaranteed to improve your dogs’ relationship or increase their stress thresholds, but by showing the pups elements of control in various situations, you may be able to decrease excitement levels surrounding those events.

Another pro tip? Try Calming Chews. They support relief of stress-related behavioral issues without affecting your dogs’ personalities or energy levels.

Have you experienced inter-dog aggression in your home? What was your solution? Share your experience on our Facebook page.

Choosing Whether to Board Your Pet or Hire a Pet Sitter

AchillesBy Ashley Watson

I do a lot of pet sitting, and I have become the regular sitter for my coworker’s two Huskies, Achilles and Hadley. Yesterday, my coworker mentioned to me that she’s not sure whether I should watch her dogs or if she should board them during her upcoming wedding and honeymoon. Normally, she would, but the problem is that Achilles has separation anxiety, which sometimes causes diarrhea. Lately, his GI problems have become worse, and she will be gone almost a month in September. This made me curious about whether or not it would be better to keep him in a more social environment with other dogs for the duration of her trip, so I did a little research.

Continue reading

Are You and Your Pets Prepared for Hurricane Season?

Hurricane Approaching FloridaBy Ashley Watson

Do you live in an area affected by hurricanes? You may have an emergency plan for your family, but what about your pets? While the 2014 hurricane forecast from the NOAA Climate Prediction Center is a “near-normal” or “below-normal” season, they are still predicting at least 1 to 2 major hurricanes. Kathryn Sullivan, Ph.D., NOAA administrator says that “even though we expect El Niño to suppress the number of storms this season, it’s important to remember it takes only one land falling storm to cause a disaster.” Hurricane season started on June 1st and will last until November 30th. From microchips to having an emergency plan, here are some ways you can protect your pets during a disaster. Even if you don’t live in a hurricane affected area, these tips are useful in case of any emergency.

Continue reading

How to Transition an Outdoor Cat to an Indoor Cat

By Ashley Watson

Sookie-outbackDo you have an outdoor cat that you need to keep inside because of a new dog in the neighborhood, or have you adopted an outdoor cat that you can’t keep outside? Transitioning an outdoor cat to an indoor one can be tricky. However, with the right tools and a few tips, you can make this transition a little easier for you and your cat. The most important thing to keep in mind is that this will be a slow process for many cats, so try to be patient. One way to start is to speak with your vet and ask for recommendations. Meanwhile, here are some ways you can make the transition without your cat destroying your furniture, or driving you crazy in the process.

Continue reading