The chances are, if you own a dog you will be in contact with other doggy friends - and unfortunately not all dogs get along well. Here are some practical steps you can take both at home and out and about to prevent your dog from attacking another.
Practical steps to take when out and about
- If considering a new route to take, walk the route without your dog first and monitor the route for things such as inadequate fencing, or unconfined dogs (dogs that are not contained within their yards).
- Avoid taking your dog for a walk in streets where fencing is inadequate or where dogs are not contained within their yards.
- Refrain from giving dog treats in the presence of another dog - it can lead to territorial behaviour or a fight over the treat.
- When out and about or even at the dog park, avoid taking and using toys from home. These toys have your dogs scent on them and they're bound to have an attachment to these toys, therefore you may find your dog experiencing territorial behaviour towards these toys when away from the house.
- Preventing over stimulation while out and about can be difficult, but it's not necessarily altogether impractical. For example, if you notice a loud barking dog nearby, a lot of people, noise such as music or the sound of children playing - steer your dog in the other direction. Exposing your dog to these sounds help them to deal with the stimulation eventually - talk to your vet about training your pet in these situations.
- Most larger dogs do not see smaller dogs as dogs. Avoid mixing dogs of different sizes, especially with unfamiliar dogs (eg. at dog parks) as this could cause a dog fight.
- Learn how to approach a dog safely. Read more about how to safely approach a dog here.
- Always watch your dogs body language and monitor play with other dogs and recall them before it reaches a point where they are uncomfortable/overstimulated.
Practical steps to take at home
- If you own more than one dog, feed your dogs separately. Individual crates are recommended to avoid each dog wanting to protect their own food and where this is not possible, feeding dogs separately from each other is ideal.
- Remove all food and treats from the yard and surrounds before allowing dogs to interact together.
- Avoid your dogs from sharing toys. Although this may be unavoidable while you are away from the home, you can always control the dogs environment and so it may be necessary to separate the dogs before you leave the house.
- Prevent over stimulation in the home. If having guests over, consider placing the dog in another environment (such as the garage or a quiet space) that won't be used while guests are over. Often noise or music can overwhelm dogs, especially if you have more than one as they can feed from each others' energy.
- When out and about, hierarchy or dominance tends to happen when a younger dog challenges an alpha dog; if severe the dogs may need to be permanently separated.
- Even if you know your dog very well, learning how to approach a dog safely is important, as there may be circumstances outside of your control where your dog does not want to be approached in the home (for example if the dog is in pain, ill, injured). Read more about how to safely approach a dog here.
- Always watch your dogs body language and monitor play with other dogs, and recall them before it reaches a point where they are uncomfortable/overstimulated.
- Regularly involve your dog in play that involves equal parts of both winning and losing so they become used to these sensations.
- Allow for slow, lead-controlled interaction when introducing another dog to your home (no matter how many times the dogs have interacted before) and remove any competition for food and treats.
Aggression training may be recommended by your vet for your dog - this involves conditioning good behaviour when in the presence of other dogs using positive reinforcement such as treats, praise and play.
Monitor your dog's body language and check for things such as a hunched stance, moving away from the interaction, tail tucking, stiff body, high wagging tail combined with stiff ears and body - a happy dog will wag his tail with a whole-body action.
If you would like to learn more about dog attacks including what to do in the event of an emergency, dog attack wounds and what treatment is involved if your dog becomes victim of a dog attack, visit our handy guide.