Does your dog have issues with other dogs? Our society seems to assume that all dogs should love all other dogs. Those of us who live with dogs know that is not always the case.

At the John Rogerson seminar I attended, he had some interesting ideas about the causes or contributors to issues such as dog-dog aggression. John believes these issues are in part due to the increasing number of purebred dogs in homes that are not appropriate for their current lifestyle. Dogs that were bred for high energy, high drive jobs, like guard/hunting/herding dogs, do not always make great household pets. This is especially true if the dog is expected to sleep at home all day while the family is at work and school. These dogs sometimes get a daily walk or short play periods, but sometimes daily exercise is minimal at best. A short walk is simply not enough for many of these breeds.  Some possible solutions include:

  1. Schedule supervised play dates with compatible dogs.  If you don't know of other dogs, look for trainers who might have socialization sessions.
  2. Hire a dog walker to come in and walk your dog while you are gone during the day.
  3. Take your dog to a training class or get involved in an organized dog sport (agility, rally, flyball, etc.) that provides an appropriate outlet for your dog.

Another factor he points toward contributing toward aggression toward other dogs is the increasing use of dog day cares and dog parks. For certain dogs these can be great options, but I agree that they can also cause or exacerbate already existing issues in other cases. Part of this depends on how well-supervised dogs are at day cares and dog parks. Issues can be created if dogs are left loose to do as they please with other dogs and are never asked to check in or respond to anyone until it’s time to leave. This is something I often discuss with clients. PROPERLY used, these can be great options, but far too often they are not used properly.  If you need to rely on dog day cares and dog parks, I recommend carefully researching your options and reading these resources to learn how to better read dogs:

John believes another factor in dog-dog aggression is multiple dogs households. While I don’t necessarily agree with everything he says, he makes some good points. Again, I think it comes down to the types of interactions happening, how well the dogs are supervised, and the specific dogs in each case. Part of the problem arises when the resident dog becomes the primary attachment for the new dog. If your dogs spend 24/7 together and you spend a few hours a day with your new dog, it’s easy to see who the largest influence will be. You should be the greatest influence on your new dog, not your other dog(s).  I recommend this resource for more about multiple dogs households, Feeling Outnumbered? by Karen B. London, Ph.D. and Patricia B. McConnell, Ph.D 

This post would get far too long if I went into further discussion of this, but there is much to consider here. Have you seen problems with your dog or other dogs that were created or worsened by dog day care, dog parks, or other dogs in the same household?