For many owners that have multiple dogs, little scuffles here and there are natural. However, it’s important to understand what behavior is playful, and what dog-to-dog aggression is. Knowing this will reduce the chances of you, a family member, or a guest suffering from a dog bite.
The first step towards preventing dogfights in your home is to introduce the dogs in the right way. If you’ve had a single dog for a while and are introducing a new dog to your home, it’s best to do a gradual introduction on neutral ground. The ASPCA provides a thorough article on how to introduce two dogs here.
Understanding why dogfights occur is the next step in preventing them. There are many reasons why a dog may act aggressively towards another. Earlier in September we posted an article discussing how to recognize different types of aggression. It could be that they are feeling territorial, fearful, dominant, protective of their owner, or predatory.
Once you know how to read a dog’s body language, it is easier to separate them before a fight occurs. For example, if they are naturally territorial of their food, feed them in separate areas of your home. If you have an unfamiliar dog coming to visit, remove all food and toys from the room.
Of course sometimes, despite your best efforts, dogs may fight. Different suggestions for breaking it up include shouting, spraying a hose, or putting an object between them, such as a broom. Remain as calm as possible, since dogs pick up on your emotions, and never put any part of your body in between fighting dogs. They are in a heightened state of excitement during a fight and do not recognize the difference between your arm and the other dog’s leg. Also, avoid grabbing their collar. This is typically the first instinct, but it puts your hand, and face, closer to the mouth area and makes a dog bite more likely.
F.I.D.O., the Federation of Insured Dog Owners, Inc., now offers the Covered Canine Policy, an exclusive product and benefit for F.I.D.O. members only that specializes in Dog Bite Liability Insurance Programs This policy is available in California, Florida, Iowa, Michigan, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Utah and Wisconsin. It will protect you should your dog bite an individual and cause harm. It does not exclude any breed of dog and starts as low as $75 per dog, per year.