My dog likes to fight other dogs – what should I do?
It is not uncommon for a dog to become aggressive towards an unknown dog or other dogs in your household because the dog often feels the need to protect its territory or property. There is a limit to how aggressive or protective a dog can be. If your dog shows excessive aggression toward other dogs, he is putting himself in a position where he could suffer or cause injury, and this could eventually lead to a lawsuit or animal control intervention.
This guide will help you get a better perspective on what causes dogs to be overly aggressive and what you can do about it.
Causes of dog aggression
There are many factors that can make a dog aggressive towards other dogs. For example, the dog may have been neglected or abused in the past. You probably never socialized with other dogs during the puppy imprinting stage of development.
In some cases, dogs rescued from dog fighting may have aggressive tendencies towards other dogs or may have experienced a traumatic encounter with another dog. A painful medical condition can also cause your dog to become irritable.
Symptoms of dog aggression
The most common symptoms of dog aggression include growling, snapping, biting, lifting lips, staring, and lunging at another dog. In some cases, an aggressive dog may display fearful or submissive postures and body expressions such as bowing, tail tucking, and backing away.
Diagnosis of dog aggression
If your dog begins to become overly aggressive, take him to the vet to rule out any possible medical causes. Your veterinarian will perform a variety of lab tests, including a blood count, a biochemical blood profile, hormone testing, and a urinalysis.
If the test results are negative, an MRI may be ordered to help determine if the dog has a disease of the central nervous system or other neurological problems that can be attributed to their aggressive nature.
Dealing with an aggressive dog
If the MRI results are negative, a medical condition is not the cause of the aggression. In such a situation, you will have to take your own steps to help reduce the risk of infection.
These measures include avoiding dangerous situations or walking in areas where other dogs congregate and training your dog to be comfortable wearing a basket muzzle. You should also take a stronger stance on your dog’s training to help improve her behavior around the house. For example, you should train your dog to listen to verbal cues, such as “sit” and “stay.”
Medications for dog aggression
There is no medical treatment for dog-to-dog aggression, unless of course the cause of the aggression is an underlying, treatable health condition. If the cause of the aggression is anxiety or fear, your vet may prescribe an antidepressant, a benzodiazepine, or a serotonin reuptake inhibitor to help keep her dog calm.