When Conflicts Occur
Have you ever had an argument with a friend? Have you ever had a disagreement with your very best friend or closest family member? Surely, we can all answer that question with a very quick “yes.” Especially in this time of a pandemic when we are all at home together much more often than we have been in the past, we can become a little testy with one another. None of us should be surprised to learn that dogs experience this as well. Too often, when humans adopt a dog or multiple dogs, they expect them to demonstrate perfect behavior—void of any negative emotion or feelings. The reality is, dogs are just like people and they experience these negative emotions too.
How do we deal with conflict resolution in our dogs?
Like people, all dogs have irritants. The difference is the way in which they deal with those irritants. If you have a lovely family dog who has never demonstrated any negative behaviors in your home, it is because your home is a comfortable, low-stress environment for your dog, and because your dog has learned healthy conflict resolution skills. Upon irritation, dogs will respond with either fight or flight. If you have not witnessed negative behaviors such as growling and/or snapping, your dog most likely walks away from the irritant and decides that it is not worth the effort. Many of us humans are the same way. However, many of us are not.
A popular point of contention among dogs lies in their resources. Many dogs are not fond of their food, toys, beds, and treats being approached by anyone, human or otherwise. When this occurs, some dogs will stand over their belongings, growling and protecting, rather than walking away. There are conflicting opinions on whether this is appropriate behavior or not. Some experts feel that dogs should be able to express themselves and people should respect their feelings. Other experts feel that this behavior is always inappropriate, and the dog should be trained to walk away. Our focus is going to be on what to do (and not do) when dogs develop a physical conflict with one another. Brothers and sisters will fight within a home, and so will some dogs.
If dogs are actively fighting with one another, NEVER attempt to grab them and pull them apart unless you have been trained how to properly do so. This will most likely result in the dog redirecting their negative emotion on the human. It is not intentional, but an involuntary act fueled by adrenaline. There are many times that dogs will argue with one another in the home. It may sound horrific, but they aren’t actually biting each other to break skin. In this case, they are fighting like brother and sister. The problem for us humans is, we cannot tell the difference. Here are some tips and tricks to use when conflicts break out in the home among dog siblings.
- Throw water on them or turn the hose on them.
- Use a pet correcting blast of canned air or an air horn.
- Use a bull horn to distract them with the overbearing sound of your voice
- Use a household item such as a broom, mop, oar, snow shovel, or other long-handled device to separate the two dogs.
- Always walk the two dogs together right afterward, leashed, to enforce good, acceptable behavior and coexistence.
If you find that your dogs are fighting frequently, or breaking skin, steps should be taken to change those behaviors, as this is not acceptable. Professional trainers and dog behaviorists can almost always teach you and your dog the proper means of solving frequent and aggressive conflicts within the home.
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