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  • Writer's pictureKrisztina Harasztosi

Preventing Intra Household Aggression Between Female Dogs: A Comprehensive Guide for preventing dog conflict

Updated: Jun 18

Hello, dog parents! If your household is experiencing a bit of tension between your dogs, you're not alone. Let's explore practical, positive strategies to help your canine companions live in harmony.

Immediate Actions

  • Separate Feeding: Feed your dogs in separate rooms or use barriers to prevent resource guarding. This helps avoid conflicts over food and reduces competition.

  • Individual Attention: Spend quality one-on-one time with each dog to build their individual confidence and reduce rivalry.

  • Structured Environment: Establish a predictable routine to minimize stress and uncertainty for both dogs.

Potential Conflict Points

  • Resource Guarding: Conflicts over food, toys, and resting spaces are common triggers.

  • Owner Attention: Dogs can become competitive over your attention, leading to aggressive behavior.

  • Excitement and Stress: Situations like your arrival home or other high-energy activities can escalate tensions.

  • Hormonal Changes: Dogs may show increased aggression due to hormonal fluctuations, especially if they are intact. Female dogs during heat.

Training and Management

  • Positive Reinforcement: Use reward-based training to reinforce desired behaviors and promote calm interactions. Reward both dogs for being calm and friendly towards each other. Consistently practice "nothing-in-life-is-free" techniques, where dogs must perform a cue (like "sit") before getting resources (Wrubel et al., 2011) If your dogs are young or very energetic, calm standing is a better option than sit.

  • Basic Manner Training:

    • Teach basic cues such as "sit," "stay," and "leave it" to help manage interactions and prevent conflicts. Incorporate training drills that build focus and cooperation among the dogs.

    • You can play the name game with 2 dogs. This way one dog name predicts food for the other: say the name, if dog looks give a treat, say the other dog`s name , if looks give a treat and so on. You can also teach a group name, when you want to call all of them, this is especially handy with more than two dogs.

  • Redirect Attention: When signs of tension arise, redirect the dogs' focus with cues or engaging activities like puzzle toys (London & McConnell, 2001).

two adolescent female littermate dogs sleeping at home
Kiya and Bunji at home 2024

Environmental Enrichment

  • Adequate Exercise: Ensure both dogs receive sufficient physical and mental stimulation through walks, play, and training sessions. Structured play can help alleviate excess energy that might otherwise contribute to conflict.

  • Safe Spaces: Provide each dog with a designated safe space where they can retreat and relax without interference from the other dog. This can prevent stress-induced aggression.

  • Interactive Toys: Use puzzle feeders and interactive toys to keep both dogs mentally stimulated and reduce boredom-related aggression.

Specific Exercises to Build Relationship

  • Parallel Walks: Walk the dogs together, maintaining a distance that prevents tension. Gradually decrease the distance as they become more comfortable. If a conflict occurs, increase the distance again.—-if conflict happened, or one dog got reactive. Otherwise they walk parallel, and gradually increase distance so they explore the environment by themselves too.

  • Joint Training Sessions: Train both dogs simultaneously but separately to build focus and reduce competition.

  • Structured Play: Supervise play sessions to ensure they remain positive and non-competitive.

peacfully togehter Dall-E generated
Family and 2 dogs

Interaction During Resource Guarding

  • Calm Behavior Reinforcement: Teach the dogs that calm behavior around resources is rewarded. If one dog tries to take a resource, guide the other dog away and reward them for remaining calm. Focus on promoting peaceful coexistence without reinforcing any hierarchy.

  • Desensitization and Counterconditioning: Gradually expose the dogs to each other's presence around resources while providing high-value rewards to create positive associations (Donaldson, 2004).

Monitoring and Adjustment

  • Observe Body Language: Monitor both dogs for signs of stress or aggression, such as growling, stiff posture, or prolonged staring. Intervene early if necessary.

  • Adjustments: Be flexible and ready to adjust management strategies based on the dogs' changing dynamics and behavior.

Krisztina Harasztosi MSc. CDBC



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