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PETsMART

Dog Behavior Problems and Training

Dealing With Dog Fighting Problems

 

What is in the dog's mind when it attacks every dog it meets or just has one enemy around the corner? Most of it is show of strength, very often a cowardly show of strength aimed at other people's toy dogs who can't answer a bully back. Face that same bully with a big dog likely to answer back and it will disappear into the distance, for the dog knows who will be boss even in its own race, and if it senses superiority of physique or brain, it will automatically be subservient.

That is why young dogs lie on their backs, all four feet in the air, when they meet an older or stronger dog; they know who is boss and are showing the other dog so by exposing the tummy to an enemy. That is why dog owners should know that this trick is not a nice one really and should be checked at an early age, for it is purely one of a weak animal giving in to one stronger in mind and usually an enemy at that.

Few owners would like to think their dogs look upon them as enemies, but that is the case. When a dog no longer looks upon you as a potential enemy it stops this lying on its back as protection, although many dogs in later life do it because their owners have scratched their chests, which they like, and they hope for it again. But primarily it belongs to the defense mechanism of the dog tribe. The mind of a dog that fights always has at the back of it the wish to be the boss of the tribe, and he fights other male dogs who are sexually mature to make sure there is no risk of his being questioned as "lord of all he surveys." Muzzle that dog and let him loose with the dog he has previously fought and nine times out of ten he will realize he is at a disadvantage and show no signs of aggression.

That is why dogs with fighting problems should be muzzled and then freed with trained dogs or non-fighters. They then learn to enjoy themselves in a community and the wish to fight goes away. Often, having muzzled, introduced and trained them for a short time together, formerly bad fighters are lying side by side without muzzles after a few minutes.

Your own personality needs to be strong to deal with fighters, because fighters are usually adult dogs. Few puppies fight, few females fight; therefore your mind must be stronger than that of the potential fighter so that you are the boss, not either of the dogs. If the dog is sex-mad you can do nothing but neuter it. Muzzling is only a stopgap, not a cure. Owners who won't have their fighting dogs neutered should always have them muzzled in public places.

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