Aggression towards other dogs is in some way natural; a dog may want to protect their territory, items or value such as food (or humans) or maintain their social status.
It is more common in non-neutered dogs and same sex dogs and reasons for the behaviour can be rooted in abuse, neglect, lack of socialisation, traumatic encounters or even painful medical conditions.
In our experience the majority of dog to dog aggression is bourn from fear. By taking the initiative and attacking first they’re protecting themselves and if they’re smaller than their opponent they are using the element of surprise to increase their odds.
HOW TO DEAL WITH DOG TO DOG AGGRESSION
This is probably a time when you would benefit from seeking help from a qualified and experienced Training professsional or behaviourist. Finding the trigger to the aggression is the most important factor. You will need to control your dog’s expose to that trigger and then train the dog a conditioned response to that trigger.
At INTD we only use positive and reinforcing training methods and do not advocate punishment. Using punishment in this situation may supress the behaviour in the short term but will not change the way the dog feels. Also if the dog suffers punishment at the same time as encountering another dog you reinforce your dog’s feelings that other dogs are bad news and bad things happen when other dogs are around.
ON LEAD AGGRESSION
Gently exercise your dog before a walk to use up excess energy.
Before leaving on your walk make sure you can gain your dog’s attention with food or his favourite reward and take plenty out with you. If you need to, hold back some of the dog’s previous meal to make your pooch a little more food orientated.
If your dog has a favourite toy or object he likes to carry allow him to hold it in his mouth. If the dog doesn’t want to let go of the toy it will not be able to bark at any other canines or other furries.
Aim to walk your dog at a distance to other dogs, ideally some way behind so your dog can smell the dog in front but without any confrontation.
When another dog appears in the distance coming towards you get eye contact from your dog and ask for a sit, reward generously if your dog’s focus remains on you rather than lunging at the other dog.
Do not reward any lunging or inappropriate behaviour. Ignore incorrect behaviour. Remember to let your dog be a dog sniffing and scenting and generally having fun will release energy and redirect your dogs focus from other dogs.
A tense lead will lead to a tense dog. Human anticipation will lead to tension too. You need to be fun, more fun than the environment around you.
If/when your dog becomes more relaxed in the company of other dogs build on this by parallel walking your dog with a friend.
Avoid Face to Face encounters it will be too much and not at all constructive.