Every human on this planet has mastered the art of exiting in a moment of overload to seek decompression. We just need a moment to ourselves sometimes, away from the responsibilities of life, a moment out of the office, away from our loved ones, an outlet.
As humans we can use our thumbs, open the door, jog down the street, go to the gym or drive to the grocery store to hide in the gourmet cheese section. We can do this because we HAVE THUMBS! We have the psychological capacity to identify (in most cases) that we are overloaded and take steps to relieve or resolve the issues of our own accord. We have the capability to create space for ourselves, to exit the building pressure.
Without thumbs and the capacity to process a building issue our dogs are often living in a “pressure cooker”. They can not create a routine, structure, handle responsibility on their own. Adding multiple dogs to such a situation often results in conflict, with seriousness varying from mild disagreement and unrest to serious fights and injury. This always starts in small and avoidable ways which unfortunately are rarely identified at these lesser levels. One dog may push another away from receiving affection, that most likely began when a dog could be consistently pushy for affection with their owner. Dogs receiving toys and bones scattered about without supervision are more likely to compete over these items. The lack of supervision and constant access to those items created ownership, the ownership in turn created responsibility. The dogs then become in conflict over the items because THEY have the responsibility instead of the people. When you add the confinement to a singular location, such as your home and backyard it should add perspective to the all to common situation of in fighting between dogs living together. Dogs who are constantly adrenalized, unable to settle are also more likely to have issues within their home.
Of course, this is not always the case BUT if this rings at all familiar to you keep reading. If you have had no such issues, then these things will just make everyone happier.
There IS such a thing as a mismatch between dogs, just as two people may simply not get along, this can happen between dogs. There are also some dogs who are legitimately dog aggressive although dogs who lack proper socialization, are afraid of other dogs or are reactive may also look this way from the average perspective. However, this is not nearly as common as the “pressure cooker’ scenario previously mentioned. In either situation it is vital that we as humans find the confidence and skills to lead our troubled dogs.
Adding structure and supervision to their daily life, from receiving resources to learning to maintain calm behavior in a variety of situations will add to your likelihood of success.
Dogs who can walk nicely on leash together and run off leash safely together are infinitely more likely to get along at home, because they have a common outlet for fulfillment and to release their stress. Dogs who can go out into the world with their humans calmly and with confidence will have so many more opportunities for fulfillment, further setting them up for success in all aspects.
Find a dog trainer who has a history of results, makes sense, is not a bully or a snowflake to help you reset you and your dogs. Dog trainers who will empower you, educate both you and your dogs to this new beginning. Be willing to walk the walk and makes the changes necessary to remove the burden of responsibility on your dogs, real results just cannot be accomplished from behind our phone screen or from the couch. Just like you go to the gym or jog down the street or whatever healthy way you choose to decompress, your dogs will also have this opportunity to live a less stressful life.
As unhappy as living with two fighting dogs has made you, imagine how your dogs feel. This is NOT a happy experience for them. The way to avoid such a situation is very similar to how it may be solved in many cases. I am not suggesting that this article alone is to be mistaken for a solution in and of itself IF you are already experiencing fighting between dogs. Instead my goal is to help you better understand, to consider the situation, be confident and hopefully motivate action to help all involved.