How To Discipline A Dog After Fighting And Other Behavior Corrections

How to discipline a dog after fighting

Have you ever wondered how to discipline a dog after fighting?  Dogs can be very territorial in nature and this is one of the things that can make them aggressive and inclined towards physical attack.  Would you like to know how to stop this behavior?  Maybe it has happened in the past and you’d like to know what to do afterwards to prevent a future incident as well?

Hi my name is Mike and I’ve been working with dogs for quite some time now.  I really enjoy animals and dogs are at the top of my list.  I started this website with the goal of helping other dog owners with questions and concerns as well as some training advice.  Today we will be discussing dog’s aggressive behavior and how to discipline them properly after engaging in aggressive actions like fighting.

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How To Discipline A Dog After Fighting Explained

so your dog just got into a fight with another animal and you are wondering how to discipline your dog after fighting.  This is a typical issue for some dogs as they can be naturally aggressive for many different reasons.  In order to understand how to discipline a dog after fighting, we must first understand why they started the fight to begin with.  This will give us better context on why the fight occurred and what we can do to prevent repeat scenarios in the future.

I’ll give you a little hint up front.  Most fights or aggressive actions from your dog will be because it was in an uncomfortable situation or it felt threatened.  Take away that environment, and the dog will no longer act in an aggressive manner.  Lets take a look at some common situations and how to alleviate them in the future.

Dog Food Dispute

This can be one of the main reasons a dog will fight or act aggressively towards other animals or humans for that matter.  A dog’s food bowl is a territory that some pups will guard relentlessly.  This seems to be less a question of breed and more an issue or temperament of the dog in question.

How do dogs get this way?  They could’ve had to fight for food when they were a pup or they might just be hard wired to protect what they see as their area.  In any case, the key to resolving this issue is to remove the items that are causing them to act that way.  For example, if your dog is aggressive around the food bowl, only place it down when its time to eat.  Once they are finished with their meal, pick it up and remove the trigger from their environment.  They will be much more likely to relax if they don’t feel like they have to constantly protect what they see as their property.

Just to recap, the best way to fix this problem is to remove the item from the environment and only have it out when the specific event (in this case feeding) is occurring.  This is the same for things like bones or other treats.  Some dogs may start to chew on these and then move away from the area.  If they see someone they don’t want around their things, they may rush back and trigger an aggressive act.  Remove the stimulus and the problem should correct itself.

Dog Territory Dispute

Have you ever been walking by a house only to have a dog pop out of no where and start barking at you?  To them you are a perceived threat and they feel like they must defend their territory.  The first response from a dog will usually be verbal in nature and then possibly a move to physical attack.  This is a pretty normal response from a dog.  They will guard their territory and this includes outdoor spaces.  If a dog sees something foreign encroaching upon an area they feel is in their zone, they will act.

How do we discourage this type of behavior?  I find a fence is a good deterrent for outdoor situations.  Ideally a wood plank fence or something that obscures the dog’s vision.  This removes any of the visual stimulus and they are usually able to ignore the rest.  If a fence is not an option there is always the leash.  Keep your dog tethered to you when outside.  Dog’s are very good at taking cues from their owners as well.  If they see you in a relaxed manner, they will be less tense about a possible territorial situation to begin with.

dog vs. dog dispute

Dog Vs. Dog Dispute

These situations are quite common as well and could be happening because of either of the stated reasons above.  Dogs tend to be pack animals but they won’t always get a long with other dogs in the area.  A lot of times, it depends on how the dogs are introduced to each other.  If a proper introduction occurs, dogs will be less likely to lash out at each other.  If they just discover one another abruptly, that may not be the case.

So how do we introduce dogs to each other?  This is the topic for a whole other article but I’ll give a basic accounting here.  The first thing you want to do is find a neutral space.  Have both of the dogs leashed by their owners and bring the dogs to this space.  Do not force them to come together, allow them to move about the area and notice each other gradually.  It’s also good to initiate conversation with the other owner in a casual manner.  Dogs can sense our emotions and if they feel tension, they will act accordingly.  you can take a few steps towards each other and see how the dogs react.  They may be resistant and if they are, do not force them together.  Repeat the introduction process a few times and eventually the dogs will greet one another on their own terms.

Dog Vs. Cat Dispute

Dogs and cats don’t always get along and how to discipline a dog after fighting with a cat may seem a bit different.  They are different animals and their behavior patterns vary greatly as well.  Some times they can get along fine for a while and have an issue over territory or some other concern.  A typical one I’ve seen first hand is play area and toys.  I had a cat who used to terrorize the family dog.  Most of the time, he would just ignore the cat but there were occasions in which he would give chase.  I found that a lot depended on my dogs actual mood in the first place.

Can we limit the disputes between dogs and cats?  Absolutely!  In my experience, cats will generally taunt or terrorize the dogs.  This can get old and if your dog is having a rough day, could cause an issue.  I find that keeping the animals in separate play areas helps a lot.  For example,  my dog’s toys are kept downstairs in the play room and my wife’s cat has her stuff in an alternate location as well.  This has gone a long way towards keeping everything good between the animals.  Other things to separate would be food and water zones as well.

What To Do If A fight Breaks Out

We can try our best to limit the triggers that may cause a fight but how do we discipline our dog if a fight does break out?  First off, we have to break the fight up.  There’s a right way and a wrong way to do this.  Don’t go in there screaming and kicking to get your dog away from the fight area.  This will actually escalate the tension and probably the violence being done in the first place.  You want to calmly yet firmly assert your presence and remove your dog from the situation.  Do not pull them back as this will trigger resistance, pull them up and away from the fight.  I will usually give a stop command or sit command to bring the situation to a close.

Once you have separated your dog from the fray, check to see if they are ok.  Then go about your business.  What?  No Scolding?  No hitting your dog on the nose?  Nope.  You don’t need to do any of those things.  In nature, dogs will fight and then forget.  A fight for them is about a current dispute.  Once the dust up has occurred, things will go back to normal.  I would let the dogs cool off separately for a while but that’s about it.

Preventing Future Fights

Dogs will typically fight like this for one reason in general.  Leadership.  If the dogs do not see you as their leader, they will try to test each other for that role.  The best thing to do would be to establish a good pack leadership position and keep them in line.

How do we develop this pack leader role then?  A strong foundational training approach is one of the best ways to accomplish this.  There are many different types of training methods that can be applied but the results should be the same.  The overall objective is to get your dog to see you as the leader of the pack.  Once the clear leadership role has been displayed and understood, Your dog(s) will fall into line behind you.

Once you have established the leadership role, your dogs should no longer look at each other as direct competition.  There are a few things you can do to reinforce this behavior as well:

  • Keep Your Dogs Together:  Contrary to popular belief, you do not want to separate your dogs if there has been an issue or fight.  Dog’s minds work in different ways from ours.  If there is a fight, it will be had and then forgotten.  Keeping the dogs together and social is better for them in the long run.  When you separate them, you create extra tension which could lead to further problems in the long run.
  • Walk your Dogs At The Same Time:  This goes hand in hand with keeping your dogs together.  Make sure to walk them together as well.  Keep them with you and have them focused on the common goal of the walk itself.  This will drain energy levels and make them less prone to fighting in the first place.

Dog Vs. cat dispute

How To Discipline A Dog After Fighting Summarized

We have covered a lot of aspects related to why dogs fight in general and how to keep them in line.  Become their pack leader and develop a strong foundational training platform for them.  As I’ve stated many times, dogs are creatures of habit and repetition.  This works in your favor.  You can use their hard wired responses to help condition them in the proper ways to avoid fighting to begin with.

Understand that dogs are looking for strong leadership and once they have found it, they will settle into that routine.  You develop this leadership for them by training them and providing boundaries and foundation.  Once the groundwork is laid, obedience will be less and less of an issue.  This does not mean that your dog will be a robot and always obey you.  They should most of the time however.  No one would want a dog with a completely broken spirit anyway.

Final Note

At the end of the day, keeping your dog controlled is about you. How to discipline a dog after fighting will depend on the way you react.  Also understand that even the most well behaved dogs can have bad days and get into fights.  They have emotions just like we do and these things can happen.

When a dog does get into a fight, the important thing is to stop it quickly and calmly.  Once the fight has been stopped, proceed with the day as if nothing has happened.  Take your dogs for a walk or do another normal daily activity.  This will allow you all to settle back into your roles and continue on with life.  One of the worst things you can do is overreact.  Keep your head and all will be well in the long run!

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