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Ask the Trainer: My Dog is Attacking My Other Dogs!

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Dear Kevin,
Sadie is 10 months old, female, Basenji mix. I am at the end of my patience and don’t know what to do! She has begun attacking my other 3 dogs, viciously! It doesn’t happen often, and it’s not food, treats, toys. She can be laying lazily on her dog bed, another dog walks by, and BAM! Or, when she is sitting by me, another dog wants too join us, BAM! This one I understand, but the other times, not so much.

I can’t afford a trainer, working a second part time job just to give them the best food and care. I cry when I look at her thinking I might have to euthanize her. But I don’t know what else to do. I hope you can help, because it would just kill me to have her euthanized!!

Please help!

Hi there Jeannie,

From the way you are describing it, it sounds like Sadie may have a guarding issue. It sounds like she is guarding you and also her bed. Resource guarding is a pretty natural dog behavior, but that doesn’t mean we can’t fix it. Basically when a dog guards it is telling the other dog, human, cat etc. that this is theirs and you can’t have it.

A way that we can fix the pillow guarding is to tether her to something and have her on her pillow. Take one of your other dogs on leash and from a safe distance toss Sadie a treat. Try to walk around and toss treats. Remain at a safe distance. When that is going smoothly decrease your distance from Sadie. Take your time with this. The idea is that good things come when the other dogs are around. If she starts seeing that good things come when the other dogs are around she could even like when they are around.

In regards to her guarding you, watch for signs. Signs can include her staring at the other dog, growling, and/or freezing. If you are sitting there with her and you see her exhibiting any signs of guarding all you need to do is get up and walk away. If you are what she was guarding, and you get up and walk away, she will have nothing to guard. Also by you getting up it will be like a punishment because she won’t be allowed to sit next to you.

If you get up and walk away and she continues with her guarding that means she could be guarding the couch and not the human. If she is guarding the couch do the same protocol I mentioned for the dog pillow. If she does make a bad decision and attacks another dog she needs to be separated for a period of time. Put her away for about 10 minutes or so. If the other dogs do get near her when she is in one of her guarding spots and she does not guard make sure you praise her. The fact that she is 10 months is a good thing. In theory it shouldn’t take as long to fix as a dog that has been rehearsing the behavior for years.

In a nutshell do the protocols I mentioned above. Give her “time outs” if she makes a bad decision. Praise and reward her for making the correct decision. (Allowing other dogs near her guarding spots.)

Thank you for the question!
Kevin Duggan CPDT-KA

Kevin is a Certified Professional Dog Trainer through the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers (CCPDT.org)  and is a Canine Good Citizen Evaluator through the American Kennel Club. He currently resides in Ohio with his dog, V, a six-year-old Shepherd/Lab mix, where he operates All Dogs Go To Kevin, LLC, specializing in helping build positive relationships between humans and their canine companions using clear communication, not pain and fear. For more training tips and tricks, and to meet his amazing dog, V,  follow him on Facebook by clicking here.

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  1. Avatar Of Sage



    So I have recently brought my 30 lb female puggle (pug & beagle) to my mom’s house and there have been some issues that need to be delt with. My Mom has a 65 lb female brown labrador who my puggle used to live with for about a year. They used to get along fine, my puggle was the alpha of the house and the lab was okay with that. But right when we brought our dog back, the lab attacked my dog, viciously. She left a bleeding bite on my dog’s ear and would have done more if I had not stopped her. Since then, we have kept the dogs seperate, keeping them away from eachother and taking them on walks at different times, but my dog is still anxious and nervous of the lab. This Labrador has had a history of aggression with other female dogs in the house. She is fine outside and fine with other male dogs, but is still aggressive with female dogs in the house! I am trying to convince my mom to bring her to a trainer but it is not working, is there ANYTHING I can do to make the dogs get along?

    note: I should mention the female dogs are both Spayed

  2. Avatar Of Nancy



    I have #3 female labs. A 10 year old and #2 7 year olds. My neighbors have #2 Great Danes. A female and a male. The male has attached the same 7 year old lab 4 times. The Great Dane wants to kill her. What would cause this type of aggression to my lab? What should we do?

  3. Avatar Of Senamon Rogers

    Senamon Rogers


    My dog lives with my ex and has for 3 years, my ex has a dog as well. Tonight, my dog attacked his dog and if he wouldn't have been a St. Bernard, my dog would have killed him. I do not know what to do, I live across the state, my daughter (she is with my ex right now)even thinks we should put him down. He really scared them bad. When my ex separated them, on the way out the door, my dog turned around and growled at him. Help! He is not neutered, and I would like to find an alternative to euthanasia, but I don't know what to do. My ex doesn't want him to be there anymore, this is the 4th time it has happened, and this time he did real damage. It is escalating too fast..

  4. Avatar Of Maria



    I need some urgent help i have 2 dogs both 1 years old both females. I took one of then to the groomers the other day and when i came home and put them together the dog who stayed home attached the one who had just got back from the groomers i dont know why she does this now i cant even pit them together this has never happened before and i dont know what to do soo please anyone who knows why this might be happening tell me!!!

  5. Avatar Of Pearl



    I have 4 dogs a Australian Shepard Male 7 yrs. old and a mix mut China. who is 4 and two great danes. 1.5years old female and 1 year old male. the ausy and the mut used to get along, heck they had puppies a couple years ago. we got the ausy fixed a year ago. the ausy has always had a issue of territory he always growls when the other dogs come to close to him. he doesn't start the fight but China who plays with the male great dane all the time just for no apparent reason attacks the ausy. China is not fixed and neither is the great dane male. Do you think if i got china fixed that she would stop attacking my ausy?

  6. Avatar Of Brandi



    I have a pit bull that is over all friendly. The only time she shows any aggression at all is when a neighbor comes up to the fence to pet her and I have another dog out and the neighbor tries to bet both of them. The put bull then grabs their arms and hands with her mouth. Bites and knocks the other dog down. It’s scary. How do I fix this

  7. Avatar Of Kathy Kathy says:

    I have a Staffordshire Bull Terrier and a Pit Bull. The staffy will attack the pit for no apparent reason. Sometimes she gets jealous when I give the pit attention. Lately she is doing the more frequently. Today she just attacked him and I didn’t think I was going to be able to break up the fight. They do not even hear me when I yell for her to stop. Today it happened and the pit backed off when I yelled at the Staffy. They have been in a full fledged fight before and I got bitten by the pit when I tried to grab them by the collars. I don’t let them go outside together. When they are in the house together I pretty much watch them all the time. I don’t know what to do. I need something to pull the Staffy away when she does this. Does anybody know how I can stop this behavior?

    • Avatar Of Jane Hazelwood

      Jane Hazelwood


      Hi, i was wondering if you have resolved the problem? I have a mastiff and a staff who have started fighting, ive also been bitten trying to split them up, i feel like im in prison as i have to be here all the time watching them. I love both my dogs and dont want to rehome them but i need help,jane.

      • Avatar Of Shannon



        I'm dealing with this right now and one of my dogs had to have emergency surgery for a puncture wound we didnt see that became an abscess. I dont know what to do either. I dont want to have to give our dog away to a good home with no other dogs but yesterday she pinned down our Chihuahua and that was the line. Anyone know what to do?

  8. Avatar Of Gabby



    Help I have 4 dogs 2 males 2 females and they all get a long accept my to females they get along really well unless one tries to come in my room and the other one tries to follow then my younger dog gets mad and tries to fight her but the males can come in my room and she doesn’t try to pick a fight with them only with my other female how can I stop this

  9. Avatar Of Harley



    I have a sharpei staffy cross 1 year old puppy. Over the past few months she has begun to attack my other dog (a roughly 3 year old king char spaniel cross pugalier), both are females. The puppy has attacked poopy (the older dog) at around food time if poopy goes past her, and if the puppy is worked up about something she hears outside, if poopy goes past her she attacks her. She never hurt . Only scared the hell out of her. But I’m afraid one day she will try to actually hurt her and since poopy just takes it and can’t fight back, she will get seriously hurt. The puppy is always on edge because of she is afraid of other people. My neighbour used to bare his teeth a growl at her and he did (and still does) yell at the the she barked. There were a few others that did this for a while too. I don’t know what to do I can’t rehome her but if she gets too aggressive I can’t keep her. Can anyone help?

  10. Avatar Of Laura S.

    Laura S.


    My boxer almost attacked by a pitbull and was by a golden retriever at 4 and 6 months of age he is 5 years old now but ever since then he’s been screwing in the head if he sees a dog on the outside he would turn on my dogs on the inside and get into a vicious fight my oldest dog is 13 now I’m afraid to bring another puppy into the house how can I stop him from doing this?

  11. Avatar Of Matt Myers

    Matt Myers


    Hello, My family has recently (3 months ago) added a then 5 month old pit bull great dane mix. He is not “fixed” and now 8 months old and 85lbs. About three weeks ago he bit our small (10lb pomapoo who is deaf) dog and popped her eye out of socket. Got her to the vet and all was good. About a week passed and he did it again this time popping the other eye out of socket. Again, vet visit and she ended up ok. Today it happened again. This time he really bit her and one puncture on top of her head and one on her chest (that was one bite). He does this at random times without warning. He has also gotten our other smaller dog but she fights back a little (she is only 15-17lbs). We have an appointment to get the new addition fixed but that is two weeks out. Then I have to see if that changes his temperament. My wife wants me to get rid of him (don’t blame her to a point). I like to think that I am the pack leader and he listens to me great. He has free roam of our back yard which is about 1 acre and fenced. Nicely wooded so he has plenty of things to keep him busy.Anyhow, I am in desperate need of some assistanceo n this. I don’t want to let him go as he is part of our family.

  12. Avatar Of Deana



    Thank you so much for posting this! This just started happening with my 8 month old rescue puppy and my sweet little shih Tzu!! I’ve been making myself a nervous wreck thinking I would have to take my puppy back 🙁 I am so excited to try this and hopefully get her to calm down a bit!! Again, thank you!!!

  13. Avatar Of Ellen Nelson Ellen Nelson says:

    Hello! I have a Female (Athena) rescue dog have had her for approximately 2 yrs. or so! My daughter and I just moved in with a friend who also has a male dog..They get along fine, however, the neighbors have a female lab, who is medium built I’m guessing 50 to 65 pounds. The issue is that whenever Our Dog Athena is outside and she sees this other female our dog Athena will literally go after this other Female Dog. I do know that Athena is in my eyes very possessive of Me, and her surroundings. I’m not sure exactly what to do about this situation..

  14. Avatar Of Angela angela says:

    hello my name is angie and i have a two year old pit/American bull dog and since jun of this year she has been going after other girl dogs mainly ones that are fixed. the main one is my 14 year old chow mix and i don’t know what to do i have tryed every thing and i am ready to put her down can you help please

  15. Avatar Of Karen



    I have the same issue. I have a pekingese and mini schnauzer. The pekingese has the issue. She will just snap for no reason and attack the schnauzer and worse yet the poor schnauzer just lays down and takes it so by the time we can pull them apart she has gotten in a few good bites. The weird part is that we can go days with everything fine. They can play together and no sign of issues but then something snaps and my peke loses control. It’s not food or toys because the poor schnauzer has learned to not have anything if the peke is around. The other night the schnauzer went to get water and I heard my peke jump down and head towards her. It was dark and I tried to stop the fight and she seriously bit my arm up pretty bad. I have tried calming drops and treats but nothing stops this and like I said there is never a reason for it. She just snaps. To all the people complaining that euthanasia was mentioned- I love my dog like she is my child but my vet says if behavior modification isn’t working it must be a chemical issue and if it gets worse my only alternative is putting her down. I can’t bring myself to that but I also can’t sit by and watch this poor schnauzer cowering EVERYTIME the peke is around because she is now scared to death of her. I don’t know what to do at this point.

  16. Avatar Of Google.com google.com says:

    Fantastic blog you have here but I was curious if you knew of any
    message boards that cover the same topics talked about here?
    I’d really like to be a part of online community where I can get feedback from
    other knowledgeable individuals that share the same interest.
    If you have any suggestions, please let me know. Kudos!

  17. Avatar Of Susan Matson

    Susan Matson


    Just like people, dogs can also have brain chemistry, panic/anxiety issues that are beyond their control. We got a 1.5 yr old rescue that would vandalize our house, attack other dogs, was VERY food aggressive, snarling, etc.. Our Vet finally suggested putting him on “doggie Prozac” (or Clonapin which is cheaper) and also low dose Xanax. It WORKED! His anxiety issues were subdued to where we could finally let him know what a great home he had. He wasn’t at all sleepy or zonked out, just calmer. Our Vet told us that our dog’s issues were likely a combination of abuse by a previous owner and brain chemistry/anxiety issues. The drugs just gave him a chance to calm down and respond appropriately to training. He was on the drugs for about 2 yrs and then weaned off. He’s about to turn 11 and is a happy, healthy, well-adjusted dog!

  18. Avatar Of Pat



    Muzzles can work quite well. I had two dogs who slept on top of one another most of the time, but would end up fighting for no apparent reason. I trained them to wear greyhound muzzles. Pet stores now have similar options. These are not tight muzzles, but more cage like which allows the dog to drink through the muzzle and will not cause it to choke should it vomit for some reason. It saved my sanity and allowed me to not have to worry about the dogs hurting each other. I would think that for the Great Dane it would be especially important if you can find one big enough.

  19. Avatar Of Melanie Fox

    Melanie Fox


    The most shocking part of this question to me is that anyone would think euthanizing a healthy 10 month old dog is a solution! I didn’t notice that part addressed in the response. I too have a Basenji and they are not for inexperienced dog owners. The problem sounds very solvable, but if you cannot keep a dog it’s important to find a rescue who can take them in and not just put them to sleep because you don’t have the time or funds. I understand the need to rehome and there are many breed specific rescue., Basenjis being hard to come by, there are likely many people lining up to adopt a dog with this common breed behavior. BRAT is a great one to try. Please remember that you make a commitment when purchasing or adopting a dog just as you would a child and they depend on your to make the best decisions for them!

  20. Avatar Of Pat



    I have a 5-month-old female Basenji named Senji. Basenjis are not the easiest dogs to train. Senji attacks my 14-year-old Basenji and 11-year-old Jack Russell. Most of the time it’s rough playing and she will bring toys and drop them in front of the other two, but they don’t want to “play”. She also goes into what I call “devil dog” mode where she runs at full speed through the house, bouncing off furniture. We either put her on a long rope that we can control or put her outside. Basenjis are not for everyone and you have to understand them. It is very difficult raising them from a pup.

  21. Avatar Of Bob



    I have two small dogs one is pug and the other one is a mixed pug same sizes and ages. We brought them up as puppies living and doing everything together. Just this year the mixed pug started to be aggressive with the pure pug. Since the one has a longer muzzle she likes to do damage to the other pugs neck etc. Were it came down to vet calls and every time i let them together she does the same thing goes after the pug so i have to keep them seperated.I have tried almost everything from behavior training to sprays etc.I have not went to a shock collar as of yet. We have a system of gates to keep them seperated but that is no way to live it if i cannot find away to correct this and we love them both i might have to find home for one of them. They are both females.

    • Avatar Of Mike



      Why would you continue to let the other dog attack? you said she does the same THING EVERY TIME. You are part of the problem right now. poor pug. If I were you I would give the dog a taste of its own medicine. I would hit the shit out of it every time she attacks. I know you don’t want to hit your own dog but your letting your pure pug suffer because you cant control an ankle biter. Your dogs must know who is at the top and that is always the humans in the pack! I have two dogs one mutt (100lbs) german shepard mix. And a 20lb Lhasa apso. Both males and they sleep together and play and drink water together. I never hit my dogs but both are afraid of me if I raise my voice about something. Its how it should be. Your dogs have to know that something is going to happen to them if they slip up or else they will do what is in their dna and try to move up the ladder. Always be stern with dogs never let them tell you what to do. It may be cute but it will cause problems!

  22. Avatar Of Kelly



    If she cannot be retrained to live safely with other dogs why would you not re-home her with another family to live as an only dog with issues, afterall she is very young.

  23. Avatar Of Beth



    Sooooo relieved! Ah! I can’t tell you!! I was all braced – teeth clenched – for some yank, smack, shake, shock advice – and it didn’t come 🙂 Awesome, I will read your posts!!! Nice to see the CPDT too!

  24. Avatar Of Terri Windle

    terri windle


    Kelly, have you ever heard of the “yellow ribbon”? You tie a yellow ribbon on your dog’s leash, on your fence at home…this will let other dog owners (those that know about this) that your dog needs space and not to come close. I heard about this on Facebook.

  25. Avatar Of Kelly



    That is fine with a little dog but what about my 120 lb great Dane who cannot even get close to another dog. She will attack with or without provocation, on leash or off. We ” tried” early on to greet a very subdued lab and she waits till they get to her face before she is in full on attack. She tore off the dogs ear, before we could separate them. She grew up in a kennel as a show puppy and when we got her she was still very DOG social then she changed. She is still very people friendly.
    Website went to a behaviorist who told us that basically she does not read signals properly and that she could never be trusted with other dogs. Since then, I do not let a dog anywhere near us, hats to do when you encounter another dog that is off leash. When her hair is up or she freezes, I either turn around with her and say no and put distance between the other dog and us. On a dog went under his fence and ran at us ( to greet) I stepped in front of my dog and shouted stop at the other dog. Luckily he did, looking confused that he had been reprimanded. I feel bad that she never has the joy of playing and running with another canine but I cannot ever take that chance that she might harm someone else’s pet.

  26. Avatar Of Kat Deves Kat Deves says:

    Is there no other way to do it without food?

  27. Avatar Of Susanne Barbour

    Susanne Barbour


    Why would the thought of euthanization even enter your mind?

    • Avatar Of J Tyner

      J Tyner


      I realize that just by reading this story, it’s very difficult to understand the severity of this issue. There is no specific trigger that sets Sadie off, not food, dog beds, couch, or me. She can just be walking down the hall, through the door, even be laying on the floor eyes closed, and she just explodes into attack mode! I’ve seen her jump up to attack when there is no person or dog around!? I considered euthanasia because, like I said in the story, I’ve tried everything that I know and can afford. Her attacks are not intended to warn the others, like in most cases. She goes straight for the face and neck and means business! Most dogs will growl and air-bite as a warning, not Sadie. She goes in and will not stop unless we pull her off of the other dogs. The other dogs no longer play, inside or out. They just lay in one spot, terrified! This is no life for any dog. This is not a nurturing environment. I do not take any dogs life or well being lightly. It was making me truly sick at the thought of euthanizing her. This is why I reached out to so many people for help.

      • Avatar Of Kaedianmori



        Have you taken her to the vets to see if there is any sort of underlying problem? If she flies into attack mode when no one else is around, I’d be inclined to suspect there may be a tumour or some sort of internal issue causing her pain.

      • Avatar Of Lisa



        It’s hard when you have dogs that fight. I have two female Anatolian Shepherd dogs and when I introduced Dog #2 8 weeks ago, fighting was a daily occurrence. Both dogs are rescues who have only ever known life outside. I could not be with them to manage their interaction and just had to do my best to work things out. As much as it saddened me to think about it, if Dog #2 couldn’t settle down, she was going to have to find a new home. Fortunately, she is beginning to come around. One question that wasn’t addressed: is Sadie spayed? When Dog #2 arrived, she was in full-blown heat and I believe that was the root of her aggression. While she still has some resource-guarding behaviors, she has settled dramatically with the reduction in her hormones. It is definitely worth taking a look at a physical/possible pain issue.

      • Avatar Of Suzi Suzi says:

        I am having the same issue. My new rescue is viciously attacking my senior weim. Last time, she ended up tearing her ear, and she had to have stitches. Today, the new rescue lunged at her again and would not let go. Thank goodness no additional damage was done, but the new rescue was on a mission to rip my weimeraner’s face off.

        I have been working with dogs, including volunteer rescue work for 20 years, and for the first time in my entire life, am actually considering euthanizing her. I feel that she is a ticking time bomb, and who knows if she will start attacking my other dogs next, or perhaps a neighbor, a neighbor’s dog or a kid?

        While I have reached out to several rescues for help with finding her a home where there are no other dogs, I am for the first time in my life considering euthanization.

        This is a living hell that nobody should have to endure.

  28. Avatar Of Cristi Habermann

    Cristi Habermann


    I have the same problem with my fixed female dogs with one added twist. They pee on their beds, or toys to mark them. How can I control this behavior.

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