Dog-Dog Aggression Between Housemates Part Two: Bites

Last week, I covered the scenario leading up to a devastating incident in which my younger dog, Trout, attacked my older dog, Layla, and the two dogs fought. While the fight was ended quickly with the fast actions of myself and my boyfriend, the injuries that the two dogs sustained took a bit longer to heal. This week, I want to talk about the story the injuries told me.

Where a dog bites another dog is very meaningful. Different bite locations tell us about the dog’s intentions during the fight – one reason why I always ask where one dog bit another when I’m working dog aggression cases. The severity of the bites is also very meaningful and gives a good idea of how safe the dog is to work with. Past history is a great indicator of future behavior, which means that knowing where and how hard Layla and Trout have bitten other dogs can tell us a lot about what they’re likely to do in the future.

IMG_1941After the fight, both dogs had injuries. Trout’s injuries initially appeared worse. She had a gash over her eye that was bleeding profusely and was eventually closed with two sutures, as well as punctures on her cheek and ear that were also bleeding but which didn’t require any medical care other than thorough cleaning. Since she’s a white dog, the blood from her wounds was starkly visible and very shocking. She fussed at her injuries, trying to paw at the gash above her eyebrow, so her paws quickly became red with blood too. She also had blood around her mouth from Layla.

Injuries to the face and ears such as those Trout received are the most typical injuries sustained in dog fights, and they can certainly be alarming at first. Ears and tongues especially tend to bleed alarmingly, and the wounds on ears often have trouble clotting as the dog shakes his or her head, reopening the wound and causing further damage (not to mention the crime-scene-like atmosphere that the splatter of blood such head shaking creates).

That said, injuries to the face tend to be the least concerning to professional dog behavior consultants. They’re the most common, as the skin there is thin and easily torn, and are also indicative that the dog(s) were not fighting with serious intent to harm but rather disagreeing. It’s the difference between a bar-room scuffle and a knife fight in an alley – there may be a broken nose or cracked knuckles in the bar room brawl, but no one’s actively trying to kill their combatant. Dogs who bite at other dogs’ faces or ears are angry, but not usually serious about causing damage.

Next up in the hierarchy of seriousness are bites to the sides of the neck, shoulders, or hips. These bites are a sign that the dog is taking the fight to the next level, but still is not yet intent on causing serious harm. Even more concerning are dogs who bite at the base of the skull, over the jugular, or on the other dog’s legs. These dogs are trying to disable or kill their opponent. The very most serious of dogs, who typically go for the underside of their opponent in an attempt to disembowel them, are intent not on disabling but on causing death, and dogs who injure in this way should never again be allowed in the presence of other dogs without extremely careful management such as the use of leashes and basket muzzles.

IMG_1943Layla’s injuries initially didn’t look too serious. She was missing tufts of fur and had extensive bruising over her chest and breastbone, and a deep gash on her right hind leg just above her knee. However, these bite wounds concerned me much more than Trout’s very visible and bloody battle scars. The wound in Layla’s back leg required the placement of a drain, and the entire wound took eight sutures to close. Layla was not able to bear much weight on that leg for close to 24 hours, and even today after the external wound has healed she still experiences some weakness and trembling in that leg after exertion, for which we’ve made an appointment with a veterinary rehabilitation specialist.

Bruising without punctures - a Level 2 bite.

Bruising without punctures – a Level 2 bite.

So, what do the pattern of Layla’s injuries tell us? Trout began by biting me on the elbow as I attempted to block her attack, bruising but not puncturing the inner part of my arm. This sort of bite is considered a Level 2 bite out of 6 using Dr. Ian Dunbar’s bite scale, which starts with Level 1 bites (snapping without making contact) and ends at Level 6 bites (where the dog kills the victim or consumes flesh). Generally, euthanasia is recommended as the safest option for dogs who cause Level 4 or higher bites, which refers to dogs who bite deeply enough to puncture more than half the length of their canine tooth, and who may grab the victim and shake or tear flesh as they slash.

After launching herself over me, Trout then began biting at Layla’s chest and over her breastbone, again bruising (and removing tufts of fur), but not puncturing. During this time, she had decent bite inhibition, a term that refers to how strongly a dog bites down. Bite inhibition is one of the most accurate predictors of rehabilitation in dogs. A dog who snaps without making contact or who bites without puncturing skin is much less likely to cause serious damage in the future, while a dog who has hurt another dog badly enough to require medical attention is much more likely to cause that level of damage in the future.

The fact that Trout was biting at Layla’s chest and over her breastbone tells us that she was much more serious about “winning” the fight than was Layla, who was biting at Trout’s face in an attempt to back her off. However, initially Layla had worse bite inhibition, actually breaking skin on Trout rather than just bruising. This is something I know about Layla, and one of the main reasons I am so careful when introducing her to new dogs. While she’s never seriously hurt another dog, she’s punctured the skin on a face or ear on a handful of occasions.

The intensity of the fight likely escalated after Layla physically hurt Trout. Trout suddenly became even more serious, biting Layla’s back leg badly enough to badly injure her. This wound was deep and wide, as Trout grabbed onto Layla’s leg with all the force she had and then shook her head from side to side. Layla also had bruising and extensive swelling on the back side of this same leg, and I suspect that had we not intervened Trout would have continued to try to seriously injure or kill her housemate. Note that I don’t think that Trout initially meant for the fight to go so far. The earlier bites where she only bruised rather than puncturing tell a story of a dog who started something she wasn’t able to handle, then likely got scared and began to fight more intensely. Of course, guessing this is anthropomorphic and it’s entirely possible that there were other motivations driving Trout’s actions. However, since we can’t ask her and she can’t tell us, I can make a good guess about what happened based on the evidence at hand.

As you can see, knowing the level of commitment and seriousness that different bite locations and varying bite inhibition levels convey provides a great deal of information on the involved dogs’ intentions. They also tell us a lot about safety, providing insights into the future behavior and possible liability repercussions of working with any given animal. Any dog who has done damage to another in the past is likely to repeat that performance given the wrong set of circumstances, and it’s important to go into any behavior modification program with your eyes wide open to the future possibilities of working with your dog. As sad as it can be, I absolutely believe that euthanasia is an appropriate choice in certain dog-dog aggression cases if your dog’s past history indicates a serious danger to other dogs in the future. And of course, no dog who has injured another should ever be bred, as there’s often a strong genetic component to dog aggression.

However, that doesn’t mean that all dog aggression cases warrant euthanasia, and it’s also important to know that given sufficient management and training, dogs who have a history of causing harm can absolutely live out the remainder of their lives safely and happily. In fact, this is one of the most common behavioral cases I take on, as I love helping people have success with their dog aggressive or reactive dogs.

Next week, I’ll discuss what I did to keep Layla and Trout safe after their fight. In the future, I’ll also discuss what I did to help the two girls learn to live peacefully with one another again. I’m happy to report that, other than some lingering weakness in Layla’s hind leg, both girls’ injuries have completely healed, and they’re back to coexisting well. In the meantime, have you ever witnessed a dog fight? What did the injuries tell you about the dogs’ varying intents? Please share your experiences in the comments section below!

180 responses to “Dog-Dog Aggression Between Housemates Part Two: Bites

  1. I have 2 dogs, male and female. Recently, my female has gotten aggravated by my male. She’ll growl at him, seemingly out of nowhere. It began after the pregnancy started. Today, he was sniffing her and she snapped at him, biting his eye. It’s not bad enough to require stitches and his eye itself is fine, there are 2 small punctures in the skin near his eye. I’ve cleaned it and neither dog requires medical attention. I heard her growl during the incident and as soon as I said her name she stopped and went to her bed. She is usually so friendly and he is her best friend. We actually got her for him because he has bad separation anxiety and can’t be left alone. She is 2 and has never been like this before. I just am at a loss. The pregnancy is about 4 weeks along btw.

  2. We took on a foster at 14 weeks old a Boston mix a year ago. At first we thought she was trying to find her place in our 5 dog household. Until we got her a our dogs got along perfectly. After a few months she started biting each dog one by one. Never anything serious and then it just stopped after she was fixed. About a month later she started lunging at our chihuahua and then most recently attacking him. His bites started in the face and we could usually see her body language before it happened so we would stop it. In the last few weeks there is no body language she is on him faster than I can blink. Lastnight she bit him in the neck. There was blood but I think he bit his mouth in the fight because there was nothing on his fur. I’ve been researching so much lately. He now just stays in his dog bed in fear. She does have horrible separation anxiety and I think some of those issues have to do with it. We are looking into formal training for her so we can hopefully fix the issue. I’ve learned how to properly separate a dog in a fight so thank goodness we can get them separated quite quickly that there is little harm done. I’m just so nervous one day something much more serious may happen. She’s 40lbs and he’s 14lbs so it could very easily Happen if this continues.

  3. Jazlynn Dickinson

    My dogs got into a big fight they have fought in the past but it’s been very spread apart one month it was so bad then not until a half a year it happened again well after about 4 or 5 months they got out together and went to people I’m assuming cause one of my dogs budah and zipper got jealous and started fighting well my Rottweiler deeply hurt my boxer and he had to get his eye removed and had some deep gashes around the top of his neck and light scratches on his stomach I was not present for any of this and I did not know they were out ( they punched a hole through our 6 ft wooden fence ) in the past my boxer has initiated most the fights and I would be the only one pulling them apart by myself ( and have recieved some pretty good accidental bites to the legs) and it would be my boxer thay would not stop coming at my Rottweiler . my Rottweiler is old but way bigger than my boxer and my Rottweiler is not neutred(he was to old by the time we moved in with my step dad ) the most recent fight prior to this was outside with them alone and my Rottweiler was the one that wouldn’t quit and was all over my boxers neck and took my Rottweiler off and my boxer ran inside. I have expressed many times to my parents that’s something like this (my dog losing a eye) was going to happen eventually and that it is just going to get worse if they are not somehow departed but thay does not seem to be enough I love them both but I don’t want to come home to one of them dead one day

    • Jazlynn Dickinson

      Not half a year I meant year sorry

      • Kathy Schnelle

        “coming home to one of them dead” biggest fear…I have a strict rule that any dogs that have had any altercations are separated while I am gone, other rooms, gate between, whatever…..and sometimes if I see a potential problem between those that get along, also separation—have had enough fights that I take no chances. Consistently have to remind my husband of the potential dangers because he doesn’t observe or consider the possibilities.

  4. Please help! We just got a new puppy and he is chomping down on our older dogs throat and neck and ripping back and fourth. He won’t let go even if she is crying. He is very young, but I want to stop this behavior before he seriously hurts our other dog. I am afraid to leave them alone together for fear that I won’t be there to stop him from playing too aggressively.. our older dog will hide from him because he won’t leave her alone when he wants to play and he is too rough with her

    • Kathy Schnelle

      Immediate training for the pup, and keep them separate until behavior is changed. Provide some stimulating chew toys and give lots of exercise to burn off that puppy energy, then at least when you are right there maybe they can be around each other sometimes.

  5. I have a 1 year old pitbull and I also have a three-year-old Labrador mixed out of no reason they just started fighting it was so scary I ran outside with a water hose and a stick trying to wedge them apart I have no idea what started this but I know I wanted it to end so I put on my gloves and I got between them I love both dogs but the labrador mix he bit my pitbull leg front leg so there was there’s blood but not profusely there’s blood on her face and I’m trying to give her a pain pill because she had surgery about 3 weeks ago so she still has pain medicine left I’m so upset because if this happens then the dogs don’t need to be together I’m not really sure what to do but she’s licking her wounds and I guess that’s generally how it goes I’ve got enough warm spray bottle in a towel clean off the blood she tends to be okay with that but I think I’m going to get rid of the lab mixed because sometimes they just go left field on each other and I don’t want that to happen anymore cuz that’s really scary.

  6. We have been fostering the dog of a friend of my sister. Callow is a Lab/Basset mix. Things have been going well with my 2 dogs. A Chihuahua terrier mix and a Goldendoodle. A few days ago, my Doodle accidently bumped and stepped on the foster dog. This dog retaliated aggressively starting a fight. My Doodle responded. We intervened and stopped the fight. Next day, we found 2 puncture marks on my Doodles face, one on each side of his nose, requiring antibiotic. The foster dog gas been through 3 foster homes before coming to me. She will be with me a couple more weeks. I think she is stressed over her recent life changes. Ither than this, has been a good dog. How concerned should I be?

  7. My med size dog bit my my lil dog on the neck
    When my little dog snapped at her
    If i didn’t get the bigger one off the smaller dog I am not sure of her living
    She bit her on the neck
    I have the bigger one in kennel now and they are separated
    Wound could have been a lot worse . Bleeding isn’t bad
    Any advice ?

  8. Question I have 3 female pups16 weeks old, as well as both their parents. Trying to find good homes for the pups. They have all been fine in their fenced in area, about 200+ sq.ft but we let them out to run daily. Today, they were all playing, must mention the parents are only a year and a half, then suddenly four of them started biting the stomach area and upper leg area of one pup. There are some small scrapes, but no deep gashes. My husband happened to be out there and was able to get her away quickly. They have never done this, a a d since then, they have licked her wounds and even curled up next to her. Looking at the scrapes, it doesn’t appear they were trying to hurt her, but not sure. I must mention we live in the country and my first thought was maybe something had gotten on her and they were trying to get it off. Especially since it was all of them.

  9. I have 2 dogs leo and nunz. A pit bull and a chihuahua. Two days ago the pitbull bit the smaller dog in eye, and leaded to vet having to remove it. Are dilemma is do we give the bigger dog to a friend or Euthanasia?

  10. I have 4 dogs of my own and a foster dog, she seemed fine with the other dogs at first but 2 weeks in she has attacked 3 out of 4 of my dogs . This last attack was serious, I have to bring my pup to and emergency vet she got bit in the chest and her hit affected her muscles. Was my foster dogs intentions to kill my dog ? She has 2 deep gouges was in her chest !

  11. Right if your walking your lab and a girl dog goes by you you think they are being nice sniffing one another your on a leash and so is other dog and your lab attacks other dog and breaks the skin on back why would he be aggressive when labs are usually friendly

  12. So just has an incident last night that has left me baffled. I was going to the bathroom while my 2 and four-year old dogs were playing tug with a rope. They are both altered, the 2 year old is male, the 4 year old is female. While in the bathroom I heard a growling ruckus which isn’t uncommon between the two as the female gets a little vocal during usual play. But suddenly it escalated and turned into yelping within split seconds. I rushed out to see the female on her back hanging off of the male’s neck. But the peculiar thing was it was the female that was yelping, and the male was just standing there looking confused. I had to pick her up by her back feet ( both are between (70-80lbs) and tell her to ”drop” 3 times before she let go of him. She didn’t puncture skin or leave any bruises on him. And as I said he looked confused during the ordeal as she hung from his neck. She just had his skin, also. I have never had any issues between the two or between them and other dogs before. They had always gotten along fine before. Did she just get scared and reacted to being over powered? Usually she flips him on his back. I had they lay down for about 5 minutes and then encouraged them to play again to see if there was any body language red flags I hadn’t noticed before, but she seemed a bit shy. They both were being quite ginger with each other. Should I be frantic with concern? Or is this most likely just a freak occurrence?

    • Hi this happened to me the tug rope forces them to look each other in the eyes hence the fight… Get rid of the toy.

  13. I have 8 dogs and my 5 year old heeler/pit mix is a male and he starts fights with all of them except for my youngest one he starts fights with my males and females I need help to change his behavior he goes for the legs and throat if you could please help me out with this I would be greatly appreciated. Thank you Marci

  14.  I heard about this method, but tried only on the advice of a friend…And what can I say…It’s really COOL and WORKS! This is a real breakthrough in training and rehabilitating dogs! It helped us solve a lot of the standard problems with our dog and I highly recommend it to everyone! But trust me, the method is worth to buy Check this site, you’ll like it: https://tinyurl.com/dogbestbehavior

  15. The dog I’m referring to is a 6 year old male boxer that is neutered he has attacked 2 small dogs killing them for no apparent reason what would you recommend

  16. I have 4 rescue dogs from various backgrounds. One is a pittie mix who is the gentler of them all. He was a death row rescue from Texas about 10 months old when we got him. He bathes our 2 kittens, they sleep nestled with him. Our 2 older dogs passed and he’s now in the upper hierarchy of the 4 dogs. Of the newer dogs, a very defensive abuse/abandon Beagle who always instigates fight by growling etc. we just had an $8000 bill from the damage caused to the Beagle by our pittie mix. Horrific. We just rescued a big 80 pound coonhound puppy as innocent as can be who play fights. The other dogs have no problem. But Brady the pittie mix takes it seriously. Well last night it escalated and the poor puppy was injured. He’s afraid of everything now and I’ve put a soft muzzle on Brady. Euthanasia is never the answer. A soft muzzle (they can drink water and open their mouths slightly) won’t kill them. But it is sad. Obviously I give Brady free time not wearing it but we’re home all day together and I can’t take any more chances. Brady does go for the legs and underarms. But he is too young and otherwise happy to ever euthanize. To me, a soft muzzle is the last resort, not death.

  17. Hi, unfortunately we had a massive dog fight last night. That took 3 grown adults to stop. My 1 yr old female rottie pup attacked my 10 yr old Male Shepard mix. Unprovoked, out of nowhere. He has large gashes on the back of his neck, both sides of his neck, both ears. I had to tackle my pup in order to get her off of my older dog.

    Please help, I’m in need of serious advice! I’ve raised and shows Rotties my entire life and never had this happen.

    Thank you
    Kate Asper

  18. Would it be possible to chat with you about my situation?

  19. I have a 3 year old yellow lab who three times in the past year has grabbed the back of my pugs neck and shaken him like a rag doll. Ive had to jump on both amd hold them down until Halo my lab lets go. She only lets go because i either pull her tail or block her nose. No harm has come to our pug but if i wasnt there im sure Halo would have killled our pug. Every time this situatian has happened has been with food. Our pug goes after our lab when she has something our pug wants. Halo has never done this to any other dog. Do you think its just our pug Halo doesnt like because he ,our pug name is Buddy, chargs Halo when she has food.

  20. My big dog moose and My a lot smaller dog Taz got into a fight the other day. I had just gotten home from work, went to take moose off the leash, he was super excited I was home running all around the yard then he started trying to play with Taz but moose was being very hyper and Taz started growling at him because he didn’t want to play and he was waiting for me to let him off the leash also. So Taz was trying to walk toward me while he was growling at moose then something in moose just snapped, he attacked Taz. For what seemed like no reason. I Jumped in as soon as I realized it was a real fight and not just playing fight. Pulled moose off, moose just had Taz’s head in his mouth. Then I saw the damage moose had done to Taz’s eye. Unfortunately we had to put him down, he was going to have to have the eye removed but with his age he probably wouldn’t be able to fight getting a infection. There was no other marks on Taz. So basically I just don’t know what to do with moose, I love him but I keep blaming him for killing Taz. I know that he didn’t mean to kill him, they were best friends usually. And moose keeps looking everywhere for Taz, then just goes and lays down when he can’t find him.

    Do you think he meant to kill him, do you think he will attack my kids. Mind you he has never bitten any human (he has wanted to but held back, my dog don’t like tweakers) he always lets the kids play on him. He just licks them to death. But now that he actually hurt Taz I’m nervous on if I should keep him or not for the safety of my children. I need advice and everyone around me tells me I need to put him down, but I don’t believe he meant to hurt Taz like he did. So I don’t think death is the proper punishment.

    I need adviceASAP

  21. My exes Dane kept and eventually attacked my Boston so bad required 15staples in the base of my babies neck and back if his leg he picked him up and literally shook my pup like a rag doll.. this has since caused me and him to break up.. however having nowhere to go I am still in the house with his Dane and my pup and the only thing I can do while at work is crate my pup which is beyond unfair as his pos dog has free range of the house.. he doesn’t have the time or energy to train his dog and am seriously considering calling the authorities on the situation

  22. Hi. I have a female Kelpie and a male Bull Mastiff/German Shepard cross. They play fight together all the time and yes they have taken it too far sometimes with a facial scratch or a bite to the ear. They have a pack mentality in regard to how they treat the other household animals. They consider the old female Maltese and the two xats as prey.
    In the last two weeks the kelpie and german shepherd/bull mastiff have attacked the maltese twice and if I didn’t intervene I fear that the Maltese would’ve been seriously injured or dead.
    I feel that keeping the two of these predatory dogs would be a mistake as it is just a matter of time before one of our small animals is killed.
    I also feel that a small child could also be at risk around them too and that is why I feel that behavioural euthanasia is the wisest choice. It is so sad, but I could not in good conscience rehome them when they are constantly acting in a predotory manner. Always trying to get access to the chicken and trying to hunt the cats. I’m now too frightened to let the Maltese go anywhere near them.

  23. After reading this I hope you will say it was a warning and should be isolated. We have a 3.5 year old husky and just adopted an 8 week old husky. After 5 days of getting along perfectly, apparently our dog had hidden a bone in the yard and the new puppy found it. He snipped at her face causing a surface cut on her nose.

    We threw away that bone, should we be concerned about this getting worse? Or does it sound like setting boundaries?

  24. I have a 2 year old bull mastiff who was 8 months old when he came to us. We had him from a friend who breeds and shows mastiffs, so I know his background. Had him neutered when he first arrived.
    Recently, he has started ‘having a go’ at our 5 year old pug cross cavalier dog (also neutered).
    He has never punctured his skin YET and always goes for him around his neck (today he actually picked him up by his neck). Little dog is left shaken badly afterwards.
    He never shows aggression towards my boxer bitch, but has reacted in the same way towards my sister’s frenchie (neutered too).
    Naturally I’m really worried he is going to seriously hurt the little one soon.
    Mastiff never shows aggression towards people and is a really loving and friendly boy.

  25. Glenna Lamphere

    My son’s dog only attacks one of our dogs and gets along very well with our other dog and our grand-dog. There was a vicious attack on Sunday that tore up the older dog’s chest. I believe my son’s dog had decided I was his possession and attacked when he thought my dog was trying to get my attention. They have fought in the past but never to this extent. My son will soon be married and his new wife has a small dog. They will be seeking a dog behaviorist to see how to make sure the small dog does not get attacked at any time in it’s life.

  26. I would love to read your follow up article but I can’t find it? While at my MIL’s house 3 days ago, my sons rescue dog Cilli attacked my MIL’s puppy (bloody nose, no visible bite mark). We had never seen her be anything other than sweet and submissive to my 2 dogs. My daughter put food out meant for Cilli and the pup Ate a bite and Cilli attacked her. My daughter fed Cilli the same way earlier with no problem. When we rescued Cilli we were told she attacked another dog. I took her to my trainer and my vet to check her out and they both agreed she wasn’t aggressive. In 2 months I’m suppose to watch Cilli for 4 months while my son is away. I have 2 dogs a 14 year old 8 lb. Peekapoo ( dominant dog) , who has cancer, she ignores the other dogs b/c she’s queen bee. Also, a 5 year old 60 lb Goldendoodle ( Cilli’s best friend), who will bark aggressively when Cilli annoys her. Should I be concerned about my Peekapoo being around Cilli? I always feed Cilli seperately from the other two. Please any advice would be helpful.

  27. I’ve just gone through something similar to your case. My Male and female pit bulls got into a heated fight all of the sudden. My Male is the older of the two and he got the blunt of it, scratches on his face and ears but mostly on his legs, there were puncture holes on his inside thigh if you will and his other legs was chewed up a bit. This happened just a few weeks back. This is my first ever dog fight and we rescued our female in April without much back story from the rescue. She has been such a doll up until this point. They both loved one another and always slept together. I really dont know what to do they are both separated but my Male is so nervous around her even just the site of her. Please help I’m not sure of her motivation in the fight but she walked away with superficial cuts on her face. Solely shes an incredible dog but now them together it’s just very nerve racking.

    • I know this happened awhile ago, but we just had a very similar event that happened a couple days ago. What did you end up doing in your situation?

  28. My two fur babies got into a fight just tonight. Fuzz our older dog is about 10 pounds. And Howey is almost 3 he is about 60 pounds. Fuzz went after Howey and Howey bit Fuzz on the shoulder back. And put three little puncher wounds in him. He has never done this before. He just takes and takes it. But we do sculd Fuzz for being bad.

  29. I have a chihuahua pomeranian mix. She is 2. My folks have 6 daschunds. When they are all outside minding their own business my dog will lung at their ears ir side of the face.
    My stepdad is about to make me get rid of my dog. There is never any skin broken.
    Why does my dog do that and what can I do to stop it?
    Sincerely,
    Carla Salazar

  30. I adopted my dog from an animal shelter and have had him for about 3 years he lived with a small dog he never attacked and then was introduced to a new older dog of the same breed (bluenose) the new dog (Sam) when he firstet my dog (Mitchell) he bit him in the face right away but they didn’t fight he also nipped him a couple times but still they didn’t fight they have slept together went on walks together and seemed to get along just fine Sam was also adopted from the same animal shelter they were both mistreated but Mitchell always been a sweetheart and never attacked him and Sam have shared same food bowls and water bowls but this time was different they bumped into each other and boom Mitchell had Sam’s face and was trying to rip it off Sam on the other hand went for Mitchell’s neck I’ve never seen them fight this bad and they both needed vet care when Mitchell was done he peed all over himself and was very scared and even went up to Sam to check on him if he attacked him out of fear I’m just scared that he will attack one of my children now or even myself he seems to have been getting territorial with me because I’m pregnant right now but again I’m so worried about the kids it took about 20 minutes to get them off of each other and it was a very shocking thing to experience if you can give some knowledge on this I’d be happy to hear he’s never bit me or my children before but the attack was random and there were no warning signs at all

  31. I gave my older dog a treat he growled at my younger dog then they started fighting. I had a hard time breaking them up. My older dog ended up with a bite behind ear and my younger dog had nothing. From now on im going to keep them separate when i give a treat

  32. Tonight, my dog and my parents dog got wrapped up in each other’s collars. We were able to get them apart and once we did, I noticed that my dog was bleeding from a bite on both legs. Our blue heeler was out there when this occurred and we know she was the one who broke our dogs skin. They’re minor bites but bad enough to make our other dog limp a little. After the whole ordeal, our healer wanted to check on her. She’s incredibly protective over our injured pup and my question is, is it possible that our heeler thought she was helping our injured pup, or was she caught up and intending to injure her. My parents pup was completely unharmed minus being a little freaked out but ours has bite marks on the inside of her hind leg and the outside of another. Both dogs were completely stressed out and they were all fine with each other after the ordeal. We’re just concerned with what to do next and what the intent may have been.

  33. I have been in a house where friends have two dogs 1 small and 1 big but very nice and sweet would never harm a fly! These friends brought a couple to stay with them who had to big dogs a black wolf looking dog and a brown dog well the brown dog was always growling at Lord the house dog at every passing causing the black dog to do the same lord growled back but then the brown dog and black dog attacked lord biting lord on the side a deep puncter and on the back leg.

  34. Is there anything I can put on my dogs ears to deter another dog from constantly attacking his ears? I travel for work and another dog is constantly attacking my dog and messing his ears up. If so let me know, otherwise I will have to tell my kennel folk that this other dog must Be muzzled if there together or I will have to find another kennel.
    Thanks

  35. Just adopted a2.5 year old lab/ husky mix. She’s is super sweet and seemed typ get along with my chihuahua mix whose 11yo. Then I gave them both bones and as soon as lab saw my chi ho near her bone she attacked his neck. No harm done just sore for a bit. Then…. while I wasn’t looking the next morning my husband gave her the bone back and walked away. She attacked again only this time drawing blood on my chi’s neck. Is this something I should be worried about?

    • Absolutely! The bigger dog obviously has toy/food/bone aggression issues. Best advice, do not feed them in the same area, do not allow them to have toys or bones in the same area and never leave them unsupervised.

  36. I need help. My pit bull/ bull mastiff just nearly killed my pug mix. Can someone contact me. Idk what to do. Ever says to put down the pit. Its a nightmare. Please help or direct me to more resources or articles like this one.

    • It’s a hard situation when one fur baby hurts another. Knowing what precipitated the incident is helpful. Why Did the Pit bull attack it was it defending itself? Pit bulls are the killing machines people make them out be but they are big and strong. See if there is a specialized trainer in your area to help you know how to keep both pups safe and how to deal with any issues the two are having. My German Shepherd is super jealous of my son’s pitty and will start a fight and loose so now they are kept separate when visiting.

    • Kathy Schnelle

      knowing what started it is the main help….but these are 2 completely different kinds of dogs that don’t necessarily hang together. Check with local bully breed groups and see if they can recommend a good trainer. You didn’t mention ages of the dogs, that can play into things also. Until you get a better handle on things, I would suggest keeping them separate unless they are right with you–and even then if they may be “you possessive” and that could cause a problem. Don’t give up on the pitty yet, there are people out there that can help. They are not “killing machines” but often they do follow the idea of–they won’t start the fight but they will finish it”, but that is terriers in general not just pits, the breed were bred to kill rodents, small game, and bull baiting…not their fault but slightly in their genes. But most dogs can be trained

  37. NOT the killing machines

  38. Dawn O Tibbott

    Can you please email me directly? If not then here we go…I have a going on 14yr old neutered boxer, a 5 yr old rescued terrier also neutered (she’s an angel unless provoked ( playing)),and brother and sister terrier pits they are just a year old.. He’s cut she’s not…. Tonight she (1yr old) went after my 14 yr old.. Causing some deep puncture and lacerations to ears area and a few on front legs at “elbow” area… (Going to vet tomorrow… Serious)This is second time going after ears .. He has been diagnosed with cancer but isn’t suffering so we let him be…. Is this a concern..I have a 11 yr old son in house also…. I’ve read so many articles not sure which way to go and need help/guidance/opinions… Thank you in advance for time

    • Kathy Schnelle

      if the pits are only a year old, there is a lot of energy there….because they are a strong breed both in the physical and emotional they need structured training right away. In the meantime keep the senior boxer separated from them and be at peace in his last months. But training is crucial especially with this breed and with children in the house–training the child also in how to deal with them correctly keeps everyone safe.

  39. Sylvia Gutierrez

    Please. I found my 7lb yorkie in my yard yesterday. With half of his body missing, or torn away. I’ve got a 4 month old female border collie and a very nervous 8 year old ridgeback, too. The ridge back was given to me over 2 years ago. And I never had any trouble with her and my yorkie. She kept to herself, never snapped at the yorkie. They’d nap together sometimes. Then I got the female border collie hoping she’d be a playmate with my yorkie. I only allowed them to mix together after the female received two rounds of shots afraid of parvovirus.. She hasn’t gotten the last round because of coronavirus. Anyway, the female border collie is a pup. I can’t walk her yet or fix her, either. So, I heard the dogs start barking but I didn’t hear a fight. I thought maybe something had gotten into the back yard An I was going to need to go out there. But the barking stopped it lasted only a few second. The collie doesn’t seem to be that aggressive but she is an animal. Can you tell me if she’d do this?

    • Kathy Schnelle

      Did you find any answers? The Yorkie being so small and vulnerable my guess is it was a simple playtime that escalated quick and was done. Puppies of any breed can over play and be too rough. I had some puppies destroy a kitten when I was young, and I’m sure they were not out to kill it just happened. Plus the possibility of pack mentality–the Border maybe has a bit of a prey drive and did attack and the Ridgeback joined in naturally, I’ve see it happen….dogs that are fine with another animal but another dog instigates and they all join in. Border collies are intense, that’s in their job description…get some training for her. Good luck and sorry for your loss

  40. I wish I could tell you what it was why it happened and what role I played ior.what happened. Am.i at fault, getting them to become worse as a result of me. Here’s all the info maybe it’s not important but maybe itll help me understand… Shes 8 and had no socialization until age 4 when we adopted her. We started slowly w a well socialized dog about 1.5 yrd after letting her settle in and learn us and the home. The 1st temp foster I brought in was badly behaved but she loved him. she spent 8 months w buddy 2x her size. Her new mastiff bff that never drew blood and here was in tact and took alot of her pettiness and yelling. Shed pushed him w food and toys me but he loved her. With him and her I learned the difference between arguments and fights and what wrestling play looks like always afraid of its potential but luckily never got beyond me with 200lbs of pitt mastiff escalating. He 4 and fixed at almost 5. He began to get aggressive at her in new ways that never were issues. Exibetred instants of confusion and brief bursts out of nowhere that had never happened. He started to snap at people with backs turned that he new. Went for her side if the house at feeding and drew blood w a puncture to her neck. Last incident at 2 months fixed was when met a human as always had before 30 plus times was indicating no issue posting g or signs I could see not until the last moment that if I could 1
    Re do it 100 times I’d be shocked 100 times the subtle difference was headed to a cat 5 bite to an arm that brought this person to the ground. Buddy held him there no shaking no restrike. I was never the same but 3 yrs later last week I took in an 18 month old and half her size..introduced them.myself alone ish and both him and her were well behaved. 5 days with only well adjusted behaviors I observed and some uncertain behaviors I carefully didnt assume about but didnt decide they were threats because hed only just arrived. He had no time to adjust. New hed had multiple handlers over 18 minths separation anxiety and other in tact male puppy dog stuff that I did not consider out of the ordinary and squashed it positively. This evening the feeling like this dog brought a knife to start a dig fight and found the opportunity to do it w both me and my husband backs turned is so upsetting. It started the next second the sound became very different and I could hear it wasnt right and felt l it was not normal for her and not familiar with him I took to her call immediately because she sounded not at all like I’d experienced with her from any and all situations thats sounds of her vocal communicating between a new dog and the sounds shed make during. Various levels of play and fights had ever sounded. wed been in alpt of dog interactions before this and that made me better able to identify situations in advance. I feltcomfortable with some things like how these dogs play styles disturbing and can erupt. Luckily I’ve not experienced play turned aggressive fight. Shes engaged with all sizes ages female male and I’ve made mistakes for sure so resources are strictly monitored to my experienceike water food toys even me and my I interactions at various points like returning home and outdoor play but I’m not professional so I’m not qualified with this dogs well being or a behaviorist during high stress anxiety. . When it happened. I immediately began to intervene w my husband who had no idea what to do which probably made her injuries worse. This was the longest fight I’ve experienced and nothing about it felt appropriate and what caused the dog’s
    to be provoked. Research made everything possible and all has began to feel like it’s the trigger despite te triggers being explainable or w out issue or with reasons to dismiss things like feeding with no food. My return but riefly greeting and brought out side to potty left 10 to 15 min w no incident about me returning. His food spot w no food and the treat diapenseey was seperated from him and no food near him .she was not paying any attention to him and several feet away where he was just sitting mellow watching me put groceries in the fridge w my husband next to me. We both turned our backs a moment and heard it start. Its unclear which dog I heard 1st I think Dixie then him and 2 feet away from us. Immediately he was on her leaving 3 wounds to her ear and 1 to her neck at the base of her ear. No.idea where the jugular is. This dog Turbo had NO injuries. He wouldnt let go of her ear and Ichose to risk redirection to me or my husband and used my thumb as a break stick. It Did my hand some injury and vague recal uttering some command that hed have no idea about but hoped my tione translated. Dixie still screaming I got it to open enough my husband pulled him away and put him.in his crate where he sat calmly. After securing g ger in a seperate room I took a minute to calm myself. I new hed be hurt and I went to check him for any wounds. I found it a realky disturbing when o went over his whole body top to toes and there was not 1 scratch on him. Shes no slouch and her last housemate 120 llbs she has a Dane mix and a puppy. She only went a bit over once w the puppy and felt badly so she gave him a treat of hers shed hidden on me. I new she didnt really like it but she new she lost it. She got the treat right after and left it for him to make peace while my husband’ started to tell her no like she was antaganizimg i stopped him and said watch. His jaw dropped as she put it down middle of the room and walked away as I td the pup to go get it she passed him and sat next to me where he was first and she looked up like sorry ma but it was my least favorite of my toys not his but I no I messed up so did i fix it. And she had.
    I no her that well and Shes really good at this she and I are well tuned together and I may have missed this q . But worse is not knowing what to make of him w out a mark at all anywhere. In all that she didnt fight back or did she decide not to leave a mark to tell me something about this aggression or was it Cuz I was in her way and she couldn’t. I no shes very good at communicating w me and vice versa. But this time the sound the dog w no Mark’s and then her posture the next day felt like she felt like shed messed up and failed. Like she didnt do anything that he should react that way so viciously and she was sorry she failed. I could tell she felt like shed failed her task knowing this task before w other dogs but she is ok now. I found out hes viciously attacked others prior to.this but had never gone that long in a new home w out the attacks under 2 days hrd and a dominance aggression. I cant figure out what I missed and how to help him when he is w no other animals and has no master. I worry he may turn on a human or a kid that’s between his next home. .

    • Kathy Schnelle

      Apologies, very hard to follow because of all the info., Is it that one dog that is having problems? a pit /mastiff 5 yrs. old? With foster dogs that come in? Without understanding completely, the first thing is to get a trainer or behaviorist to evaluate the dog. In the meantime he is never to be around any of the other dogs. Also it sounded like there have been attacks on people when their backs are turned?!? This is very dangerous, especially with a 200 lb. dog. Inform all people around the dog, and probably not have others around until situation is figured out. And you may have to consider not having more fosters in anymore as long as he is around—or they can not be by him under any circumstances.

  41. Patrick Gilligan

    Wow, so glad I found this…

    Just this past Thursday, my wife and I were in our kitchen getting dinner ready, when my adult daughters’ 7 year old pit mix and 8 year old chocolate lab went at each other. It was violent enough that the 3 of us couldn’t break them up without beating on them with something hard enough to distract them, got them apart and then discovered my daughter almost lost her thumb from a bite.

    She ended up with a three hour surgery with pins and a cast.

    The 2 dogs have a history of really random dust ups. They’ve been together for 6 years.

    Our initial reaction is try to relocate the pit mix, because we love him and he’s meant to be in an only dog home (actually both qualify for that).

    Dogs are currently quarantined in the home. No time together.

    • Kathy Schnelle

      You are doing what is best right now, keeping them apart. Giving up a dog you love is one of the hardest things. So if you go that route make sure you check the home out completely, watch for red flags, they shouldn’t have a dog(or they know how to handle/train dogs)…because pits are notoriously used as bait dogs or for fighting, so don’t let him go to the wrong person. Always have a decent rehoming fee, that helps eliminate some of the problem people.
      Or have they been to a trainer? At this age, habits etc.. would need to be undone, but it can happen. But dog fights can be traumatic, been in a few myself and just about lost the tips of 2 fingers–and that was my trusted dog, but she was in the zone.
      Good luck

  42. Why would anyone want to keep any aggressive dog that has purposely caused harm to another dog or dog owner , really seriously! Makes me sick . I have a boxer dog have always had boxers on my 5th they are gentle excitable and loving and have not had one with a bad bone in their body towards people dogs or other animals . It makes me sick to think that my naturally friendlly playfull dog could potentially meet another dog to play and be visciouly attacked and has happened before , there are so many owners walking around with aggressive dogs which I don’t understand and they don’t take precautions to protect other dogs from them I e keep on a lead muzzle etc and they know there dogs are like it and when they do attack another dog it’s always the same excuse from em ,. Oh he / she is never normally like that never done that before yeah right bollocks ! Or it’s your fault your dog’s off the lead and mines on the lead or vice versa oh it’s because your dog is on the lead and mine is off my dog thinks yours is on a lead for a reason had all these bullshit excuses from other owners to explain there agressive dogs behaviour. One owner even said to me oh has your dog got its bits (balls ) yes oh well mine has not and doesn’t like dogs that have well obviously that owner had there dog’s removed because dog was probably already aggressive boisterous unsocialized and probably scent marking in doors so they prob had em whipped off to stop all that . So I said to the owner that didn’t work did it cutting the dogs balls off still obviously aggressive , should of pulled it’s fucking teeth out not it’s balls off I would be more worried bout your dog bitting another to death than fucking it to death and I’m certain if you’d whipped my balls off I’d be as angry as your dog
    !

    • Neutering the dog usually does help with lowering the hormones they have going through their system causing the dog to calm down. However, some dogs are not affected by it as much. And if you take a moment to read my comment/question, you can see that behavior can change and sometimes its not bull shit when the owner says he normally doesn’t act like this… oh and maybe the person wants to keep their dog that they have a very strong attachment to to try to fix the problem instead of shoving it off on another person, a shelter or rescue, or taking a life. All dogs can be trained, watch Ceaser do some magic, not all humans can be rehabilitated…
      `\(•.•)/`

  43. Not sure what level we are at….I have rescued/fostered Bulldogs for over 10 years (English, Olde English, French) so I am very breed savvy and understand their temperament & quirks. There have been disagreements, tussles and fights without any significant injury fortunately. I have 6 that are my own 3 being Frenchie females. 2 are breeder rescues (2 yrs old) however my 2.5 yr old has never been breed but rescued non the less. She is playful, goofy and clingy as per the breed however if she gets into a fight with one of the EBD she will grab hold and shake and its usually the butt or hind leg. These are dogs she gets along with 90% of the time but typically sibling rivalry and nothing specific. They are fine when its over but she has caused injury that has required antibiotics, nothing repaired, but I have never seen the latching on and shaking like she does in my years with the Frenchie breed. Is there a way to address this, to stop it without making an injury worse? If this will be a continuous thing I will have to rethink rehoming her to a home without other dogs. Any advice would be appreciated. Thank you Peggy

    • Kathy Schnelle

      Not a breed I am as familiar with, but just addressing the behavior–have you seen what caused the fights? were you present? The places she grabs on concerns me according to research—it is a more escalated bite area. Is she bigger than the others or are they close to the same size and weight? Watch for tells that fights may be coming, and probably separate her from the others if you are not with them all for now. As a rescue she may have a trigger from her past that starts her up. Bring in a trainer to evaluate also, second set of eyes to see things you might be too close to see.

  44. Hello, thank you for this information!! It was very insightful! I do have a question on recommendations on how to handle my boys at the moment. I have a 12 year old Beagle mix, Titan, a 6 year old Lab mix, Ares, and a 7 month old Retriever mix, Zeus. We have had Titan since he was about 5/6 years old, Ares since he was about 6 weeks old, and Zeus for about 4 1/2 months now. Ares has never bitten another dog before and is actually quite attached to Titan (checks to make sure he’s there when they go outside, cuddle together on their bed, etc) and has never even snapped at Titan. Zeus and Ares play very well together, well did, except when it came to food, Ares would snarl his face (not make a sound) when there was human food out (but wouldn’t make any kind of fuss on sharing their dog food – we have an elevated feeder that has 2 slots for them. Zeus has food allergies and Titan has a sensitive stomach so under vet suggestion we feed them adult sensitive stomach salmon flavored). About a week ago, we moved across the country and Ares has acted extremely unusual ever since. He has started humping Titan all.the.timeeeee (getting neutered in August), shaking uncontrollably when in the car, when it rains or when fireworks go off for hours and hours even after it’s done (this is a normal behavior for Titan – he came from a very bad situation and has always acted this way, we have been addressing it with thunder jackets, calming treats and sprays, and have recently had to revert to Trazadone which seems to be the only thing to help keep him calm during these situations) where before the move, Ares loved car rides, and storms and fireworks wouldn’t even phase him a bit. Even being unaltered, we have never seen him hump another dog (even a friends unaltered female) until literally this last week, but that brings us to what has happened over the last 2 days. Yesterday, Ares bit Zeus in the face. It wasn’t deep, but there were 3 spots on his cheek that were bleeding and got cleaned out, currently healing perfectly fine. We aren’t completely sure what led up to it, we were eating dinner in the dining room while they were in the bedroom (currently staying with family while waiting for our place to become available) when we heard the yelp and went running in to find Ares cowering in the corner (like when he knows he isn’t supposed to go into the trash but does – he would put himself in time out kind of thing – he doesn’t get punished and isn’t allowed to watch us clean it up, I’ve been told that it can show the dog they are more dominant if they see you cleaning up the mess, and obviously it’s not appropriate to punish a dog in any way if its not immediately during the behavior) and Zeus’ face bleeding (Titan went under the bed, he’s our sensitive old man :)). We kept them all separated for the rest of the day unless directly under our supervision. This was also after Ares decided to hop the fence for the first time ever and take a tour of the neighborhood twice in one day two days ago (which also has never happened before – he’s even had accidental opportunities before and never once taken them, not to mention where we lived before had a very low barely 3 foot fence that he never jumped, but very easily could. Remember, we are not only new to the area but we are also new to the state). Long story short, he got out one more time today (now has been grounded to his lead when he goes outside) and bit Zeus again, but this time on his neck above the jugular. A bit of hair is missing and it did bleed a little, but Zeus is OK and back to acting like his happy go lucky self. This behavior has been so unlike him, I start my new job with a vet actually next week, and he will be getting neutered in the very near future and can get some major portions addressed. Any recommendations for the meantime?

    • Kathy Schnelle

      You have moved!!!That is the big thing. Everything has changed for them, the sights, the smells, the people in their lives. They are stressed, give them time to accumulate themselves to this change. But I do recommend separating when you are not present, and when they eat—this is often a good idea with any dogs. And as far as getting loose, a higher fence may be needed or supervision when outside.
      Hopefully the neuter will help, and maybe find a trainer to help you help them to adjust to their new lives there. Good luck

  45. I own a westie Eva who is 12 and blind. She used to regularly go to our condo neighbor’s place for love and treats. They had two old big dogs I’d guess 80-100 lbs who passed way over the last year, who seemed to like her or ignore her, I don’t know which. Four months ago they adopted a mature malamute mix from a shelter. Denali is big. 100lbs or so. They know nothing about her background. When she was introduced to Eva on our back patio, Denali, after acting calm at first, went after Eva, picking her up and shaking her until I got her off. Eva went to the vet and had puncture wounds. I’d have to find the.invoice to determine locations,and number, which I can do tomorrow If you like. Yesterday I made a loud noise that spooked Eva, and she ran to the neighbor’s sliding door. She had been gun-shy of that area after the first attack, so she must have been pretty disoriented. The owner saw Eva at the door and opened the door to give her a treat, At that point Denali broke through the screen door and mauled Eva again the same way. This time was worse. Chest puncture wound requiring a drain, low neck puncture wound, and two pretty deep punctures on her backside. Eva was not leashed and on their patio, which was the first thing I heard from them. So, big dog gets off on a technicality. I found out my biggest mistake was failing to report the first attack because they paid the vet bill and seemed very concerned about Eva. You have no idea how guilty I feel now for not doing that. I’d like your opinion on the level of danger this dog might present to other little dogs she might encounter in public walks. The refrain besides unleashed and on our property is also “She gets along with other little dogs I don’t know why she attacks Eva” which to me sounds as if they believe Eva is somehow responsible for her own victimization. Twice, with increasing severity in four months. I think she is a rogue dog, I adopted one in the past. A St Bernard. He did the same thing. Same progression of severity until he killed one. What do you think? Please help me resolve this thing in my own mind. Not the guilt, but how to try to see that this doesn’t happen to another dog.
    Thank You

  46. Kathy Schnelle

    Malamutes are great dogs but often have a prey drive, so a tiny dog like yours is fair game, and after one attack there will usually be another. Also there is the phenomena of taking out the weakest link, being old and blind makes her this also. Is there not a fence between you and the neighbor? If not and can’t be–you will need to keep her away from Danali. If there is a polite way of suggesting a good trainer or behaviorist, I would do it for the safety of other small animals. Maybe since they don’t know her background that would be your opening.
    Take your little one out a different door and don’t let her go that direction. Being older and blind this will be hard for her but for her own safety and longevity it will be necessary.

  47. Mário Francisco França da Silva

    I have two dogs, all of them mixed breed dogs, the older one, a male with 11 years and a female with 3 years. She grown up with him, but since she got older, and far bigger than him (she is mixed from english mastiff), we need to keep them away from each other because every time she aproches him, he starts to growl, and it escalate to a fight realy fast. He showed the same behavior with his deceased brother. This is even worse when it has food, or people involved, the last time, even trough the gate, they fight over a piece of bread, and she cut his nose. I don’t know it it is because of their size diference (he has about 25 kilograms, and she 40) but he aways try to bite her chest/paws/neckm but aways end up with the bad injuries. Sometimes they get together and even sleep togheter but is one of us show up, and they start a fight. Also, if she see’s another dog walking in the street she became agressive and start do jump in the gate, and urinate in it. While walking, she acts like a surprise box, if the dog aproache her with no sign of agression (as if a golden did in a park near home) she starts to play with, if not, (like an american pitbull that ment to targeted her) she get into the violence realy entusiaticly, and it is realy hard to restrain her impetuosity. I need to know what are we doing wrong with these dogs. And i hope you can help us. Thank you very much from Brazil.

  48. Sounds like someone who is trying to make some money and a career by knowing how dogs think. While some of it makes sense, she really lost me when she said “While she’s never seriously hurt another dog, she’s punctured the skin on a face or ear on a handful of occasions.”. That doesn’t sound like she does a good job with Layla and makes me question how responsible she really is.

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