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!

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

  1. Are you still available for discussion about this

  2. Heather Johnson

    Our Shepard mix grabbed our little pug in the mouth and lucky I was close by to break it up by opening Bella’s jaws and getting Bailey out. Bailey is torn up behind her ear and her back is sore to touch.
    We have had Bailey since she wa 6 weeks old and now she is 10 years old. I adopted Bella 2 years ago as the family was putting her down as they had a new baby.. They had problems will Bella running off when when they opened their door. I have had no problems. She shakes hands when I leave and I always bring her a reward when I get home. This is the second time she has grabbed for the head. I would appreciate any help you could give me. I love her and she has everything she wants. Bailey, is the world to me and I was so stressed and shaken all night. I just could not sleep. Thank You kindly.

    • Heather I also have a big dog (Doberman mix) that has attacked our small dog (Chihuahua) repeatedly. I finally found an absolute no-kill rescue that will take the Doberman and re-home her in a home without any other dogs. I feel terrible about it because I have had both dogs (rescues) for 5 years but this is the 3rd major attack on the chichi. Feels like the best way to handle it but I feel really bad every time I look at the Dobie. In every other way she has been such a good dog. They spend much of the day snuggled up together so I just don’t get what happens when the attacks start.

  3. I have a quick scenario that just happened and would love some insight. Our yellow lab which is such a sweet 7 year old will air snap at my parents chocolate lab if he walks by when they are eating or if he has a bone or treat. They play together all the time and wrestle daily. While we were on vacation the dog sitter came home to find the yellow lab bloody with puncture wounds on the top of his head and a gash on his neck. We don’t know exactly what happened or who the aggressor was but we are assuming the yellow lab started it over food. The chocolate lab drags everything off the counters so we are guessing something was left out and he got it down. This is their first fight and it was a doozy. Should we be worried or just make sure and monitor their actions when food or treats are present. Thanks for any advice

    • I’m not sure if you’ve taken an approach, but I have a rescue who was extremely food aggressive when I got him. He had even been in a few fights with his previous owner’s other dog because of it. So I don’t personally know how it all started, but once he was my baby I worked very hard for a very long time, almost over a year to break him of it. I’d say since it first started with passive aggressive snapping and has progressed to a physical altercation that I think you should definitely keep an eye out when food is around, & if you do your own training then start one on one with a treat-leave it exercise & slowly progress to doing in with both at the same time alternating who gets to eat it. I’m no professional, but that & being very stern are what helped me, because he was also aggressive towards me when eating.

  4. I have 2 dogs for the first time ever and I love having 2 but it’s also a steep learning curve. They’re both cavaliers. Our new pup is a 6 month old male and our other one is a 2.5yo girl. It took a while for her to warm up to him but now they play wrestle half the day. Recently though our girl has started getting nasty towards her brother over toys and treats. It started when I got them goat horns to chew on – she decided both were hers and bit Milo on the face (didn’t puncture), now she does it over ice cubes (which she never liked before we got him), and today she even tried biting him on the face after I gave them both a piece of kangaroo sausage, she inhaled hers then tried intimidating him into spitting out his tiny bite sized piece almost as soon as I’d put it in his mouth by growling and launching at his head (I don’t think she bit him that time though but it looked bad). She is fine with food with me and my boyfriend. I can pat her all over and take away her treats and meals even when they’re already in her mouth and she doesn’t mind. Our friends keep telling us not to interfere so they can establish a proper hierarchy but I’m starting to worry if she’s going to become permanently food/toy aggressive towards other dogs. It’s also hard for me to tell if she’s just nipping his face or if she’s trying to do real damage when she growls and is all over him and he cries out. I don’t want to intervene too late. Do you have any advice for me? :(

  5. Currently, we have two big dogs and two little dogs. Sheila (15 yro Chihuahua), Lala (4 yro Chihuahua), Ebby (4 yro Pittie; rescued 1 1/2 yrs ago) and Greenie (6 yr Pittie; fostering for 4 months now).

    Things have been great with the exception that Greenie has been a little food aggressive which we learned to handle and he has snapped at Sheila 2-3 times but never making physical contact.

    Last night, the dogs were wanting to come in the door and we could hear Greenie scratching at the door. Then I heard growling and a quick fight (which I immediately thought was just the big dogs getting annoyed with each other like they usually do) but then I heard screeching from the little dog. One of the big dogs bit Lala over her face and she has 4 puncture wounds. Greenie ran off and hid. Ebby immediately wanted to lick Lala’s wounds.

    While we didn’t actually see what happened, we are making assumptions based on what we heard.

    Does anyone know of a good way to tell which dog might have attacked?

    • Unfortunately in your case I have no idea who could’ve started it, but I do know from experience that my rescue chihuahua has little dog syndrome, & has more than once snapped at two of my larger dogs. The big ones get curious & sniff, nuzzle, or sit on him and he goes crazy, but thankfully neither big dog has fought back. I think in your case it’s either something like that, maybe lala got stepped on, or since your are fostering greenie he/she could be getting overly attached. I’ve had the attachment issues with our medium sized rescue, & some scuffles have happened with him & my largest dog because he’s very overprotective & territorial of my husband.m.

  6. Kirsty McGregor

    We have just introduced a 5 month old rescue pup into our family. We have two other dogs and Arthur, an 18 month old lurcher keeps attacking the new pup over resources. We manage resources as much as possible but yesterday there was an attack over a spider/grub found in the garden. There is no question he is bullying the new pup which we are working on but in the meantime I’d like to understand a bit more about the intensity of Arthur’s attacks. He’s never drawn blood but the attack is rapid with very little warning – the first verbal cue is the snarl of the attack. When I pull him off he’ll try and go back for more and seems to particularly go for the pup’s legs but I’m not sure if that’s just because the pup is on his back screaming. It sounds awful and looks scary but no injuries have been sustained… yet. It’s certainly not harmless as Arthur looks like a dog possessed and always wants to go back for more. Like I said, I’m working on the bullying aspect and am trying to ensure these attacks don’t happen as I don’t want new pup to be a victim but it would be good to understand the level of Arthur’s ferocity and his long-term rehabilitation chances. I should also say that he attacked our second dog in a similar manner when we first got her but they’re fine together now. He’s domineering though and still sometimes steals her toys but we correct the bulling that we see.

  7. Hi,

    Your post is very helpful to me, because we had a similar incident occur. I have 2 dogs and yesterday, my border collie pup bit the other dogs face and he needed stitches. We witnessed the incident which was a quick bite, triggered by a suet cake (it was hanging off a chair, the border collie​ was interested in it, and the hound came over to investigate and that’s when he bit) i think he thought it was a special dog treat, of which there was just one, because it smelled like a rollhide bone which they love. I have since removed all suet feeders from the back yard (to the front yard which is not accessible or visible to the dogs). they usually get along great- the only other times the border collie pup has lashed out at him has been when one of them has a rawhide bone, and I want to say it’s infrequent but now I realize it may be because the hound backs down so readily. My border collie has growled and sometimes even trembles when he has a rawhide bone and the hound comes over towards him, which I respond to by telling him no and taking away the rawhide and storing it out of sight. The border collie seems almost relieved when I do this. Am I right to stop giving my dogs special bones except when they are each in their crates? Seems like my border collie just can’t handle it.

  8. Hi … i am also experience some trouble with my two dogs they are both male and the older one keeps on biting the younger one in the face …. he will stand on top of the younger one and bite him a few times.

  9. The hard part is two females can seemingly get along fine until some defining moment over food dropped on the floor sets off the near death or even fatal explosion. It’s important to see if that the case in a controlled situation. Leashed. Big dogs big damage. It’s also critical you don’t panic but take aggressive action to separate the two. Usually the one on top needs to be tackled if need be They cool off fast but waiting for it to end is deadly.
    I just had a friend’s happy rescue pit bull go for my dog over dropped food. Day two and my lazy pocket pit rescue is in major pain. The friends dog was in a deadly fight.
    The owner stood and watched. I did not.
    It took a soft kick though for her to disengage. The pocket didn’t have a chance. Had I not she would be dead today.
    So ya never know when other dogs come by the farm.
    Never ever mix food at the barbecue with dogs who do not know each other running around. Talk about a bummer when someone’s loved pet has to be put down or yours gone too. Be safe. Read up at Caesar Milans site and we can all be happier
    Good luck all. 5 dogs. 2 horses. Lol

  10. I just broke up a dog fight. Two English Bulldogs. One 5 years old the other 6 months old. The older dog would often corner the younger, to which I would have to pull them apart. However the younger dog has been running after the big after I pull them apart.

    In the most recent case, the aforementioned happened again, accept I had the older by the collar and the younger ran around me to bite the dog on the back leg. The blood was bright red and, naturally, the cut was not deep enough for any sufficient blood flow. In fact bleeding ceased within the minute. However, it concerns me that, after the situation is diffused, this younger one has the need to bite the other dog. Another note: this older dog is much bigger than the younger and has shown aggression on several occasions. Although the older never bites, her aggression towards such a smaller animal is unnerving.

    These situations arise when the older is trying to put the younger “in his place” so I think of it as natural. Still, I don’t want the younger to get used to this situation. The younger is coping with these confrontations tooth and nail.

    Any advice is appreciated.

  11. The only dog fight I’ve seen actually turn bloody was between two sled dogs (Alaska huskies) when a tourist didn’t follow instructions. There are about 40 dogs in that camp, but only two white ones. Naturally these were the two that ended up fighting. Both got several cuts to the face and ears if I remember correctly but neither needed stitches so the fight wasn’t too bad. More of a loud and strong disagreement than a true fight. But still, those kind of wounds bleed a lot and both dogs were completely white so it looked rather horrendous. Add in some nice white snow to soak up the blood as well and you have one throughly shocked tourist!

  12. I recently took back my rescue dog to the shelter because she was in a fight with our other dog. She bit the other dog multiple times around the neck and face and me when I got in between. These two dogs had been together almost a year but the tensions between them just seem to be getting worse in the last couple of months. I know the dog did not mean to injure me but she got me pretty deep in the leg and the other dog had some puncture wounds in the neck. I have been heart broken and guilt ridden since. I keep trying to justify going back and getting her but a little voice in my gut says no. I just don’t know what to do. I don’t if it’s safe to bring her back.

  13. Connie, You did the right thing, IMO. It’s cruel to expose your other dog to attacks like this. And to keep them constantly apart is a struggle, and simply unrealistic. You are human and will make mistakes, which may result in more injury to your other dog. I live with keeping mine apart. It’s difficult.

    The other dog may need to be an only dog. There are dogs like that.

    If you go get her, maybe this problem won’t resurface for a while, but it will resurface, now that she’s decided that’s how she will handle certain situations. Then it would be even harder to take her back and for her to find another home. I waited too long, which is why I still have both. The problem didn’t even occur for several years, then when it did, I worked on i for several more years, but the problem never went away. Now I always keep the “alpha” leashed so I can grab the leash at any moment, and I let her sleep in my BR, but only if her leash is tied to a nearby table. I can’t risk her attacking my other dog again. Ever. The only alternative at this point is to have her put to sleep. She’s on Prozac now, and the plan is working, but it’s hard on me.

    You did the right thing, before more time passes. I hope she finds another home, where she’s an only dog. The shelter needs to tell people her history & that she needs to be an only dog. Did you make sure they wrote down her issue in her papers?

  14. Unfortunately I had to deal with this and one of my rescues. The fights came on quicker with no warning that I could see. Just all of a sudden bam. The votes escalated to higher level bites and both vets at the clinic recommended euthanasia which I did have to come to terms with. The last fight she almost killed my little dog and my nephews were here to see it. Blaze was on one couch with one nephew and Lexie on the other boys said all of a sudden blaze attacked Lexie out of nowhere. Sad sad day but blaze did have issues that I spent her whole life working on. Nose work helped her gain confidence but caused other issues like over focus on squirrels the dog next door etc. her fearfulness turned into aggression at maturity and she became a liability that I could not trust. Broke my heart for sure. saddest day ever.

    • It would of been unfair to rehome the dog as she was a fearful dog. We took 3 classes a year at different locations to help her overcome fears. She would not get in a car took me months to get her to get in the car , she would not go outside on garbage day as the trucks scared her so we had to start early walk blocks until eventually we could walk the same street as garbage truck. She would fence fight the nieghbor dog and slam her face against the fence till she bleed. Nothing food, etc would get her to come I would have to go out there tackle her down and leash her to get her in house. She was fearful of new people so rehoming was not an broke my heart. I called the rescue I got her from to let them know and they knew the work I put into her and they were understanding that a new placement would not help the dog as no one would want to start all over with her.

  15. Hi Yesterday one of my dogs attacked the other, Hania the attacker is just over a year old and comes from a flushing hunting breed abut the size of a beagle. She was spayed 4 days ago and just before this had been staying with a friend for a couple of weeks. Dougie the victim is a 4 yr old cairn terrier he is usually placid but can snap if provoked. Previously they have gotten along pretty well playing and sharing a bed with the occasional spat,but nothing too serious and no injury. Over the last week Hania has attacked Dougie 3 times the last being the worst. Previous times was when they were in close proximity getting treats etc. But the last time she sought him out and attacked grabbing him across the back of the neck. He was squealing and she did not let go I had to intervene as I thought she was going to kill him. I picked him up and she just hung on. I tried prising her jaws apart, covering her nose and choking her to get her to loose her grip without success. Every time I got her off him he went for her!. eventually I managed to manhandle them to the door break her hold and shut her outside. I separated them and put her in her crate. She was pretty much unhurt so I took Dougie to the vet he has various wounds around the back and side of his neck and one ear. Although they were some puncture wounds none of them required stitching. When she is in the crate he lies on the bed next to the crate and there is no aggravation, she has been perfectly ok with my other dog. Once she is out the crate on a leash and within 5 feet of Dougie she gets that prey fixation and the ruff goes up. I bought her a muzzle and have been taking her out into the garden on a lead and she seems scared. Any advice would be welcome

  16. I recently had an incident with two of my dogs and what concerns me is one dog is much larger than the other. And it seemed reactive but I am scared deep down there may be a bigger problem at hand. Would love to connect with you to ask, if ok. A little further on what my next step to direct the problem. There is a slight back story I’d like to clarify. Please if you could I’d like to email you to seek a bit of guidance. Please and Thank you!

  17. I have two dogs, 6yo Great Dane-Mastiff and 12yo Alaskan Malamute-Timber Wolf both male, and I dog sit my boss’s 3yo female great dane M-F. The 12yo, Phin is starting to have some health issues. He is in medication for joint pain and is a little slower and weaker lately. Electra, my boss’s Dane has recently attacked Phin. Yesterday was the first time, it was over a bone. Phin grumbled at her when she came too close to him and she attacked him. I pulled her off of him, she had him pinned to the ground with her mouth over the back of his neck. I checked him out and she had punctured the skin. He seemed to be fine other than that and there wasn’t much bleeding at all. Today, she attacked him again. He was laying in the bedroom floor and when she was walking by he started grumbling again and she pounces on him. I was right there that time, so it did not escalate, but I am very concerned since Phin is only 65lbs and Electra is 130lbs. Even a little tiff, with his joints, could end very badly. They have all gotten along just fine up until this point. She may be challenging his place, but I do not see him deferring to her. I’m not sure how to ease the tension between them. Any advise would be appreciated. Thank you for your time.

  18. I had an incident with a foster dog. I generally do puppies, but took in a sad case of a full grown pit bull who was left abandoned and starved who had been attacked by other dogs numerous times unable to always defend himself. He has scars, puncture wounds and was missing fur from where the chain around his neck had been.
    This boy is a love bug first and foremost with people. Never once has he growled at me or shown any aggression.
    However, I made a huge error this week when I left him in the room with my other personal dogs and had just put down their food bowls. I was running late trying to get ready for work. I hear barking (not unusual in my house) and then thought I going to going to see what the deal is .. I start walking into the room and see Roman (the pit) lunging at my hound (Stella) because she is trying to go from my bedroom into the front room where the food is. Next thing I know my other 3 personal dogs get into the mix and I live alone. It seemed like it took me forever to remove dogs for the altercation so I could get to the 2 who were in the thick of it. He would not release so I grabbed the broom handle and whacked him a few times and he finally let go. I pushed her into the bedroom and took him out to the outdoor kennel.

    I was in tears. He was doing so good at transitioning into the house, he was sleeping in my bed at night and laying on the couch and even interacting with some of my other fosters. I checked on Stella and decided to take her to the vet to be sure. She had a few puncture wounds on her upper leg but they didn’t think it needed any sutures. We got some meds and went home.

    I checked on Roman, he had a few abrasions, but nothing major. I left him out in my outside kennels to give everyone a break not knowing how to deal with this since this was new to me. I know he is damaged, and I know he is a pit bull, but I also take full responsibility for putting him in that situation with the food when I knew he was food aggressive with dogs. He didn’t eat for the first few days in the kennel … he was sad, he would talk to me when he saw me outside, almost begging to give him another chance. I brought him out to the backyard the other night, just me and him and finally got him to eat. Last night I brought him into the house for a few hours, but my dogs were in another area of the house, I didn’t want to put Stella through anymore trauma and I didn’t want any altercations.

    I want to be able to keep working with him, he did not ask for the hand he has been dealt and I had not seen any other kind of aggression out of him with all the dogs that are in my house, which can be up to 10 at any given time, mostly puppies besides my own personal big dogs. I have signed him up for obedience classes in July. I am determined to give this dog a fair chance to be successful in living in a home … and I want him to be able to be in my home but I also want to be confident that my dogs will be safe when he is there … and I am just not trained enough to know how to make that happen and how to help him be successful but I can’t not try to do right by him. Any advice, guidance (besides taking food out of any equation, that lesson was learned already) would be greatly appreciated for those who rescue or are more familiar with the pit bull breed .. since this is my first experience with one.

  19. Thanks for this, it is very helpful particularly after the second fight our 2 spayed bitches have got into together. We have an old German shepherd Rottweiler, Roxie, and a 1 year old Doberman x Rottie, Thunder. We got the pup when she was 16 weeks old in part because our old dog is a good role model and very good with other dogs. However as she has shown a marked decline this last year I’m concerned over Thunders ability to really harm her. Roxie is a calm, gentle, confident dog but she’s not afraid to defend herself. She was attacked by our neighbour’s dog before – our neighbours dog has known anxiety issues with other dogs and is known to attack unpredictably. Thunder our pup, is a nudge. She has been trained but she requires follow up because she won’t always obey first time. She bounces back away from you if she thinks you’re going to grab her by the collar – for example to lead her away from Roxie when she’s pestering her. She pesters because she wants to play but seems unable or unwilling to react appropriately to Roxie’s growls when she’s basically telling her to bug off and leave her alone. She nips at Roxie’s hips if Roxie turns her back on her at these times. They’ve had 2 serious fights. On both occasions the injuries were to the ears and head but when Thunder was younger Roxie would grab her by the front leg- without breaking skin, but enough to make her limo for about an hour afterwards. In this last fight Roxie was being attacked and sustained worse injuries. Thunder would not back off or let go and I had to thump her repeatedly on the nose to get her sufficiently distracted to open her jaws so I could pull her away – as just pulling her off Roxie would have torn Roxie’s ear. Roxie was on her back but fighting back. When I dragged Thunder off her she got to her feet, went up to Thunder and growled straight in her face. This all took place outside. Afterwards they seemed to think. I more of it but Roxie is wary and Thunder keeps trying to lick her on her cut ears, to which Roxie responds by growling – and wagging her tail -????!!! Thunder is now following Roxie everywhere trying to lick her ear so we separated them. I’m bothered Thunder would not let go of Roxie. I’m bothered that Roxie still seemed to want to fight back after I separated them. I’m bothered that Thunder can’t seem to stop irritating Roxie when Roxie is clearly telling her to go away. I didn’t punish either dog. I simply kept them apart after it was over. I’m wondering if I should have pepper spray or something in case this happens again as Thunder seems entirely unperturbed by my efforts to get her off Roxie, and it might shock her enough to make her let go and not want to attack her again if that’s the consequence! But really I don’t know how to stop Thunder from being a persistent, pain one the ass, nudge. Advice very welcome!! Please!

  20. My shepherd and my westie both have always gone after each other when the last one enters the house, the westie started this “game” a couple of years ago; the shepherd has been getting more aggressive with this i have to correct her each time or hold her back and let the westie go in first; the westie is 5 and the shepherd is 4 just the other day, it escalated so quickly where they were both biting at each other– the shepherd of course way out powered the westie, when we got her away, she had punctured the back of the neck on both sides of my westie–its been a few days, i noticed her smelling the wesites neck this morning and then it looked like she was going to attack her again but we yelled her name and she moved away; not sure what to do–they havent really been by each other at all, but we cant live like that

  21. I’d like some input on my super unfortunate situation. We have a 2 yr old Aussie whom we’ve had since he was 8 weeks old. Super sweet to mostly everyone human (sure there are instances where he’s weary of some people) and gets along with most dogs- he’s super happy to play; any issues have usually been with other unneutered males. Super socialized and had some basic training. Is our baby. We recently had a “human” baby, whom he is very protective of. We trust him with the baby, but of course NEVER leave them alone together- he’s still a dog. About a year ago, before human baby, he got into a fight with my inlaws’ toy yorkie because yorkie tried to eat his food. We removed his food from the area, yorkie was shaken, but all was ok. Ever since, if we do leave the dogs at my inlaws, they are separated. Fast forward to this weekend. We head out to dinner, yorkie is closed in garage, our dog is in the house. FIL comes in, lets yorkie out accidentally because he went into garage, comes back out, plays at baby. Baby starts crying for whatever reason and SIL takes baby to try to hush him; yorkie takes a seat next to them. Our dog comes in and apparently heads over and attacks on yorkie. Just one bite, but one very unlucky bite. Did not try to continue hurting him like I’ve read in other stories where the one dogs basically shreds the other. Unfortunately the yorkie didn’t make it and of course we are all devastated. We all think it was our dog being super protective of the baby and thinking the yorkie was the cause of him crying/maybe the yorkie let out a growl since he’s been known to do that. SIL was the only witness and between the baby’s crying and how fast it happened, she is just foggy on how it went down. Talked to our vet, we are getting him fixed now, but he thinks it’s one of those unfortunate warning bites that would’ve otherwise been ok to a bigger dog, but wasn’t on this one since he was so small. He thinks since we weren’t there as “pack leaders”, he felt like he had to protect his baby pack-mate. My husband is ridiculously upset because the yorkie was originally his dog before leaving him with his parents. Now he has all these mixed emotions towards our aussie, whom otherwise has been our big love. I’m sick to my stomach and couldn’t imagine giving him away, but also am upset at the situation. After the incident, he’s been super quiet and sad-looking, almost as if he knows what he did. I don’t know what to do or how to help. My husband said he just needs time, knows it’s not the dog’s fault and that it was just a freak accident. Any input from anyone?

  22. I have two males and four females which all have been spayed/neutered. My two males are BISKIT MIXED WITH PITT BULL he was a rescue after Hurricane Katrina my other male AZZY RED BONE HUNTING DOG also a rescue. Biskit was 4 to 6 weeks old when I got him Azzy was 2 to 4 years old and was homeless ,starving,heartworms etc…. he was good in the beginning but Biskit is about 5 years older than Azzy. Biskit liked to hide his bonies and then I saw there was going to be a problem so I made sure that all the bonies were eaten at the time I gave them out. Now Azzy is jealous of Biskit because of how close we are. Biskit is more of an inside dog he likes to go out do his business and come back inside where Azzy will sit in the rain and bark at squirrels all day long. Biskit is 40lbs and Azzy is 65 lbs. Azzy has split Biskits ear in half and my husband glued it back together and has picked other fights with not suchlike injuries. Yesterday he jumped Biskit outside and Biskit has bite marks inside his ear well gashed and puncture holes behind his ear. Also we have a lab/Sheppard mix Freya who never meets a stranger and Azzy has jumped her twice. He knows he has done wrong walks past me with his head down but tries to go smell Biskits wounds and I will not lethim go by him at all. Thanks for letting me vent.

  23. I have a pit bull mix and a mastiff, they show aggression towards each other when it’s snack time. Any suggestions? The pit usually is the aggressor after the mastiff has found a snack or is slow eating her snack the pit will hover over the mastiff.

  24. Hi. I have toy poodles. Aged 12yo. She barks. Squeals. Then we got Ella as a 12 week old puppy. She loves her toys. Has lots of energy. We have had her 2 years now (aug). Ella is trained. Smart. Does not bark. Travels well. When jazz
    Jumped up on bed. Puppy started nipping her. Then if i called her Ella would nip her to do as i ask.
    There have been feral fights between these 2. But 12yo Jazz is forgiving.
    We have rehomed 2yo Holly, hoping she would play with energetic Ella.
    Ella tracks Jazz. Focus on her is i tense like watching sheep? Does this ring any bells.? We thought Ella wanted to play with Jazzy. And then Jazz’s reaction was what caused the fighting. My hiusband is scared. I am not scared to get between them. Holly gets on with. Both of them. Just before i was drying them from rain. Putting new tops on. And Jazz sqawked cos of pain im her back-neck. And Ella attacked. She shook Jazz. No blood or damage that i can see. Please tell me what to do. What do u think. Is shaking to be taken seriously. Ella gets on with the Griffon booys she loves them. She has mickey the French bull dog bailed up. But never harms him. She is good with my grandchildren. We put her in laundry fof 1 minute. Timer in oven goes off. She comes in and behaves beautifully.
    Is my old girl at risk from bossy boots ?

    Just before the dogs were wet

  25. i have a lab who doesnt get along with my other two dogs and they fought once and now its like they conpletwly hate eachother and my lab is the one who did the most damage to my pitbulls. I would like to get them being loving and social with eachothee again…oh and they have been around eachother for 3 yeara and just now there is agressuon towards one another

  26. Katherine Gómez

    Hi, my name is Katherine. I have 3 dogs I adopted a while ago ( the oldest has approx 3 years and the youngest about 1year). I have them in some sort of daycare where they can play with other dogs and have fun while I work, but in two occasions I was told that the youngest dog bite the oldest and in both times she took a portion of my dog’s skin (fur). They fought at home a couple of times a few months ago and the older dog bite the youngest legs and face (she was not able to walk for a couple of days) so it seems those two has some sort of undefined fight. According to daycare neither of them have troubles with other dogs, just the youngest with my oldest. Is there anything you recommend for this situation. Thanks!!

  27. My 7 yr old attacked my 5 yr old over a pigs ear… normally a great dog does well w/ other dogs…@ dog park, on walks, friends & strangers dogs
    This is the second time last time was over a dog cookies both times he has punctured our 5 yr old dogs front legs…. the 5 yr old does not fight back despite being 30 lbs bigger & lean muscle pit/ Kane corso ( sp) mix

  28. Hi. I Can’t seem to find your other articles but am very interested and desperate to find solutions as I’ve tried everything I can find. I have two special needs pomeranian (one is 14lbs and the other is 12lbs, not overweight but on the larger side of the breed).Gizmo is my 14lb dog who will be 13 in December. He suffered a spinal cord injury in 2013, just 3 weeks after rescuing Stevie. (He has recovered well but in 2014 was diagnosed with diabetes). Stevie, 12lbs, will be 5 in January. When I rescued him he had never been out of a crate and was at a rescue in a small town so only saw one vet his whole life which was great as I got all his records, something not typical when rescuing a dog. He also came with breaded into from the pet store his first owner purchased it at. I looked it up and sure enough it was a puppy mill that was closed down a year after Stevie was born. From what I read the conditions were horrific. Needless to say, this is probably why he has all the neurological issues and lesions on his brain that he does. As for what happened from the time the owner purchased him to the countless homes he had been in before his last home took him to the vet to have him put down because of his neurological issues I don’t know. I took him to see a neurologist though he compensates well there isn’t anything to do unless his symptoms get worse, falling down or head tilt, things of that nature which thankfully haven’t happened. He does have night terrors (anytime he may be sleeping) waking up and attacking the first thing within reach, pillow blanket, what ever… They have diagnosed him with PTSD and said previous abuse or traumatic experiences while sleeping could have lead to this behavior. We manage.

    The real problem is, his attacks on Gizmo! Stevie seems to love other dogs and completely submissive to them but when it comes to Gizmo it’s a whole other story. There are no triggers, nothing to look out for yet must be on guard at all times after an attack as once one happens they keep happening so preventing them seems to make them idle at least for a while. Stevie goes for Gizzy’s back side, usually hip area, sides and back side above his tail. Gizmo doesn’t fight back so it’s all Stevie must latching on and Not letting go. The last two times it’s happened Stevie had such a bite that I had to put my hand in his mouth to pry his jaw open (yes I know you shouldn’t do this but hes a pomeranian and not a danger to me as his bites do not break skin and hasn’t bitten me). Gizmo can be on an opposite side of the room even just laying down with no food, treats or toys and Stevie can decide to attack. I try to be as proactive as possible to prevent them but sometimes I’m not quick enough.

    I can’t figure out why its happening and how to stop it. I’ve tried separation, leashing Stevie and countless others which none seem to work. Stevie can’t be muzzled or wear a cone, with his neurological issues which as caused permanent nystagmus, he isn’t visually imparared but does freak out if anything is around his face/head. With a cone he will throw himself into the air and flap around like a fish out of water but in a violent manner which could lead him to injure himself, with a muzzle, he digs violently at his face, again putting him at risk of clawing his eyes. The vet is aware of this and we have tried natural calming as well as Prozac, nothing works. I had one script for him though can’t recall the name but it then turned him into a zombie dog and he would move when medicated, again not a good option.

    I’m at a loss of what to do! Giving him up though is not an option, not many would want a dog with as many issues as he has plus there’s the love factor regardless, I would never give up on him and he’s not a monster and loves everyone as well as other dogs, he’s a total kissing sweetheart…. To every one and everything but Gizmo. Any insight would be amazing. I don’t want to have to separate them forever and that’s just putting a bandaid on the problem and not correcting it, plus neithet of them would want to be separated from me even alternating times and days. Dogs are social creators and locking them in another room just seems unfair… Plus I’ve noticed that separation seems to bring out more aggression.

    Thank you in advance!

  29. I have a Great Pyr/Aussie rescue who has shown aggressive tendencies toward strangers and other dogs. She’s been through extensive training and is the perfect dog when home with me. However, I keep her away from other dogs and anyone she doesn’t know. Yesterday, she attacked the puppy of a visitor to my home. We had successfully kept them apart for several days but a series of mistakes lead to the puppy playfully lunging at my Pyr who was trapped by a wall. There was a lot of noise, a squealing puppy but no blood. However, today, the puppy had to be rushed to an emergency vet with a high fever and swelling above one eye. At this point, we’re not sure if the puppy has a fractured occipital bone. She’s on a 24-hour watch and is due back to the vet tomorrow. I’m not sure if my dog intended to injure the puppy so badly or if it’s a result of a 92lb. dog vs. a 10-week-old puppy. As soon as the dog squealed, she stopped and retreated. Now I’m faced with whether my dog is too aggressive to be safe with anyone. Is she destined to stay at home and away from all other dogs? She lives peacefully with two cats. Why would she attack a helpless puppy?

  30. My 3 yr old spayed Sadie english lab (well bred) no aggression in bloodlines has fought my spayed 9 yr old Bella lab mix (shelter dog) about 3 times. The first was 13 months ago when my son had a fresh duck from hunting amd threw it in the yard to practice retrieves. Stupid us forgot to put up Bella. A fight happen. Quick growling and Sadie latched on to the side of Bella head with ear involved as well. Lesson learned as we never had anything out that was highly prized. Second fight recently (2 weeks ago). I shared a piece of toast with the two dogs. Split it in half and feed both. Turned around and Sadie latched again on Bella on upper neck and on side of jaw. Today, two weeks later, my son left the tug toy out and Sadie approached Bella ( laying on bed chewing in tug toy). Bella growled and Sadie growled once then latched on her head amd ear. We had 4 humans to break it up. Bella could not fit back in either case for Sadie had her held tight. 2 humans had the legs and had to pry with a dowel Sadie’s mouth open after failed attempts to release. Punctures we deep and I cleaned them and gave antibiotics on Bella. Sadie has no injuries on all occasions.

  31. Christina Abbas

    So my dogs have lived together for 8 months now pit female and border collie female fixed they always run after each other heard each other play fight tonight my 10 year old was alone with both dogs in a small bedroom he claims he was growling at them border collie has always been more aggressive and runs the house where the pit she is mello and calm she plays back however tonight they were triggered pit walked next to the collie bumped her and collie attacked her just turned her body and head latched on to her ear/neck causing pain and blood the pit grabbed her neck was not angry like no shaking did not make a mark on the collie but my boys panicked I believe freaked both dogs out when I walked in they separated came back to each other kicking one another the pit has stayed a good distance from the collie however she seems fearful what do u take of this?

  32. Hi there…I had a question and perhaps you can help me. We have a 3 year old female shepherd who gets aggressive with our older mixed breed female (she is 10) when people come through our front door. She will lunge at the older girl and bite her on the back of her neck. Its never hard enough to pierce skin, but occasionally the old girl will yelp. Otherwise they don’t fight at all, not even over food. What the HECK!? Whats going on and what can we do differently to stop it? Thoughts? Thanks!!

  33. roadtohearthealth

    This is a great column. I am struggling with the fact we have to give up one of our rescues because yesterday she attacked our other dog causing major facial injury and very close to our other dog’s eye. I was reading your comments that the face is actually not the most serious level but the further I read about the additional locations and the indications of intent to do more serious harm just sealed the deal she must go. The scenario is my husband had just woken up come into the living room. Like every single day they both rushed up to my husband for attention and were body blocking each other for who was going to be closest. That’s when it happened, Sally attacked Maggie. My husband said that it didn’t end there, Sally was then going for Maggie’s flank when my husband grabbed Sally’s leash and pretty much picked her up from the floor by it. Sally has shown aggressive behavior when it came to my and my husband before, but this was the first time it went beyond just being “teethy” about it. Maggie is the one we have owned the longest, Sally is actually a newcomer. Based on breed, Maggie is 1/2 Staffordshire Terrier and Sally is a Lab, they are also very much so not acting to breed. Maggie the ‘dangerous breed’ dog wouldn’t hurt a fly unless it was because she licked it to death. Sally, the soft, gentle, family dog type Lab is the one we have aggression with. We are attempting now to rehome her to someplace she is the only dog. This is a heartbreaking time for us as we are in love with them both, but we cannot risk the “next time”. Thanks again.

  34. Virginia Hughes

    I have learned alot from ur article…we generally stop the fight…but the lil dog(8lbs) is so jealous of me n wants to fight my other lil dog(14lbs).. N i kbow ppl dont believe me when i tell them tht my smaller dog holds a grudge…im at my wits end. Getting scared to leave them alone…..HELP…JJAY

  35. We have an amercian staffshire when he was 2 we got another mixed pitbull breed. The first dog, the older dog bit the puppy.(the pup was 5 mth when we got him amd lived with other dogs) We just brought the puppy into the house so it wasn’t done properly. It didnt get better and the dog would go after the puppy. We got the dog a muzzle and my husband played with them outside. They were perfectly fine outside but then he would randomly bite the puppy. Its been about 5 months and he is still doing it. Its not as often but the last 3 time as been in the pups ear and the last time he peirced it.
    I am fine when they are apart but i get nervous if I am petting one and the other comes. Also the puppy seems to be submissive every time. When they play outside they play rough. I want to rehome the older
    I have 3 small children and babysit im my home.
    Any advice would help :)

  36. My two pits got into an ugly fight over a ball on a rope toy. One is a mellow 9 yr old and the other is a 2 yr old we rescued. She had been attacked quite a few times at the place we took her from. Gaby, the older one, had horrible damage done to her rear leg and some to her neck. She had surgery and now acts a little worried around the other one named Layla. Layla just had bites on the top of her eye and neck. Do dogs hold a grudge and can they be friends again. They always play rough but not aggressive. Thanks Suet

  37. Hi have adopted my dad’s Weimaraner after he passed away Molly is her name on her own she is very sweet but when I brought her home to my other two dogs she attacked my female dog who is 11 years old and Molly is 8 please help me

  38. I have a female pit and my mom has a pit jackrussel mix. They have fought 5 times in the past year and they kept getting worse and worse. After this last one we have agreed I have to move out with my dog because her dog is almost 9 years old mine is only 2. Without intervening I don’t think they would have ever stopped. My dog ,lilly, always goes for the ear and the last time got her front leg and ear. We have never had to bring them to get stiches though. My mom had her dog since she was a puppy and I rescued my dog from an extremely abusive home at 8month’s old. My dog has gotten in one other fight while I took her to the creek but is fine when I bring her to numerous friends house or they come over with there dogs. I just don’t know if moving out is my only option ,is there hope for them to ever get along, should I not bring my dog around any other dogs, was my dog doing this to intent to harm or kill. They are both so loving towards people and when they werect fighting they would cuddle with each other.

  39. Hi, I have an mini dachshund (male 10months) and we just got a standard poodle (female 14weeks) they play this bitey face game all the time and it is generally her that is biting his neck and pulling him or his ear and pulling (sometimes she also does the shaky head whilst holding him) as he has trouble reaching (Sometimes she will lay down to let him get on top for a while and get her) however I have noticed teeth marks and cuts around the mini dachshund’s neck. I haven’t seen signs during play that he isn’t enjoying it and when I break it up if I am unsure he will go back for more. Though I am concerned that she is biting too hard and am not sure what I should be doing in this case? As he has a few open wounds and scabs on his neck now.
    Any advice would be great!

  40. My landlords dogs 3 adopted/rescue adult pit bulls were let outside while me and my 6 month old Pitbull puppy were standing in the drive way about to head inside. His dogs had never met my puppy and I’ve obly met the dogs briefly two weeks ago when I checked the place out to move in upstairs. My landlord told me that his 3 dogs have gotten “into it” before , one biting the other and Emergency visit etc.

    Okay back to what happened, my hands were full and my puppy was on leash in my left hand.. his dogs came out and ran up to the fence saw us and started going crazy barking and pawing at the chain link fence. Their owner See’s We’re standing there and goes “ohhhh that’s why..” then before you know it, one of his dogs , the youngest (2 years old, rescued, has some scars on his head and face), crawled under the chain link fence and came right at my pup. I dropped everything and tried to pick up my dog in time but that dog went straight thru me almost knocking me over and got my dog by his side and had him in the air ! Then i pulled my dog and tried kicking the dogs back leg but was afraid of him redirecting on to me then the dog bit my pup again on the shoulder and partially the face (grazed the face). His owner got his dog off mine finally and I just tried to remain calm for my pup , i got him inside and gave him a bunch of cookies to try to make the experience “positive.” He has a lot of swelling on his shoulder , bruising and missing fur, and one or two punctures I think but no bleeding ?

    Will my puppy be afraid of dogs from now on? Do I try to re-introduce the dogs after this has happened (one at a time, use a crate, etc)? Or do I just make sure and keep them separate?

    Thank you so much,

    • Yes, expose him to other nice dogs asap. Treat him as wellnduring this process. Take him to places that allow dogs (pet stores, Lowes and the like). Keep an eye on the punctures for infection. Ask the landlord if he will be making the fenced area secure if not move for you have a valid reason if his dog got out that easy. It will get worse as your dog matures.

  41. I have an 8 year old lab pit and a 2 yr old pit. The 2 have started fighting and it’s gotten pretty bad and now my 2 yr old has started attacking other foster dogs and lunging on walks. I am worried he’s going to hurt someone. My 8 yr old is grouchy and growls but seems to be avoiding other dogs and fights but my 2 yr old is an instigator. In the fight the 2 yr old had wounds on his face. My 8 yr old had chest and leg wounds I assumed from pinning the 2 yr old who was trying to get free from fear but now I’m worried my 2 yr old is getting more aggressive and I’m worried he’s going to get himself killed or kill another dog. Both have never shown any aggressive behavior towards people. I also have a lab and shepherd that are never attacked or involved but they are super laid back. Is there any hope for them? After the fight they see each other and are fine, but I know the 2 yr old can get protective of resources and people and things like new people can get them excited and lead to fights. I’m trying to control triggers but when my 2 yr old attacked my little weiner dog foster and was acting super crazy at the vet I feel like he’s just getting more out of control.

  42. My 4 dogs have given me almost more than I can handle…..they all for whatever reason, I can never tell what starts it , go off on the same dog, then the rest join in……she is very timid, but has been with us for 2 years, one of the others just jumps her for literally no reason and the others just latch
    on and we have blood bath

  43. Our male Terrier keeps nipping our year old bitch he does this and she does not defend herself. He will continue to nip her and if she makes a noise will keep nipping her. In the evenings we can all sit together and the dogs are relaxed but if she moves quickly and he sees this he again will want to go over and nip her. Have tried all the usual things getting better control, distraction, a noise getting them to relax arround each other (can get them to sit a foot apart and there is no problem any ideas Si in UK

  44. Yes I have three dogs kiara gsd female 5yrs lab female 4 yrs and gsd male logan 2 yrs my lab and gsd fought ( female) . In which lab suffered vicious injuries in her front leg and her chest area . What should I do to avoid these circumstances. Because my German shepherd really tries to be aggressive against her . Pls reply to me

  45. I have two mixed breed rescues, fifty pounds each, who were in a serious fight last night. We rescued both as adults. Both are dominant personalities, but they have lived together for four years quite well with exercise and structure. Their fight happened with a few bad indicators to keep in mind. One of the dogs was injured in an encounter with a beaver the week prior: 10 stitches in the neck and face region. We were told to keep her leashed with minimal activity until the stitches were removed, and both dogs were lacking exercise due to the injuries and very cold, snowy conditions for 9 preceding days. I was walking the dogs leashed, and the older, more dominant dog started sniffing and licking the other dog’s stitches. When I tried to get them moving away from dominant posturing, the fight broke out. The dog with stitches ripped open a wound, and my older dog suffered severe injuries requiring sedation and sutures on the face, cheek, and neck. I know it will take time to get them cohabitating comfortably again (they play together and relax in-contact), but where do I start? Did this happen because of dominant tendencies from both with the added stress of healing injuries? I see what I did wrong in hindsight, but if the fight continued without intervention I suspect my older dog would have suffered lethal wounds as they escalated. Any tips? We are a two dog, two human household, rural and isolated from potential behaviorists. There are also many unleashed dogs in the neighborhood with the potential for contact daily. This has been a stressful, sad week or so, and I need help. Any advice is appreciated.

  46. What does it mean when a dog hunts/bites another dog?

  47. I happened to come across this Article and was so relieved to have this information. You see I had (1 is now deceased) dogs. 2 Chihuahuas and a Nova Scotia Duck Toiling Retriever. They’ve been together for 8 years. 3 years ago the duck toller got into a scuff with my 5 lb Chihuahua over a bone. She bit her nose/ mouth area. No sutures but lots of blood, a near dislocated jaw, (she can no longer chew bones) and a trip the the E.R.

    Then 1 month ago it happened again. This time with the other 3 lb Chihuahua, and with a fatal result. The duck toller was in heat and my little Chihuahua, obviously intrigued, was bothering her. Most of the time a growl was enough to warn her. On this day however, I mistakenly left them together as I had an appointment. I ALWAYS seperate them or take the 2 Chihuahuas with me…ALWAYS! I was running late oon this fateful day and totally forgot. I was actually going to come back because I realized what I had done but figured I was basically done anyway. What a huge mistake!

    When I got home I knew immediately something was wrong. My Toller came to the door, head down like she had done something. My other Chihuahua was in the couch hiding under a pillow, and the absence of the victim struck fear into my very soul. She was the first one to greet me. You see she was my baby. She was paralyzed only 9 months prior, and with much work and love was walking (although drunkenly) and urinating on her own! I had become so close to her. She was my favorite.

    I ran into the back room and saw her lying on the bed. It was dark and I originally thought she had an accident and soiled herself. She still had some bowel issues. When I flicked on the light, I immediately went into shock. She was lying on the bed and was gone! There were 2 huge blood stains. But for some reason my brain was not computing the gravity of what had transpired. I gathered her up on a blanket and ran to my car to go to her vet. It was during my drive that I saw the puncture under her chin and head.

    Upon my arrival at my vet, it was confirmed. 2 punctures, 1 under her chin, the other on top of her small skull. She was killed instantly. My vet told me she probably didn’t even know what happened it was that quick.

    I immediately began to have all these thoughts of having to euthanize My other dog. And then the guilt hit me like a freight train. How stupid and irresponsible I was leaving her alone. A cross I will gladly bare for the rest of my life.

    My vet assured me that it wasn’t a bite to kill. She simply “snipped” at her. One quick bite, that a bigger dog would have walked away from but not a 3 lb Chihuahua with a tiny, fragile skull that wasn’t completely closed.

    I will never again leave her alone with my remaining Chihuahua though. NEVER. But is she safe? I ask myself that daily. She “seems ” to but Is she?

    • OMG thank you so much for posting this. I am supposed to drop off my doberman at a no-kill dog shelter tomorrow after she attacked my 10 pound chichi for the third time. But I feel so guilty I can hardly stand it. I also have a 4 pound chichi. Last time the doberman attacked the 10-pounder her bites were exactly as you describe, punctures to top and bottom of her skull/ face and one of the bites pierced her bottom eyelid, so her eye filled up with blood. No sutures either, but a trip to the ER. I was about to call and cancel bringing the doberman in but after reading this I know it is my only option. My chichis are my babies and what you went through must have been unbearable. Poor little dog, I teared up reading about it. I hope you have healed from the loss.

  48. I had to put one of my dogs down because of this. I had 2 dominate males both pit mixes. 1 was more dominate they never fought before the bigger male just would growl without showing his teeth or stand in the way of the other not letting him pass sometimes. This eventually all changed when the other I’m assuming finally decided to challenge the bigger male. They were best friends loved each other. We were gone one day and came back home to both of them beat up. With scars on their face ears and most definitely their legs. Over $1000 in vet bills and we’re back home. Little did I know it would never be the same again. Anytime they seen each other they would immediately try to fight. One day our little girl got up and came to our room. 1 dog always slept with her and the smaller male with me and my fiancé. Well I opened the door to the dog standing right there and the other right next to me. They immediately went at each other I was able to grab them by the collar and my fiancé was able to get our little girl back. They ended up getting out of my hole and fighting. This went on for 10 minutes in our bed room. We tried water loud noises grabbing their hind legs nothing worked. They were trying to kill each other and wouldn’t stop. Biting under the neck and on chomping on the legs. They wouldn’t let go no matter what we did. It was fight to the death. I ended up having to put one of them down in our room while they were fighting. Or they both were going to end up dying. It was the worst experience of my entire life. Both dogs were family and loved our kids to death and were amazing dogs. I made a split decision to do that I did and now have to live with it forever. Feels horrible and I still can’t tell myself I did the right thing. I just don’t know anything else I could have done. We tried gallons and gallons of water and everything I’ve ever heard to try to separate a dog fight. This wasn’t just to show who’s more dominate this was to kill each other. This happened 3 days ago and we are still very upset. It’s been hard for us especially me doing what I had to do to end it. I will never again own 2 males at once. Just blew my mind they went from best friends to wanting to kill each other. My hands also got bit pretty bad 2 days before this when one leaped the gate and they started fighting, and myself and my friend were able to finally separate them. I’ve broken up many dog fights before as I have been raised around dogs my whole life. This dog fight was definitely the worst as I mentioned this one was till death.

  49. My pitbull sometimes attacks my lab who is older than her. We’ve had my pitbull since she was a puppy, and she is now 2 years old. She did not start to attack my lab until about 8 months ago. She always bites her in the face near the ears, or the cheekbone. She does draw blood, but she’s never needed medical attention. My lab is very submissive to her so I don’t know why she feels the need to do this? My pitbull is not like this with most dogs, in fact my best friend brings her male dog over all the time and they play great for hours. Really wish I could get this under control as I love both my babies and they are great dogs.

  50. Thanks you, very insightful!

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