Fighting dogs are distressing to watch and dangerous to separate, and of course can injure or kill one another. The occasional ritualised fighting with threats more than bites is almost normal in dogs, but some become skilled professionals in whom submission by the underdog does not terminate the attack. Male dogs are more likely to fight than females, and normally males only attack other males. Early intervention and retraining will make this just a passing phase of adolescent thuggery. Delay in treatment can allow dogs to deteriorate into virtual psychopaths.
Restraint on an extending lead reduces the possibility of other people’s pets being injured, yet gives a compromised freedom for your dog. If your dog is to be released off-lead, he should be muzzled.
Equip your dog with a head collar attached to the extending lead, enabling you to obtain accurate head control when approaching other dogs. Be relaxed but alert in your management. Divert a head-on gaze and treat by your dog into a sideways-on posture, leaving him vulnerable and “embarrassed”. This requires great skill and timing, don’t avoid other dogs, each meeting is an opportunity to get it right.
Stay calm and do not hit your dog. Rather interrupt with some novel and attention-getting stimuli, such as a sound blast from a Dog Stop Alarm, a spray of water, or a rattle can. Usually, physical pain (such as from a choke chain) exacerbates this type of aggression.
Two rewards should develop your praise and contact comfort, together with the pleasure of being with another dog in play. For the latter, you must be highly selective of particular opponents, and choose dogs you know are friendly and not themselves likely to retaliate. Training clubs are a great environment to socialise adult dogs.
Test your dog on opponents of different sexes : a bitch, spayed and entire, a male castrate or entire and puppies. If it is a male, the probability is he will be more assertive with and even attempt an attack on males, but not bitches. In such cases, castrate the aggressor. The probability of castration being a helpful procedure can be further established by a preliminary hormone injection by your veterinary surgeon. The younger the dog at the time, the more likely the chance of castration being successful.
Repetition or massed exposure to many dogs is the key to rehabilitating a fighter : 10-20 dogs per day by exercising in public parks etc. will achieve best results. Your dog has to relearn that he is, after all, a dog and discover the pleasures of play.
A specialised and highly skilled technique is available for treating the canine psychopath after referral to a behaviour specialist from your veterinary surgeon. Such cases are exceptional.
Anacardium, Belladonna, Nux Vomica
- Ensure your puppy has continuous and frequent contact with other dogs from the moment acquired. He must maintain his understanding of canine body language.
- Walk your dog every day.
- Some breeds are more likely to be fighters than others, and in such cases, castrate the males.
- Do not use a choke chain, but a free and easy pain-free method of leash control.