It’s one of the scariest things dog owners ever have to face. Dogs, like people, don’t always get along. It can be horrifying, and even traumatic, to witness a dog attack. It’s even worse when it happens more than once.
Why is my dog always getting attacked by other dogs?
You and your dog are going for your daily walk, and you spot another dog. Before you know it, your dog is being attacked. Even worse, this isn’t the first time your dog has been attacked. Of course, you want to know why your dog is a target for attacks.
Does your dog act aggressively when they see another dog? Growling and barking are probably the first behaviors that come to mind, but there are other ways dogs show aggression. A high stiff tail, a raised head, and prolonged eye contact are messages that say “This is my area. Enter at your own risk”. These behaviors can provoke the other dog into an attack.
Larger or Energetic
It might seem counterintuitive, but if your dog is a large breed, this could provoke attacks. Smaller dogs may see a larger dog as a threat and show dominant behaviors or attack out of fear.
The same is true if your dog is very energetic. Miscommunication can occur, leading the other dog to view your dog as threatening.
If your dog shows fearful behavior when confronted by another dog, this can lead to attack as well. Just like humans, some dogs are bullies. If a dog seems fearful, they may attack simply because it’s an easy target. The motivation is often the same for humans and dogs as well. The dog feels insecure, so they attack other dogs to feel more secure.
Owner behavior can play a role as well. If you are fearful of other dogs or an attack, your dog will pick up on your fear. This can lead them to be fearful. It can also cause them to be aggressive. If you are afraid, the dog sees potential danger.
Dogs will naturally find their own social order. With a pack, there are alpha, beta, and omega dogs. The alphas (typically a male and female), are the leaders. The betas are next in line, and the omegas are subservient to all other dogs. You can think of it like the CEO of a company, middle management, and workers.
In many instances hierarchy is established without aggression or violence. However, if both dogs want to be alpha, they may fight it out. This is true of dogs that are living together and dogs that meet each other in social situations like walking.
How to prevent my dog from getting attacked by other dogs?
Prevention is the best course of action when it comes to dog aggression. The good news is there are things you can do to reduce the risk of attack.
Socialize Your Dog
Dogs learn social etiquette from other dogs. They learn how to interact, and their natural place within the social hierarchy. If your dog hasn’t been properly socialized, it’s extremely important to do so. If your dog has difficulty socializing, is aggressive or fearful, you may need a trainer to help you through the process.
Leash or Fence
You’ll have a greater chance of avoiding a fight if you have control of your dog. Keeping them on a leash during walks prevents them from running at other approaching dogs. A fenced-in yard will protect your dog from others in the neighborhood.
If your dog is leashed, move away from other dogs before a confrontation can occur. If you spot a dog on a walk, move to the other side of the street. Put as much distance between the dogs as possible.
You can also put yourself between the dogs. This can prevent fights when the dogs are in close proximity to each other. However, never get between two dogs that are fighting or are on the verge of fighting.
Carry Defense Object
It’s wise to carry a defense object to fend off an attacking dog. Mace can be used, but it can get in your eyes or your dog’s eyes if the wind is blowing. It may further anger the dog instead of stopping them if not used correctly.
A dog air horn can startle the dog, causing them to stop and retreat before attacking. This does no harm to either dog. Lastly, a heavy object can be used. Bats and golf clubs are good options. The object may get the dog to retreat without harming it. However, if the dog attacks, you’ll need to be prepared to use it.
What should I do if my dog gets attacked by another dog?
It’s a terrifying situation, but it does happen. It’s important to know what to do if your dog is attacked by another dog, just in case it occurs.
Don’t Get Between Them
Never get between two fighting dogs. Many well-meaning owners have been injured, because either dog can bite you when you enter the fray. The dogs aren’t thinking clearly, and even your beloved canine can injure you thinking it’s going after the other dog.
If you have someone to help you, this is a safe way to break up a fight. Grab the back legs of your dog, while the other person grabs the back legs of the other dog. You both pull the dogs back, so they can no longer reach each other.
Continue pulling them back and turning in a circle as you move them backwards and further apart. This prevents you from being bitten while stopping the fight.
Remove the Aggressor
The aggressor is typically the dog that starts the fight and the one that is most intensely engaged. If one dog is defensive and the other is attacking, the attacking dog is the aggressor.
If you can remove them from the situation, the fight should end. You can grab the collar or leash and pull backwards, speaking in a calm voice. However, if the fight is intense, this can be unsafe. Follow your instincts and don’t put yourself in danger.
Visit the Vet
Most dog fights are short-lived. They can appear very scary to us, and yet leave both dogs unharmed. However, dogs can easily be injured in a fight. Once you have your dog in a safe situation, check them visually. Run your hand over their body and look for signs of pain, blood, or broken bones. If you discover any bites or injuries, take your dog to the vet.
Even if your dog seems fine, a checkup is a good idea. However, if your dog isn’t seriously injured, it’s best to give them some time to calm down first. Your dog will likely be as shaken as you are by the experience, and need some comfort.
Comforting Your Dog
Your dog doesn’t seem to be injured, but they are clearly nervous and upset after the attack. They’ll need your support. Speak to them in a calm, reassuring voice. Give them lots of pets and treats. Once they are somewhat settled, bring them home. They will be able to relax more in a familiar environment. Continue giving affection and support until they seem themselves again.
Be aware that your dog may be afraid of other dogs after a fight. They could also be afraid of the area where the fight occurred. Be patient and follow their lead when it comes to socialization. Start slowly and gently if needed. Consider consulting your vet and a trainer if your dog seems traumatized by the event.
What causes a dog to attack another dog unprovoked?
Most dogs get along fairly well, but some dogs seem to attack without warning or provocation. Why?
Imagine attempting to communicate with someone in a language you were never taught. Miscommunication would be the rule instead of the exception.
The same is true for dogs. They have many social cues and means of communicating. If the dog isn’t socialized properly, they don’t have a full understanding of how to communicate. This can cause them to misinterpret signals as aggressive and attack.
Some dogs are simply naturally more aggressive than others. However, there are many factors that affect aggression. For male dogs, the hormone testosterone increases aggression. When they are neutered, testosterone falls, which leads to less aggression. Females are more likely to be aggressive when they have pups. Prolactin leads them to guard the pups fiercely.
Similar in Rank
If the dogs are similar in rank, one may attack to try to establish dominance over the other. This isn’t an issue when one dog is clearly higher in rank than the other.
Territorial guarding also varies by breed and by individual dogs. Some dogs will guard their territory fiercely, and won’t let anyone on the property without their owners permission. Other dogs will welcome anyone, human or dog, with a wagging tail and licking tongue.
If a dog tends to be territorial, they may attack a dog that is on or too near their property.