Sibling Rivalry: What To Do About It

Do you have dog siblings in your home that are not getting along? Is it a situation where they’re not interacting much with one another, or are things are getting messy with some aggression and fights breaking out? When dog siblings don’t get along, and especially if there’s aggression between them, it can be heartbreaking and difficult to deal with it. I’ve met many people that don’t know what to do so they start contemplating on surrendering one of the dogs, because they fear for the safety of their dogs and family members!

If you have dogs that are fighting in your house, then you definitely want to see out some in-home training for your dogs. My dog training programs can help dogs in multiple-dog households, and we can also work on any sibling aggression that might be happening. 

dogs not getting along

To address sibling aggression, we need to figure out what might be triggering these aggression incidents between the dogs. Is it over food or toys? Is it jealousy over the owner, when maybe the owner is paying attention to one dog over the other? Is it when the dogs get excitable, such as when a guest comes to the home or when they see a dog while on a walk? Is there a lot of anxiety going on with the dogs, is one dog just so submissive that the other bullies them, is the dog being beaten up older and cannot defend themselves against a stronger, younger dog….the possibilities could be endless!

To begin with training and addressing sibling aggression, your dogs must first understand who is in charge of the family. Especially if there’s some dominance issues going on and causing the fights, what will help is both dogs recognizing that neither one of them is leader of the pack, but instead it’s actually the owner. For them to realize this, it is the owner’s responsibility to create a structure where there is obedience instilled, that the dogs can respond and follow through even if there’s distractions or triggers present, and that the owner must be consistent with all of this. Inconsistency can give your dog the excuse to turn around and jump back into fighting with their sibling. 

As leader of the pack, you must create and consistently enforce boundaries. Let your dog know what is good behavior and what is bad behavior. Be sure to correct appropriately if they behave, but also set them up for success so that they can be rewarded more so than finding themselves in trouble or in a dog fight.

If your dogs are not comfortable with each other, you shouldn’t force a best-friend relationship out of them, but you should let them experience things together so they can become more comfortable with each other. Many times I get calls from people who say that they adopted a new dog, but their first dog is just not trusting of the new dog, or doesn’t like them. Go on walks together then! That’s a controlled situation and it can be something that dogs can enjoy, and enjoy together. Practice training commands and drills together, and they can earn reward and become successful together!

And of course, be patient. I know it can be hard to do so, especially if the dogs are getting violent with each other, but behavioral change doesn’t happen overnight unfortunately. Just be a consistent leader that enforces boundaries while also setting their dogs up for success and enjoyable times together, and you should see some positive changes very quickly! Just don’t give up on your dogs! If you’re still struggling with sibling aggression or other issues with your dogs, then call us at 718.855.4425 or email us using our contact form!