What is a Dog Fight?

I’m not sure why, could be transition from winter to spring, but I’ve been getting more than the usual number of dog training calls about dog aggression — fighting with other dogs — those that live in a home together or dogs that get more than cranky towards other dogs they may or may not know, and/or more aggressive displays of behavior with human family members or visitors or strangers.

I usually categorize “aggression” as an over the top display of anxiety based disorders or anxiety orders run amok. And I don’t really count the behavior as aggressive until the dog has punctured skin.

My belief is that if a dog better understands what it’s supposed to do, it has less reason to be anxious and therefore less anxious to express behaviors that we define as inappropriate or potentially dangerous — lip lifting, growling, snapping, biting and mauling.

My own dog pack — 3 different sizes, ages, energy levels and temperaments — usually live in great harmony. They sleep together, walk together, play together and vie for my attention (and of my guests) with nary a display of angst. However, about a week ago, I noticed Bean the Springer and Trip the JRT growling at each other over nothing concrete I could identify (I’m sure they had their reasons). Lily the mixed breed rescue sole female of the pack was her usual self. So I noted all of it, and figured that whatever was annoying the male dogs was going to have to get worked out.

It’s not commonly done to sit around a gleaming conference table and hash this stuff out when you’re a dog, so I wasn’t surprised when the other night a huge fight broke out in my backyard while I was inside (certainly the fight wasn’t about guarding me as a valued resource).

I could tell by the pitch the sounds were more serious than usual play, so I ran out and found the three of them — 85 lbs., 40 and 20 lbs. — were in a tangle screaming and thrashing and almost coiled together. I hollered and they stopped.

I brought them in and examined each (who were remarkably calm once it was over). They were all covered with incredible amounts of saliva/drool on their heads and shoulders (none are drooly dogs) and some bits of recently mowed grass mashed into the spit, but other than a small and shallow puncture wound centered on the top of Trip’s head (which I washed out with hydrogen peroxide and it scabbed over nicely), none had any physical injuries.

After all dogs were declared fit and it was completely over, I explained to my 11 year old daughter who witnessed the event that sometimes siblings fight and if we can’t be rational then we sometimes get physical. But that usually we make up and become or return to being friends.

Today it’s drizzly and I’m too preoccupied with prepping an interior painting job so I didn’t go for my usual morning walk with the gang. Now as I write, the dogs are all curled up together and there hasn’t been a whiff of discontent. I only wish people could be like this!

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