Monday, 21 November 2011


On a Trail Walk with Part of My Own Dog Pack
To stop your dogs from fighting many elements need to be addressed…

Dog fights between dogs living in the same family happen for various reasons. The dogs may have been living together for a while when suddenly one day a fight breaks out. The dog’s people may be caught totally off-guard and have no idea what sparked the fight. Or you may have recently adopted a new dog as a companion for your existing dog. What ever the case, sometimes fights do occur.

It is very important to understand how to intercede and resolve such conflict early on, as failure to do so can result in development of repeated stressful behavior, and can quickly escalate to psychological and/or physical harm…to the dogs and yourself.

Usually, with proper leadership the dogs can learn to co-exist in peace and harmony. As leader to your dogs,  it is your job to coach and mentor your dogs so that they learn how to get along in a socially acceptable manner with each other.

If you have no prior experience with this sort of behavior and suddenly find yourself in the midst of a dog fight it can be a very stressful experience. When we add our stress to the situation – fights can become even more intense. Stress creates stress.

FIRST LET ME SHOW YOU HOW ONE DOG FIGHT CAN TURN INTO A PATTERN OF REPEATED BEHAVIOR…this will help you to understand what you should not do!

The first time the dogs engage in bickering you are caught off-guard. You may find yourself shocked, upset and anxious. You may have split the dogs apart and even put them in separate rooms/spaces.

Caught off-guard, and upset you are in an excited-reactive state. The dogs were in an excited reactive state. As the dogs look to you for direction your unintended reaction (fear, anxiousness, anger) reinforced the dogs state. It tells them my human feels the same way I do so I am justified in feeling that I should be excited, aggressive reactive. You led by example – the wrong example. Not your fault – it is natural for people to do react in this way. But, it is important, moving in to the future to learn to be self-aware and self-disciplined in order to have the ability to shut down the situation as opposed to feeding the situation.

If the dogs were separated by being placed in separate rooms while they were still in fight mode – they will likely engage in another fight in the future. Why, because they left the situation still in fight mode – this has taught them that fight mode is normal and acceptable…you have not presented them with an alternate method of coping with the situation.

If instead the dogs are coached to calm down in each the presence of each other and then allowed to remain together they leave the fight mode understanding that good social behavior is expected and is the norm. They have been presented with an alternate method of coping.

At this point the dogs have acquired psychological trauma to one degree or another and so have you. Dogs are extremely sensitive they read our body language and are one of the few animals that look at the left side of our face to read us. Dogs are also one of the few animals that have a very similar musculature facial structure to humans. When you anticipate a fight, when you are nervous or uncomfortable the split second that thought is in your mind your dogs know, becasue dogs are such acute, sensitive and aware communicators – much more so than the untrained human.

In addition, if your dog happens to have Heightened Sensitivity (HS), your dog will excel at reading your thoughts and your real emotional state even more quickly and adeptly than a dog that is not an HS dog.While HS is an asset when understood, it can lead to more stress and anxiety if proper understanding and direction are not available to the dog(s).

I am going to provide you with a series of links to additional articles a little further below. Read the articles to understand more about how your emotional state effects your dog’s behavior. These concepts are pivotal in understanding how you, the human create unwanted behavior in your dog and conversely how you can learn to create good behavior.

The basis for change must start with you. If you want your dogs to have self control and self discipline you have to start by having self control and self discipline yourself. If you do not apply yourself with 100% dedicated, focused effort and if you are not 100% honest with yourself you will not be successful in achieving a positive outcome. If you cannot change your habits, your dog will have no choice but to continue to behave as he/she is currently doing. Change will not be instantaneous – you have to invest time and honest effort.
If you skimp on reading these articles , if you do not take the time to calmly sit-back and absorb what is being said in the articles, then analyze where you have gaps in your current skill set and start working on improving your understanding and skills.
  • Dogs are excellent communicators – much better than an untrained present-day human;
    • And for the most part dogs do exactly as their human tells them to do;
    • The problem is that most people are not aware or disciplined communicators, and as a result do not understand what they are truly communicating;
    • The implication of this is that it is the human who must be trained;
    • The dog simply needs to be effectively communicated to;
    • Self-awareness and self-control, self-discipline must come from the human first and only then can such control be expected of the dog;
    • Too many people blame their dog, when in-fact it is the human that has created the seed of the behavior, then enables and maintains the overall environment (physical, mental) that perpetuates the situation;
    • Want your dog to be better behaved? You have to learn to be better behaved first – this is an example of the importance of following true and pure logic – dogs love logic much and hypocrisy not at all;
  • Dogs have more patience than most present-day humans;
  • Patience is not just waiting polity for something you want;
  • Patience is also having the great will, determination and persistence to adhere to something you want, need or think you require, think you need.
The implications of the above are many – the most difficult of which for many people is the concept that:
  • It is not your dog that is bad;
  • It is that you misunderstand and misdirect your dog, and;
  • Then blame your dog for your lack of understanding;
  • Leaving your dog no choice but to continue on with its current behavior.

Treats do not correct imbedded, intense behavior nor does forceful dominance – employing intelligence which matches a dog’s intelligence corrects behavior. Dogs are much more intelligent than most people realize and until one understands that concept you will struggle to correct unwanted behavior. Read the following articles to get started on the real path to change...

My highly sensitive very dear, sweet Boxer x Pit Bull boy Robbie - who wasn’t so sweet when he arrived in my pack, he was a badly misunderstood dog and an abused dog… All dogs are intelligent, sensitive beings, but some dogs have an even more acute sensitivity and intelligence – these dogs are what I call ‘Heightened Sensitivity’ Dogs ... Read More »

Typical Causes of Stress, Anxiety, Depression, Aggression  in Dogs; Typical Signs of Stress in Dogs; Long-Term Stress is a Health Threatening Condition The Use of Conventional Chemical-Based Drugs to Control Stress Other Products that Claim to Solve Stress and Anxiety Diet Can Create and/or Exacerbate Stress or Help ... Read More »

‘Be Consistent’, does this dog training tip sound familiar? Do you think you know what is meant by ‘be consistent’? You might be surprised by the answer… One of the most common directions given to dog owners by dog trainers is ‘be consistent’. But what does ‘be consistent’ and consistency really mean? Is ‘consistent’ defined as: 1) ‘Do the same thing ... Read More »

In my experience changing a dog’s unhealthy habits can be accomplished with more ease than changing a human’s unhealthy habits. Why? Is it because the dog is less intelligent than the human? In my estimation it is not that the dog is less intelligent. A dog is generally more observant and therefore a more insightful communicator than an ‘untrained human’. ... Read More »

Dogs are very insightful communicators - much more so than the average human. Because dogs can sense and discern to a degree that exceeds that of an untrained human, it does not matter what you say as much as what you feel. How you feel at any one given moment instantaneously transmits itself to: Your body in the form of ... Read More »

Being Consciously Aware is Essential I see and hear the term ‘dog psychology’ used everywhere – on dog trainers’ and behaviorists’ websites, on the professional group discussion boards I participate in. The word ‘psychology’ has become a trap, a catch-all, a regurgitation of misconceptions. Thought Streaming on Auto Pilot Most of us move through our typical day surrounded and consequently ... Read More »

Behavior – ‘good’ and ‘bad’ is created, enabled, influenced and maintained by a series of  interconnected elements including but not limited to… Inherited traits and Acquired traits that define the individual as a unique being these can be subtle variations or obvious variations between individuals Environmental influences (animate, inanimate) past, present and anticipation of future societal beliefs regarding the canine ... Read More »

To understand the potential negative impacts of a training approach all one has to do is put that approach into human terms. By that I mean what would happen if you adopted the approach with another human? Well let’s take a look at a few examples… If You Choose the Alpha Approach You Will: Trigger a fight with the person ... Read More »

Pack Leadership 101 – for People and their Canines
The Basic Tools of Leadership Psychology 101 Communication 101 Patience 101 Logic 101 Behavior 101 Leadership Is… Being that thing first that you want your dog to be – attentive, aware, calm, grounded, patient, respectful – comfortable, confident and normal. Observe a dog interacting with another dog. Dogs that are psychologically well balanced dogs – not anxious, reactive, fearful etc. ... Read More »

Debunking The Alpha Dog Myth
Let’s Talk About the Term ‘Alpha’ In reference to wolves, L. David Mech, PhD first coined the term ‘Alpha’, while studying packs of unrelated wolves. He has since done his utmost to convince publishers to stop printing his earlier works were he first defined the term Alpha. Alpha was a term developed to describe a dominate individual at the top ... Read More »

Earn Your Dog’s Respect
Most dogs, will instinctively know what they are being asked to do if they are communicated with & shown in the right way at the right time and provided with the right tools to navigate safely and confidently through situations. If the dog’s guardian has not learned how to read their own dog, is not aware of their own emotions, ... Read More »

Don’t Argue With Your Dog
Tugging and pulling, yelling, frustration, anger – it’s all part of engaging in an argument.  If you are trying to provide direction to your dog – who is excited, ... Read More »

Dogs are Opportunistic – Learn to Work With It
For Sarah, my German Shepherd x Siberian Husky, being an opportunist was key to survival in her first year of life which she spent primarily as a stray. Her wiliness and great intelligence ensured that she survived! It also made her a ... Read More »

Affection and Your Dog
We humans bring dogs into our lives for so many reasons…for companionship, because we have a need and the means to help animals whose lives have been compromised by humanity, for our children, to help on a farm, for rescue and disaster recovery, tactical operations, for therapy…the reasons are numerous and almost always well intentioned. But what about the dogs themselves? ... Read More »

#1 By taking full responsibility for the situation:
  • Do NOT blame the dog(s);
    • Change must start with the human’s acceptance that the human has  a huge role in the development of behavior in their dogs – good and bad;
      • This is the first step in enabling change – and it is a hefty responsibility as you must first look at your own weaknesses – help for that further below;
      • Many people choose instead to ignore this truth as to accept it means you must be selfless;
        • Dogs excel at being selfless, it is an attribute of the species;
        • Humans more quickly embrace selfishness – we have to work at being selfless, and that is a trait of our species;
        • Most humans have to work hard at learning to have self-control;
        • If you are not quite there yet you may be inadvertently creating the same condition in your dog while blaming him/her for the situation;
  • If you have or when you do take the time to read the articles listed just above you should now, or will understand this important truth;
  • If what I have just written in these bullets has irritated you, made you feel indignant or even angry – then the trigger for your dog’s unhealthy behavior is now obvious.
If all you are going to do is use physical force to attempt to intercede and stop fights you will fail to change your dogs’ behavior for the better. You do not have to be a physically large person to achieve success (teaching your dog’s not to fight). I am only 5′-4″ and about 110 pounds. I work with dogs that are much larger than I am. What you have to do is train yourself first…psychological control of yourself is a powerful asset.

Many people tell me that they put their dog on it’s side and he/she still wants to fight. Well no kidding – you skipped 99% of what you need to do and simply tried to use physical force to roll your dog. You did not coach and mentor your dog and you did not change your own bad habits – you simply employed physical force – you became aggressive and overly physical – you matched your dog’s state. I very rarely ever roll a dog on its side and I work with a lot of dogs. Including dogs that are very-reactive, dogs that have learned to control humans by deploying very aggressive tactics. I also work with a lot of people and most people have no idea what patience really is. Patience is something that many people assume they have, but after working with me they realize that they were actually very impatient.  The solution to the problem of dogs fighting will not be found by simply pinning your dog on its side…

#2 – You need to do is train yourself to be aware of your own emotional state…
As you must lead by example it is very important that you leave all fear, frustration, tension, behind you. Disengage your emotions and engage your working mode. Working mode must be calm, confident, assertive, directive…no emotion, no anticipating and imagining that the dogs will behave badly. Instead you must feel with every fiber of your being the expectation that your dogs will listen to you…that is leadership.

Your dogs will only listen to you if you are truly and deliberately grounded, confident. No panicking, no fusing, no scattered panicked movement…just deliberate, confident, directive calm action in your movement; in your tone of voice; in your thoughts, in your breathing in your mind, your emotions and your body language. Whatever it is that you want your dog to be you must be that thing first. So, if you want calm you must attain that state first yourself – thereby exemplifying the concept of true leadership.

If you relax and believe that the dogs can get along it helps them to get along – surprisingly so! The thoughts you carry in your mind and heart change the minutia of your unconscious body language, It is also very important to learn how to stop the reactive – aggressive behaviour before it escalates.

Never, ever try to stop aggressive behaviour from an angry or tense state of being – you just reinforce the aggression in your dog as you are in the same state as the dog. 

Do not look to dominate your dog, but instead to coach and mentor it.  To coach and mentor you must be calm, patent and confident.

Learn to observe and read your dog – don’t anticipate but you must strategically address when behaviour starts. If you anticipate you will spark the incident. Instead just observe your dog’s body language. If you see that your dog is starting to fixate – disagree before the behaviour escalates.

To disagree – be calm confident, grounded and touch your dog quickly, firmly with the tips of your fingers at his/her waist or neck to get his/her attention and say ‘uh’. Make sure the intensity of the touch and your voice matches the intensity of the dog – but do not match  his/her state…you must be emotionally neutral, you must be grounded. Touch with anger - you will get anger back. Dogs that are in a fixated over-threshold state are much like a person in a rage state – they are focused on the attack, flooded with adrenalin and may turn on and bite another dog or person who gets into their physical space – for this reason it is important to be aware of a) how you place yourself into the situation and b) your own state of mind – emotional neutrality is a situation defuser (grounding, calming, breathing), while being emotional is a situation escalator (exacerbates the rage state).

If you do not stop the reactivity in-time and the dogs engage – do not yell, instead quickly but calmly intercede.  The most effective technique to break up the fight depends on the circumstances and individuals involved. If the dogs have not escalated to full-out over threshold bites interceding properly will avoid further progression and escalation. Dogs that have been allowed to progress to a state where bit inhibition has been lost will require additional assistance to return back to a place of normal.

I work with many clients that inappropriately intercede by putting their dog on his/her side. This is a technique that I rarely ever use - it is not an appropriate intervention in the majority of cases and should only be used when truly necessary by those people that have complete self-awareness, self-discipline and self-control of themselves first. Placing a dog on his/her side should never be done to 'punish' or to 'dominate' a dog. If you work from a place of punishment and domination you simply further your dog's psychological distress - you are not providing leadership.

Both dogs need to leave the situation:
One – not having dominated the situation;
Two – calm and behaving in a socially acceptable manner;
The dogs will start to understand that:

One – reactive behaviour is not acceptable;
Two – that the outcome will always be the same – calm, social interaction will be accepted, any other behaviour will be addressed and corrected.

If the fights have reached a point were the dogs have lost their bit-inhibition it is often necessary to start at ground zero - establishing structure for the dogs individually prior to having the dogs back in the presence of each other. Once you have worked on he dogs individually you can start to re-introduce them by choosing the calmest times for interaction.

If you have stopped walking your dogs together you also need to start walking the dogs together again. If you are calm, confident and not tense they will accept being walked together and working together. You have to normalize their being together again.

Just remember no tension on the leash, no anticipating fights – your dogs will relax. If one does start to get reactive just touch and direct  ‘uh’ or  ‘shh’ immediately. Have a stronger will, more determination, patience and persistence than the dogs have.

Timing is important and so is consistency. Be a conscious observer – stay connected with your dog. Provide support and guidance to build your dog’s confidence and prevent escalation to high states of excitement / reactivity.

Remember, dogs get into fights when they:
  • Are insecure – most aggression has its root cause in insecurity;
  • Get over-excited, flooded, overstimulated;
  • When a dog does not have to ‘ask’ permission before proceeding (i.e. dog bolts out the door, pushes past you down the stairs, grabs food the second the food drops to the floor etc.)
  • In the absence of  true leadership an unbalanced dog may seek to correct another unbalanced dog
Learn how to be an effective communicator and set a supportive structure in place for all situations in daily life and your dogs will stop fighting. Dogs are incredibly perceptive communicators and some even more so than others.

Remember, dog that are getting into fights need mature wise guidance. Treats will not correct the situation nor will punishment or domination.

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  1. this is a really wonderful and informative article that we will be applying to our household. i have found a lot of training sites (etc) tell you to correct your dog - they might suggest a clicker - but dont go into detail or look at the owner. so this was an incredibly informative piece, i've made others in the house read it too. so thank you very much from a happier Irish household!

    1. Pawhugs Petra, ❀α΅”α΄₯α΅”❀

    2. thank you so much for these very welcome tips and information. i have been educated about things i thought i was aware of and discovered i wasn't as informed as i thought I was. We have 5 dogs, 3 are boston terriers and one is a mini weenie dog. all 4 of these are pretty hipper and active. especially the 2 female bostons. the weenie dog is a bit of a stinker. she is very small and rules the roost.She always growls at the other dogs when she has a toy or a treat, even when they are clear across the room from her. for the most part our pack of 5 get along very well but ever so often two will have a disagreement over something. i can usually nip it in the bud before a fight happens but the other day my husband and i were both in the kitchen where our dogs are confined at all times except for our youngest boston who is allowed to be in our room. she refuses to stay in the kitchen and has from the first night after we moved into this house a year ago. any way all of a sudden the two female bostons were in a fight and our backs were to them so we had no idea what the fight was about. my husband immediately grabbed ahold of the back of Phoebe's neck in an effort to break up the fight yelling at them of course. i tried to get penny but didn't want to get bitten so without saying a word ,I walked over to the sink , filled a glass with water and walked back over to the dogs and dumped it over penny. she immediately let go of phoebe and headed out the doggie door to the back yard. my husband let go of phoebe and she also headed to the doggie door but I stopped her and took her to our bedroom where she jumped onto the bed and just sat there. i gave her her chew bone and nicely told her to , wait. that is what I always tell her to do when I don't want her to leave the room. she began chewing her bone and i went outside to find penny. she was playing with her ball in the backyard. I went to her and began throwing the ball for her and about 20 min. later i let phoebe out to the back yard and all was well with both dogs. my husband was still in a stressed mode in his office where i insisted he stay until he calmed down. there haven't been any fights since that day.

  2. You are an awesome person giving the info you do and everyone that reads the article should be sending you a thank you note because there is nothing better than a person that dedicates their love to our animals.

  3. Thank you for your time and knowledge, my family appreciates it. We still have so much to learn, but we're on our way to create a better home for all of us, our dog included.

  4. Your donated time is very much appreciated and can only hope we can use your knowledge to retrain ourselves and our pups. We have blended a family and are trying to still work out the personality differences in the breeds. I would love to set up a session with you, though I'm not sure where Ottawa is :)

    1. Thank you Debbie :>)

      Ottawa is in Ontario, Canada and believe me in the winter I wish it was somewhere warmer!

      Cheers, Karen

    2. Duh, of course it is in Canada.... Ottawa Senators!! They always show the crazy snow outside when the games are on... I can see where you would want warmer :)
      Sorry for the double post, didn't think this one went through, meant every word nonetheless :)
      Cheers to you too,

    3. Chuckle, tee hee :)

      No to worry re the double comment, can be confusing because there is usually a delay in publishing comments. I actually review all comments before they get published as some people can be incredibly rude.

      So unless I happen to be on-line at the time reviewing the latest comments it can be a few hours to a few days before a comment gets reviewed, published and answered :>)

      Pawhugs ♥ α΅”α΄₯α΅” ♥

  5. Thank you so much for your donated time, your knowledge is greatly appreciated from a recently blended pup family that is trying to work out each personality and everyone getting along :) the information you provided was more then generous and provided a great stepping stone, though I wish I could have a personal encounters to you!!! Your insight is amazing and found myself saying "I agree" a lot !!
    Thank you again for your dedication and devotion to true dog lovers that just want to understand :)

  6. I stumbled upon this article by pure luck, and glad I did! I have two dogs that get along 99% of the time just fine (both male), but whenever there is a toy of any kind, but most often a good old fashioned stick, one wants what the other has (always the same dog "wants" and the other "has") and then a growl and then the fight. ALWAYS. Very glad I found your words of wisdom. As I type this, I applied a few gentle, firm "no's" to my border collie who was gently whining to get back out to play. He listened to me after a minute or so. Glad to see it working in it's simplest form. It will be hard to make it work when a fight breaks out, but I'll try my best to stand firm and un emotionally attached. Thank you!

  7. Adstep,once you have spent some time working with your dogs in low intensity situations, your skill at keeping yourself focused will increase and so too your dogs'respect and anticipation as you prove that they will receive respectful clear communication and direction from you, This will help immensely when you may find yourself in a more intense situation with them :>)

  8. WOOOOOOOW wow is all I have to say , I thought I knew my dogs and after reading your intelligent words,I began to cry because I've misunderstood a few things this whole time and I'm a very emotional person and I LOVE my animals all animals I would do anything possible for my babies they are my world especially my Rocky boy and reading this has made me understand why I experience certain behavior from them , because I have been treating situations the wrong way and may have caused a lil bit of stress in my dogs. I have such a big heart and care soooooooooo much about animals .i wish I lived in Ottawa to have the honor in meeting you,a true gift u have and most beautiful person inside as you are outside ! Thanks and looking forward to reading more of the great knowledge you offer! Have a great day ,love Rosetta from Las Vegas along with my boys,Rocky,Dyno,Munsta, and lil Joey<3

    1. Hi Rosetta, I am so glad you have found this information helpful. Dogs are incredible beings and the way we are conditioned from childhood to think of them as 'just dogs' really gets in the way of understanding just how amazing they truly are :>) I love your dogs' names! Pawhugs, Karen

  9. I don't know if my comment went through or not it was a long one so ill wait a few days before I write another one thinking that it didn't LOL :) you are an amazing person! More than great amounts of respect I hold for you just by reading this article!! Thanks again!! πŸΆπŸΊπŸΆπŸ•πŸ©πŸΎ

  10. hi thank you for the wonderful information on your site but i have a question. what do you do if one dog is aggressive but the other tries to avoid all confrontation? the aggressive one has recently started this since he saw the other dog get hit by a truck and then we moved into our new house. is it psychological and dominancesince he saw such a traumatical event and then sees an oppertunity to over dominate the older, healing dog? please help im only 14 and very concerned about all my animals safety

    1. Hi Amanda, yes it is a psychological state. You (your family and the two dogs) have just been through two very large stressors - the accident and then the move. There would be a lot of emotions, anxiety in the house at this time. The stress is making your reactive dog insecure and his insecurity is coming out as offensive-reactive-aggression.

      To fix the problem you have to take complete control of the situation. And to do that you must first take control of yourselves. Even if you are stressed you need to provided grounded direction to him - read my articles on communication and behaviour - all of them. Then make him work for everything - he desperately needs structure at this time. This particular article is a good example of the self awareness and self discipline that you must show in order to prevent his reactivity

      If you require additional assistance and your parents are interested in fixing this situation I can do a phone/email consultation with you.

      Hang-in there Amanda and read! Cheers, Karen

  11. Karen, you may have just saved my dogs life. I have three dogs in my family. My Great Pyrenees had troubles starting fights with our black lab until we had him neutered nearly two years ago. The fighting immediately stopped. Then about a month ago the fights started again. They are terrifying! The Pyrenees fixates on the lab and then it explodes. The lab begins to fight for his life and then even when they are separated the lab will continue to come after the Pyrenees. They are both too large to "pull straight up" as directed, especially the Pyrenees as well they are both in such a state that my husband and I have both been bitten trying to stop the fights. We currently have the Pyrenees living in the lower level family room and have considered putting him down as we cannot get through even one evening without a fight and as I said our own safety is at risk. The Pyrenees has also gone after our little, elderly American Eskimo over water, food and "space". We will carefully begin to use your techniques to help calm him and to learn respect our authority without employing aggression. We are low on funds, limiting our ability to gain knowledgeable, reliable help. Many tears have been shed over this as we love all of our dogs. Thank you for sharing your knowledge.
    Jeanne P

    1. Jeanne - while you will need to work with all of your dogs, take time to work with your Pyrennes alone as well. He needs one-on-one time with you so that you can learn how to make him work for everything. Read this article as it will help give you further insights into communicating and directing him

    2. Karen,
      Thank you for the advice. I will read the article recommended. I have been spending time with him the past couple of days just walking and giving simple commands such as "come", "sit", "stay". I have held firm and waited. He has done well until today when he challenged me on the "sit" command by turning away from me. I called him away from that spot and started again. We repeated this three times until we were successful. I am still reluctant to have him in the same room with the other dogs as they and my husband, are still "scabbed" up from the last encounter. Again, thank you for sharing your knowledge. We will continue to work hard.
      Jeanne P

    3. Hi Jeanne, indeed you should not put him back together with your other dogs at this time...
      1) He needs time to see that you will direct him in everything and that when you do so you have greater patience and commitment to persist than he does. First in low level situations, then in medium and then high level situations. This is how he will lean to stop going from 0 to 60 in split seconds.
      2) This will also build your confidence which directly translates to calming for him and you which is 100% essential in combination with 1) above to prevent fights from re-occuring.

      Don;t feel bad about separating them for now - they will accept this if you can. If you feel guilt, bad, failure etc over keeping them separate you will all be tense, unsettled and unhappy. Instead think of it as a new beginning in which you have the time to make things better :>) Take your time and be fair to yourself to give time for your skill to direct to build. When you go to give him a direction make sure you hold that direction and firm it up - you can do so by maintaining your stance and taking a big (audible) breath (in through your nose out through your mouth, concentrate on only that breath for those seconds you take it). Breathing is a form of communication all on its own, just as eyes are. The deep breath helps you to ground yourself, which grounds, firms up and finishes the direction you have just given to your Py :>)

  12. Karen,
    Once again I offer you my most sincere gratitude for sharing your knowledge. We have been feeling bad about Grant being separated from the other dogs although we do the shuffle during the hours that we are home it is still hard on us. We will continue to make adjustments to our attitudes. Grant is continuing to work on his response to direction but I do see improvement. We need to spend a bit more time on ourselves before we tackle attempting to tackle the release directive. More confidence and a bit more work on maintaining the calm, firm spirit.
    Thank you again for taking the time to share.
    Jeanne P

  13. Thank you so much this has been so extremely helpful!!

  14. This comment has been removed by the author.

    1. Katherine -

      You have to be strategic as your parents are, at this time NOT willing to take responsibility for the mistakes that they have and continue to make - a common choice made by many people, and a common condition of the human race - human hubris. I have added a few bulleted points in the article above under 'SO WHAT IS THE RIGHT WAY TO INTERCEDE? #1 By taking full responsibility for the situation'

      Your Options are:
      As your parents are so mired in their own lack of understanding you have to show them what is possible by actually doing it.Take the decision making away from the dogs and from your parents by taking over the direction of the dogs - follow my methods as detailed above or engage me to help you learn how to do this.

      You have to be 100% selfless.
      If you cannot do OPTION ONE above then start looking right NOW for a good home for your dog becasue if you do not take that process over your parents will. I-fact even if you THINK you can and are willing to do OPTION ONE in-parallel to that make sure you do some homework up front on this option. If your parents are allowed to choose where they 'drop-off' your dog he will likely end up in a kill shelter - many of which use heart-sticking and gas chambers to kill (euthanize') dogs.

      Move out of your parents home and take your dog with you.

      You have to be the adult as your parents are failing to be.

  15. Karen,
    Luckily that is not the case. My parents love our dogs like they love me, as their child. But they don't want to listen to me because they don't believe your one article can possibly be the solution.
    Vinny used to be my aunt's dog. She had issues and was unable to care for him at the time, hence how he came into our care. He would be going back to her since she's in a better place now. But this better place happens to be Houston, Texas. I'd rather him be there than dead. But I'd MUCH rather he stay with me in California.
    I'm not really sure how to go about re-training. All of my dogs have attitude issues (mostly they don't like to listen for more than a minute). Inku (the aggressor), is a rescue dog with a fighting past and we still aren't entirely sure what EXACTLY made him so aggressive. We have no idea what starts the fights (always different. food, toys, sometimes they get too excited to see someone etc) and I'm at my wits end. I've been trying to keep calm when giving firm direction but it's rather difficult. Should I work on each dog individually? Or the 2 problem dogs together? Or all 4?

    1. I did not say that your parents loved or did not love you or your dogs - I was talking about the ability to take responsibility for ones self and others - selfishness and selflessness.

      You work on the dogs both individually and collectively.

    2. Katherine - you complain about your parents - you complain about the dogs - you delete the comments in which you vociferously complain about your parents - chaos - an indication of why the dogs are in chaos.

    3. For future reference - posts that where deleted by the poster:

      Katherine White has left a new comment on your post "HOW TO STOP YOUR DOGS FROM FIGHTING WITH EACH OTHE...":

      I really need help. For the past year my 3 boys have been getting into fights that leave my beagle/lab in terrible shape. Drains, stitches, bruises, swelling, you name it. We haven't been able to stop them and my folks have decided to give him up so he stops getting hurt. This is my best friend. I don't want to give up. I want to fix the problem. The issue is my folks refuse to listen to anything I have to say. They think you have NO CLUE what you're talking about and completely dismiss me.
      If I don't rectify this soon, they will give my best friend away and I will never see him again. What can I do? Everything you recommend, they do the opposite. Please help me..

    4. For future reference - posts that were deleted by the poster:

      Katherine White has left a new comment on your post "HOW TO STOP YOUR DOGS FROM FIGHTING WITH EACH OTHE...":

      I could really use some advice. We have a pack of 4. My akita (Inku) starts a fight out of the blue with my beagle/lab (Vinny) and then my wolf (Dexter) jumps in. Basically my dog ends up getting the crap beat out of him. This has been happening for a year and my folks and I are at our wits end. They want to give away Vinny so he stops getting hurt. They want to give up. I found your article and honestly think it will help, but my parents refuse to listen to me talk about what you have to say. Completely dismiss it. I don't want to give up. I want to keep my best friend and have our 3 boys live together happily. I don't know what to do anymore. Please help me. If I don't fix things soon, they will give him up in a month.

    5. Your Options are:
      As your parents are so mired in their own lack of understanding you have to show them what is possible by actually doing it.Take the decision making away from the dogs and from your parents by taking over the direction of the dogs - follow my methods as detailed above or engage me to help you learn how to do this.

      You have to be 100% selfless.
      If you cannot do OPTION ONE above then start looking right NOW for a good home for your dog becasue if you do not take that process over your parents will. I-fact even if you THINK you can and are willing to do OPTION ONE in-parallel to that make sure you do some homework up front on this option. If your parents are allowed to choose where they 'drop-off' your dog he will likely end up in a kill shelter - many of which use heart-sticking and gas chambers to kill (euthanize') dogs.

      Move out of your parents home and take your dog with you.

  16. Hi i rescued a beautiful stray dog not knowing she was pregnant and kept her littler of 3 pups. The mother is 5 years old while the pups, one male and 2 females are about to be 2 this dec ( as to why i kept the litter is because i live in a 3rd world country where dogs of breeds are valued much over muts and had no hope of anyone series ever adopting them and shelters don't exist here) and it has been very tough between my two female pups Abercrombie and Lilly though its gotten much much better from before where the two girls would literally go into rage mode eyes red and and not letting go of one another and i would have to literally pull them apart and God knows how i had the strength to separate both of them with one in each hand until they calmed down. And this happened all the time! Now again its much better, Lilly has accepted the role as the least dominant of the pack but Abercrombie will not leave her alone. If lilly goes through the door Abercrombie has to attack if lilly does anything to get abercrobie's attention she just attacks or if the dogs are excited by something like a big truck or the presence of another dog Abercrombie just runs straight for lilly to attack even though she knows i am against it. I always say the word calm to her and make her relax and she knows what it means e.g. not get hyper be relaxed but its fine until lilly who literally does nothing just comes into view and Abercrombie just flips a switch trying to after her while i have to hold her down until shes calm again before i let her go so she doesnt go bothering Lilly. i really dont know what to do. Because im not home for most of the day i know that lilly is stuck in the safety of her dog house all day not able to come out and i dont want her wasting away like that. I want her to socialize with the rest of the pack who do get along with her...except when Abercrombie starts going after Lilly then the other two dogs also follow suit. Can you please tell me what i can do?? Giving Lilly away isnt an option but if i want them in my care i want them to be happy as well!

    1. If you require assistance in addition to what is provided in the article you can engage me to do a session by phone - a service that I provide to clients located around the world

  17. Hi. Thank you for this wonderful article and advice! I'm struggling to figure out what to do with the newest addition to our family, a 1 yr old 7 lb yorkie Bella. I have 3 other dogs and for the first week, all was well except for a few small spats easily resolved. Then a couple of times one of my older dogs, Noel, growled at Bella when she tried to jump up near her. That began our issue. Now for 6 days every time Bella sees Noel she starts growling and runs and lunges at her. We have separated them and tried to only have them in the same area for short periods of time while they are both being fed chicken to keep them calm. We have tried to walk them together but Noel (20 lbs 7 yrs) is scared of Bella and avoids her while Bella struggles so hard to get at her she won't walk, first growling and barking, then whining. I have dealt with multi dog aggression in the past but I am struggling to deal with the situation where the aggression is held on for days. When Bella had the same situations with our other 2 ( random growing/spats) they would get over them and move on but with Noel, if she even catches sight of her she tenses up and starts to growl. As for Noel, she will stare and watch Bella from a distance. She tries to move away from her if she is near. I had Bella on a leash with me in our living room when Noel was looking at her from a distance under our dining room table and peed there (my daughter, Noel's 'person', was sitting there). I have tried keeping Bella on a leash with me and whenever she showed aggression toward Noel I would gently turn her head away and say no. It worked after numerous times and they both settled down temporarily. I just found this article and I hope over time your advice will work. Right now Bella cannot be near Noel without a leash (which calms her down).

  18. I'm going to try the "uh" thing for the two 3yr old chi/dox brothers I have. They were only-dogs together as puppies and got along famously. The bigger one was naturally faster and ate more, and the smaller one was nonchalant about it. But at 1.5 yrs, two stray girls came in, and one of the strays was a dominant terrier. She's gone now but left a dominance void that the brothers are now competing for (oy vey!) I came home today to see dried spit and blood on their necks. ("OH NO! I didn't know it was coming to this!" as I looked them over to see no major damage). The remaining girl was untouched and she's very passive and sweet. For now the boys are being supervised calmly while I'm with them. But when I'm away, they will be kept separately. They low growl at each other constantly--and as usual, the small boy licks the larger brother's genitals as the larger brother stands in alert dominance. This is going to be challenging. Thanks for the advice!

  19. Thanks so much for this wealth of info!! Looking forward to reading all your articles you suggest here. Looking to find some help, support and solutions for my 2 boys. They are brothers, and I know they are friends and love each other, up until recently they (used to) snuggle together all the time, but started fighting a few weeks ago... their reasons are clear to me, now I just need to help them get out of "reacting" to each other. Thanks for this info! Looking forward to reading it all. Hoping for a quick and easy return to our snuggly and peaceful, loving 4 dog home. :))


Important Note

1.0 Use of Foods, Herbs, Alternative Medicines:

Safe use of items and protocols in the article above, is your sole responsibility.

Foods, herbs and alternative medicines have health issue, condition and conventional drug interactions. Safe use of all substances and protocol are your responsibility.

Before you use any substance or protocol do your research. Check for cautions, contradictions, interactions and side effects. Do not use substances or protocols not suitable to your animal's individual circumstances.

If your animal has an underlying condition substances and protocols may conflict.

2.0 Definition of Holistic…

Food, herbs, alternative medicines are NOT ‘holistic’ they are a substance and MAY, or may NOT be ‘NATURAL’.

If you use a ‘natural’ substance (ie. an herb) you are using a natural substance, not a holistic substance.

Holistic is not defined by use of one or several substances. Holistic is an approach.

Definition of “holistic” from the Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press


"relating to the whole of something or to the total system instead of just to its parts"

"Holistic medicine attempts to treat the whole person, including mind and body, not just the injury or disease."

Holistic is a way of approaching life, and within that health, and well-being.

3.0 Expectation a natural substance remedies a health or behavioral situation.

A natural substance used to treat symptoms. But, if factors causing the underlying issue remain you do not have a remedy.

Remedy requires a comprehensive approach. It is necessary to identify root cause. Remove items that trigger, cause or otherwise contribute to issues. Holistic approach includes design, implementation to treat, remedy and maintain long-term health.

4.0 Leave a Comment

I review all comments and publish those deemed appropriate for this site.

I answer questions deemed appropriate when I have time to do so.

Wishing your dog and cat the best of health!

Karen Rosenfeld
Ottawa Valley Dog Whisperer
Holistic Behaviorist - Dogs
Holistic Diet Nutrition Wellness Adviser – Dogs and Cats