If your two dogs are suddenly involved in an all-out war, it might be time to act as referee. Forget physical punishment, but always use a firm "No!" or "Bad dogs!" right after the fight is over. Letting the dogs know you're unhappy will show you don't approve.
Forget the word "punishment" and think in terms of "discipline." That means disciplining both dogs involved in the fight, regardless of which one started it. Discipline only one dog and you suddenly have one resentful animal ready to make somebody -- which will end up being the weaker dog -- pay for his punishment.
Select a "bad dog corner" where dogs will go after they do something unacceptable, such as fighting. This could be two separate rooms where you can put the dogs and close the door. Or it could be kennels or cages where you can crate the animals until they calm down. Just a few minutes should be enough, unless they go right back to fighting when you open the doors. In that case, make their time "in prison" longer.
Take away the reason for the fighting. If the fighting is over a squeaky toy, pick it up and let the dogs see you put it away. This shows them that the toy is ultimately yours and that the fight was useless. This helps establish your position as "top dog," and over time helps control the dominance and fight instincts.
- Obedience training is beneficial for all dogs in the household. Ideally, each dog should be trained separately and then eventually together. A professional, experienced trainer will help you better understand the personality of each dog, so you can adjust discipline to whatever works best for your particular situation.
- Never touch the dogs while they're fighting or you can get seriously hurt. To break up a fight, use a loud whistle or a water hose.
Tammy Dray has been writing since 1996. She specializes in health, wellness and travel topics and has credits in various publications including Woman's Day, Marie Claire, Adirondack Life and Self. She is also a seasoned independent traveler and a certified personal trainer and nutrition consultant. Dray is pursuing a criminal justice degree at Penn Foster College.