Nothing's more unnerving than two dogs that share your home getting into all-out fights. In many cases, scrapping dogs were friendly growing up, then puberty hit and the fights started. Stopping male dogs from fighting is an ongoing process and requires lots of patience and hard work. The good news is, you can restore peace to your home if you're willing to put in the effort to correct the dogs' behavior.
Get both males neutered. When males reach puberty, they go through hormonal changes and their sexual and territorial instincts kick in. Males sharing the territory are seen as competition, even if no females in heat are around. Neutering both dogs will lessen aggression, get rid of sexual frustration and do away with the need to show dominance over other male dogs. Keep in mind it can take months for the hormonal changes to take effect after the surgery. The change is not immediate.
Learn the clues that indicate your dogs are getting ready to fight so you can separate them before it happens. Getting in the middle of two dogs fighting can be very dangerous, so always try to prevent the fight from happening in the first place. This will require that you observe them keenly over time. Signs of aggression can include growling, a targeted frozen stare, raised hair on the back and anxiety every time the other dog comes near.
Exercise your pets daily. Aggression could be a sign of pent-up energy or frustration from a dog that doesn't get enough activity. If the dogs get along enough to exercise together, take them both with you. Otherwise, exercise them separately. Some dogs need more exercise than others, so figure out how much each one needs to get them tired and relaxed.
Keep the dogs separate if necessary. This might be the only way to prevent injury, especially when you're not around. If you can split your yard in two using a gate or fence, this will allow both dogs to have access to outdoor time on their own, at the same time. If not, alternate having one dog inside and one outside, or crate one dog at a time.
Support the place of the dominant dog. No matter how many dogs you have in the house, there will always be one that's more dominant than the others. If the position is already established, respect it. Feed and pet the dominant dog first to confirm its position. If the submissive dog accepts his place, the fights might be less likely to happen.
Talk to your vet about medication if the aggression comes always from the same dog. This is especially important if the dog also has other behavioral issues, such as anxiety problems or aggression toward people. This could indicate that your dog has a medical issue that's aggravating the aggression towards your other male dog. Medication can help control the aggression issue, allowing you to train your dog better -- but it is not meant to replace training. Common medications prescribed to treat aggression include Zoloft and Prozac, among others.
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.