Canine Rivalry

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What is Canine Rivalry?

Canine rivalry refers to repeated conflicts between dogs living in the same household. Animals that live in groups, like dogs, establish relationships through which the individuals involved interact and live together. The roles that the individuals play within the relationship can change with each new day or situation and can be affected by the presence of various resources, such as food, toys, and attention from people. Dogs may warn each other initially by snarling, growling, or snapping, but not causing injury. However, the conflict may sometimes intensify into prolonged bouts of dangerous fighting, which may result in one or more dogs being injured.

Getting Professional Help

Ongoing canine rivalry is potentially dangerous. Dogs or human family members could be severely injured as a result of fighting. Because resolving rivalry problems requires the understanding of the ways in which dogs communicate, it’s often necessary for owners to obtain assistance from a professional animal behaviorist (see our handout: “When the Behavior Helpline Can’t Help”). Certified animal behaviorists are trained to observe, interpret, and modify animal behavior.

Why Conflict Occurs

Conflicts between household dogs develop for a wide variety of reasons.

Conflicts may occur if:

Understanding canine relationships

What You Can Do To Help