How to Tell if Dogs Don’t Like Each Other

by | Sep 26, 2023 | General Information, Training

Introducing two canine arch-enemies can feel like a tricky puzzle.

Like people, dogs need time, understanding, and sometimes guidance to see eye-to-eye.

In this article, we’ll dive into tried-and-true methods to help your furry buddies put aside their differences and become best pals!


Key Takeaways

  • Age, resource guarding, fear, and conflicting personalities might cause animosities between dogs.
  • Punishing two dogs fighting will not solve the issue.
  • Patience, proper socialization, and even obedience training will help address these behavioral issues.


8 Reasons Why Two Dogs Might Not Get Along

8 Reasons Why Two Dogs Might Not Get Along

They’re of Different Ages

An older dog might have lower energy, preferring to nap or enjoy some quiet time, while a young pup is all about play, play, and more play.

This age gap can sometimes cause tension. The older dog might become irritated with the younger one’s constant play invitations or by the younger dog not respecting their personal space. It’s not that they don’t like each other; it’s just that they’re at different stages in their lives with different interests.

Dog owners must recognize these differences and help their furry pups navigate their relationship.


Certain Breeds Do Not Get Along

Every dog breed has its unique personality and style. Some breeds are energetic and playful, while others prefer to chill and take things slow.

For example, a herding dog like a Border Collie is hardwired to herd! They have tons of energy and like to be on the move. On the other hand, a Bulldog might prefer lounging around and taking it easy. Imagine if these two meet.

Furthermore, certain dog breeds are a tad more protective or territorial than others. So, when a new dog enters their space, they will not be thrilled about it. It’s not always about not liking the other dog; sometimes, it’s just about communicating, “Hey, this is my space!”


Aggressive Behavior Due to Resource Guarding

Resource guarding is a dog’s super protective behavior over something they value. This could be their favorite toy, a tasty treat, or even their favorite human. It’s like when you don’t want anyone touching your special stuff, only your dog might growl, snap, or get snippy about it.

Now, when you have two dogs and one of them starts guarding a resource, it will cause some tension. Imagine one dog thinking, “Hey, that’s MY toy!” while the other dog thinks, “But I just wanted to play!” This misunderstanding can lead to quarrels or even fights.

Dogs don’t resort to resource-guarding to be mean. It’s instinctual. In the wild, guarding resources could mean the difference between having a meal or going hungry. It’s hardwired into their brains.


Fight for Pack Supremacy

Two dogs fighting

In the wild, wolves live in packs. In each pack, there’s a leader or “alpha” who’s in charge. Many pack members covet this top-dog position, and sometimes wolves challenge each other to see who will wear the crown.

Fast forward to our homes, and you’ll find that our pet dogs still have a bit of that wild instinct left in them.

Even though they’re not in the wild anymore, some dogs still have this drive to be the “big dog” in the house. This is especially true if you bring a new dog into a home where a dog already thinks they’re the boss.

When two dogs meet, a fight for pack dominance may commence. The dogs will posture, growl, or even wrestle to figure out their roles. It’s their way of sorting out who gets the best spot on the couch or the first dibs on treats.

Once they’ve sorted out their places in the pecking order, dogs tend to chill out and even become best friends.


Conflicting Personality Traits

Having two or more dogs with clashing personality traits can lead to disagreements or spats. One might get annoyed with the other’s antics or need their own space.

Every dog, like every human, has their personality. They have likes, dislikes, and ways they prefer to spend their time. And just because they’re the same species or breed doesn’t mean they’ll get along. But with time, understanding, and a little help from their human pals, most dogs will find a way to coexist, even if they don’t become the best pals.

It’s all about respecting their unique personalities and quirks!


Fight Over the Same Territory

Imagine you’ve got two dogs who believe that the comfy living room corner is their exclusive nap zone. Dog A thinks, “This is MY spot!” Meanwhile, Dog B is like, “No way! I’ve been napping here forever!” You can already see the sparks of disagreement turning into flames of conflict!

Territory is a big deal for dogs. In the wild, having a territory means safety, food, and a place to raise puppies. Even though our pet dogs live comfortably with us, those instincts still kick in. When two dogs feel like the other is stepping on their turf, they get protective.

Only some pups will fight over territory. Some are chill and don’t mind sharing. But for others, it’s a matter of pride and instinct. We must understand these feelings and help our furry friends peacefully navigate their shared space.


Acting Out of Fear

A dog that had a bad experience with another dog in the past might think, “All dogs are scary and might hurt me.” So, when they meet a new dog, instead of wagging tails and playful jumps, they might react aggressively out of fear.

On the other hand, the second dog might not understand why the first dog is being aggressive. They might think, “Why is this dog growling at me? I better defend myself!” And just like that, fear can spark a disagreement between the two.


Sign of Redirected Aggression

Redirected aggression is akin to lashing out at someone who didn’t cause your bad mood. In the world of dogs, this kind of behavior can lead to some severe dog fights.

Let’s say you have two pups, Buddy and Max.

Buddy sees a squirrel outside the window and gets super excited. He wants to chase it but can’t because of that pesky window in the way.

Just minding his business nearby, Max becomes the unfortunate target of Buddy’s built-up energy and frustration. Even though Max did nothing wrong, Buddy might snap at him out of sheer excitement or frustration. That’s redirected aggression.

In this scenario, Buddy is the “aggressive dog,” not because he’s mean or doesn’t like Max, but because his emotions got redirected at the closest thing to him. Max ends up confused and might defend himself, and voilà, a dog fight breaks out.


5 Signs of Aggression Between Dogs

5 Signs of Aggression Between Dogs

Dogs, like people, have ways of showing when they’re not in the best mood, and it’s essential to catch those signs early to avoid any rough situations:

  1. Stiff Body and Tail: A dog who’s feeling aggressive isn’t going to be all wiggly and relaxed. Instead, they might stand super straight with a tail raised high or tucked down low.
  2. Baring Teeth: A dog showing their teeth and growls says, “Back off!”
  3. Intense Staring: Dogs use their eyes to communicate a lot. If one dog intensely stares at another, it’s not because they daydream. They’re probably sizing each other up.
  4. Raised Fur: If the hair along their back (their hackles) stands up, it’s a sign they feel threatened.
  5. Lunging or Snapping: This is a clear warning. It’s the dog’s way of saying, “Seriously, back off!” If this happens, it’s crucial to intervene before things escalate.


How to Get Aggressive Dogs to Get Along

How to Get Aggressive Dogs to Get Along

Start With Proper Introductions

First things first, choose a neutral place. Introducing two arch-enemies in a spot neither dog thinks of as “theirs” helps them feel more relaxed and less territorial. It could be a park or another open space.

Keep them on leashes initially, but ensure they aren’t too tight. You don’t want them feeling trapped. Let them sniff and check each other out because that’s how dogs say “hello” and get to know each other. It’s their version of a handshake.

Take it slow. If they seem okay after a bit, you can let them off the leash in a secured area. But if they’re still not getting along, it’s understandable to try again another day.

And here’s a golden tip: Reward both dogs with treats and praise after the meeting. Let them know they did a terrific job, even if they were briefly calm.


Socialize Them Appropriately

Two dogs on a beach getting along

Socialization means teaching dogs to get along with others, be it canines, cats, or humans. Think of it as sending them to a manners class. It’s all about exposure and positive experiences.

Neutral territory plays a significant role in socialization. That means introducing them somewhere neither dog has marked their own playground or personal space. Like a park, perhaps. Why? Because in a new place, both dogs are less likely to feel like the other is intruding on their turf.

Start by taking short walks together in this neutral territory. Keep both dogs on leashes and maintain a safe distance. Over time, as they get more comfortable, you can gradually let them get closer. If they show good behavior, reward them! Treats and praises work wonders.

The goal is to make every interaction a positive one. And while it might take some time and patience, with consistent effort, they’ll learn to see each other less as enemies and more as pals.


Own Up to Your Role As a Pack Leader

If you’ve got two dogs that aren’t getting along, it might be because they’re trying to figure out who’s the top dog between them. But when you step up as the pack leader, you send the message: “I’ve got this. No need for either of you to be in charge.”

Being a good pack leader means staying calm but firm. It’s not about being mean or scary; it’s about showing confidence and consistency. When the dogs see you setting the tone, they’ll follow your lead and give each other a chance.

Step in confidently the next time your pups give each other the stink eye. Let them know you’re the boss, and they should be focusing on you, not squabbling with each other. Over time, with you guiding the way, your furry frenemies will become the best of pals!


Establish a Separate Territory for Each Dog

You wouldn’t want to share your room with someone you’re not quite friends with, right? Dogs feel the same way.

Using separate rooms can be a game-changer when trying to help two dogs get along. Giving each dog their territory allows them to relax, play with their toys, and sleep without worrying about the other dog stepping on their paws. They have their own kingdom where they’re the ruler, and no one is taking their favorite chew toy.

Over time, having these separate spaces will reduce tension between the dogs. They learn that they don’t always have to be on guard and can have a break from each other. Plus, when they come together in a shared space, it becomes a special occasion rather than a forced hangout.

Gradually, after they’ve had some time to chill in their zones, you can introduce short, supervised meet-ups in a neutral space, like the living room or backyard. The key is patience and ensuring each dog feels safe and secure in their separate rooms before making them roomies.


Don’t Be Afraid to Use Crate Training

Dog enjoying crate training

Crate training is not just about getting your dog to sleep or chill in a cage. It’s about giving them their cozy spot to feel safe and break from the world. Think of it as their personal bedroom!

When dogs have their own space, they can relax without feeling like other dogs will barge in.

Giving them this separate, safe space helps reduce tension or rivalry. Over time, they learn that they don’t always have to be on high alert. This will make their interactions outside the crate more peaceful.

The trick is to make the crate a positive place. It should never be used as a punishment. Add comfy blankets, their favorite toys, and even a treat or two. This way, they’ll start to associate the crate with good vibes.


Give Them Plenty of Time to Exercise

Dogs with lots of pent-up energy are more likely to be irritable. If they don’t exercise enough, they can become restless, lashing out at other dogs, especially if there’s already some tension.

Giving both dogs plenty of exercise can work wonders for their relationship. When tired from a long walk or a game of fetch, they’re way less likely to pick fights with each other. Instead, they’ll probably be thinking about taking a good nap!


Leave No Room for Jealousy

Two dogs going on a walk in the forest with owner

Dogs are intelligent and notice when they’re being left out. Feelings of jealousy or being overlooked can lead to tension between your pups. Just like humans, dogs crave love and being valued by their families.

One solution is ensuring each dog gets equal love, attention, and playtime. This doesn’t mean you must set a timer every time you pet one of them, but knowing the balance will make a huge difference. When dogs feel they’re getting their fair share of cuddles and play, they’ll see each other as part of the team, not rivals.

Additionally, spending quality time with each dog strengthens your bond. This way, they understand that they’re both unique and there’s enough love to go around.


Always Be Patient With Your Dogs

Building trust and becoming friends takes time when you meet someone new, right? Dogs are the same. They might be unsure or confused about the latest addition to their space. That’s where patience comes in.

Being patient means giving your dogs time to get to know each other, setting up slow introductions, and allowing them to find their rhythm. Celebrate small victories! If they had a peaceful moment together, that’s awesome! And if they had a little spat, it’s okay. Tomorrow is a new day.

Also, patience with yourself is key. Remember, it’s not about being the perfect dog parent but understanding and helping your furry pals feel safe and loved.


Spay/Neuter Your Dogs

Hormones can sometimes make dogs more aggressive or territorial, especially if they need to compete for attention or show who’s boss. By spaying or neutering, you’re reducing those hormones, calming some of those fiery feelings.

This doesn’t mean it’s a magic fix. Not all behavior problems are about hormones. However, many dog owners find the household feels more chill after getting their pets spayed or neutered.


Consider Obedience Training

Two dogs during training

When two dogs can’t seem to get along, sometimes they need a little schooling in good behavior.

Think of obedience training as going to dog school. Instead of math and history, they’re learning how to behave, listen to commands, and be more social.

You may teach some behavioral basics at home, but sometimes, getting a professional dog trainer involved can make a world of difference. That’s because these experts have seen it all and know how to handle dogs who have a beef with each other.

The K9 Basics dog trainers have the skills and experience to help your pups understand each other and build a bond. With their guidance, your dogs can learn to follow commands, respect boundaries, and become best buds.

Call us at (866) 592-2742 or, if you’re from New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, or New York, visit us at 131 Kenilworth Road, Marlton, New Jersey 08053, to learn more about our obedience training classes. Also, browse our blog and social media for various topics about dogs and their lives with us!



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  2. “What Are a French Bulldog’s Most Common Health Issues?” Volhard Dog Nutrition, Accessed 28 Aug. 2023.