Sibling rivalry is the term used to classify fighting that occurs within a multiple dog household. It usually starts with what appears to be a normal level of competitiveness among puppies of similar age, gender and development, or adolescent or fully mature dogs struggling for dominance or control of resources (including your own affections). The dogs do not have to be related by birth in order to prevent sibling rivalry. Often when dogs are of similar age or temperament, they will be highly competitive and unwilling to give in which can ultimately lead to bloodshed and physical bodily harm or even death.
Even dogs that have grown up together and have always been the best of buddies may one day turn aggressive towards each other. However, it’s usually one particular dog that perceives itself to be the more dominant character in the household. The trouble can reach a flashpoint when another dog refuses to be submissive which results in the two of them fighting it out to be ‘top dog’. In many cases, sibling rivalry only happens when people are around and often when dogs are about to be fed. When food is the trigger it can result in dogs getting more possessive about their feeding areas. This, in turn, can escalate to full-blown fights in other situations.
Resolving Sibling Rivalry
Resolving sibling rivalry can be a complex process and trial and error should not be used. It requires an accurate diagnosis of the root causes driving the behaviour as well as a carefully planned intervention process of pack re-alignment and behavioural conditioning on the part of the owner working in close partnership with the behaviourist and the dogs.
One of the most common contributing factors for sibling rivalry is that the natural leader of the two dogs feels that its higher position is being diminished because the subordinate has formed an alliance with the owner. How would you feel if at work you were second in charge and your boss favoured the person under you? If he made you do the work that your subordinate should be doing, it would most likely upset you. The same is true of dogs, yet unlike humans, there is no morality in what dogs do and supporting the lower ranking dog will only increase the fighting and also increase the likelihood of it happening when you are not around.
Other Triggers That Can Lead To Sibling Rivalry
One dog often the smaller one, being allowed on the sofa whereas the others are not.
Owners not understanding or respecting which dog has the higher temperament status within their household.
Owners overly fussing their dogs; because they feel guilty about having left their pets alone in the home for any length of time.
Hunger for nutrients due to poor quality food can trigger fights; driven by a desperate survival instinct as their prey drive becomes stronger. Sadly, most commercial pet foods contain high levels of grain and cereals instead of good quality muscle meat.
Excessive carbohydrates, colourings and preservatives can induce hyperactivity which exacerbates aggression.
Competing for resources such as toys, sleeping positions, human affections.
Treat Sibling Rivalry seriously. It is not the type of behaviour that anyone should try and resolve by trial and error. It can be a very distressing for owners to witness their beloved dogs fighting. Indeed, if left unaddressed, this behaviour can lead to serious harm or possibly even the death of a beloved pet. Rest assured sibling rivalry can be completely and permanently resolved. With our expert professional help, multiple dogs can live in peace and harmony together under the same roof.
If in any doubt, please contact us for a free phone consultation and details of how we can bring about a peaceful solution and a happy integration of all of your dogs living together under one roof with you and your family.