Bringing a new dog can be an exciting experience for your family. However, if you already have another dog at home, integrating the new dog into the house can be a potential source of conflict. Sometimes dogs do not get along well and introducing the new dog could result in aggressive behavior between the animals. Here are some simple observations you can make to determine how your dogs are getting along and how to correct aggressive behavior so that you aren't making a trip to the emergency vet.
Pinned Back Ears Versus Relaxed Ears
When dogs are playing or enjoying themselves comfortably, their ears are usually relaxed. However, if the dog feels threatened, its ears are pinned bag against its head.
This instinctive response is usually how a dog protects its sensitive ears during a fight. If your dogs approach each other with pinned back ears it is usually a sign of aggression that could need your intervention.
Prevent a fight by distracting the dogs with a low-calorie treat. If that doesn't seem to grab their attention, use a stern voice and say "NO." If they still have their ears pinned back, or growl as if they are going to attack, separate the dogs for a few minutes until they calm down.
Tails Between Their Legs Versus a Relaxed Tail
Another indicator of your dogs' attitudes toward one another is the position of their tails. A dog that is comfortable and feeling friendly will have a relaxed or a wagging tail. If a dog is aggressive or ready to attack, it will tuck its tail between its legs. This response, much like the pinned back ears, is the dog's way of protecting itself just before a fight begins.
If one of your dogs has their tail in this position, watch them carefully and if they begin to move closer to each other use the same methods to calm them down that you would if their ears were pinned back.
Leaning Forward Versus Bowing
Sometimes dogs play in a way that can seem like fighting. One of the easiest ways you can distinguish the two is the body posture of the dogs.
When dogs are being playful, they usually bow to one another laying their front legs on the floor and keeping their hind legs up which displays passivity. However, an aggressive dog will lean forward toward the other dog trying to display dominance.
This position may or may not mean that a fight, which can inflict harm on either dog, is about to ensue. Sometimes, this position is just a dog's way of establishing itself as the alpha-dog, or the "pack leader."
If one of the dogs backs away and postures go back to normal, then you don't have to worry. However, use the diversion tactics of treats, a stern "NO" or separation if you sense that a fight is about to occur.
If a fight does ensue, clap your hands to try to get the dogs' attention, or use a stick to carefully separate them; just make sure your hands aren't in the way so you don't get bitten. If you feel that the aggression is a problem, consult with your vet to see if there are some other safe tricks to use to stop this behavior. In the unfortunate event that one of your dogs gets hurt in a fight with your other dog, take them to the emergency vet (such as Animal Emergency Clinic) right away for treatment.