What are some common causes of canine sibling rivalry?

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Sibling rivalry in a home–or dog-on-dog aggression in other settings–often results in serious injuries to the dogs and sometimes to the people who intervene. To deal with dog-to-dog aggression, consider all safety issues. Sometimes, the only solution is to keep the dogs apart or find the dog a home where other dogs are not present. Avoiding injury to people and dogs takes priority over forcing a relationship that could become dangerous.

Conflicts between household dogs develop for a wide variety of reasons, including when:

 A new pet has been introduced to the household.
 A resident pet has died or no longer lives in the house. This establishes the surviving dog as the new leader, so it creates the potential for conflicts when a new dog arrives.
 A resident pet is re-introduced after an absence.
 A young dog reaches social maturity, which is usually between 10 months and two years of age, and challenges the established higher-ranking dog.
 A high-ranking dog ages or becomes ill and cannot maintain her higher status

A lot of owners can unknowingly create a problem, however, especially if they try to treat their dogs like equals. Dogs are pack animals. It is instinct and instinct rules them. Their ancestors, in the wild, established a clear “pack leader.” All the other dogs deferred to the leader; they even usually waited for the leader to eat first before they did.

That concept is problematic for most people, though, so the boundaries are never set and there’s no established hierarchy.

Second, some peopletry to interfere. It’s only natural to want to support the subordinate—but when the other dog is reprimanded or punished, it will make her feel as though she has lost ground, and she will fight to regain it.

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