Reasons Why Dogs Fight

This dog is fighting that dog. Why? Probably because they’re dogs, and they feel like it, right? Not exactly. While it’s true that some dogs get into physical altercations just to let off steam or pass the time, there are also plenty of other factors at play. Understanding what causes your dog to fight is key to keeping them—and their playmates—safe and sound. That said, here’s a list of some common reasons why your lovely little pup might be acting more like a pit fighter than a lapdog:

Fighting with a rival

When a dog is fighting with another dog, it’s usually because the two are in conflict over resources (food or space). For example, when a puppy nips at your ankles to get you to give up his favorite spot on the couch, it might seem like he’s just being a brat—but what he’s actually doing is asserting himself as dominant over you and telling you that this couch is his.

For many dogs who live in multi-dog households and have little chance of becoming alpha leader themselves, they will still try to show their dominance by fighting with other dogs who they perceive as lower ranking than themselves. While this type of behavior can be annoying (and sometimes dangerous), it’s not necessarily mean or bad—it’s just how some dogs show that they’re not afraid of threats or challenges.

Social status and hierarchy

The first reason is that dogs who don’t know each other, or haven’t been socialized, will fight to establish dominance. This includes dogs that are not neutered and/or trained. Dogs are constantly establishing their social position in the pack; they do this by using body language and signals that communicate a dog’s willingness to fight.

If a dog thinks there is a chance of losing its social status, it may try to take over another dog’s position in the hierarchy by fighting him or her. If you have more than one dog in your household, they may fight for dominance because they see each other as potential threats to their place within the pack structure.*

  • See note about how fighting can happen when two siblings are raised together below!


When dogs are worried, they may try to communicate their fear by growling. They might also show this fear by turning away from the thing that’s causing them anxiety. This can become a pattern of avoidance and vigilance, which is problematic because it could lead to aggression.

Why does this happen? Because dogs have no way of knowing what those around them are thinking or feeling. They don’t understand human language, they can’t hear tone of voice, and they can’t read facial expressions—they rely mostly on body language for social cues.

Lack of socialization

The first step to stopping a dog fight is to realize that dogs that are not well socialized are more likely to be aggressive, fearful and anxious.

  • Aggressive: Dogs who have not been properly socialized may not understand how to interact with other dogs or humans. They tend to view these interactions as confrontational or even threatening which can lead them to act aggressively in an attempt to protect themselves or their space.
  • Fearful: A lack of proper socialization can also cause your dog’s body language and behavior around other animals or humans (especially strangers) will change drastically from what you expect from your pet.
  • Anxious: Dogs that have been poorly adapted will constantly be looking for ways out of tough situations (such as being introduced into a situation where there are other unfamiliar dogs). Often times this leads them running away from their situation quickly causing further stress and anxiety on the dog until it finally does something about its problem such as biting someone or another animal in self-defense because they feel threatened by their presence near them

Pack mentality and leadership

The first thing to understand about dog fights is that they are not a sign of aggression. Dogs are pack animals and have a natural instinct to form packs and establish dominance in the pack. This means that dogs will fight for different reasons beyond just being mean or aggressive, such as establishing their place in the group, defending their territory and defending food from another dog.

As an owner, it is important to know how your dog’s mind works so you can better understand why your pet might be fighting with other pets or people around you.

Dog’s instinctual desire to establish dominance

Dogs have a pack mentality, so they will naturally fight to establish dominance. They don’t want to be on the bottom of the totem pole, so they will fight for the top spot. Dogs will also fight when they feel threatened or intimidated by their human counterparts. For example, if your dog is afraid of people coming into his territory and he feels like he’s being challenged by them, he may try to take over as “alpha male” in order to protect himself and his space from being taken away from him by someone else.

Territorial disputes

Territorial disputes are among the most common reasons why dogs fight. Dogs are territorial by nature, and they need to know where their boundaries are in order to avoid confrontation with other animals. They also tend to be protective of their food and water sources, as well as toys or any other object that may give them an advantage against another dog. A territory can range from a few square feet on your couch (a favorite spot for many dogs) all the way up to acres of land for larger breeds like German Shepherds or Huskies.

When two dogs share a territory but don’t have any clear boundaries set out between them, fights will inevitably happen—and unless the owners intervene right away, these fights could escalate into serious injuries or even death!

Health issues

If your dog has a health problem, the pain or anxiety that comes with it may lead to aggressive behavior. If you notice any changes in your dog’s behavior and he starts acting aggressively, take him to the vet immediately. This can be an early warning sign of an underlying illness or pain.

If your dog is suffering from allergies, arthritis, or another medical condition that causes him pain, that may also make him aggressive. In addition, some dogs will become aggressive if they are sick because they are trying to defend themselves from being hurt by other pets or people.

Dogs don’t always fight for the reasons you think.

Fighting is normal behavior for dogs, and it’s not always obvious why they’re doing it. Dogs fight to establish a social hierarchy, or a relationship with other dogs where one dog is the leader and the others are followers. That’s why dogs often appear to be fighting over nothing—they aren’t! They’re just establishing who’s in charge at that moment.

If there are two dogs who already have established dominance over each other but haven’t gotten along before now (for example, if they live together), they will usually fight when they see each other again. This can happen when you bring home a new family pet or bring your dog to daycare for the first time since bringing home your new puppy. It’s important to let both dogs know from the beginning that neither one has dominance over the other so that both feel safe in their environment without feeling threatened by another dog nearby.


Although it can sometimes seem like dogs fight for the sake of fighting, this is never the case. There are many possible reasons for aggression in dogs and these reasons vary from one situation to another. If you suspect that your dog is fighting because he feels threatened or anxious, try to avoid situations that could trigger this behavior. For example, if your dog barks at every stranger who walks by then it may be best to keep him away from public places until he’s acclimated better with people.