Aggression in Housemates

There are few things more difficult to manage in a multi-pet household than aggression amongst housemates.  Not only is it dangerous for the pets who are aggressive towards each other, it is dangerous for the people in the home, and for other pets.  Well-intentioned people often try to break up fights, and get seriously injured in the process.  And sometimes, the extra stress of living with housemates who hate each other can lead to other pets also starting to fight.  I dealt with this myself for a long time, and it is not easy to perfectly keep the aggressors separate or to know exactly every trigger that will set them off.  The more often pets fight, the shorter their fuse, and it can get to the point where nobody has to actually do anything at all, they will see each other and attack.

 

If you do have pets that fight each other, it is best to separate them, possibly forever.  That means not even being able to see the other animal, because just being seen by the aggressor can cause fear in the victim as well as feelings of aggression in the aggressor.  This is especially true with cats.  You do this for the safety of the animals and the people in the home.  If it is just 2 pets that are fighting we usually recommend rehoming the victim and treating the aggressor with behavior modification.  Sometimes it is best for the aggressor to be euthanized if the safety of people or other pets in the house hold can not be adequately guaranteed.  Rehoming an aggressive animal is only recommended with FULL disclosure of the animal's aggression.  

The second step in treating aggression among house mates is to schedule a behavior consult ASAP.  These are often very complex situations and may not involve only the animals who are actually fighting.  Sometimes the aggressor and the victim are not clear.  The early signs of aggression are subtle and are often missed or ignored.  

The absolute worst thing to do is nothing, hoping the animals will work things out themselves.  Talk to us or one of our recommended trainers, Melissa Lucas of Come Sit Stay in Sanford or Abby Ganin-Toporek of Sandhills Dog Training in Southern Pines right away.