Oxfordshire Branch

Inter-dog aggression. When cabin fever sets in, manners leave

We believe 18-month-old Ranger, and 9-month-old Trixie are related, most likely as siblings or half siblings.

The pair were handed over to us when their owner found she could no longer properly care for all five dogs she had at the time, especially after an operation meant she was unable to walk them during her recovery.

As you can see from the photo of them playing together, they are a happy pair, comfortable in one-another’s company. However, before they came to us, they had begun to growl at one another. Given how well they play, we believed this may have been due to frustration at being confined in a small space with too many other dogs all vying for space and attention.


To be on the safe side, we asked the kennel that took them in to place them in separate kennels. This way they could be properly assessed by experts without being under any pressure from sibling rivalry or territory disputes. It was soon clear that they missed each other though. They showed clear delight when they did get together and were sadly visibly depressed when separated.

The kennel then began a gradual reintroduction, culminating in a supervised play session that can be seen in a video on our Facebook or Instagram pages. As they show, they play together very nicely so we hope that it was simply their situation that led to any falling out between them.

Even so, we have been told that they have not been properly socialised with other dogs, or with children so there is further assessment to be done, and we hope to match them to a home and family where they can safely and happily enjoy the rest of their lives.

Aggression between dogs in the same household can happen for a number of reasons. In the case of Ranger and Trixie, we believe it was frustration, but the reason two previously happy dogs start falling out could be territorial disputes, fear, resource guarding, or even physical discomfort.

This behaviour can be managed with a vet check-up and training done in the right environment. It’s important to notice and understand your dog’s normal behaviour and recognise when a change occurs. The sooner you can tackle the reasons behind this new behaviour, the sooner everyone will be happy again.

There’s more information about aggression in dogs, on the RSPCA Advice pages.