Canine trainers tend to point out the problem as being
instinctive and although a range of issues may complicate the
situation, when it comes down to it, some type of leadership
and control is necessary.
Canines are social animals, they have rules that dictate how they
behave around each other. Left to themselves, most dogs easily slip
into their roles. Rivalry erupts when they disagree about their
place in the pack or family unit. Although there are no guarantees,
bringing together dogs with too many similar characteristics - same
sex, same age, same breed (brothers from the same litter for
example) -may spark serious conflict. So many commonalties make it
difficult to settle who is top PON. Hormonal surges also have an
effect. Possibly the cause is redirected or frustration aggression -
attacking one's fellow PON or owner when agitated about a guest's
arrival, is more common than one would imagine.
Often, owners can inadvertently trigger sibling rivalry by
disturbing the hierarchical balance and rushing to protect one PON
from being "bullied" or granting him liberties, such as
being petted first, which your alpha PON may consider his inherit
right. The low PON on the totem pole now feels bold enough to
challenge the other. Owners need to understand that dogs have their
own set of social rules, whereas most dog owners want democracy,
dogs don't understand a truly democratic concept".
Prevention, of course, is the best course of action. It's vital
for puppies to socialize with other dogs - for example in puppy
socialization classes or in the park. This way, they learn the
unspoken but strict rules of canine society.
Exercise also works wonders and obedience training is usually a
necessity. After the dogs have been together a while and are getting
along, an insignificant scuffle or two might erupt. In theory, all
dogs should be able to work it out together as long as the owners
don't interfere. Owners must heed mounting tensions. As soon as you
detect signs of trouble that you're uncomfortable with, take steps,
don't wait for fights to happen because that changes the dynamics
considerably." Often the problem can be relieved if, instead of
protecting the perceived underdog the owner supports the hierarchy.
Determine which is the more dominant PON and reinforce that position
by feeding, greeting or letting the top dog out first. Usually this
will help, but not always. "The problem with that approach is
that it's often difficult to tell who should be the lead PON.
"Secondly, it's really difficult for owners to play favorites
with their PONS. When all is said and done, sibling rivalries
usually can be resolved, but not always. Sometimes you're unwilling
or unable to implement the necessary changes; or genetics or socialization
shortcomings are intractable. If that's the case, the best solution
may be to find another home for one of the PONS.