I love my dogs but am afraid they'll hurt each other. They randomly get into a huge "fight", usually over that stolen tissue or a morsel of food. This is very frightening, though there have been no injuries so far, but lots of noise, growling, and snarling. It takes them days to settle down after one of these episodes. Are medications ever used--as in people?
Any time you put two dogs together in a living situation, especially in competition over a valued resource, fights may occur. According to behavior experts, normal dogs generally will not injure each other seriously in these disagreements, but it does look and sound very violent to the pet owner.
Often fighting occurs over food treats, and you can help reduce this risk by only giving treats that are bite-size (really the size of a pea) and cannot be hoarded, or feeding the dogs separately. Generally fights over treats occur over highly-valued items such as rawhides or bones—if this is the case in your household, eliminate that risk by either not giving any of these items or only giving them when the dogs are separated. If fights occur over stolen items, keeping these items out of reach and supervising your dogs may also be part of the solution. You may also find a pattern to the fights—keep a daily calendar or log and you may see they occur during high activity times in the house, just after you come home, or after an event such as a delivery person arriving at the house.
Fighting over “stolen items” or food may also indicate other inter-dog social issues or may indicate that one dog is overly anxious or attention seeking.
If fighting becomes injurious, occurs at times that you cannot predict, or is related to triggers that you cannot control, you need to consult with your veterinarian. He or she may be able to help or may suggest referral to a behavior specialist. There are veterinarians who just specialize in behavior problems.
Medications are sometimes used in animals and some very specific veterinary drugs have been approved for animal behavior problems. Veterinarians also use some of the pharmaceuticals used in humans at different doses, depending on the size of the animal and the behavior problem.