Sibling rivalry among pets may sound cute at first, but once it gets a little too serious, it no longer is. Unfortunately, pet-to-pet angst sometimes leads to severe aggression. This violent behavior can injure one or both your pets.
Often, sibling rivalry among pets is a healthy competition. This is a natural behavior where the winner gains the most and, therefore, survives. It’s like a survival mechanism.
It is normal for pets to compete. However, they can still get along well too. Usually, the more pets there are, the more likely it is for a pet rivalry to get out of hand.
Two dogs may like or tolerate each other. Three pets have a possibility of getting along too, only that two of them could partner to bully the other one. Four or more may cause serious issues, though. This would then require a certain level of management.
Causes of pet sibling rivalry
Personality, territory, and resources are the most common reasons why conflicts develop among pets. It can be flattering to know that their most prized possession is you, their owner. So having any form of your attention is quite a big deal to them. Territorial disputes happen when there are limited resources like toys and foods.
Sibling rivalry may be avoided or lessened if your pets have complementary personalities. In this case, the one with a stronger character will be in charge while the other one is laid-back. However, having two alpha male dogs or two alpha female dogs will undoubtedly result in chaos.
Breed, gender, as well as sexual status also matter. Same-sex pets usually cause the worst problems. Consider neutering your dog to help reduce their hormonal stress and level the playing field better.
Socialize your pet
A well-socialized pet is a well-adjusted pet. Pets from different species compete the least because they usually have different preferences. Pets from the same species, when well-socialized also become more tolerant of each other.
What happens when there is sibling rivalry?
Sibling rivalry doesn’t only happen when dogs violently wrestle each other. There are also subtle ways that show this type of competition, most of them you may not even notice. For instance, if your dog places his paw on top of a toy or your foot, this means that he’s claiming ownership.
If the rivalry starts causing physical injury or if it provokes fear, that’s the time when you should start getting concerned. Carefully observe your pets as you might confuse playing with aggression. Dogs growl, whine, and bark when playing. If both your pets come back for more, doesn’t hide or run away, this means that they are only playing.
Don’t expect your pets to play fair
The world of animals isn’t like that of human’s where democracy prevails. To them, someone will always come out on top. So don’t try to treat them equally or the competition will get worse.
To them, the one on top is the king. Recognize who that is and support him. The healthiest, the oldest, or the one that has been living in the house longest is usually the king. He should always come first when it comes to playing, feeding, or even in good spots like your lap.
Give your pets several toys to play with, so they won’t have to argue over a single toy. Lastly, ask for professional help if the situation gets dangerous or if physical harm is likely to happen. The sooner the bad behavior gets addressed, the easier it is to correct.