Dealing with Aggression in Dogs
If you need to know how to deal with an aggressive dog, chances are that you’re having problems with your own pet. While a number of factors can lead to a dog’s aggression, it can often be attributed to actions taken by the owner (whether they realize it or not).
Some of the biggest owner mistakes which lead to an aggressive dog include: keeping the dog chained, not feeding the dog enough, teasing the dog, constantly reprimanding the dog and abusing the dog. Sadly, people who knowingly abuse their dogs are highly unlikely to take steps to correct their dog’s aggressive behavior.
Dogs can also learn aggressive traits from the animals around them. If they engage in fights with other dogs, or if a barking dog is on the other side of a fence, your dog may exhibit unwanted aggression.
The following tips should give you a number of options on how to deal with an aggressive dog. Most importantly, do not try to physically punish a dog that’s overly aggressive. This can make the problem worse, and you might even end up getting attacked by your pet.
Types Of Aggression
There are two major types of aggression found in dogs:
1. Dominant Aggression – If a dog feels that he is the alpha leader of the pack (instead of you), he is likely to exhibit aggressive tendencies. Some breeds are more prone to this behavior, and fighting dogs almost always feel that they are the dominant organism in any situation.
Any perceived threat to the dog’s dominance is likely to be met with violence. This is very problematic behavior, and you should take steps to correct it at once.
If not, your dog could attack a stranger. This can lead to you being forced to cover medical expenses, as well as a possible lawsuit.
The pack order must be re-established, and the dog must be made to realize that you are the alpha. When this has been established, his behavior should be much improved.
2. Protective Aggression – Dogs are naturally territorial. If they feel someone is threatening their territory or another member of their pack, they may react aggressively. If a dog becomes afraid, he may also lash out with violence in an effort to protect himself.
Talk To A Veterinarian
Aggression in dogs can also be caused by medical problems. Before you try to correct your dog’s aggressive behavior, take him to a veterinarian for an evaluation. If he’s in fine physical condition, then you can proceed with some manner of aggression training.
Consult A Specialist
While there are things you can do at home to try and curb your dog’s aggressive behavior, the best solution is to consult an animal behavior specialist. They can visit with your pet in his natural surroundings and determine what is causing the aggressive behavior. The specialist can then develop a program for your dog which will correct the behavior.
Consulting a specialist isn’t cheap, but it is the most effective way to correct your dog’s aggression. In the long run, it will pay for itself.
Things You Can Do
Here are some things you can do if your dog is demonstrating unwanted aggression:
- Determine his aggression threshold – Does it take a lot to cause your dog to act aggressively, or does he do it with little provocation? Once you have determined his threshold, make certain not to exceed it.
- Put a muzzle on your dog – If your dog has a tendency to attack other dogs when you walk him, make sure he’s wearing a muzzle.
- Don’t play rough – When playing with your dog, try to be gentle. Aggressive play with a dog can serve to reinforce already bad behavior.
- Time Out – If your dog behaves aggressively, try telling him “no” and then leaving him alone in a room for around 30 seconds. This may help your dog understand that his behavior is not acceptable. Note: This does not work on all dogs.
- Avoid other dogs – If your dog gets aggressive around other dogs, try to walk him during a time of the day when other pets are less likely to be around. Minimize contact with other dogs.
- Quality diet – If your dog feels good, there’s a chance that his behavior may improve. Make sure to place him on a high quality diet.
- Exercise – Dogs need to burn off energy just like a human. If they don’t have that opportunity, they may act aggressively. Take your dog for a walk or jog.
- Spay or neuter your dog – Dogs that haven’t been spayed or neutered are more likely to be aggressive due to additional hormones. This is easy enough to correct with a visit to the veterinarian.