Aggression is the most common dog behavior. In the wild, dogs use aggressiveness to defend themselves, hunt for food, and guard their territory. However, aggression in domesticated dogs can be potentially destructive and dangerous since it might be directed towards other pets and people. The behavior can occur in any age, breed, and gender and can manifest itself in the following ways
- Barking and snapping
- Curling lips
- Head and tail up with a direct stare
- Posturing and lunging
- Frantic tail waving
While aggression cannot be managed overnight, there are great tips you can take to stop dog aggression.
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Consult a Vet
If your dog exhibits sudden aggressive behavior, it could be due to a medical cause. Acute conditions that lead to severe pain are likely to cause irritability and aggressiveness in dogs. Thus, you should consult the veterinarian for a comprehensive checkup. If the dog is diagnosed with a medical issue, work with your vet closely to follow the recommended treatment procedure.
Leash the Dog
You should allow some time for your dog to leave your side and interact with other canines. However, ensure that you can restrain them should they become aggressive. If you have other dogs in your house, allow them to mingle freely, but under your supervision. Conversely, if you only have one dog, you can walk him or her in an area where they can interact with other dogs.
Identify the Triggers for Aggression
Aggression triggers can include food protectiveness, territorialism, and dominance. If the dog is aggressive when other dogs are visiting your home, territorialism or dominance could be a probable cause. If it happens while eating, he or she is likely demonstrating resource protection. After identifying the triggers, you should avoid putting your dog in those situations. For instance, you can teach your dog that there is no need to guard their food by providing enough meals.
Use Desensitization Technique
Desensitization is a technique used to combat fear-related aggression. The method aims to expose the dog to the things they are afraid of, but in a less intense manner. This can help in ensuring that they do not become too anxious in the presence of the trigger. Over time, you should keep bringing the trigger a little bit closer and reward the dog for being calm. This method may take several sessions and hence requires time and patience.
Reduce the Dogs’ Opportunities to Unleash Guarding Behavior
Try keeping your dog out of situations where they exhibit their guarding behavior. Do not allow them to patrol up and down your fence. Rather, keep them indoors and utilize real indoor dog grass that resembles a park. In addition, if your dog becomes aggressive whenever you have visitors, you should consider keeping him or her in another room as soon as the guest arrives. Also, remember to put an indoor dog potty to prevent it from messing the room or making unnecessary noises that might disrupt your guest.
Proper Socialization of Puppies
Most dogs undergo major developmental stages between 3 to 12 weeks. During this period, positive and appropriate interaction and socialization with other animals, novel environs and people will allow them to develop suitable social character traits. Puppy classes are a fantastic way to attain this socialization, establish a steady training foundation, and inhibit the development of dog aggression.
Be a Pack Leader
When your dogs have dog-to-dog aggression, they might be asking you to step up and be the pack leader. Thus, try to earn the trust, respect, and loyalty of your dogs which will lead them into perceiving you as their leader. This can be done by giving them some boundaries, rules, protection, directions, and limitations. Consequently, the aggression will stop, as they’ll cease fighting for dominance.
Praise and Reward the Dog When He Behaves Well
You should praise the dog, or issue food treat every time they remain passive in the presence of others. This is called a positive reinforcement, which ensures that you’re enriching their environment to help them learn that behaving passively has a positive outcome and aggressiveness towards others has negative results.
Call in a professional trainer
To boost your chances of retraining your dog, it is wise to consider a consultation with a professional trainer or behaviorist. While these experts are mostly known for Potty Training, they can also help with creating a plan to manage a dog’s aggression. To find a professional trainer or behaviorist, ask for a referral from your veterinarian or check out the Association of Pet Dog Trainers Website.
Useful Tip: What Not To Do
Punishment is not a solution for aggressive dogs, and in most cases, it will make the situation worse. For instance, you should avoid yelling at your dog as they might assume that you are also being aggressive. This might give them the misconception that aggression is appropriate.
Aggression in dogs is a critical problem. It’s not only scary to see your beloved furry friend turn vicious, but also poses a threat to the people and animals that meet the dog. Thus, it is every owner’s responsibility to ensure that their canines get proper care and treatment to manage the aggressiveness. For more tips read our blog on aggression during play time here. Besides, if you are going to contain your dog indoors, ensure that you provide your dog with pee pad alternatives such as a DoggieLawn. An indoor dog potty will ensure a healthy and clean room.