Dog aggression can be a serious problem that can potentially lead to injuries in both dogs and anyone who may be around them. While not all dogs may attack other dogs, many of them do. When this happens, it’s normal to feel anxious, overwhelmed or even fearful of the situation — especially if it’s your first dog. The key to fixing dog aggression is understanding it. Below are some of the most common reasons an aggressive dog attacks other dogs, even when the other canine seems friendly. Read on to learn what makes some dogs attack other dogs that are friendly and how to correct that behavior.
Misreading the Other Dog’s Behavior
Canine communication relies on a lot of social cues. They use their sounds, body posture, tails and ears to communicate how they’re feeling. While some dogs may easily pick up on these cues, other dogs don’t.
If your dog misinterprets a friendly dog as an aggressive one, it may lash out from fear or protectiveness. An only dog is more likely to misinterpret social cues, especially if they’re one dog that was never properly socialized.
Having multiple dogs is great because it helps them learn about social cues. If you don’t have many dogs, you can help avoid your dog’s aggression by socializing it frequently and early on. A dog attack often can be stopped before it starts if your furry friends realize the other dog isn’t aggressive.
Since this is a learned response, adopting an older dog that wasn’t socialized could increase the risk of fights. However, it’s never too late to start teaching your dog social skills. Try taking it to a dog park and on frequent walks. Have plenty of play dates with other pet owners, and consider obedience training.
Fighting Over Resources
Whether other dogs are friendly or not, two dogs may start fighting if one is trying to protect its resources. This is a common cause of a dog fight, and some canines are more prone to resource fighting than others. This is especially true if a dog was abused or went without food at some point. Resources might include food, water, shelter or toys.
You’re Anxious or Afraid
Family dogs are very in tune with how their owner feels. So, if you act anxious or afraid in a situation, your dog’s anxiety may cause it to lash out at another dog — even if that dog appears friendly. For example, if you’re in public and another dog runs up to you, you may feel uncertain or even fearful. Your dog will pick up on this and might lash out because it reads your emotions and thinks you and it are in trouble. Try to stay calm and your dog may follow suit.
If a dog has had a traumatic experience in the past, this can cause it to attack even familiar dogs in the right situation. Traumatic experiences can include being attacked by a dog, abused or even living on the street. If a dog was homeless, it may have been subject to abuse or lack of food and become a generally fearful dog. Healing traumatic responses can be difficult, but it’s not impossible. However, you’ll want to work within veterinary advice and use a professional trainer in this situation.
Correcting the Problem
There are various techniques you can use to help correct dog aggressive behavior. Not all aggressive dogs will respond to the same training tactics, however. Examples of ways you can correct aggression in adult dogs include:
- Begin carefully socializing your dog: If your dog shows signs of aggression, you may want to use a professional to help with socializing.
- Begin a regular, daily training regiment: Start with basic control commands like sit, heel and walk on a leash.
- Consider professional obedience training: This is especially a good idea if you don’t feel confident training your dog alone.
- Have the veterinarian check for health issues: Underlying medical conditions could increase the likelihood of aggression toward other dogs or people.
- Use positive reinforcement: You can use a treat to reward your dog for positive behavior, which will help it unlearn a negative behavior.
If you have a puppy that you’re worried will become aggressive, there are specific preventive measures you can take. These include:
- Enroll in a puppy training program: These programs teach your puppy good manners, positive behaviors and basic commands.
- Remember to socialize your puppy often: Trips to the dog park or even the vet are excellent choices, as are doggy daycare programs.
- Never roughhouse with your pup: While it seems like an innocent playtime, roughhousing can teach a puppy negative behaviors.
- Never use hitting as a punishment: When hit, a dog learns only fear and may react aggressively as it gets older.
Another good idea for both adult dogs and pups is to make sure they’re getting enough exercise. Consider using a professional dog walker or family members to give your dog exercise during the day if you work. Play with it often and give it ample time to get out any pent-up energy.
Finally, you’ll want to make sure multiple dogs aren’t sharing the same resource. If you have more than one dog, each should have its own food and water bowls.
While toys can often be shared without issue, dogs should have their own beds and areas. A crate, kennel or room dedicated to each dog gives it a safe place to go if it feels overwhelmed. However, you should never leave your dog in a crate or outdoor kennel for more than a few hours. If using an outdoor kennel, make sure your dog is always supervised.
Get Help for Aggressive Behaviors From The Dog Wizard Today
Your male or female dogs may act aggressively towards other dogs for various reasons, but the best way to help them is through professional training. Contact The Dog Wizard today at 877-585-9727 for more information about how we can help with dog aggression. You can also find a local dog trainer online at our website.