Most people who welcome a dog into their home anticipate many years of happy companionship. But some dogs exhibit aggressive behavior, making it challenging to integrate them into your life. Living with an aggressive dog can cause stress and tension for the entire household. Although your first instinct might be to assume aggression is an innate part of your dog’s personality, in many cases, their behavior is caused by poor socialization, fear, stress, or bad experiences. The good news is that you can find an experienced dog trainer who can help address aggression in your pet and work with you to resolve some of these behavioral issues. Read on to learn more about dog aggression training and how it can help your pup.
Why Do Dogs Become Aggressive?
An uncomfortable dog usually responds with intimidating or threatening behavior as a way of warning others to back off. You might feel your dog doesn’t like children when it barks loudly at your neighbors’ kids, but it’s more likely it hasn’t been socialized in these situations and is feeling stressed by the children’s loud and unpredictable behavior.
At The Dog Wizard, our knowledgeable dog trainers work with you to improve communication between you and your canine companion. Once your dog knows it can trust you when you tell it that it’s safe, your pet can start responding to these situations in different ways.
What Does Aggressive Behavior Look Like?
Aggressive dogs are usually scared, possessive, or territorial. You can detect signs of aggression by reading their body language. Aggressive behavior includes:
- Standing stiffly and rigidly
- Baring their teeth
- Lunging at someone without making physical contact
- Intentionally pushing against a person with their muzzle
- Biting without pressure or hard enough to bruise or puncture the skin
Types of Aggression
The first step to easing aggression is to understand why your pet reacts to situations this way. Here are some common reasons for your dog’s behavior.
|Fear||Reacts when backed into a corner, reacts when people do something unpredictable, does not like it when people move fast or are loud, likes to sneak behind people to bite||Poor socialization, lack of socialization||Very common|
|Prey||Fixates on animals (usually small), becomes very still when fixating, may drool when fixating||Instincts, lack of mental stimulation||Common|
|Territorial||Possessive of areas where they spend a lot of time||Instincts, long periods of time in one area, lack of mental stimulation||Common|
|Dog||Acts aggressively toward dogs that seem to pose zero threat||Poor socialization, lack of socialization||Very common|
|Children||Acts aggressively toward smaller individuals||Poor socialization, lack of socialization||Common|
|Human||Acts aggressively toward strangers||Poor socialization, lack of socialization||Common|
|Possessive||Reacts unpredictably toward certain people or dogs that approach a specific owner||Improper sense of entitlement, lack of leadership, lack of mental stimulation||Common|
|Food or Toy||Dog becomes very still and stiff when someone or another dog approaches with certain objects||Instincts, history with food, lack of leadership||Less common|
|Maternal||Mother dog will become aggressive toward anyone or anything approaching her babies||Instincts||Very common|
|Pain||Dog may bite when faced with pain, dog may act aggressive as a result of bad thyroid or bladder infection||Medical issue||Very common|
|Punishment||Acts aggressively when expecting punishment||Improper punishment from human||Less common|
Dogs that are poorly socialized have difficulties adjusting to new people and situations. It’s common for them to use aggression as a way of coping with what they think are threats. Frightened dogs may react aggressively toward:
- Family members
- Other dogs
A dog trainer can help you replace these fearful situations with positive and playful interactions to help improve your pet’s comfort level.
Establishment of Dominance
Dogs who direct their aggressive behavior toward their owners are trying to establish dominance. They may behave this way in response to commands, being groomed, or being asked to leave an object or place they’re guarding.
Our experienced dog trainers can help address this type of behavior by showing dog owners how to calmly assert their leadership.
Some dogs have the urge to hunt when they see smaller animals or even young children. They may stand very still and start to drool or give in and chase their prey.
In these cases, the desire to hunt may be instinctual, but it can also be due to a lack of stimulation. A dog training program can help address this type of canine aggression by working on your pet’s impulse control and introducing alternative ways to express an urge to chase prey.
Some dogs are aggressive when guarding food, toys, crates, and places they like to spend a lot of time, such as a couch or bed. This type of guarding behavior can develop instinctually among puppies if they grew up having to compete with others in their litter for food.
If your dog tends to growl, snap or bite when guarding possessions, you should consult with a dog trainer, particularly if you have children who may be unable to sense warning signs.
Dogs may bark, growl and lunge at people they perceive as intruding on their territory. This includes passers-by on the other side of a fence or window or friends who enter your house.
Dogs usually start showing territorial tendencies between one and three years of age unless behavior modification is introduced.
If your dog is normally friendly but suddenly behaves aggressively, there may be a medical reason. Dogs that are in pain may bite if touched in a sensitive spot or simply act out toward the closest person.
A veterinarian can evaluate your dog’s health and recommend whether it needs medical treatment or a professional dog trainer to intervene.
Response to Punishment
Physical or verbal discipline can cause dogs to become fearful and aggressive. Young dogs that experienced this type of discipline as puppies may act out when they expect they’re about to be punished.
What Causes Dog Aggression?
Dogs aren’t born aggressive. In most cases, behavior problems are caused by:
- Lack of socialization
- Lack of basic obedience training
- Negative or frightening experiences
To prevent behavior problems, puppies need to be:
- Properly socialized and exposed to a variety of people, animals, and situations
- Taught basic commands through home training or group classes so dog owners can successfully communicate with them
These essential skills need to be maintained as your puppy grows. Dogs that didn’t develop these skills when they were young can still benefit from obedience training.
What to Do If Your Dog Behaves Aggressively
Dog aggression can be a serious issue, so it’s important to seek professional help from a dog trainer. Don’t punish or scold your dog for behavior problems. Your dog may become scared of you instead of developing confidence and trust in you, making the situation worse.
Help Through Our Dog Aggression Training at The Dog Wizard
If your dog is exhibiting aggressive behavior, consult our professional dog trainers at The Dog Wizard as soon as you can. Unchecked behavior can become progressively worse.
Our dog trainers can help you identify the root of your dog’s aggression problems and develop a treatment program. Dog owners who are committed to following these dog aggression training methods can successfully reduce aggression, boost their dog’s confidence and establish a strong, healthy bond with their pets, leading to years of rewarding companionship. Schedule an evaluation today and find out more about our dog training services.