Do you know how to stop dog aggression? It’s difficult when your dog displays aggression in public. She may suddenly launch an aggressive attack that takes you by surprise. Maybe you already know that other people and dog owners aren’t always so understanding?
Dog aggression is not confined to any particular breed. However, some breeds do tend to be more aggressive than others. The size of the dog makes a difference too. An aggressive Chihuahua is not normally as serious a problem as an aggressive Rottweiler, for example.
This article will examine the common signs of aggression, the types of dog aggression, and how to stop dog aggression. If you take the right approach, it can be easy. If you take the wrong approach, she may always be an aggressive dog. It’s your choice:
Signs of dog aggression include:
- Barking and growling
- Baring her teeth
- Ears always pricked
- A biting tendency
- Sudden lunging forwards
What type of dog aggression does your dog display?
There are two basic types of dog aggression:
- Dominant aggression
- Fear aggression
This is a power thing. The dog wants to let everyone and every other dog to know that she is the number one! Any person or another dog that invades her space will experience her aggressive tendencies.
These dogs tend to be distant and aloof towards people and other dogs when they are not showing aggression. Their dominant aggression comes from a need for power. Normally, you, the owner, are the pack leader. With dominant aggression, she may be challenging you.
Two common signs of dominant aggression are:
- Forcing her way through
- Blocking your way
If your dog barges straight through a door as soon as it’s opened, she is displaying signs of dominant aggression. This is a simple display of power. To walk slowly and sedately through an open door is not nearly as dramatic, after all.
She may try to block your way when you take her out for a walk, or even inside your house. This is also a power thing. She is saying that she is stronger and more powerful. She feels a need to make this point to prove her dominance.
This is where the dog is fearful of being hurt, or having someone shout at her. She displays aggression as a response, in the hope that bad things won’t happen to her.
Dogs with fear aggression usually don’t like to make eye contact. They also hold their ears back most of the time. Touching them is risky, and they may even bite if you try to. Submissive behavior may be displayed through bowing their head, for example.
A sign of fear aggression can also be a tail tucked in between the hind legs. She may also urinate on the spot if approached. This is often the sign of a dog that has known cruelty. Extreme fear can make a dog, or humans too, urinate uncontrollably.
How to stop dog aggression training
There are ways to train your dog that will stop her aggression. It may be difficult to stop the aggression all together, but you can certainly change her behavior to a much more acceptable level.
It is important that any training your undertake does not hurt your dog or yourself. You should be firm and strict with your dog, but not unfriendly. She should know that you are the boss – the pack leader – at all times.
1 – Understand the underlying cause of her aggression
If you cannot find out the cause of her aggression, you won’t be able to address it and stop it happening. Ask yourself these questions: Is she afraid of someone or something? Does she feel her territory is being infringed?
When you understand the cause of aggression in a dog, you are well placed to address it properly. Shouting at her, or striking her when she displays aggression will only make things worse. Get to the root of the problem and start from there.
2 – Don’t chain up, or lock up your dog
Chaining up your dog, especially with a short chain, can lead to even more aggression. A confined dog, locked up in a small crate or shed, is a frustrated dog.
If you must confine your dog to a lead or chain, or to one place, there are certain things you should do. Make sure the lead is long enough for your dog to move around reasonably freely, and make sure the area she is confined to is big enough for her to exercise properly.
Don’t leave your dog alone for too long, if possible. If you work through the day, try to get a friend or relative to look in on her at some point of the day. Dogs should not be left alone for more than eight hours at a stretch. If possible, find the time to speak to your dog every hour or so.
3 – Avoid the triggers that lead to dog aggression
You will quickly come to know what the main triggers are. Another strange dog too near “her” home could be one. An unknown person knocking on the front door could be another. Get to know the dog aggression triggers and try to prevent her from encountering them.
Distraction and redirection work well when she faces a trigger. This is a training topic in its own right, but in a nutshell, you need to distract her, or redirect her attention in some way whenever an aggression trigger occurs.
For example, if you turn the corner of a street and almost bump into a stranger coming the other way, immediately offer her a particularly favored treat. She may still bark at the stranger a little, but she will likely focus as much at least on the treat.
In order for the redirection to work, you will need to do some training with her. Choose a sound that she will only hear when you want her attention to be redirected to you. The sound can be a word but must be distinctive and unique.
When she hears the sound and turns to you, give her a treat and praise her warmly. There is more to successful redirection and distraction, but that is the basis of it. Your dog should never hear the sound coming from any other source but you, for this to work properly.
4 – Reward good behavior, but don’t punish unwanted behavior
Punishing her for unwanted behavior is likely to make things worse. The pattern of negative behavior will deepen and strengthen, which is the opposite of what you want. It is best to reward any good behavior and ignore any unwanted behavior.
You can say something short and strict to her when she exhibits unwanted behavior. This will tell her that you don’t want her to do it. Don’t shout at her, just speak firmly and strictly, and keep it short. Then simply ignore her for a few minutes.
5 – Reduce dog aggression by spaying or neutering your dog
Spayed or neutered dogs tend to display less aggression to other dogs. They usually feel less need to exert their dominance by showing aggression.
Of course, if your dog is a bitch, having her spayed eliminates the chance of her coming with puppies that perhaps you will be unable to cope with. A neutered male dog can’t father puppies, which may help to keep you in the neighbor’s good books!
It can be difficult to know how to stop dog aggression. It probably won’t happen overnight either, but it can happen. Have patience and keep doing the right things.
Dogs respond well to patterns. If you do the same things repeatedly when she displays dog aggression, she will quickly learn what is acceptable, and what is not.
Stick with the dog aggression training. You will start to see results if you persevere. This will also help to establish yourself as the pack leader, which in turn will make her respect you more.