Your dog has a personality that is completely unique to them – and like all dogs, they have different moods, ranging from joyful to fearful. However, if your dog is behaving aggressively – either towards humans or other dogs – you should correct this as soon as possible.
Aggressive dog behavior can include:
- Aggression towards strangers
- Aggression towards family members
- Protect resources (like food, treats, or toys)
- Aggression towards other dogs in the household
- Aggression against unknown dogs
If your dog is showing signs of aggression, contact your veterinarian first. Your veterinarian will do a full exam to determine if there is a clinical reason for your dog’s aggression, such as: B. pain, discomfort, or other physical causes.
If a medical explanation or treatment cannot be found, the veterinarian can refer you to a professional behaviorist for help. Look at your Pet insurance – Some cover these fees for your added security.
While taking your dog to the vet or behaviorist may seem worrying, you should never try to treat your dog’s aggression yourself, or ignore it and hope it goes away. If your dog’s aggression is not addressed quickly and appropriately, the problem can escalate and lead to serious injury to you and your family, other people or other animals, and even legal problems – and of course, you want to get help for your dog long before it does come this far! This is a problem that is much better – and much easier – to be addressed immediately.
Why is my dog aggressive?
All behaviors occur for a reason and are down to how the dog feels – and aggression is no different. A suitably qualified and experienced behavioral scientist will be able to figure out why your dog feels it needs to act this way, what its triggers are and how to deal with them.
The fear response
Aggression in dogs almost always comes from fear – since the purpose of aggression for a dog is perceived self-defense and the intent is almost always to stop or prevent things that the dog perceives as terrifying or uncomfortable, that they even happen
These fears may arise due to insufficient earliness Puppy socialization, past experiences or the perception that valuable resources are threatened with being taken away. Some dogs who have been treated roughly or inappropriately as puppies, or get into scary situations when too young to do anything about it, may also become more reactive as adults.
Since fear is the number one cause of aggressive behavior in dogs, You should never punish your dog for growling or for any other display of aggression. Yelling at a dog for growling at something he is afraid of simply increases his fear, can escalate aggression, and his aggressive response will most likely worsen next time around.
What should I do if my dog is aggressive?
First, learn how to recognize how your dog is feeling. Every dog gives warning signs before biting or attacking – especially the first time – but owners can’t always read them very well.
Dog attack warning sign
There are several signals your dog may give to indicate that they are worried, anxious, or stressed out. By recognizing these, we can keep dogs feeling safe, stress-free and prevent as much canine aggression as long before it starts. Oftentimes, dogs bite in self-defense because they feel that this is their only option as all other warning signs have been ignored.
Yawning or licking lips
The first sign that your dog is feeling uncomfortable is yawning or licking his lips. You can also see them turn their heads away from what is causing their discomfort and you can also see the whites of their eyes (whale eyes). If you experience any of these, you should take steps to remove anything that is worrying your dog or to remove it from the situation.
Crouched with his tail between his legs
Or you may see more obvious signals like your dog crouching with its tail between its legs or lifting its paw or tensing around its eyes or mouth. Or you notice that they become very stiff and still. These are all warning signs of aggression in dogs that you should be aware of. Take the time to watch your dog and you will be amazed at how much he communicates, how he feels.
A wagging tail doesn’t always indicate a happy dog
Don’t assume that a wagging tail always indicates a friendly dog. A stiff wagging tail or tail frond in a dog crouching with decreased body language can be warning signs that the dog is conflicting, anxious, or worried.
Growling is often a final warning
The next stage could be your dog’s growling – and for many people this is the first time they notice something is wrong, but for the dog, this is almost a final warning. Growling is a vocal way a dog can express that he is feeling anxious or aroused, and it is a very clear warning that if the situation does not change, he will most likely escalate his behavior into a bite. We should try to keep our dogs from feeling so uncomfortable that they have to growl to tell us, but if you do, listen to them!
If your dog feels that he is being punished for growling, he may stop doing it in the future, but he will no longer give you the final warning and instead move straight to the next level – the bite.
How to Help a Reactive Dog
- Remove the cause of your dog’s stress, anxiety, or excitement – or take your dog out of the situation.
- Take action to prevent the situation from occurring again. For example, if he growls because he doesn’t want anyone to approach him when he eats, make sure he is fed alone in a room until you can get professional advice.
- All dogs are different and worry about different things. So learn to watch your dog so you can see how they are feeling – and how they are likely to be behaving. Most aggression only occurs because owners inadvertently put their dogs in situations they cannot handle.
- If aggression becomes a regular behavior, or if you are concerned or if you feel threatened by your dog in any way, seek professional help immediately
- If your dog exhibits any of the behaviors described above when spoken to by a child, remove the child immediately and avoid all encounters with children while requesting a referral to a behaviorist. The same goes for everyone else in the family or when you meet. Never take risks with people’s safety – it is better to play it safe!
- In all cases of aggression, seek advice from a professional sooner rather than later.
How can I deal with an aggressive dog?
Do not try to deal with dog aggression on your own. Find an accredited experienced behavioral scientist to help you. They can advise you on a behavior change program to help and teach you how to keep everyone safe from your dog.
The aggression of the dog when walking
The first part of managing your dog’s behavior is thinking about the safety of oneself and others. If your dog is aggressive towards people outdoors or other dogs on walks, keep them on a leash and think twice Train your dog to wear a snout when you are outdoors or in public.
If you cannot control your dog on a leash, do not take them out publicly until you can urgently seek professional help. This may add to your dog’s frustration, but safety comes first: instead, train and play with your dog in a safe yard, work on your training using reward-based methods, and use toys and games for enrichment. This will help shed some energy and improve your bond in safety until a behaviorist can help you.
Aggression towards visitors
If your dog is aggressive towards home visitors, be sure to secure your dog in the yard or in a safe room before opening the door or greeting guests. Some dogs are only a problem when people come into their perceived area and are therefore particularly careful around doors, gates, and even the doors to the car.
Aggression towards other dogs
If dog aggression does occur in your home, keep it in separate rooms and walk and feed them one by one until you can get professional help.
Not all dogs are meant to be best friends – your dog may display aggression towards other dogs – either on the go or at home with their canine family. When a fight breaks out between two dogs, NEVER try to separate them with your hands – in the confusion you could be seriously bitten. Your own safety should come first. Therefore, keep a large distance, as your dog may be able to redirect its aggression towards you.
Dog fights often sound and look worse than they are, and in the vast majority of cases, the dogs will eventually separate on their own. If the fight shows no sign of stopping and you can intervene without risking yourself, try to distract them by you may ring the doorbell, throw water on it or a towel, or make an unexpected loud noise such as a metal pan rattling with a wooden spoon. This brief second of startled surprise could give one of the dogs a chance to withdraw from the fight.
One of the most difficult cases of dog aggression to treat is fighting between bitches in the house. Although most bitches live happily together in the same house, sometimes they never see each other at eye level and argue and then argue very seriously about just about everything – food, attention, sleep arrangements, and more – and the only and most humane solution is one of the dogs for to accommodate everyone’s safety and peace of mind. While owners are often resistant to this as a solution, dogs in this situation are constantly exposed to high levels of stress and it really is the best solution for everyone.
For this reason, if you want to have two dogs, it is preferable to have a male and a female, ideally two completely different breeds/types and ages. The more different two dogs are, the more likely they are to get along because they enjoy different things and are less competitive or value the same resources. Two dogs of the same sex and breed can pose problems for the future because they value the same things and so can often break out arguments among dogs that can escalate into more serious fights.
Understand your dog’s reactivity
Just like us, our dogs can have good days and bad days.
Imagine you are one of three people in the back of a small car with no air conditioning driving at high speed down the highway on the hottest day of the year. The windows are open so the music has been turned up and the only way to communicate is by shouting.
“Please, could you turn the music down a bit?” You ask, but the driver ignores you.
“Come on, I’m getting a headache, can you just turn it down a bit?” You plead, but the driver ignores you again.
Eventually, your voice rises above the sound of the stereo; “Just turn off the music!” And the driver replies, “All right, you don’t have to scream.”
When we are stressed, overwhelmed, and our requests for help are ignored, we may not respond as we normally would, but we are not classified as “aggressive”.
Do we consider our dogs equally if they behave in a way that might qualify them as “aggressive”?
Remember, our dogs live in a human world, with confusing social etiquette, a language they don’t understand, and strict rules and regulations that limit their freedom.
If only they could tell us that they are stressed, overwhelmed, and having a bad day.
The head of dog aggression
Veterinary Behavioral Scientist, Kendal Shepherd detailed how dogs communicate that they are stressed. Many owners don’t realize how unhappy their dog is until they show their teeth, growl, or bite, but there are usually many warning signs well in advance and it’s rarely “out of nowhere”.
Recognizing the early warning signs that your dog is unhappy can be a quick way to dispel the situation and make sure he is safe. By listening and responding to their communications, you are also teaching them that you are trustworthy, which is critical to the bond you share. The goal is to make sure your dog doesn’t feel like he has to climb the ladder to let his feelings get known.
In addition to your dog’s comfort and safety, another reason to watch out for the early warning signs so your dog can keep using them when necessary. If your dog knows that you are offering your help by turning his head away and changing body language, it means he doesn’t have to climb the ladder. If these early warning signs are repeatedly ignored and you don’t help them until they growl or snap, they will soon find that growling or cracking is the only way to get their feelings across, and they’ll jump straight to that rung of the ladder when they are stressed.
As you get to know your dog, you will find that he has his own version of the ladder. You will know the behaviors they exhibit when stressed, anxious, or overwhelmed and it is your job to be their advocate and help them feel safe and get back down the ladder.
Like us, they only react as they know and do their best on a particular day. A dog who is usually perfectly calm and relaxed can easily climb the ladder when in an overwhelming situation, in pain, or in fear.
The information contained in this article is not a substitute for individual veterinary or behavioral advice and is for informational purposes only.