If the statement above represents you, you have come to the right place. While you’re probably worried about your pet, the good thing is that you realize your dog has a problem and you’re willing to do something about it.
Dog aggression is a common but treatable problem. However, most dog owners either fail to realize or are unwilling to accept that when their -otherwise sweet- puppy is displaying any kind of aggression on other dogs or humans -then it is a serious problem.
If aggression in dogs is not treated in a timely and effective manner, it can lead to a permanent problem in the adult dog causing all sorts of unpleasant and dangerous situations. Eventually this could leave you no choice but to put your dog to sleep. Since you don’t want that to happen, it’s very important that you learn about the reasons and solutions to this problem.
Remember, the most effective way to cure dog aggression is if you start countering it from the time your dog first shows any sign of dog to dog or other aggression. Your dog is YOUR responsibility and with the right methods, you can put an end to her aggressive behavior or prevent it altogether. Start acting now by following these steps:
STEP 1: LEARN TO IDENTIFY THE SYMPTOMS OF AGGRESSION IN DOGS
Common signs of dog aggression include the following:
- Baring teeth
Before you attribute any of the above mentioned symptoms to a case of dog aggression, it’s important to make sure your dog doesn’t have another good reason for behaving aggressively: Your dog might be in pain (due to a medical condition or injury) and you should take her to a vet for a check-up to see if anything’s wrong before seeking specific aggression treatment.
STEP 2: UNDERSTAND THE TYPES OF DOG AGGRESSION
Here are the most common types of dog aggression: Defensive/fear-based aggression, dominance aggression, possessive/territorial aggression, intra-sexual (male-to-male or female-to-female) or parental aggression. A dog may in some cases show more than one type of aggression. By carefully observing your dog and her aggression patterns, you can identify the specific type(s) of aggression she shows. Here’s a list of the defining characteristics of common dog aggression types:
Your dog may think that she is the alpha dog. There are some dogs which are far more likely to try to establish themselves as predators. Male dogs and certain breeds have a greater need to display their dominance over their territory, other dogs and people. The solution in this case is to get control quickly and establish your leadership through training.
Dogs that have been abused at some point in their lives will build fear of the person who abused them and may react with defensive aggression if placed in a tough spot. A fear aggressive dog will usually display submissive body language but may snap if cornered and will most likely bite at people if they turn their backs on her and walk away.
Maternal protection and sibling rivalry
There are at least two normal causes of aggressive behavior and even biting. One is maternal protection of pups by the mom, and another is sibling rivalry. Here, the best advice is to properly socialize your dog at a very early age, to people as well as to other dogs. Sometimes, hormonal medication will effectively treat the aggression in these dogs.
Territorial and Possessive aggression
A dog may show territorial aggression regarding certain objects such as her bed, her home and her food bowl. Establishing your leadership and counter-conditioning the “territorial” dog are essential. It is important to begin her training at a very early age to avoid future aggression problems.
STEP 3: TREAT THE AGGRESSION
As you can tell from the advice given for each of the aggression types, you yourself play the most important role in stopping your dog’s aggression. If your dog bites someone’s pet or kid, it is correctly assumed to be your fault. That’s because, as the owner, it’s your duty to make sure your dog is not a threat to anyone’s safety.
Here are some ways to deal with your dog’s aggression:
- Keeping everyone safe is your main concern. So, if you have reason to believe that your dog might show aggression towards children or dog on dog aggression, you should put her on a leash, have her confined and/or make her wear a muzzle. These are temporary measures until you get her treated through professional dog training help and solve the problem permanently.
- Correction methods are usually fear-based measures and should only be used as a last resort. However, your dog must understand that other people and pets (and especially children) should not be approached with aggression. Light but effective correction could help you instill that principle in your dog. Such treatment is best handled by a professional dog trainer who has a lot of experience working with aggressive dogs. You wouldn’t want to hire any dog trainer who is poorly qualified or anyone who uses excessive force and punishment in order to correct an aggressive dog. Excessive punishment won’t help. In fact, it will make the problem worse. In most cases, the use of punishment will either challenge your dog’s dominant position or make her more fearful, and therefore more aggressive- which in turn could result in a bite or a severe attack.
- If you can identify the situations that cause most of your dog’s aggressive behavior then you should avoid them- at least for the time being. Exposing your dog to situations where she is more likely to show aggression will work against you.
- You can spay or neuter your dog. Hormones are known to contribute to aggressive tendencies in intact dogs so it’s more likely for them to show some kind of aggressive behavior.
- Getting treatment for your dog’s aggression is a much cheaper solution than paying heavy fines in lawsuits resulting from your dog hurting someone. Mild cases of dog aggression can be treated by owners themselves through the right form of correction and training. However, as an owner you must objectively decide when the problem is out of your control and you need the help of a professional dog trainer. Do NOT wait until your dog’s aggression causes harm to someone and costs you a lawsuit.
- Most aggressive dogs can be retrained under the right circumstances. However, before you start a program to correct an aggressive dog, you must realize that there is a chance your dog may never be trustworthy around other people or children, and may bite if provoked. Consult veterinarians or animal behaviorists for their opinions about whether your dog can be rehabilitated or should be put down.
P.S. I would definitely recommend you to check out professional dog trainer & behaviorist Doggy Dan for more information on curing dog aggression and other dog behavior problems.