A barking or biting dog can be a problem if you don’t know what to do. According to the ASPCA, aggression is the most common and most serious behavior problem in dogs. It’s also the number-one reason why pet owners seek professional help from behaviorists, trainers and veterinarians.
So whether your dog is showing their teeth, snarling, snapping or lunging – knowing how to curb this behavior is key.
First, you must understand why your dog is being aggressive. Aggression in dogs can be defined many ways and be caused by many things.
Typically, dogs display the following types of aggression:
- Dominant Aggression
- Territorial Aggression
- Fear Aggression
- Prey or Predatorial Aggression
It is important to identify the type of aggression your dog is showing and handle it quickly and smoothly as well as reassure your dog to set them at ease. Learn to understand the body language your dog displays when they are agitated.
When did your dog become aggressive? Were they in a particular place or around unfamiliar people or animals? Take into consideration the situation from your dog’s point of view. Dogs can become aggressive over a wide number of things. If someone new is in your home, your dog may display territorial aggression. To them, this is an intruder in their home. Your dog may also display possessive aggression over their things, whether another animal is threatening to take their toys or not.
If a member of the family is hurt or threatened by a person or animal, your dog may feel protective aggression. There’s a reason they’re called guard dogs! Dogs can also lash out due to fear or if they are being cornered. Some male dogs may become aggressive around other male dogs, either to be seen as the alpha male or over a potential mate.
Two tips to help you handle aggressive dogs are to socialize them and have them attend a basic obedience class. We recommend trying obedience first and then after training has taken hold slowly introduce your dog to other dogs and one at a time before introducing to groups of dogs.
Utilizing an obedience technique, you should have your dog sit and wait when people or pets approach so that a soft welcome can be achieved.
If you don’t trust your dog around adults, children, or other dogs, spend some more one-on-one time and continue practicing obedience until you feel confident in your dog. The last thing you need is your pet taking a bite out of your neighbor.
*Keep in mind that some breeds can be more aggressive than others so please consider this and do your research. You need to be realistic about your lifestyle and how much time you can invest in your dog and its training. If you are neglectful towards them they may become aggressive to you. Be sure to invest a lot of time, love and treats.