If your dog is showing signs of aggression or you’re trying to prevent your dog from becoming aggressive, the aggressive dog training tips below should help get you on the right track.
There are many warning signs that your dog is about to get aggressive. Once you’re able to identify the ways in which your dog shows that they’re about to get aggressive, you can start doing what needs to be done in order to address it.
Warning Signs of Aggression in Dogs
If your dog is becoming aggressive, these are some warning signs that you may have noticed.
- Growling and snapping
- A rigid body and quickly wagging tail
- Lip licking
- Showing teeth
- Raised fur
- Cowering and tail tucking
- Seeing whites of the eyes
- Threatening bark
- Mouthing without applying pressure to their bite
- Snapping or nipping
If you notice any of these warning signs in your dog, it’s best to take your dog to see your vet to make sure that there is nothing medically wrong with your dog. Your veterinarian may advise you to seek a professional dog trainer. They can help train your dog from becoming more aggressive or potentially hurting someone.
Why Dogs Get Aggressive
Many dogs who are aggressive got that way because their owner didn’t notice the signs of aggression and start training before these behaviors became a serious issue. Many puppies need socialization and training so that they will properly behave and not have aggressive tendencies.
Many dogs try to be the alpha dog in whatever situation they’re in. Since dogs are pack animals, there always must be a leader, and most dogs want to be that leader. In order to get to the top of the pack, your dog may have to fight and bite to get there. This is where many of the aggressive behaviors come from.
Some dogs display aggression as a form of fear. This is commonly seen in small dogs. Most of these dogs are not trained because many people think that their little size cannot cause much damage. This is untrue as even the smallest dog can bite and injure a person or another dog.
There are many things that can cause your dog to be aggressive. Here are a few other common reasons that your dog may act aggressively:
Some dogs have anxiety when you’re away. They may bite people or other dogs who are around them during these times. Some dogs with anxiety may hide until they feel safe. If you try to get a dog out of their safe area, they may attack.
If your dog is afraid, they may bite a person if they do not see another way out of the situation. If your dog is fearful, do not back them into a corner or cause them to feel threatened. Always giving them a way out of a situation will help them stay calm.
Guarding Their Food
Some dogs are very food aggressive. If you bend down to pick up their bowl, they may bite you thinking that you are taking their food from them. They may even bite another dog who is trying to take food from their bowl. They may even be aggressive if you accidentally dropped a piece of human food on the ground and think that you or another pet is going to get it before they do.
Feeling in Danger
If your dog is in what they feel like is a dangerous situation, such as other people or unknown dogs coming at them aggressively, they may also react aggressively.
If Your Dog Gets Startled
If your dog is sleeping and they suddenly wake up, they may bite or show signs of aggression. This is more commonly seen in dogs who do not hear or see very well.
As your dog gets older, they may develop dementia. If your dog has dementia, they may have days where they do not know who you are. This can cause them to be aggressive and possibly bite people or other pets in the house.
If your dog has hurt their legs, neck, or back, they may be aggressive due to this pain. Many times, you can easily figure out where they hurt. As soon as you touch this area, they will growl and snap at you. With pain medication and rest, your dog can heal and no longer be hurting.
Many diseases in dogs can cause them to show signs of aggression. If your dog does not feel well or has suddenly changed their personality and has become aggressive, it’s best for your vet to see them. They can run bloodwork to see if there are any medical reasons for your dog to act this way. Many times, once treatment is started, your dog’s personality will revert to its normal self.
Once you have figured out why your dog is acting aggressively, you can start behavioral training to teach them not to act this way. It’s always best to establish yourself as the leader of the pack and train your dog to behave correctly, no matter their size.
Aggressive Dog Training Tips
Once you figure out why your dog is acting aggressively, you can start training your dog to stop these unwanted behaviors.
1) Take Your Dog to Your Veterinarian to Rule Out Any Underlying Condition that Could Be Causing the Issue
Some dogs may act aggressively toward you or another pet because they are injured or hurting. A dog with GI issues such as vomiting or diarrhea may have stomach pain. They can be mildly aggressive if they are touched around their stomach area.
Dogs who have injured or broke their leg may bite you if you try to move them in a way that makes this injury worse. There are any number of underlying medical issues that can cause your dog not to feel well and suddenly become more aggressive.
Your vet can run bloodwork, take x rays, and examine your dog to make sure that there is not a medical reason for their aggression.
2) Leash Training
You may have to use a leash to train your dog. When your dog is inside your house, keeping them on a leash will help give you authority over your dog. By holding on to the leash, you can control where they go and who in the house they interact with.
Suppose you do not want your dog to go into a certain room or get on the furniture. Step on the leash when they get close. Using a harness or a prong collar will help them learn without choking them.
3) Address Food Aggression
If your dog is food aggressive, they should be the last one fed in the house. This means that you and all other pets are to eat before you give your aggressive dog their food. Many times with food aggression, you may need to crate your dog while they are waiting their turn to eat.
4) Use a Prong Collar
Prong collars, if used correctly, are great at teaching a dog not to be aggressive. A regular collar will just choke your dog when they pull on it. A prong collar will give your dog a slight pinch around their neck, similar to their mothers biting them on the neck when they were a puppy.
5) Use a Muzzle
Muzzles are great for dogs who are trying to bite you or other dogs. Most muzzles are snug-fitting, but your dog is still able to breathe and drink water with their muzzle on.
You can use a muzzle if you’re in a situation with new people or pets. This allows your dog to have the social interaction that they need for their training without you worrying about your dog attacking other people or pets.
6) Use Positive Reinforcement
When training your dog, remember to use positive reinforcement. Give them a treat when they do what they are told and behave as they should.
7) Clicker Train Your Dog
Using a clicker can help train your dog in a positive way. With clicker training, you teach your dog the sound of a clicker is a good thing by offering rewards after each click. You will eventually work up to where your dog must behave for a click and a reward. Eventually, you can stop the treats and just use the clicker to get the wanted behavior from your dog.
8) Avoid Punishing Your Dog
Do not punish your dog. Hitting your dog or putting them in “time out” will cause them to become more aggressive. Most dogs associate hitting with rage and will start to bite the person who hit them or another person nearby.
9) Work with a Professional Dog Trainer
If you’ve tried all the training tips at home and you feel like you’re not making progress, sometimes it’s best to hire a professional dog trainer. They are skilled in training aggressive dogs. They can quickly teach you and your dog training tricks to help them not be aggressive towards people and other pets.
10) Consider Getting Your Dog on Medication
When all else fails, consider medication for your dog. Some dogs need anxiety medication to help keep them calm. Your vet can help you determine if your dog can benefit from medication or if there is something else for you to try to help keep your dog calm.
How long does training take?
In general, the longer your dog has been allowed to behave badly, the longer it will take for training. When you start training for your dog, it’s best to be consistent, and you should see results quickly. With time, consistency, and patience, your dog can become trained to behave properly.
If your dog is aggressive, noticing the warning signs earlier will help you be able to start training sooner. Many bad behaviors, once they’re learned, are very hard to break. A dog should start training when they’re a puppy, and this training should continue their whole life.
If your dog has suddenly started to become aggressive and it’s an older dog, it would be best for your vet to check your dog over to make sure that there isn’t anything medically wrong with your dog. There are certain medical conditions that can cause a dog to be aggressive. Your vet can also discuss different treatment options for aggressive behaviors and help you with training to help your dog not be aggressive.