Dog aggression is a big problem for many dog owners and it is also one of the most serious, as an aggressive dog (especially a big and powerful one) can be potentially dangerous, thus it is important to deal with this problem as soon as possible as the aggression problem is likely to get worse and worse. It is not something that will get better by itself.
In this post I will give you the reasons why dogs get aggressive and what you can do about it. I will also show you the different types of Dog Aggression Training that is available and how can enroll in it.
Why do dogs get aggressive?
Aggressive behavior is natural to dogs and in the wild is it is necessary for their survival. A dog in the wild needs to protect its tribe, its young ones, its territory, potential mates and the food. The display of aggressiveness will help wild dogs to survive.
In our world however, most of the time this sort of behavior is troublesome. The exception being when a dog guards your home or protect you and your family from a potential attacker. In the wild, other bigger animals are usually either threats or prey. All these instincts of protection are still present in domestic dogs and in our world dogs sometimes have difficulties seeing the difference between a real threat and your friends and/or other people and dogs who might be present.
Display of aggressiveness can either be offensive (where a dog is trying to assert dominance of other dogs and/or people) or it can be caused by fear. In this case the dog gets aggressive because it feels threatened and have no way to escape, for example if it is attached somewhere and another dog or person approaches it. The image to the right shows a dog displaying aggression caused by fear.
Aggressive tendencies can occur with all breeds of dogs but there are some differences. A dog who is bred to guard and protect (a German Shepherd or Rottweiler for example) is more likely to see other dogs and/or humans as potential threats.
On the other hand, there are some breeds of dogs (Golden Retriever is one example) who will happily welcome any visitor that may come by. Important to note there are also individual differences here and not all dogs will react the same, regardless of their breed.
So to summarize, Aggressive behavior is a natural behavior for dogs and it helps them to survive in the wild and domestic dogs to perform tasks like guarding and protecting. However, aggressiveness can cause problems and lead to dangerous situations in everyday life so we need to be able to control our dogs Aggressive behavior. Here is where the Dog Aggression Training comes in. We can teach our dogs that people or dogs in its surroundings pose no threat to you and your family. Here is how to do that.
Show your dog that there is no need to be aggressive
If a dog start to (aggressively) barking and lunging at a person or other dog it is likely that it is because it perceives the stranger as a threat. If you can you show your dog that the stranger/other dog poses no threat then your dog will calm down.
But how can you do this? How can you make a dog understand that there is no danger? First of all, you need to act in time. That is, you must intervene as soon as your dog shows aggressive tendencies. By learning your dog’s body language you can spot signs of aggression early and act before it gets out of control. Once your dog has reached the state of total rage it is not going to listen to you and nothing you do will help to calm it down. Secondly, you need to stay calm. Dogs are very sensitive to our moods and the way we act and if you stay calm and in control your dog will calm down as well. If you get exited and start yelling, pulling the leash and being upset, the dog will think it is acting the right way and things will just get worse.
Thirdly, turn your back against whatever your dog is getting worked up about. In the wild you would never turn your back to a danger so by doing this you will show your dog that the perceived threat is nothing to worry about. You can also block the view of your dog by standing in front of it so it can not see whatever it is that makes it upset, this usually calms your dog down.
On this page (opens in a new window) you will find a video of the professional dog trainer Doggy Dan when he is using this method. Note how quickly and efficiently it works. Here is the link: How to stop dog aggression towards people
If any of this is going to work, you need to be in charge. Your dog must see you as its natural leader. A dog who sees you as its leader will look to you for advice on how to act. If your dog does not see you as its leader it will act on its own. So a strong by gentle leadership is needed in order to control an aggressive dog. This is important for all dog training but especially when it comes to issues of aggression. Your dog must clearly know that you are its leader. To learn more about how to become your dog’s pack leader go to this page : How to become a pack leader your dog admires
Dog Aggression Training
So in order to train an aggressive dog to make it calm and relaxed you need to do the following:
- Make sure your dog sees you as its natural leader. Dogs follow their leader and if you have not established a strong but gentle leadership over your dog, it is not going to listen to you.
- Make sure to socialize your dog from a young age. By meeting lots of other dogs and humans your dog will get used to them and will learn that they do not pose any danger.
- Act calm. Absolutely no yelling, jerking the leash or hitting. All these things will only make the situation worse. If you act calm your dog will follow your example.
- Learn to read your dog’s body language. By doing this you can notice the signs of your dog’s aggression before it gets serious and out of control.
As mentioned already, Aggressive behavior is the most serious of all dog related problems and something that needs to be dealt with as quickly as possible. If you feel that you can not manage this on your own then I suggest you go and find a knowledgeable person who can help you. You have a few options here. You can hire a professional dog trainer and train your dog together with him/her. Hands on help is the best thing when dealing with a potentially dangerous problem such as aggression. However, it is important that you check your dog trainers credentials to make sure he/she has the competence to help you.
The downside with hiring a professional dog trainer is the cost and the availability. A professional dog trainer might cost hundreds or even thousands of dollars depending on how many lessons are needed. Also, there might not be a good professional dog trainer in your area. The hours when the trainer is available must also fit in with your own schedule of everyday life.
Another, much cheaper option could be to find a club near where you live. There are several clubs where people interested in dogs meet and there is often a lot of experience and advice to be found there. Often they arrange courses in obedience and the prices to participate are a lot lower than if you hire a private dog trainer.
A third option would be to use the help of an online dog trainer. I know this might seem crazy but an online dog trainer really can help you. Of course, you can not train your dog online but an online dog trainer can teach you what to do and give you the support you need so that you can solve the problem yourself without having a dog trainer there in person. This is done using video, Skype, a forum and e-mail. The dog trainer will show you what you need to do through a series of videos and you do the same. If you have any questions or run into any difficulties, he or she will be available to give you the support you need.
One word of caution though. An online dog trainer can help you with practically any issue you might have with your dog, including aggression but if the aggression problem of your dog is really serious it will be safer for you to have a personal dog trainer with you. You can in that case combine his/her help and use an online dog trainer as well.
Like mentioned, dog aggression is one of the most common and most dangerous of all dog related problems. Therefore, you need to act as quickly as possible. By establishing yourself as a strong leader, acting calmly and showing your dog that other dogs or people pose no threat, you can get rid of your dog’s aggressive behavior and get a calm and relaxed dog.
I hope you enjoyed this post and if you have any comments, tips or tricks you would like to share, please leave them below.
All the best,