There is nothing scarier than having your treasured pet turn aggressive

There is nothing scarier than having your treasured pet turn aggressive.  Initially you may detect this aggressive behaviour towards other dogs, and you may even think it funny at first, but if it continues it can become more grave until you are frantic to stop dog aggression in your beloved pet.

There can be lots of reasons why this is occurring and you need to understand what they are.  Has your dog been well socialized?  If your dog lives in the backyard or house and never sees another dog (except perhaps another dog you own) it is likely he will become aggressive when he does come face to face with another dog.  So how do you stop dog aggression like this?

Step One

Make sure your puppy socializes with other people and dogs as you first step.  There are puppy socializing classes held in most large vet clinics and you should take your puppy.  Take a 3 month course with your local dog obedience group once your puppy is 3 months old.  Your dog will not only be taught some basic skills, but will also be better socialized with other people and dogs, while listening to your  commands.

If you want to stop dog aggression, you can’t just start, then stop this activity.  I was obedience training my Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, and was also using the clicker training method with the young dog Cooper.  As he got better with the clicker training I ceased going to dog obedience and only trained him at home.  Twelve months later if he even saw another dog at the Vet he would bark madly (not really  aggressively, but nevertheless it was a real annoyance), so I took him back to dog obedience for a short time to socialise him again.  I repeated this every 6-10 months.

What Causes Dog Aggression and What is the Solution?

If a dog is not de-sexed you may have to stop dog aggression.  With male hormones running riot, dogs are much more aggressive.  Your dog is more likely to be aggressive when he is
protecting you or your property or his territory.

You should de-sex your dog (unless you want to show him or breed from him) once he begins to be aggressive towards other dogs.  Likewise, if your dog is being protective, you want him to be this way, but you also want him to obey you and you need to be able to stop dog aggression if necessary.

The solution is to have a well trained dog.  Act like the alpha being, the controller, the leader; once your dog accepts this, he will follow and obey you.  Even a soft growl is a form of aggression and must be stopped at once.  The command ‘No’ has very little effect in aggressive situations.  However a growl with your teeth bared could get a good response and stop dog aggression, if it is done in the early days of him exhibiting aggressive tendencies.  However, you should not have eye contact with a dog if it is acting very aggressively and therefore should not try growling yourself.

How to Stop Dog Aggression

Try using a special lead or muzzle, or indeed any other restrainers on the market.  These products stop the dog from opening its mouth wide enough to bite and will not hurt your dog.  Early training can use these products to stop dog aggression and once you have confidence with your dog on a lead then you can remove them.

Another way to stop dog aggression (especially if your dog is being trained using food rewards) is to distract him with food.  Get his attention by letting him see and smell the food while you give him a command.  The moment you get his attention, give him his food reward.  Then immediately give another command and drop the food on the ground so he will be  engaged with rummaging around for it.  He will go to pick it up and begin to concentrate even more on you.  Repeat this process a few times until he has his mind completely on you and the reward. To understand better there is a book covering how to stop dog aggression to help you.

I really do believe that if you have shown strong leadership qualities from the start and absolutely do not allow even the slightest hint of aggression, in most dogs, the aggression tendencies will recede.  But you could have great trouble with the breeds of dogs that are ‘hard wired’ to be aggressive e.g. Rottweilers, Dobermans and Pit Bull Terriers.  Don’t put off getting a professional trainer to help you if you cannot manage yourself.

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