Tips for Handling An Aggressive Dog

Tips for Handling An Aggressive Dog

Don’t you find it so annoying when you try to tell people something but everything you say seems to fall on deaf ears, and people think you’re crazy? You tell them your dog is sweet and charming, but nobody believes you, because well, she just tried to chump off another dog’s ear. It’s just so weird though: your dog is very pleasant at home, but for some awful reason, it is aggressive to other dogs. Why is that?

It can be rather shocking to discover that your cute little angel is a terror to other dogs, but, what if it’s not? What if there is something you can do to correct the behavior? Well, there is and hopefully, you will. But before you can do that, you have to discover why your dog doesn’t play well with others of its kind.

Reasons For Dog/Dog Aggression 

It’s often hard to pinpoint what exactly it is that makes dogs get mad at their fellow canines, but generally speaking, genetics, poor early socialization, and traumatic experiences usually stand out. Even with these, there are also triggers to aggression. You might have noticed for example, that your dog plays with other dogs when he is on a leash and feels you are ready to protect it if anything should go awry. Others feel better when they are roaming free. In some cases, the aggression only takes place when other dogs come near a territory or person they have taken ownership of. So if you weren’t walking with your dog, it wouldn’t be aggressive.

One common misconception is that some breeds are more aggressive than others, which has led to some dreadful legislation attempting to curtail the numbers of those breeds. However, recent studies have confirmed that dog training is the number one reason for aggression.

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Violent Training

When dogs have been trained in a violently, they are more likely to pass off that aggression, similar to how bullies react to discomfort in their lives. In other words, they have been taught that violence is a natural response to dogs. So even though your dog is faithful to you, it will despise other dogs, until the training method is corrected.

What people often neglect the aspect of breeds is that certain types of people are drawn to certain breeds of dogs. Pitbulls for example, who are naturally very sociable dogs, have a reputation for being aggressive. Thus, people looking for a strong aggressive dog to protect them or fight on their behalf will adopt them and train them to be violent, which further perpetuates the stereotype. Nobody looking for a guard dog would use a poodle, but if they were trained this way, they would also get a bad name. Because these dogs keep being abused by their owners, they, in turn, lash out at other dogs and sometimes other people.

Deciphering what is causing your dog or puppy to be aggressive to other dogs requires the intervention of a certified animal behaviorist. If you have been training him using methodologies that pick pain over pleasure, it is time to make the switch.

How Do I Stop Dog/Dog Aggression

While you may need the assistance of a professional dog trainer, there are things you can do at home and outside your home that will make your pet feel more loved and in control of a situation. If you are simply looking to prevent it from ever happening, then do remember to train your dog with positive reinforcement, help it socialize with other dogs early in its life, and never make it compete for affection or resources like food, toys or your time. If the habit has begun, try these exercises.

Change Your Dog’s Environment

Dogs are very emotional beings. They thrive off peace and joy, more than food and comfort. A dog can be hungry and still be playful. But when a dog is mad, even a full belly won’t dissuade it. If your home environment is too restrictive, take your dog out to a secluded park or play area away from home. Get your dog to run around, exercise and just be happy. When your dog is in this excitable mood, he is less likely to feel threatened or disturbed when he meets another dog later on, or on your walk home. You need a secluded park because you need to be able to take your dog off its leash and let him run. I mostly walk my dogs without a leash because they’ve been well trained, and they’ve never had an instance of being aggressive to other dogs. Another dog starting a fight, now that’s different, but they don’t instigate. Something about being free relaxes their minds.

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Attend Dog Training Classes

I know these can be expensive and you may not have the time, but they are worth it when you do attend. You need a safe environment where your dog can meet the same dogs over and over again, get used to them, and finally learn to accept them. Dogs in the same house are rarely aggressive to each other unless they are badly trained or one had a traumatic past. If you don’t want a house full of dogs, get your pup to meet others regularly, so he sees and knows that they are just like him and there is nothing wrong with a little mingling.

Besides this natural remedy of just meeting other dogs regularly, you also get the benefit from the class itself. The classes should help deal with the problem as well, using techniques such as desensitization, counter-conditioning and the

“Jolly Routine’.

Be Jolly When You See Other Dogs

Dogs can smell fear. When they sense you getting tensed, they begin to get tensed as well. Because we’ve noticed our dogs acting poorly when they meet new dogs, we begin to panic when a dog is approaching. Unfortunately, what that means is even if our dog wasn’t going to get vicious, because we are panicking, our dog senses that and thinks the other dog is making you feel uncomfortable. Naturally, your dog will want to come to your rescue and fight-off the other dog. The poor pup had no intention of being aggressive today, but you being tense made him tense and he bit the pooch. That’s a vicious cycle.

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Many dogs potentially are not actually aggressive

The unfortunate reality is that many dogs potentially are not actually aggressive. They have only been reacting that way because maybe they had one bad encounter with a dog, and ever since, you expected them to do the same, or never gave them a chance to be better, and your fear makes them react violently to other dogs. But thankfully, there is a fix.

Canine behaviorist William Campbell developed the Jolly Routine, which is a way to help owners adjust their mood when they see another dog approaching. Instead of being fearful, you choose to get excited and that makes your dog calm down and be more open to socializing. There are other nameless variations of this technique, but they involve similar principles.

When you see another dog, relax your body, and don’t be firm on the leash. Get excited with a lot of ‘baby talk’ and when you can play with the other dog, to show it is not a problem. Ask someone to hold your dog while you go play with the other one. Your dog will notice that the other dog isn’t trying to harm you, so she will then relax her attitude. Crown this off with plenty of rewards for either sitting, not barking, or doing anything else you approve of.

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Be Generous With Treats

Yes, don’t forget the treats. A major part of your dog’s training is rewarding her for every obedience. When you meet another dog and yours doesn’t react, give it a high-value treat. Some suggest a snack she never gets to eat at any other time. If your dog is getting tense and you ask her to sit and she complies, or stays down, or looks at you instead of the other dog, gives her a lovely treat. Incorporate a lot of praise and petting too.

When our dogs act poorly, we get disappointed. This almost always shows in our reaction. Unfortunately, this does not make the dog do the right thing the next time. So, instead of showing your disappointment when your dog fails, show approval when she does right. That way, she never feels as though you don’t like her, and that feeling can get passed off as more aggression.

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Always Ask For Help

We don’t know it all, not even trainers, so it is good to ask for help if, despite your efforts, your dog does not seem to be improving. Also remember that these training may take months before they set in, so you have to be in it for the long-haul. One final sad fact on dog/dog aggression is that dogs from shelters have a higher tendency to misbehave. They haven’t been loved or trained right, so it will take some time to get used to being appreciated and fed properly, etc. and this is where you come in, so please, don’t give up on your dog. You can do it!

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# Aggressive Dog