Aggression dogs

How to Deal with Aggression in Dogs

Dogs may exhibit aggressive behavior from an early age or over the course of their lives. Having an aggressive dog can be challenging and can create a lot of stress for you. There are times when dog owners are unaware that their dog has a behavioral disorder. They may also be unable to spot the warning indications regarding the aggression. If you are a dog owner, it is crucial that you understand your dog’s behavior, which includes aggression as well.

Understanding Aggression in Dogs

The term “aggression” refers to a feeling of anger or antipathy that results in a behavior violent enough to confront and even cause physical damage. Almost all species of animals exhibit anger intrinsically for various reasons like defending an offspring, a territory, or even defending themselves. Likewise, dogs are no different of a kind. Aggression in dogs passes variation in their behaviors that typically start with warnings.

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) stated in a article that  “A dog that shows aggression to people usually exhibits some part of the following sequence of increasingly intense behaviors”:

  • Becoming very still and rigid
  • Guttural barking that sounds threatening
  • Lunging forward or charging at the person with no contact
  • Growling
  • Showing teeth
  • Snarling
  • Snapping
  • Biting – quick nips and bites and/or puncture wounds

Dog attacks without displaying these symptoms are quite uncommon. However, the owners frequently fail to understand these behaviors and assume that their dogs start attacking suddenly.

Despite their aggression, it is undeniable that we are still fond of the companionship of our dogs. It is advisable to take into account the following circumstances if you live or intend to live with an aggressive dog:

  • Age: Younger dogs with aggression issues can often be treated more easily than the older dogs.
  • Size: Regardless of other circumstances, larger dogs have the potential to be more destructive and dangerous.
  • Certainty: Dogs that give warning signs before biting offer people and other animals time to escape and avoid being bitten.
  • Severeness: Aggressive dogs who merely growl are less difficult to live with than aggressive dogs who bite. 
  • Circumstances: An aggressive dog may not necessarily respond aggressively in every scenario. He may have particular trigger elements that cause it to behave in this manner. For instance, he could act aggressively against other dogs or animals like cats while behaving calmly in other circumstances. Also, he may exhibit aggressive nature only when it’s eating or while defending its food.

So How to Deal with Aggression in Dogs ?

To deal with aggressive dogs, we must first understand what triggers them to behave in this manner. Owning an aggressive dog might feel like a disaster, but by taking correct steps, it is totally avoidable. 

How to Deal with Aggression in Dogs

 One of the most prevalent forms of aggression in dogs is displaying anger against other animals, particularly other dogs. Here are some methods to deal with this type of aggression:

  • Remain calm when your dog starts acting aggressively

Dogs are thought to feed off of human energy. Therefore, they may act more aggressively when we are scared or anxious in the assumption that they are trying to defend us. Obviously, you don’t want to put your dog under extra stress. So rather than reacting anxiously when you witness your dog acting aggressively toward another dog, you might want to maintain your composure to calm him down.

  • Exercise your dogs

We all know how energetic puppies can be, but we also need to realize how energetic adult dogs are and can be. The best way for them to expend that energy and burn it off is via exercise. Dogs who receive a lot of exercise are less agitated and less susceptible to becoming aggressive.

  • Don’t punish your dog

The worst thing you can do is punish the dog for being aggressive. As the dog may become frightened if you raise your voice or start hitting them, they may take action to defend themselves. Consequently, it will make the situation even worse.

  • Seek professional help

If your dog becomes outrageously aggressive against other dogs and it is getting difficult for you to control the situation, it is imperative to seek expert assistance. Run to your vet and help your pet.

Another most common aggression in dogs is Food Aggression. When dogs eat meals or treats, they may exhibit food aggression, which is a territorial response in which they act aggressively to protect their food.  Following are some of the methods to deal with food aggression in dogs:

  •  Make your dog used to your presence while they are having their food

While your dog eats from a bowl on the floor, step back a few steps and stand there until he finishes eating. The aim is to have your dog eating in a calm manner in your presence for 10 or more meals in a row before going on to the next level of this training process.

  • Talk to your dog while feeding him with your hand                                         

It’s very important that your dog understands that you’re not posing any threat to him while he eats. Holding a treat for your dog in your hand, stand near to their bowl. Encourage your dog to eat the treat out of your hand rather than placing it in their bowl. Talk to them in a very gentle tone while they take the treat from your hand.

After they have taken the treat, turn and walk away to communicate that you are not interested in their food. Try to bend down further each day, until your hand is just close to their bowl as your dog receives the treat. Move on to the next level of training if your dog remains relaxed while eating for ten or more meals in a row.

  • Lift their bowl off the ground and hand them their treat

This is a key step that comes while developing trust with your dog. As you pick up your dog’s bowl, speak to them calmly. Raise it 6-12 inches off the ground at first, then add the reward and place the dish back down. Repeat this process until you feel your dog getting comfortable when you pick up the bowl from the ground, take a few steps forward, and place the bowl back into its original place. 

Your dog’s food aggression may fade away slowly as you follow the steps described above to gain his trust. However, your dog might feel at ease eating in your presence, he may not feel the same with other members of your family or visitors. Create a secure dining space for your dog like a gated area for him to have his meal in this situation.  

Another common aggression in dogs is toy aggression. Toy aggression, also known as possessive aggression, is aggression in which a relatively calmer dog starts behaving aggressively towards other people or pets while playing with his toys. Here are some steps you can take to deal with toy aggression in your dog:

  • Train your dog to exchange his toy with treats

Give your dog one of his favorite toys and ask him to give it to you in your hands in return for his favorite treat. Also, don’t forget to return his toy to him after a while. This step will teach him that you don’t want to snatch away his toys and also he will get rewards for obeying your command!

  • Avoid direct confrontation if your dog is very anxious

Stop invading his personal space or confronting him directly if it makes your dog further agitated. Toss his favorite treat at him from a safe distance until he drops his toy and becomes interested in the treat. Then approach his toys and try to take it. Repeat this process until you gain his trust with the toy.

  • Be careful of your actions

One of the reasons the dog may have toy aggression is to seek attention from his owner. Frequently, it will begin with a silly game in which you play with your dog and its toy, and they discover that it’s entertaining to grab the toy from you while you encourage them by responding favorably to their behaviors. So, don’t normalize snatching the toys away from your dog, or him doing so from you even if it’s a fun play. Also, don’t forget to give your dog the attention he deserves! 

So, the most important point that you need to realize if you have an aggressive dog is that it is not their personality. It may be the development stage in their life as they learn new things every day. If your dog has started behaving aggressively, you must work on gaining their trust and train them to respond to your commands like “stay”, “sit”, “calm down” etc. 

Always be tough and consistent with your dog, and never tolerate any kind of bad behavior. However, punishing him for his behavior is never an option!

Your inconsistency in training your dog can be unsettling and lead to further aggressiveness. Also, in extreme cases don’t be hesitant to seek professional help. These experts have information and training techniques that, even with dogs who appear to be “vain attempts,” may be quite successful and heal themselves.                    

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