A Guide to Aggressive Dog Training

Pet Training


August 28, 2020

Aggressive behavior is one of the main reasons dog owners seek professional help. A certified dog trainer or an animal behaviorist can help you correct your pup’s tendency to snap, growl, or bite.

Aggression is not exclusive to larger breeds. Any dog can become hostile under certain circumstances. Unfortunately, it’s impossible to cure this behavioral issue overnight. However, there are actions you can take to keep your four-legged friend calm.

Aggressive Dog Training 101

Being around an aggressive dog is nobody’s cup of tea. It can be quite frightening and potentially dangerous. It’s scary when a seemingly docile and friendly pup suddenly starts growling and baring their teeth. Dog aggression can get out of hand from one second to another. Your pooch may even attack you or a family member. Luckily, there are effective ways to prevent this from happening.

It’s easy to get frustrated when your dog displays signs of aggression. However, fighting these actions with more hostility is never the answer. It’s vital to identify what’s causing your pup to react like this. It’s the only way to help them overcome this problem. These are the main reason why your furry pal might suddenly become aggressive:

  • Illness and Injury

Pain is a common trigger of aggression in all kinds of dogs. Some medical conditions might cause discomfort and stress. If your dog suffers from arthritis, internal injuries, lacerations, or bone fractures, they’re likely to become hostile when you touch them. Other serious illnesses can affect your pup’s brain. These diseases may lead to seemingly unreasonable aggression. 

Health problems are more frequent in older dogs, but they can happen at any age. If your dog starts showing sudden and unexplained signs of aggression, it doesn’t hurt to take them to the vet’s office for a general checkup.

  • Fear

Dogs tend to show aggressive behavior when facing danger. When this happens, your pup might be instinctively feeling the need to defend themselves. This problem is common in shelter dogs. They usually come from difficult backgrounds where they might have experienced a traumatic event. Rescue dogs are likely to have socialization problems as well. 

When you adopt an adult dog, any information you can get about them is valuable. Knowing your pup’s backstory will help you determine the best way to handle aggressive behavior. It’s a good idea to hire a certified instructor to provide aggressive dog training. These specialists know the best techniques to teach dogs who’ve been victims of abuse in the past.  

  • Possessiveness

Dogs are territorial animals by nature. They often display the need to guard their food, toys, and other objects they consider valuable. Your pet might exhibit possessiveness by growling if someone gets too close when they’re eating. They might also bare their teeth if you try to approach them when they’re chewing their favorite toy.

Another common way to display possessive aggression is when your dog appears hostile to strangers walking into your home. 

  • Show of Dominance

In some cases, aggression is also a way in which your dog will try to establish dominance. Pups often direct these attempts towards other dogs. However, it’s not uncommon for this to happen with people as well. Just like aggression, dominance is an acquired behavior, so you must never mistake it for a personality trait. Dogs only resort to dominance aggression when they feel they must prove they’re the boss.  

  • Frustration

When your dog doesn’t get their way, they might take out their frustration aggressively. Just like humans, pups often expect specific outcomes from a particular situation. Your furry pal might get moody when things don’t go the way they wanted. When this happens, you must never reward their actions. The wrong conditioning will make them think it’s ok to react in a certain way to reach their goals.

Frustration-caused aggression is also common in dogs that spend a lot of time indoors, tied up, restrained on a leash or behind a fence. Barrier frustration happens when something’s out of your dog’s reach. If you approach them in the middle of a fit, they might redirect their aggression and snap at you. 

Definition of Aggression

To better explain hostile dog behavior, we must first understand what aggression is. The aggressive definition encapsulates a series of dangerous threats directed at animals and humans alike. Your dog’s intimidation methods may include barking, biting, lunging, baring their teeth, nipping, and biting. The most typical forms of canine aggression are:

  • Territorial aggression
  • Protective aggression
  • Possessive aggression

Aggressive Dog Breeds

Several reasons influence how people perceive certain dog races. Many studies that reveal dog bite statistics might influence public opinion. These sources are the most common way to pinpoint the so-called aggressive dog breeds. It’s important to acknowledge that labeling a specific dog breed as “dangerous” is controversial. Any dog can develop aggressive tendencies under certain circumstances. With that said, here’s a list of breeds with a bad reputation:

  • American Pitbull Terrier
  • Alaskan Malamute
  • American Bulldog
  • American Pit Bull Terrier
  • American Staffordshire Terrier
  • Boxer
  • Cane Corso
  • Chow Chow
  • Dalmatian
  • Doberman Pinscher
  • German Shepherd Dog
  • Great Dane
  • Presa Canario
  • Rottweiler
  • Saint Bernard
  • Siberian Husky
  • Staffordshire Bull Terrier
  • Wolf Hybrids

Obedience Training for Dogs

A proper dog training program will set boundaries and a predictable routine for your four-legged friend. These exercises are a strong foundation for your pup’s good behavior. A dog with no obedience training whatsoever will simply not know how to behave.

Your furry friend will thrive if you teach them exactly what you expect them to do in each particular situation. Obedience training for dogs is vital so that you and your four-legged friend can coexist in a healthy, happy way. 

There are several different methods to train a dog. Most dog owners choose to sign up for a puppy obedience class. Others hire a professional dog trainer for one-on-one lessons. These options are great if you don’t have enough time to educate your pup on your own. However, lots of dog parents successfully train their furry pals on their own.

Get Down to Work

Training Fido by yourself is not only a smart idea to save your hard-earned money. It’s also a wonderful way to bond with your pup. Dog training might seem difficult at first, especially if it’s your first time. However, you must take your time and be patient. If you have a well-structured plan, you’ll be able to handle obedience training like a pro.

You won’t require fancy equipment to get started. Still, we recommend a few items that will make your job easier:

  • Find a comfortable dog collar or harness that perfectly fits your pup.
  • Pick the right leash. Try to avoid retractable ones since they’re not very convenient for training purposes.
  • Get the right provisions. Always have your dog’s favorite treats handy to reward them for being a good boy or girl!

Do your research. There are many online guides on how to educate your pooch. You must understand that obedience training is a daily commitment. Consistency is vital to achieving results quickly. Set up a schedule and stick to it. Remember, dog schooling takes time. It’s normal for you and your puppy to hit a few bumps along the way.

Dogs of all ages sometimes display resistance at first. If your canine companion becomes stubborn, keep things positive, and use rewards to reinforce good behavior. 

Stop Problematic Behavior

When training your pup, you might come across some common setbacks. Your dog will probably jump up, bark, and even display some mild signs of dominance aggression. Whenever you notice these issues, interrupt any misbehavior attempt right away. Shift your pup’s attention into something they’ve already mastered, and reward them immediately.

Always stay confident. After all, you’re showing your pet who’s in charge. Positive reinforcement will guaranty your success. A rookie mistake is punishing your furry pal when they’re struggling to follow your cues. Becoming angry during a dog training session can be counterintuitive. Adverse reactions will only confuse your pup.

A good method to help hold your dog’s attention is to use treats. However, recognize when it’s time to move along. If your pup becomes bored or tired, they’re less likely to follow your instructions. This situation may lead to frustration on both you and your doggo. Always strive to wrap up your sessions on a positive note. 

How to Calm an Aggressive Dog

Aggression signs may vary from one dog to another. The more threatened a pup feels, the more apparent these reactions will be. Keep in mind that aggressive behaviors tend to build up. It’s important to identify hostile body language, and interrupt it before it escalates. An angry pup will display the following red flags:

  • Increase in body size
  • Loud vocalization
  • Displacement
  • Growling
  • Bare teeth
  • Retracted lips
  • Erect body posture
  • Stalking
  • Elevated head, neck, and ears
  • Stiff and raised tail

Once you notice any of the signs mentioned above, you can take action to calm your pup. Paying close attention to your furry friend’s posture will prevent any negative surprises caused by a sudden outburst. It’s crucial to respect your dog boundaries. If they feel uncomfortable in a specific situation, give them space. Avoid making your pup feel cornered by all means.

To calm an aggressive dog, you must first stick to these basic rules:

  • Don’t lean over them
  • Avoid direct eye contact
  • Turn your body to the side
  • Never corner the dog

You must never respond to aggression with a hostile attitude. Startling an already upset dog will only make things worse. It may even result in a sudden attack. A calm demeanor is always the way to go.

How to Socialize an Aggressive Dog

If your pup keeps attacking your other dogs for no reason, it’s probably because of a socialization issue. Dogs should start hanging out with others within their first three to fourteen weeks. Negative socialization experiences may lead to trauma, which will cause trust issues down the road. You must make sure children and other animals treat your dogs kindly at all times, but particularly in this crucial stage. 

Dog-on-dog aggression is pretty usual. This typical behavioral problem is the result of your pup growing up with no social skills. If your pooch has never interacted with other animals before, understanding their body language will be challenging. Your pup might then become frightened or frustrated, leading to unnecessary tension. 

Most people start developing these skills with their pups at an early age, but it’s never too late to begin. This simple guide will help you learn how to socialize an aggressive dog.

  • Visit the dog park regularly

This activity will ensure your doggo meets other pups. Going out is the perfect opportunity for your pet to practice their social skills. Playing and running around will help keep your dog happy.

  • Take it easy with the discipline

Avoid being harsh with your pup when they act up. Disciplining an aggressive dog is vital, but you should always use a positive approach. Remember, your pooch is acting instinctively, so stay calm when trying to solve the problem.

  •  Set a routine

Dogs are methodic creatures. Your pup will always be more relaxed when they can anticipate what will happen next. A walking routine will have a positive impact on further socialization attempts.

  • Be supportive

Pushing your fluffy pal will be counterintuitive in most cases. Be patient, and let your pup socialize at their own pace. Don’t rush their interactions with other animals. Take it one step at a time and reward your doggo for proper behavior. 

  • Get professional help

If everything else fails, try hiring an expert. It’s the fastest route to finishing your pup’s behavioral mishaps once and for all! Socializing an aggressive dog is not an easy task. However, a trained specialist will always give you the best advice.


Dealing with your dog’s behavior problems is a challenging experience. In most cases, it will put your patience to the test. Don’t get discouraged if you don’t seem to be getting anywhere at first. Perseverance and consistency will eventually lead to the desired results.

Remember, our four-legged friends are a reflection of their family environment. Always treating your dog with a calm demeanor will be crucial for your success.