Aggressive dogs were not born that way; in fact, dogs who are aggressive are usually that way because they have not been properly trained and are, therefore, reacting with their instincts.
Another reason for aggressive behavior in dogs is because they are afraid or feeling possessive. Fortunately, there are things you can do to control this type of behavior in dogs, and they are all very simple to do.
Aggression Isn’t Innate
Dogs are not born with an aggressive personality; they can become that way for a variety of reasons. These dogs are not “bad dogs,” but are merely reacting to circumstances in ways that are inappropriate. It is up to the dogs’ owners to properly train them so that this aggression can be tamed. If the owners don’t train the dogs in the right way, they can soon feel like the entire situation is out of control, but it doesn’t have to be this way.
Aggressive dog training makes a dog much sweeter and gives it a much more pleasant personality. Once a dog is trained to control this aggression, it is more pleasant to be around both for the owner and for everyone who approaches the dog.
More often than not, this aggressive behavior shows itself in the dog’s body language, most likely with a tightly closed mouth or lips that are stretched over its teeth.
Dogs can also show aggression due to feeling territorial, protective, or defensive, as well as when they are experiencing pain or because they are simply unsocialized.
In fact, dogs get aggressive for numerous reasons, but it’s up to you to train the dog not to be aggressive and to react to certain situations in other more productive ways.
Taking the First Steps
Dogs are naturally pack animals, and if they feel there is no leader among the pack, they may start to act like the dominant one. The first step in teaching your dog not to be so aggressive is to make sure the dog knows that you are the one in control. Of course, you don’t want to do this by being aggressive yourself because that is never effective.
To control and reduce aggressive behavior, you should never punish the dog for being aggressive. Instead, just limit the dog’s abilities so that it learns that this type of behavior is unacceptable.
If you pay attention to your dog, it will become obvious why it is acting aggressively. The dog could act that way only in certain situations or around certain people. These are signs you need to pay attention to.
Once you know why your dog is being aggressive, it becomes easier to know how to train it properly and eliminate the behavior. Remember, dogs don’t understand punishment, so that isn’t something appropriate in any circumstances, but especially when you’re trying to get rid of aggressive behavior.
Of course, if they are aggressive, one of the first things you’ll need to do is make sure they are never left alone and that they are never around small children or anyone else they might unintentionally harm.
Why Is Training So Important?
You also need to keep in mind that if aggressive behavior isn’t reduced or eliminated quickly, the dog may eventually become violent and intentionally harm someone, and that is something no dog-owner ever wants.
Fortunately, most of the techniques used to get rid of aggressive behavior in dogs work rather quickly, so you won’t exactly have to wait for months to get the results you want.
While working with the dog, you may have to use some temporary or drastic measures to make sure the dog’s aggression doesn’t get out of control. These measures can include:
- Using a muzzle on the dog
- Having the dog spayed or neutered
- Keeping the dog on a leash at all times, mostly so you can control everything it does
- Modify your dog’s environment, for example, keep your dog in a crate
You won’t always have to keep your dog in tight spaces or not allowed to run or play, but you’ll need time to teach your dog that it isn’t the one in control, and in the meantime, your dog may have to be restricted in numerous ways.
How Should You Get Started?
There are many suggestions for getting rid of aggressive behavior in dogs. Some of these suggestions include:
- Pinpoint what triggers the dog to be aggressive
- Try to avoid situations that consist of those triggers
- Determine rewards for your dog while it is being reconditioned
For example, if your dog shows aggression when it gets around a stranger, try getting a friend of yours – one who is unknown to the dog – to walk past your dog on the other side of the street. Next, watch your dog’s reaction as your friend walks by and determine if the behavior it shows is less aggressive or not aggressive at all.
If your dog doesn’t react when the friend walks by on the other side of the road, give your dog a treat because this is an improvement over its being aggressive. When that happens, and when your dog finally gets to the point where the trigger no longer causes aggression, you can intensify the trigger a little at a time until it is finally aggression-free whenever a stranger comes near your dog.
If this all sounds too difficult, not to worry. Dogs are smart creatures, and you’ll be surprised by how quickly they learn to react in a positive way, instead of an aggressive way, to certain triggers.
In addition, this can happen a lot quicker than you think. If you consistently work with the dog to reduce the aggressive behaviors to whatever triggers it to react, you could see results in as little as two weeks.
Behavioral Conditioning: It Works
Through all of these tips, behavioral conditioning is applied, which is a psychological concept that works on both animals and humans. Behavioral conditioning essentially trains the mind to react to certain situations in a different manner.
It reconditions your dog, so to speak, so that the dog learns to react to certain triggers and certain situations differently than it did in the past.
What If the Results Aren’t What You Wanted?
Behavioral conditioning works, but if you aren’t getting the results you were hoping for and you’ve been going at it for a while, don’t beat yourself up over it. It likely isn’t your fault.
At this point, you may want to consider enrolling your dog in a good dog-training course, because these courses provide training for all types of problematic situations, including aggressive behavior.
Aggression in dogs isn’t natural and it isn’t something they do just to be difficult. It is almost always a reaction to something that triggers it for one reason or another. Once you learn why your dog is reacting this way, it makes training it to react non-aggressively a lot easier on you. Consistency is important, as are rewarding your dog for reacting appropriately and never punishing it for showing this aggression.
Best of all, it isn’t just the dog that will be happier once the training is complete, because the issue of aggression affects the entire family and many others as well.
Learning what triggers this behavior and personalizing your training to meet the dog’s needs is what will work best, and it is all much easier than you might think.