It is embarrassing to be the owner of the proverbial bad dog. While the dog is great at home with you and the kids, he is a terror around strangers and other dogs, and don’t even think about messing with his food bowl. If any of this sounds familiar, then we’ve got the list for you (and your naughty hound) to help get that aggression under control.
DO claim your place as alpha dog. Many aggression issues are actually a pecking-order concern at the cause. Your dog is alpha so he is setting the rules, and all the other dogs and people rank beneath him.
DON’T let him win his food; have him sit first so he knows what behavior is required to earn his meal. If you hand over that food to the sound of his snarls and growls, then that will become the behavior he believes is necessary and acceptable to gain his meal and warn the other animals and people in his pack to eat somewhere else.
DO teach him to walk on a leash and obey your pace and commands. This may prove vital in an unexpected aggressive outburst from your dog or even another hound altogether. Teaching your aggressive dog to walk next to you will help keep you in a position of dominance. If he is permitted to lead, then he may take that position literally.
DO socialize your pup, and this is best done early! Before your puppy is 6 months old, he should have encountered numerous animals and people of all ages, ethnicity, and both men and women. If you always shelter your dog from other animals and people, then you’ll never have an aggressive or protective behavioral issue; but you’ll also never be able to take him around other animals and people without risking an aggressive incident. Socializing your dog to various situations allows for more risks but also more opportunities to teach the appropriate behavior permitted.
DO let him off leash when possible. Dogs may test each other for a bit, but if you let them run around together on neutral territory the squabbles usually work themselves out a lot quicker than you may think.
DON’T skimp on the training. Maybe you think your dog only needs to know how to sit and stay, but when aggressive behaviors become a threat, dish out the money to pay a professional for help before your dog does the worst! Specialized training can get expensive, but then again, so can medical bills.
DO monitor children. Even the most timid of dogs can snap when triggered. And, the majority of dog bites are to children and elderly. Children need to be taught gentleness even while your dog is taught tenderness. Just like a playful dog can accidentally knock over a child, a playful child can squeal or tug in a manner that sets off an aggressive response.
DON’T ignore the warning signs. When Rover flashes those “help me” eyes, it is time to separate him from the high energy puppy who only wants to play. A growl can quickly escalate to more, but dogs rarely bite without giving some kind of warning beforehand.
Dr. Susan Wright DMV is a veterinarian with more than a decade of experience. Susan is a writer and serves as a dog bark collar expert. Dr. Wright and her staff share their love of dogs both professionally and personally by writing informational and entertaining pieces on the proper care of domestic animals.