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Today is: Wednesday January 17, 2018

Aggression In Your Dog

Aggression is the most common behavioral problem. With dedication, commitment, hard work, and proper training, aggression can be controlled. There are many types of aggression in dogs. A couple are: dominance aggression and territorial aggression. It is important to determine which type of aggression you are dealing with, so that the appropriate treatment can be administered. You should seek professional help if your dog is exhibiting signs of aggression. You may want to consider consulting with an animal behaviorist.

Most dogs are happy with people being "in charge." Although, some dogs have a harder time with this idea. Sometimes the aggression is directed towards anyone, people or other animals, that live with the dog, making it difficult to live with him. This would be the dominantly aggressive dog. The dominantly aggressive dog will consistently growl, snap, or bite when someone does something or he is asked to do something that he does not like. The dominantly aggressive dog may be protective over his food, toys, or sleeping area. The dominantly aggressive dog may react negatively when groomed, punished, or stared at. The problem with the dominantly aggressive dog is control and dominance. He wants to be in charge of the situation. He wants to be "top dog." When you discipline him in any way, it will make the situation worse. This is because he feels that you are "challenging" him for the top spot in the household.

Dominance aggression usually begins around 18-24 months, when dogs are socially maturing. Effective treatment will involve behavior modification. 

With territorial aggression, the dog will become aggressive with a stranger on "his turf." He feels as if he is doing his "job." This often times will include the mailman, a police officer, or a delivery person.

To treat dominance aggression, here are a few steps:

  • You should first consult with your regular veterinarian. You should discuss the situation with the doctor as well as have a thorough physical examination, to rule out any medical problems for the aggression. Pain can cause your dog to become aggressive. This needs to be ruled out as the problem before continuing with behavioral modification.

  • Consult with a trainer or a behaviorist who has a lot of experience in dealing and treating aggression. Don't assume that your puppy or dog will outgrow his aggressiveness. It is much easier to change the situation before it becomes a problem.

  • Increase the amount of exercise that your dog gets. Dogs that get more exercise tend to have far less behavioral problems. Some ways to increase his activity level are: play Frisbee or catch; take him somewhere, like the woods or a dog park, where he can run; take him swimming. If your dog is not used to exercise, gradually increase his exercise. If any health problems exist, consult with your veterinarian first to make sure that exercise is o.k. for your dog. Be extra cautious of your dog around other people and animals.

  • When your dog starts to show any signs of aggression, re-direct his attention or distract him. Get him a favorite toy or the leash. 

  • Teach your dog that you are the leader, not him. Do not allow him on the couch or in the bed. Do not let him jump on people.

  • For any type of behavior modification to work, it must be used consistently and everyone must be involved in changing the behavior. This is something that will need to be worked on for a long time. Don't expect a quick fix.

  • Occasionally, medication may be necessary.

The following websites may be helpful for more information:

This site and its contents are intended to serve as basic informational purposes 
 --not a substitute for-- 
professional veterinary care!


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