One of the biggest problems for dog owners is dog aggression. Seeing your pet in an uncontrolled state seems scary, so it is essential for any dog owner to understand why their four-legged friend acts the way he or she does, and how to stop dog aggression.
Everyone gets a little riled up whenever feeling threatened, and dogs are no exception. But if any passenger or unknown dog sends your dog into a fit of barking and growling, some behavior issues might be the issue. Your dog may act aggressively due to frustration, stress, fear or because he or she is territorial.
One of the biggest causes of aggression is lack of communication and training as a puppy, which leads to a pet that is fearful of the things and people that surround him.
A fearful puppy tends to run back to its mother for protection, but a fearful adult is more likely to attack and become aggressive as its best form of defense. There are plenty of solutions for training an aggressive dog but keep in mind that it takes a lot of time to retrain an adult aggressive dog.
Causes of aggression
It’s very rare that a dog becomes violent out of nowhere. The causes of this condition vary from dog to dog.
Your dog might be afraid, stressed because his/her space is violated, the animal might be protective of the owner, of other dogs or overall over-excited. Often, what we perceive as aggression might be the result of too much energy.
Therefore, we need to understand what our dog is feeling and the context of the situation to better understand what message he or she is trying to send. Another cause for aggression could be a painful medical condition, in which case your dog should be examined by a specialist.
Symptoms of aggression
Common symptoms of dog aggression include growling, barking, biting, lip-lifting, and lunging towards the element that causes discomfort, whether it is another dog or an individual. These behaviors may be accompanied by submissive or stiff body postures, tucking the tail under the body and backing away.
Types of aggression and how to solve aggressive behavior in dogs
Usually, there is a common reason why your dog is acting up. Determining what that cause for that is can be essential in fixing your pets’ behavioral issues.
Known as resource guarding, this type of aggression revolves around a dog’s obsession with certain goods. This item might be its bowl of food or a favorite toy. Once another dog or individual gets close to this item, the dog becomes territorial and defensive. Depending on the severity of the problem, the dog’s reaction can vary from growling to attacking.
It is recommended that before you give your pet food, treats or toys, you show him or her ownership in a manner that would make the dog understand that you are the owner — you are in control. You are the alpha. For example, you can stand confidently over the food bowl and not let your dog to eat until he or she gets permission from you.
If you have multiple dogs, make sure that each of them gets the same number of toys and treats, so there is no competition.
Fear aggression in dogs
Fear is a powerful motivator for dogs, and when faced with scary situations dogs turn to a fight or flight response, and usually fearful dogs choose the latter. Fear aggression in dogs has no symptoms or warning signs because they will react only when they believe that there is no option but to defend themselves. This fear could be real or imagined. For example, a person may approach the dog with the intention to pet him or her, but the animal might perceive it as an intention of harming him.
To solve this, figure out what triggers your dog and try to eliminate that source of stress. Make your home a predictable space, and expose your dog to things that he is afraid of one at a time, in a controlled manner.
Don’t try to scare your Fido, but rather make him or her feel comfortable around that object. Over time, bring that object closer to your pet and for longer periods of time, while rewarding the animal through his progression. Give your dog plenty of exercise. Pent-up energy from lack of exercise can build up and contribute to the frequency of aggressive reactions.
If your dog is calm most of the time but gets riled up whenever you use the leash, it is a clear sign that your dog is leash-aggressive. This type of behavior comes from the fact that your dog feels restrained and frustrated by the leash. This type of aggression rarely ends up in an attack, but it can be frustrating when your dog acts up in public. This is the easiest type of aggression to correct, and it usually happens because the dog wasn’t properly trained.
To try and prevent this, attract the dog’s attention before going out. Say his or her name and reward your pooch for paying attention to you. Start by practicing this in low-distraction environments, such as your living room, and gradually move to busier areas. Manage the pet’s environment by walking at a distance from any dogs or possible distractions. When he/she sees another dog, catch the animal’s attention and reward him or her, don’t let reactions get in the way of things.
Aggression between dogs
Inter-dog aggression occurs when a dog shows aggressive behavior around familiar or unfamiliar dogs. This type of aggression occurs mainly between male dogs that are not neutered. This problem appears when the dog reaches puberty (between 6-9 months old) or when he reaches adulthood (18-36 months old).
A piece of advice on how to stop dog on dog aggression would be to always be in control. There is no real cure for this type of aggression, but as an owner, you must learn how to avoid situations that could irritate your dog and break fights quickly if they occur. The dog must be under constant control, especially in situations where he would get triggered (i.e., walking outdoors).
If we keep practicing and keep in touch with the needs and wants of our four-legged friends, their behavior will drastically improve over time. As the dog matures, he or she will get more comfortable and confident, and any aggressive tendencies will be reduced.