How to treat your dog’s aggression

In our last article, we discussed what makes a dog act aggressively. The first step to correcting this behaviour is to accept the responsibility for the safety of your pet and for other dogs that come into contact with him.

Following that, you need to look at how severe the problem is. If his behaviour has resulted in injury to another dog, it’s advisable to seek advice from a dog behaviour specialist. However, if it has not been this severe, the following steps may be of help.

Watch out for the warning signs

Every dog that intends to attack will display some sign that it is about to do so. This could be raised hackles, his body becoming stiff, barking or growling. By learning to recognise these signs, you can intervene by calling him to you or turning away, thus preventing an incident. This requires vigilance and timing on your part, but is an essential step to rehabilitating him.

Be aware of your dog’s personal space

aggressive dogEvery dog will have a sense of ‘personal space’ when it comes to other dogs. Being aware of this means that many potential incidents can be easily avoided.

Train him to come to you

By training your pet to come to you when called, it can distract him and divert his energy into something different. It’s important to do this in a calm, even tone of voice so as not to fuel a further surge of adrenalin. This does not prevent other dogs from coming up to your pet, but it gives you the option of putting his lead on and holding him until the other dog passes.

Use positive reinforcement

You may wish to consider offering your pet a dog treat whenever a strange dog passes you by. With a little time and effort, your pet will associate other dogs with a pleasurable experience, and focus on you instead of them.

Avoid punishing him physically

Jerking your pet on his dog leash, shouting at him or striking him only serves to fuel the instinct to fight or flee in your pet. Keeping calm and collected will give him the chance to think about what he should do, instead of act on impulse.

Ultimately, there are no quick fixes for curing your dog’s aggression. You need to be a consistent leader, and you may have to face up to the possibility that you will always have to keep an eye on your pet when he is around other dogs.