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We all love our dogs. They provide us with comfort, security and companionship, and it goes without saying that they’re a major part of our lives. From sleeping in the same bed as your pets to celebrating the ups and downs of their lives together, they become an integral part of our families.
However, there are times when dogs can show signs of aggressive behaviour and become troublesome to deal with. Aggressive dogs can be difficult to soothe, but if left unchecked, they could harm other family members, pedestrians or even end up hurting themselves through fights and poor behaviour.
Luckily, with enough dedication and training, even the most aggressive dog can be soothed. However, it takes a lot of work to do so and it’s important to take the right steps in order to deal with an aggressive dog. At the end of the day, success will depend on how much love and care you give your canine friend.
Are aggressive dogs dangerous?
Some dogs are just aggressive because they’re overly protective. Most dogs, even aggressive ones that love to bark and scare off others, aren’t actually dangerous enough that they’ll outright attack someone. If a dog bites someone, then they shouldn’t immediately be qualified as being dangerous. In fact, most “bites” are when a dog’s teeth come in contact with something. They don’t clamp down their teeth, but usually, a cut or scrape can occur when the dog lunges forward.
However, if the source of their aggression isn’t determined, then it can lead to dangerous unknowns. Aggressive behaviour is also unpleasant, and most people would agree that a dog that constantly barks and chases down other animals should be trained better so that they don’t put themselves in danger.
How to spot an aggressive dog
Aggressive behaviour is rather easy to spot and doesn’t always have to mean barking and lunging at targets. Signs of aggression can often be quite passive.
If your dog has a very rigid stance when other dogs, animals or people are nearby, then it’s a sign that they might be on edge. Barking is also a very common sign of aggression, especially when it seems threatening. Physical movement, such as lunging or even outright charging at something, can also be classified as aggression. There’s a huge difference between a dog running towards you because they’re happy to see you, and running towards someone with an aggressive stance. Dogs that are aggressive also tend to growl. They’ll snarl at their targets and might reel back when the target gets too close to them.
These are very outward and obvious signs of aggression that not all dogs will display. In general, it’s important that you take a look at your dog and try and discern if the behaviour is aggressive or not. Relatives and friends might be able to give you a second opinion about your dog’s behaviour, especially if you’re used to your dog acting playful around you.
If you do notice any of these signs, then it might be time to take action against their aggressive behaviour. The longer you leave it, the more dangerous it can become. The last thing you want is for a neighbour to get in touch with a dog bite law firm because your dog attacked them when they were out going for a walk. The first step to remedying a problem is to admit there is one, and many dog owners are too proud (or often oblivious) to do so.
Calming your dog and punishing them for aggressive behaviour
It’s important to come up with a plan to help you deal with your dog’s aggressive behaviour. For starters, make sure you come up with effective ways to soothe them.
Never raise your voice. Always speak in a calm tone, but make sure you’re also assertive. This is one of the most basic ways to calm your dog and it can work most of the time. If you do this for long periods of time, then your dog can easily start to understand that you’re not happy with their aggressive behaviour and want them to stop. However, if you start to scare them, intimidate them, shout at them or even cause them discomfort, then it will only make matters worse. It could make them more aggressive or it could cause deeper issues in the future.
If you notice your dog about to engage in an aggressive situation, then do what you can to stop them. Make sure you take them away to defuse the situation and speak to them in private. The further they are from the scene of the aggression, the faster they will calm down. If possible, stay with them until they’ve calmed down or let them relax on their own for a while to understand that they did something against your wishes.
Many people get tired of their dog’s aggressive behaviour and will resort to very extreme measures. However, we do not recommend these. If self-training your dog doesn’t work, then we’d recommend taking them to a certified trainer instead. The last thing you want is to hurt your dog physically or mentally, so never resort to those tactics just to soothe your dog.
Self-training your dog involves a lot of patience and positivity. You never want to lose your own temper when your dog is constantly barking because it will only make matters worse. If a dog growls, don’t hit or yell at them because they may even learn to defend themselves and attack you. It’s also good to remember that growling is often a defensive tactic, used when your dog wants to warn you or another target that they don’t feel comfortable in their current situation. If you take away this warning and punish them for it, then they may attack without warning.
Aggressive behaviour doesn’t disappear in 24 hours, nor does it go away in a week. You need to remain consistent when it comes to training your dog, and you need to be persistent so that your dog understands how serious you are.
Avoiding aggressive situations and seeking professional help
We may love our dogs to bits and treat them with all the respect and care we can, but that doesn’t change the fact that some aggressive dogs just can’t be soothed without professional help. Some people just aren’t assertive enough to punish their dogs, and other owners might not have the right mindset to train their dog.
As a result, you may want to start avoiding aggressive situations in the first place. Try and keep track of when your dog starts to become aggressive. Maybe they growl and bark when a certain friend or family member comes over, in which case, you can try and get your dog to get used to that visitor. Maybe invite that person over and help them get to know your canine family member. It all starts with a bit of trust and it helps to tackle the problem by identifying those aggressive situations.
However, if the situation is often out of your control, such as your dog barking and chasing after another dog in the neighbourhood, then it may be best to avoid the situation altogether. This means taking your dog for a walk in a different area or keeping them on a leash when you’re out for a walk. While this might compromise your dog’s freedom, it does make it easier for you to control their aggression. While it doesn’t solve the problem itself, it does reduce the chances of your dog getting aggressive.
Lastly, you can also call in a professional. First, you may want to speak to a veterinarian to identify if there are underlying medical problems causing your dog to be aggressive. There are certain conditions and diseases that can cause your dog to be aggressive, and these can often be solved with the right medication. However, if it’s not a medical problem, then your next option is to speak to a trainer. There are specialists that focus solely on changing your dog’s behaviour through serious training, and these professionals can help create a plan to help soothe your dog. Your veterinarian may give you a referral to a certified trainer or behaviour expert if you ask.
In short, determining what triggers the aggressive behaviour is going to be a huge help. If you manage to figure it out, then you can actively deal with the situation or avoid it completely. There are often small triggers that cause your dog to be aggressive. For instance, maybe your dog dislikes it when people try to pat them when they’re eating, or maybe your dog dislikes certain smells. The more attention you pay to your dog, the easier it will be to manage their aggressive behaviour. If all else fails and you can’t determine what causes them to be aggressive, then the best option is to rely on a professional. It’s well worth the cost and can help soothe your dog, making them more pleasant to be around.