There’s nothing more embarrassing (or scary) when your dog exhibits aggressive behavior. Whether your dog shows aggressive behavior towards other dogs, children or strangers, it can be startling and intimidating. So how do you go about fixing aggressive dog behavior?
There are several ways to address aggressive dog behavior. These methods vary based on the breed, behavior and triggers. Here at Russells’s K9 Academy, I look at each case with a holistic view, learning about your dog’s environment, reactions and more. But there are a few things you can look out for if you want to start fixing your dog’s aggressive behavior.
Identify triggers and environmental stressors
Dogs often show aggression when they feel scared, stressed out or irritated. They can even become aggressive if they are overly excited. So the first thing you should do is try to identify what is happening just before your dog starts to show aggression. Are they aggressive towards specific people? Do they react if you touch them when they’re eating? These factors indicate what’s causing them to feel scared, stressed or irritated. Also, if they have an unsafe or volatile living condition, they will act out to protect themselves.
Start with positive association
Much like humans, dogs tend to remember negative feelings, especially after traumatic experiences. It’s a good idea to create positive associations with the things causing them stress, so you start lessening the negative feelings. For example, if your dog is aggressive towards other dogs, start by slowly approaching another dog with them and provide your pup with plenty of high-value treats. This will teach them that good things happen when they see other dogs.
Take it slow
Many people feel really excited once they feel like they have the tools to address their dog’s reactivity. However, it’s crucial to take your time. For example, if you were afraid of heights, you wouldn’t start by going to the top of the empire state building. You’d start spending time on top of a small platform. Then, you’d go a few feet higher. Same with dogs; don’t send them to a dog park if they’re afraid of dogs. It’s best to work with a professional to make sure you go the right pace for your pup.
Patience is a virtue
While positive association sounds simple in theory, it takes a while. So, you need to have patience with your pup as it starts to create new feelings towards things that triggered them before. And since dogs can pick up on emotions, they can tell if you’re feeling stressed out or frustrated with them. Have patience and remember every dog learns and grows on its own timetable.
Even though dog aggression is stressful, it’s certainly not permanent. And every dog can learn how to handle their emotions in a new way. But working with a professional dog trainer can help ensure your dog gets the help needed to get there in an effective and safe way.
My role as a trainer is to help you and your dog feel safe and comfortable in the world. If you need help training your dog, I’d love to help. Contact me today to learn more!