When your dog shows signs of aggression and feels as if it may become a problem, you should take three crucial steps. The first is to assess the situation — is your dog aggressive towards all people or just certain ones? Is your dog aggressive when they’re playing? Is it triggered by another animal or yet another stimulus? Once you’ve determined what’s triggering the aggression, it will be easier to find an appropriate course of action.
Your dog’s aggression has a reason, and that reason is as individual as your dog’s. Your goal is to understand your dog’s triggers better so that you can eliminate them. By understanding how to read and respond to your dog’s signals, you will have greater control over the situation.
1- Identify Your Dog’s Aggression Triggers
The first step in dealing with aggressive behavior is identifying what causes it. Quickly scanning your dog’s body language and verbal cues can help you identify the triggers your dog may be responding to.
Your dog may show aggression towards a person because he is scared of him, or he may show aggressive behavior in response to how that person is treating him. That doesn’t mean that his aggression has anything to do with how you’re handling him! Your dog may act most aggressively towards other dogs and people behaving in certain ways, but only some of those behaviors may be triggering for him.
2- Determine Your Dog’s Intensity Level
A dog’s aggression can range from mild to severe. One of the first things you should do if your dog is aggressive is to identify his intensity level. Is your dog simply overexcited and playful? Or does he sound like an angry dog? Is he growling angrily or snarling in your face? You need to know this basic information to properly analyze the situation and choose your dog’s proper behavior modification plan.
A dog with a history of aggressive behaviors will be harder to work with than one who is simply overexcited. The former needs to have his aggression wholly eliminated, while the latter may need to learn to control it. A dog that has responded aggressively in the past may be slower to respond positively to the new training plan, but you can use positive reinforcement and rewards to help him get past his destructive behaviors.
3- Use a Professional Dog Trainer
Dogs may be able to learn and change their behavior independently, but they are more likely to succeed if you have trained them in a professional setting. A canine behaviorist or professional trainer can help your dog overcome aggressive behaviors that he may be responding to.
The most important thing you can do is avoid any real-life danger that might cause your dog to become aggressive. Coaching your dog with the ultimate goal of eliminating his aggression is best done by locating a professional trainer who can work with your dog specifically.
Always remember that aggression cannot be eliminated entirely. It is a part of the natural behavior of dogs, but it can be managed so that it isn’t as much of a problem for you and your dog. The more you understand your dog’s triggers and how to read his body language, the easier it will be to control him without causing him pain.