The snuffling, happy-go-lucky pug is typically known for his even temper and outgoing playfulness. Meeting up with a pug who offers you a snarl instead of a smile might be disconcerting, but it's not unheard of for a pug to be aggressive.
In her book on everything pug, Kim Campbell Thornton notes that a typical personality trait of pugs is their stable, even temperament. Pugs are known for friendliness and a desire to please their people, as well as a clownish streak that makes them willing to do anything for a laugh. But Thornton acknowledges that pugs can be aggressive, too, if not properly socialized.
Aggression in Pugs
Aggression in a pug manifests in bossy behavior, barking, lunging and nipping to either get attention or display dominance in his territory. He may have had enough unwanted attention or might simply not want anyone near his favorite spot. Aggression also can be a reaction to being left alone, causing your pug to act aggressively to make his feelings known.
Possible Causes of Aggression
Genetics can definitely play a part; a pug with one aggressive parent -- or if both parents are aggressive -- is more likely to have aggression problems himself. Both Pug Training Tips and Kim Campbell Thornton list improper or insufficient socialization as a common cause for aggression in pugs. Pug puppies who haven't been handled gently, who have been exposed to shouting or harsh punishments or have been harassed by another dog are more likely to develop aggression problems. Pugs who have not been spayed or neutered tend to develop aggressive traits, too.
Getting a Handle on Pug Aggression
Use a pug's positive personality traits to get a grip on controlling aggression. Your pug is a people pleaser, a dog who craves human interaction and attention. Praising and rewarding him for positive behavior will calm his aggressive ways. Reacting to your pug's hostile behavior by putting him in time-out in his crate or in another room, separated from the center of activity, will give him an immediate attitude adjustment. Dog Training Breeds advises taking advantage of the pugs' fondness of food, saying you can easily distract your pug from destructive behavior with his favorite treat. Do this properly, though, so he doesn't think he is being rewarded for the negative behavior. Speak a firm "no" when you catch your pug in an aggressive act, giving him enough time to process that what he is doing is unacceptable. Then offer him a treat to redirect his attention.
Elle Di Jensen has been a writer and editor since 1990. She began working in the fitness industry in 1987, and her experience includes editing and publishing a workout manual. She has an extended family of pets, including special needs animals. Jensen attended Idaho and Boise State Universities. Her work has appeared in various print and online publications.