Aggression is the most serious behavioral problems dog owners face. When dogs attack other dogs, the situation can quickly grow dire, subjecting both you and the dogs to danger. It's possible to retrain aggressive dogs, but training is most effective when done under the direction of a skilled dog trainer.
Socialization is the key for preventing aggression in dogs, and properly socialized dogs rarely display aggressive behaviors. Before they are 16 weeks old, puppies are highly receptive to socialization, and owners should strive to give their dogs as many novel, positive experiences with other dogs as possible. Take your dog to dog parks, pet stores and other locations where dogs will be, and give your dog a treat every time he interacts with other dogs. This teaches him to have a positive association with being around other dogs. Older dogs can also be socialized, although the process typically moves much more slowly.
Medical Aggression Causes
Dogs who have not been spayed or neutered are especially likely to be aggressive to other dogs. Have your dog altered while he is still a puppy. If your dog suddenly displays aggressive behavior, there could be a medical cause. Infection, chronic pain and some endocrine disorders can cause aggression, so consult your veterinarian first if you witness aggressive behavior.
Retraining Aggressive Behavior
If your dog is already aggressive, you will need to gradually train the behavior away. Because aggression is so dangerous, this effort is unlikely to succeed without the guidance of a highly skilled dog trainer. Training efforts generally focus on gradually decreasing the distance between two dogs that provokes aggression. This can take up to a year and requires that you practice daily. After your dog will tolerate another dog in her presence, you must then begin actively socializing her to other dogs.
Whether your dog is already aggressive or you're just concerned about her becoming so, it's wise to plan to manage potentially aggressive behavior. When meeting a new dog, ensure your dog is under your control. If your dog has already displayed aggressive behavior, she must wear a muzzle whenever she might encounter new dogs. Never leave an aggressive dog unattended with another dog, even if your dog and the other dog have previously gotten along.
- Canine Behavior; Bonnie Beaver
- Aggression in Dogs; Brenda Aloff
- Click to Calm; Emma Parsons
Brenna Davis is a professional writer who covers parenting, pets, health and legal topics. Her articles have appeared in a variety of newspapers and magazines as well as on websites. She is a court-appointed special advocate and is certified in crisis counseling and child and infant nutrition. She holds degrees in developmental psychology and philosophy from Georgia State University.