Q&A-My Dog Is Aggressive! What Can I Do?
It can be challenging when you realize that you’ve got an aggressive dog on your hands. Suddenly, you feel like every time you take your dog out for a walk in public or take him over to a friend’s house, you’re running the risk that he’ll get out of control and hurt someone. If you are constantly asking yourself “why my dog is aggressive”, this article is for you.
Here are some of the most common questions about aggressive dogs:
Q: My dog is aggressive. Does this mean that I’m a bad owner?
A: Don’t be so quick to judge yourself. The most common reason for dog aggression is a dog that feels insecure. There are lots of things that can lead to dog insecurity. Maybe you’ve moved to a new house recently and your pooch is having a hard time adjusting. Maybe you have a new pet that is disrupting the balance of the household and your dog feels threatened by the new pet. There are lots of reasons why your dog my not be feeling secure, and most of them don’t say anything bad about you.
Q: Okay, so my dog is aggressive because he doesn’t feel secure. What can I do to make him feel secure?
A: For starters, you can assert your role as the leader of the household, or the “alpha dog” so to speak. If your dog thinks that he is the head of the household, he will feel the need to stand up and defend himself and his family (you) from any perceived threats.
On the other hand, when you assert your role as the boss, then your dog can relax knowing that you’ve got his back and will take care of any threats. If you stay calm around other dogs and people, then he will understand that they aren’t real threats and he will relax around them too.
To start with, always keep eye contact with your dog and wait for him to break it first. If you look away first, it sends a loud message to your dog that he’s the alpha dog. But if you hold that contact and let him look away first, he’ll start to see you as the leader. Instinctively, averting your gaze away from another animal is a sign of submission, so don’t break eye contact!
Q: If my dog is aggressive, what other forms of training can I use to stop bad behavior?
A: There are two types of training methods for teaching dogs to behave properly: punishment- and reward-based systems.
Punishment-based systems can be effective, but in the long run they don’t work as well. For example, you can use a choke lease to help correct dog problems, but oftentimes, over the course of time your dog will become used to the choke and you’ll find that you have to yank harder in order to make the correction.
Instead, you’ll find that reward-based training systems are much more effective. By rewarding your dog for good behavior, you can help build in the programing that will actually make your dog eager to please you and obey your commands. By giving your dog a simple treat, you will help build a pattern of positive reinforcement every time your dog behaves. Then in the future, you won’t even need the treats (remember Pavolov’s dogs from Psych 101?).
Q: My dog is aggressive. Where can I find more help and resources?
A: If you’ve still got dog aggression problems, I strongly recommend that you check out Secrets to Dog Training by Daniel Stevens. Whether your dog is aggressive, having trouble getting house trained, or pretty much any other kind of behavior problem, this book will show you exactly what you need to get your four-legged friend acting on his best behavior.
I hope this Q&A gave you some insight if you’ve been wondering “my dog is aggressive, what to do” and help you figure out what you can do as a dog owner.