Aggressive Dog Training Tips

Dog training tips for aggressive dogs vary based on which type of aggression your dog is exhibiting. There are several types: dog-dog, human, territorial, resource guarding, fear and medical. Your dog may have one or more of these in combination, making the training program more complicated. However, there are similarities to each training program.

Determine the Cause

When you ask a professional for dog training tips about aggression, they may give you a detailed questionnaire that asks many questions about the specifics of the aggressive episodes. That's because treatment largely depends on the severity of the aggression and when it occurs.

Questions to consider include:

  • When does your dog show aggression?
  • What does your dog do when reacting?
  • Are there times when it's more severe than others? For example, if your dog is afraid of men, is it all men or just tall men with beards?

These are all things that are important to recognize because you want your dog to begin to feel comfortable around those triggers.

Create a Positive Association

Once you have identified all the triggers, you can begin to desensitize your dog to those and create a positive association. To do this, stand a safe distance from the distraction where your dog notices but does not react. Say your dog's name and reward him for looking at you. Use a steady stream of high value treats.

This creates a positive association between the trigger so that each time your dog sees the scary thing, he starts to feel happy because he knows he will get his favorite treats. It also shows your dog what you would like him to do instead. You'd like him to stay by your side and look at you.

If your dog gets to the point where he can't look at you, move away from the distraction. Your goal is not to have a reaction at all. If the dog reacts, you're moving too fast.

Teach Your Dog Commands

An uncontrolled aggressive dog is dangerous. Thus, your dog should be able to respond to all of your commands immediately, even when stressed. Teach your dog how to stay on a spot, move away, stop and come. Practice these in a non-distracting situation repeatedly until he can do it every time.

Then, begin to add distractions. Add low level distractions at first and use a leash and possibly muzzle to ensure safety. Gradually build up the level of distractions until he can do any behavior at any time. If your dog can't do it, you're moving too fast.

For resource guarders, teach "Leave it," "Drop it" and "Back up." This way, no matter what they're guarding, you can command them to leave it, drop it and back away from it so you can pick it up.

Stay Positive

A recent study shows that using punishment for training aggressive dogs leads to increased aggression. Thus, avoid punishing your aggressive dog. Instead, use methods that work with animals as dangerous as tigers and grizzly bears: positive reinforcement.

Teach your dog what you want him to do instead of reacting, and teach it in a way that you can reward frequently. This allows your dog to enjoy training and learn what he should do.

Handfeed your aggressive dog all his meals while you're training these behaviors. Then he learns who is in control of the resources without any physical confrontations. He just has to work for his meals.