Controlling Aggressive Dogs

Aggressive dogs are scary and can cause people to have an unnecessary fear of dogs. Controlling a dog with a lot of aggression is not an impossible feat, but does take a lot persistence, follow-through and practice on an owner's part.

Signs of an Aggressive Dog

A dog that barks at everything can be considered aggressive. An aggressive dog will also bite, nip or growl at people who are near his food, petting or grooming him, or around his toys. These dogs like to chase moving objects and will often try to escape their home or yard. In some cases, an aggressive dog will bite or attack humans or other animals in their presence.

Preventing Aggression in Dogs

Prevention is the best treatment when it comes to aggression in dogs. Some behaviors can be prevented when the age of socialization is considered. Puppies need to be socialized when they are at least 3 weeks old, for about 3 months or so. However, many puppies are not purchased or taken to a new home until they are about 8 weeks old, the age in which they're afraid of many things. When a dog is 8 to 10 weeks old, he should be treated gently and not be harshly disciplined.

A dog is considered a "teenager" when he is 14 weeks old, up until 14 months of age. At 14 months, he will typically become territorial and begin to bark at strangers. It is important that a dog be introduced to many strangers at the home during this time. A lack of handling can cause a dog to be fearful, nervous and untrustworthy.

A dog's environment can also cause aggression. Dogs can get stressed out by factors in their surroundings like kids teasing them, unwarranted discipline, attacks from other dogs or even having too much attention (even though one may consider it to be positive).

Controlling Aggression in Dogs

One of the first things to examine in a dog that's aggressive is why the dog behaves dominantly or defensively. Is the dog scared, wanting attention, lonely or bored? Consult a veterinarian to see what his opinion about the matter is as well. Sometimes an illness can cause a dog to act negatively.

Training is the key to controlling aggression, once you figure out the cause of the behavior. Food treats do not seem to coax an older dog into behaving well, but praises (verbal and pets) do. Praises or treats should only be given when a dog deserves them or acts in a submissive manner. A dog that receives praises or rewards for no reason will be confused about how he should behave. It's also advised that a dog receive training from only one person, so he can clearly see who is dominant and the provider of basic needs. In some cases, a dog owner will need to work with a professional dog trainer experienced in handling aggressive dogs.