3 Causes and Cures for Your Aggressive Dog

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3 Causes and Cures for Your Aggressive Dog

by Jon Leger

Having an overly aggressive dog is not only embarrassing, it can be a real problem when you're trying to walk your dog in the neighborhood or have friends over in the backyard. Here are a few of the most common reasons your dog might be acting aggressive, and what you can do about it.

It's important to understand that dog's are often aggressive out of instinct. Dogs are pack animals, and in a pack aggression is necessary for survival. So even though your dog lives in luxury and has his food brought to him in a bowl, he still has that instinct.

Dogs are most often aggressive when they are defending their territory. This is why dogs bark when strangers come to your home, especially delivery personnel with their noisy trucks. Your dog is probably thinking, "I've been barking at this huge animal for months and he's still coming back!"

Typically once a dog is neutered or spayed, this kind of aggression subsides. Don't expect an instant fix, though. It can take months after the surgery for the dog's temper to settle down.

Another common reason why dogs are aggressive is that they are afraid. People often react to fear with aggression, so it's not hard to understand that your dog might do the same. He's thinks he's in trouble, and so he's putting up his best "angry face" to try and convince the object of his fear that he's dangerous, too!

The best way to prevent this kind of aggression is to either remove the dog from the scary situation, or, if that's not possible, slowly train your dog to get used to whatever he is afraid of. If it's a person, slowly introduce the dog to the person. Let them be around the dog a little more each time. Eventually he will get used to their presence and lose his fear.

One often overlooked reason why a dog might be aggressive is that he's in pain. If a dog used to be very mild tempered, but in his old age is aggressive, he might have arthritis. People are often touchy and snap at others when they are sick or in pain as well, so I'm sure you can understand your dogs behavior.

If the other situations do not apply, it's wise to have your dog get a physical checkup at his vet's office, to make sure that there's not something physically wrong.

A few general tips to keep in mind to stay off your dog's aggression are:

  1. Do not play fight.

    Play fighting causes a dog to be even more aggressive, teaching them to bite and attack.

  2. Give time-outs (5 to 10 minutes).

    It works with children, and it can work with dogs, too! When your dog is acting up, put him in a room by himself for 5 to 10 minutes. Soon he'll start to associate the time out with the aggression and calm down.

  3. Get your puppy used to people early.

    If your pet is still in the puppy stage, make sure he interacts with strangers on a regular basis. Otherwise he will not know how to behave around people he does not know and may become aggressive out of fear.

Yes, there are many reasons why a dog may exhibit strong aggression, but all of those reasons have cures. Spending some time to figure out why your dog is aggressive and applying the above solutions should help calm your dogs nerves, so to speak.

You can learn to train even the most aggressive dog with Jonathan's free dog training lessons.

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