Understanding Aggression in Dogs
Some dogs may suffer with aggression; this can either be aggression towards humans or towards another dog. There is always a reason for a dogs aggressive behaviour, usually it is when the dog feels like he is under threat, so the first step is to look towards what may be causing the problem.
The first thing to understand is whether your dog is actually aggressive or just simply being hyperactive and playful, as dog signals can often be misunderstood by people. Signs of real aggression normally include growling and snarling, which if the dog is provoked can advance onto biting after.
Young dogs may sometimes bite and hold onto your arm with their mouth, this is harmless and normally part of the puppy stage which they go through. They are simply play fighting – knowing the difference between an aggressive dog and a playful dog is crucial. When dogs play with each other the process between them often involves a mixture of biting, rolling around, chasing, wrestling and leaping at each other, this is their way of having fun but inexperienced onlookers could presume that playful dogs are actually fighting.
Dogs can become aggressive for many reasons such as; lack of love and care, lack of socialisation with dogs and humans, being abused, a hard life, lack of food, medical reasons plus many more reasons why.
Never punish your dog for aggressive behaviour this will only make the situation worse, you need to find out what cause the aggression and change the way your dog reacts to those particular situations.
If your dog is aggressive towards other dogs, you will initially need to avoid getting into close contact with other dogs. You should let your dog watch other dogs from a distance, rewarding him when he watches them pass by, gradually over time let him get closer to the passing dogs, keeping him interested in you and your treats and as the dog passes by and if he ignores it, once again he gets a treat. He will soon start to associate getting a treat with passing dogs and see the situation as a positive one and not a threatening situation.
If your dog has aggression towards humans, do the same technique as above, gradually desensitising your dog towards the way he acts and feels around humans until he finally associates them as a positive thing.
Some dogs may become aggressive with possessions, not liking their bowl, toys and bed touched and if it they are touched they act in an aggressive manner. We must change the dog’s way of thinking and let them see that we are not a threat to them. For example; if your dog has an issue with his bowl being touched rather than putting your dogs bowl on the floor, keep it on your lap and let him eat from there, add more food to it and let him see that you are giving him food, not taking it away from him. In this way we are desensitising him by having contact with his bowl and him seeing that nothing negative is coming from it, only positive things.
Always be calm and confident around your dog and he will learn that he has no reason to be aggressive, as he watches the way you act and your body language, he will know that all is ok and will become more at ease in that situation in the future.