If your dog is quick to bark, growl, snap, or even bite, your four-legged friend may have a serious behavioral problem. Aggression is one of the most important reasons a dog owner will seek the assistance of a professional dog trainer.

A dog owner should be very concerned with aggression in a large dog, working breed, or “bully breed”; however, small dogs are a concern too. In fact, Chihuahuas are regularly ranked by veterinarians as the breed most likely to bite, and Lhaso Apsos inflict the worst bites.

Any breed can become aggressive under the wrong circumstances. While aggressive behavior can’t be resolved in a day, there are things you can do to soften aggressive behavior and keep your dog calm.

Why Are Dogs Aggressive?​

Aggressive behavior in dogs means any behavior preceding or including an attack. Your dog may become very still and rigid, or he or she may growl, bare their teeth, lunge, nip or even bite.

First, you must understand what is triggering your dog’s aggression. Dogs may growl to protect their food or bone. Other dogs may react aggressively towards strangers, children, elderly or disabled people. Dogs can often become aggressive towards other animals, or even towards inanimate objects, such as vehicles, or an unexpected object, such as a flapping tarp.

Furthermore, some dog breeds were actually bred for aggressive behavior. For example, terriers were bred to kill rodents, and breeds such as Rottweilers and Dobermans were bred as guard dogs. And unfortunately, many “bully breeds” were bred to fight and kill other dogs, as well as other animals. These are instincts that can be difficult to overcome. However, owners of these breeds can train their dogs to show aggressive behaviors only at appropriate times.

Types of Dog Aggression

  • Fear aggression: This occurs when your dog is fearful and attempts to flee a scary situation, but will attack if he or she feels cornered.
  • Defensive aggression: This is similar to fear aggression, however, the dog will attack defensively rather than trying to flee first.
  • Social aggression: Your dog reacts aggressively towards other dogs, often to determine hierarchy. Dogs that have not been properly socialized with other dogs, as well as people, can also show social aggression.
  • Territorial aggression: Your dog wants to defend its territory from what it perceives as an intruder and a danger.
  • Protective aggression: Your dog wants to protect members of the pack (including you) against what it sees as a danger. However, mother dogs are naturally very protective of their puppies. Mama dogs can become aggressive toward anyone who gets too close.
  • Possessive aggression: Your dog is extremely protective of its food, toys, bones, or anything it values. This is also called resource guarding.
  • Frustration aggression: Your dog may become aggressive out of frustration when it’s on a leash or fenced-in in the yard.
  • Redirected aggression: A dog may become aggressive towards the person who tries to intercede in a dog fight. Also, when a dog can’t get at the real target of its enmity, such as another dog, it may turn on anyone else nearby.
  • Pain-elicited aggression: Dogs often are aggressive when they are injured or are in extreme pain.
  • Sex-related aggression: It’s common for two male dogs to become aggressive when competing for a female dog. This only applies to intact male dogs, and can be remedied with neutering.
  • Predatory aggression: Dogs can behave aggressively when their predatory instinct is triggered, such as when chasing a rabbit. However, this instinct can be very serious when it involves a small child.

How to Control Your Dog’s Aggression

First, make observation notes of the times when your dog is aggressive. You need to pinpoint what triggers your dog’s aggressive behaviors. The next step is to find ways to manage your dog’s hostility and keep your dog calm. This will take time, patience and consistency; you may also need the advice of a professional dog trainer.

If your dog isn’t normally aggressive but has suddenly developed aggressive behaviors, he or she may have a medical issue. Underlying health problems can cause aggression.

When to Call a Professional Dog Trainer

If you have ruled out medical issues, it’s time to call a professional dog trainer. Aggression is a serious issue, and you shouldn’t tackle by yourself. A professional dog trainer like the Ancillary K9 team can help you come up with a plan to manage your dog’s aggression effectively.

Create a Training Plan

A professional trainer can help you find the best tactics for controlling your dog’s aggression. You’ll want to use both positive reinforcement and positive punishment for its aggressive behavior. Positive reinforcement alone can escalate the aggressive behavior by inadvertently rewarding your dog for being aggressive. Often, the best method to manage your dog’s aggression is to avoid situations that will trigger the aggression, until seeking the help of a professional.

You May Need to Consider Medication​

Oftentimes, training is enough to overcome aggression. Some dogs that experience fear or anxiety may not be capable of learning new behaviors, but these dogs are EXTREMELY RARE. Most dogs only need medication short-term. Consult with your veterinarian about medication options.

As the premier dog training program in Denver, Ancillary K9 has helped numerous dog owners with our aggressive dog training program that really works. Call us today at (720) 239-2424 for a free 20-minute phone consultation.