How To Handle Aggressive Behavior In Dogs

There’s nothing more satisfying than having an affectionate, well-adjusted dog in your life. On the other hand, if your good boy or girl is having behavioral issues, they can be a cause for concern. This may not happen often, but still, it can be nerve-wracking to think that your pet might get aggressive to attack another animal or person. If that happens, it’s better to know what to do than feel helpless and panicked in such a situation.

mean dog

So, how can you calm an aggressive dog? There are several ways to do so, but it’s also equally important to know what causes your dog’s aggressive behavior.

Causes of Aggression

Aggressive canine behavior can be corrected. If your dog’s aggressive behavior is out of character, there may be underlying causes for this change. While there isn’t an easy fix that could solve this problem overnight, understanding the cause of your dog’s aggressive behavior is a good start.

Here are a few causes of dog aggression:

  • Fear: Fear is a common cause of aggression among dogs. They may display aggressive behavior towards other dogs or humans that they think are a threat, so they feel the need to defend themselves. This is often the result of not being properly socialized, having a negative experience with other dogs, or being abused by other humans.
  • Ailment: If your dog normally has an even temperament but has suddenly become cranky, your furry kid could be suffering and is probably in pain.
  • Frustration/Redirected Aggression: A dog might get frustrated if they’re not able to get or do something. For instance, if it can’t reach a thing or fails to reach the target of its hostility, the dog might act out and take out its frustrations by being aggressive towards another animal or person. This is why you shouldn’t get in the middle of a dog fight.
  • Protective Instinct: This is when a dog’s territorial instinct shows up aggressively. Dogs can be hyper-vigilant over what they consider as their territory. Mothers who just had puppies can also display this kind of aggression.
  • Leash: Is your furry kid usually an amiable goof who’s normally calm but turns into a lunging, barking animal? Your dog might not like being leashed. This is called leash aggression.
  • Social Aggression: Dogs that aren’t socialized well could display aggression towards other dogs or people in a social setting.
  • Anxiety-Induced Aggression: Changes in your furry kid’s environment might trigger their anxiety. A new family member, moving to a new home, and other changes can induce anxiety in some dogs, which might cause aggression.

two dogs fighting

If any of these could be the cause for your dog’s aggression, then you can start doing something about it and address the root cause. Remember, dogs of any breed, whether a Golden Retriever, Shih Tzu, or even the lugubrious, waddling Basset Hound can display aggressive behaviors, while Rottweilers, Mastiffs, or the unfairly judged American Staffordshire can be goofy lapdogs.

Dogs have their own personalities, regardless of breed. Genetics may play a part in their disposition, but each of them can have their own likes and dislikes, as well as the level of comfort.

What You Should Do When Your Dog Shows Aggressive Behavior

Every responsible doggy parent should know their dog’s personality, quirks, temperament, and what they can tolerate during playtime. Next time your furry kid displays aggression, make a note of what triggers it so that you’ll have an idea of how to deal with it if it happens again.

Below are a few tips on how to handle a dog’s aggressive behavior:

  1. Don’t Punish Your Dog

Dogs can feed off your energy, and they can ‘read’ your body language. If you’re trying to calm your dog down, and you’re angry or nervous, they’ll react to that. So, be calm, but assertive. Use positive reinforcement. Meeting aggression with aggression will send the wrong message to your dog.

  1. Consult With The Vet

Bring your dog to the vet to rule out any medical condition that could cause aggression. Don’t forget to check the dog’s teeth! But let a professional do it since dogs suffering from toothache can be aggressive.

  1. Behavior Modification

You can consult professionals or other resources for techniques on how to modify your dog’s reaction in certain situations. You can teach them simple commands, like sit, heel, come, or stay. These simple commands can be the foundation for more focused training.

Getting your dog’s attention when they’re beginning to show stress is effective in calming them down.

  1. Consider Spaying or Neutering Your Dog

‘Fixed’ dogs are generally calmer, and less likely to show territorial aggression, dominance, hyper-vigilance, and mating-related behavioral problems.

  1. Physical Activity

A tired dog is a calm and content dog. Make sure your furry kid uses up all those pent-up energies. Play with her, go for walks, and give her toys that’ll keep her occupied.

Lastly, you may have to face a tough decision. Handling dog aggression takes patience. If you think you can’t handle it, and your dog is showing aggression towards children, be prepared to make a difficult decision. You can try finding her a more suitable home.

Aggressive dog on leash


Understanding the causes is crucial in dealing with canine aggression. Remember, dogs have their own personalities as they’re not automatons. Genetics may play a part in their temperament, but ultimately, your dog’s personality is affected by how you, the owner, raised them.

Nevertheless, even if you’ve raised your dog to the best of your ability, and your dog’s behavior remains problematic, be ready to make tough decisions. You can find her a new home that has the resources and the environment suitable for them.

Further Reading

Leave a Comment