How To Handle Aggressive Behavior In Dogs

A dog that’s threatening to attack through snarling, biting, or growling is often described as aggressive. Anxiety, irritation, and several other causes can prompt aggressive behavior in dogs.

mean dog

Why Do Dogs Become Aggressive?

Understanding the cause of your dog’s behavior will go a long way in handling its aggressive behavior.

Characteristic causes for aggressive behavior include:

  • Protection: A dog can become hostile if it feels exposed to threats or attacks.
  • Fear-Scaring: This can trigger an attack or flight reaction to your dog. The odds are high that your dog might become aggressive if it feels frightened.
  • Frustration: Pent-up energy and limitations from a chain, pen, or backyard can trigger aggression in dogs. This happens when your dog has no release from irritation or anger.
  • Medical Complications: Sickness, for example, loss of sight and deafness, can trigger aggression.
  • Pain: A wound or other uncomfortable sensations can prompt aggression in dogs.
  • Possession: This kind of aggression happens when your dog becomes protective of its toys, food, or other items.
  • Space: Your dog might display aggression when defending its territory.

Luckily, there are methods to identify, approach, and rehabilitate aggressive dogs. Follow these tips to help your dog become a peaceful, obedient, and compliant pet.

Aggression Towards Cats And Other Animals

In contrast to what is generally believed, dogs and cats are not natural foes. But since dogs can sometimes get territorial, being around cats and other animals could make them aggressive.

For instance, if you happen to buy a dog breed such as the American Staffordshire, you will notice that it shows a lot of aggression towards other animals. That’s because the American Staffordshire is mainly bred to fight other animals. Therefore, this breed would more likely not get along with other types of pets in the house.

If you have cats, birds, and other pets, and you’re also thinking of getting a dog, it’s best to do your research first. Find out which dog breeds are friendlier. Aside from that, you must make an effort to mingle your pets frequently until they get used to each other’s presence.

two dogs fighting

Promote Social Confidence

You’ve probably read on social media and other pet sites that there are many triggers of aggressive behavior in dogs. However, amongst the most prevalent causes is the lack of social interaction as a pup.

A dog’s early years are a crucial time to learn some vital communal and communication abilities that allow the development of social confidence. Expose your dog to socialization as early as you can, so you’ll avoid the problem of aggressive behavior later in life.

Avoid Punishments

Punishing your dog by shouting, beating, or denying it food will not stop its aggressive behavior. While forceful approaches can stop unwanted behaviors temporarily, keep in mind that those methods won’t alter the way your dog responds to triggers and specific circumstances.

For instance, if your dog barks whenever another dog walks past, shouting at your dog will only aggravate its behavior. He will start to relate the presence of another dog with shouting. This can even make your dog more hostile.

Therefore, avoid types of physical activities that are unfriendly, including punishment. As an alternative, apply compliance activities that reward and strengthen your dog’s good conduct and behavior.

Create A Training Program

Create a physical activity program that will help address your dog’s hostile behavior. A dog trainer can help you establish the most practical method.

However, make sure the following elements are part of your dog’s training package:

  • Counter-Conditioning: This involves changing your dog’s emotional reaction or approach toward a thing that triggers anxiety, aggressiveness, or fear in your dog.
  • Desensitizing: This involves exposing your dog to a provocation starting at a low intensity. Afterward, raise resilience gradually.
  • Positive Strengthening: Recognize each stage or phase achieved towards the intended behavior.

Appropriate Dog Owner Conduct

Your body language and behavior can significantly contribute to your dog’s aggressive behavior. Therefore, you must stay calm and composed all the time, even when your dog becomes agitated. It’s worth noting that dogs can sense or feel adverse reactions and react accordingly. Hence, make an effort to understand your dog’s body language.

For instance, if your reaction is to tighten the chain when your dog barks, this will only build up their aggression. Appropriately reacting to your dog’s aggressive behavior necessitates a more tolerant attitude.

Aggressive dog on leash


As a responsible pet owner, you can avoid and handle aggressive behavior in dogs. When your dog is still young, socialization is one of the primary methods that can avoid triggers and aggressive behavior later on. Additionally, you must also know how to handle your dog’s negative behavior well. Punishing them will only escalate the aggression. Hence, staying calm and applying reward methods would work better.

David Fisher

David Fisher is a dog trainer and a pet lover. He is also an animal rights advocate. He shares in insights and expertise through online article writing. David also enjoys outdoor sports activities and adventures during his free time.

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