Uncontrolled barking? Extreme territorial aggression? Biting tendencies? Frequent snapping? All these spell aggression! No matter how many obedient hounds you have, there’s always that hostile one.
This blog post focuses on learning safe and tested methods on how to calm an aggressive dog and understanding the reasons behind their hostile behavior. We will also feature effective products that will help you put your dogs at ease and make your everyday environment more soothing both for you and your canine.
Different Types of Aggression
Before we jump into the specific ways on how to calm an aggressive dog, we must first know the different ways dogs show aggression, so we can know the safe ways to stop such aggression.
This type of behavior from dogs is often shown when protecting a premise like a house or a particular property from “outsiders”. Dogs would show territorial aggression towards “intruders” through excessive barking, chasing, and even biting.
Protective aggression pertains to the act of a dog showing protection over another animal or, in some cases, a human. This type of aggression is also called Maternal Aggression, which reflects a mother dog or dam’s protective instincts over its litter.
By its definition, possessive aggression, also referred to as “resource guarding”, is the act of aggression shown by dogs when threatened to have a valued item taken away, usually including toys or food. Most dogs display possessive aggression by growling at fellow hounds or biting the hand of a person. In a more passive nature, dogs also show possession by taking the item and retreating to an isolated area.
Some dogs show hostility with underlying fear. When it comes to fear-related aggression, dogs display a scared disposition in situations wherein they feel trapped, cornered, or approached without consent. Dogs possessing general anxiety often display fearful aggression the most.
From its term, redirected aggression applies in situations where dogs look for an alternative agent of their hostility. For example, your hound is barking excessively at a loud neighbor and whenever you try to grab it, you get bitten. Another common example is when a dog is attempting to break a fight and may snap at the parties involved.
Social aggression mostly applies to indoor dogs that have a rare encounter with other breeds. This may result in aggression when they are unaware of how to act accordingly or how to share the space with other canines. Social aggression is induced by internal conflict directed towards either a person or another animal.
Defensive aggression is often linked with fearful aggression. Dogs in emotional distress often show defensive behavior before retreating into a safe space. Unknown to humans, dogs usually give the first signs of craving isolation. When provoked, they will go into defense mode.
One hostile behavior pet owners usually overlook is when dogs are in pain. Either your pup is injured or experiencing pain. In any case, it is always best to check on your dog first and acknowledge when it’s trying to tell you something.
Like other animals, dogs have sexual frustrations, too. This is commonly seen in same-sex dogs that fight over the opposite sex’s attention. They tend to display more aggression when stopped by pet owners. For a permanent fix, consider having your dog neutered or spayed.
Behavioral Methods to Practice At Home and Outdoors
Now that we have discussed the types of dog aggression in detail, let’s head on to the methods we can use to ease our dogs’ aggression and reduce their hostile behavior in any given situation.
Chasing/Barking at Outsiders
Trying to alleviate a violent dog while outdoors could be the worst nightmare for many dog owners. It’s a stressful situation for anyone that doesn’t know how to handle their dog properly, more so if it’s the first time your canine has shown any sort of aggression after being docile for the longest time.
What To Do
The best way to calm a dog barking nonstop or chasing after joggers is to put your dog on the side, away from people and let the joggers pass. This will signal to your dog that it’s not time for you to walk and they should stay in place. Every time they behave, reward them with a treat.
Extra tasteful treats like cheese or hotdog are encouraged so you can fully get their attention and away from the joggers. Although dogs can eat cheese or hotdog, it’s best to let them eat in moderation.
What Not To Do
Do not ever free your dog from its leash or you will succumb to a whole day of chasing after them while jeopardizing the safety of your neighbors. Knowing your dog’s aggressive tendencies is important.
You should also avoid the crowded spots near you and stay on the quiet side of the neighborhood if you know that your dog will tend to get aggressive when on its walks.
On the chance that your dog shows signs of severe aggression to the point of biting or lunging, consider seeking professional help from a certified canine behaviorist for long-term corrective programs.
Aggression Towards Family Members or Visitors
It’s not uncommon for a family dog to love everyone in the household except for that one person. This behavior could be rooted in fear-related aggression or social aggression, which can turn into defensive aggression. They may also be easily agitated when visitors arrive, no matter how frequently that individual comes over.
What To Do
Crouch in front of them to meet their eye level. Gently touch your dog under the chin. Have your back against the “threat” to let your dog know that you’re not in a fighting stance. These simple actions will let your dog know that the situation is safe. They will gradually feel more at ease while your family member or visitor is free to roam around.
Seek cooperation from the visitor or family member to ignore the dog’s barks for as long as possible or at least until the canine settles. Foldable indoor pens also help isolate your dog from the situation while still witnessing the scene.
If you have a fearful yet submissive dog, let them follow you around freely so they can assess the situation themselves and know that there’s no harm. Provide treats every time they pipe down and sit to convey the behavior you want to see from them.
What Not To Do
Negative reinforcement is counterproductive, so be calm when addressing your dog’s behavior. It may also be tempting to shout, “No!” to your dog, but doing so often leads to miscomprehension. Your dog might take shouting as a sign to be even more hostile.
Do not reward their aggression by petting them. Also, ask guests to prevent talking down on the dogs or looking them directly in the eye as this prompts the dog to be more defensive. Avoid sudden movements that might startle your dog and have them barking all over again.
If everything else fails, put a leash on them and isolate them from the rest of the guests. Perhaps place them in a different part of the house where they can have zero encounters with the guest or family member.
Aggression During Baths
Dog aggression stems from different causes including genes, hormones, puppyhood, training ground, and traumatic experiences. Most dogs would commonly frown upon being held in an enclosed space for an unamusing activity.
You can provide a more relaxing space for them by bathing them in a more spacious venue where they have more liberty to move while being secured with a leash. Prepare lukewarm water and use non-irritating shampoo. Use positive reinforcements like treats and towels to help them ease into the shower session and perhaps make it even rewarding and enjoyable for them.
Fighting with Other Dogs Over Food
It’s common to see dogs fighting over food. Studies show that approximately 20% of dogs exhibit food aggression among their fellow canines. But it doesn’t mean that this behavior should be tolerated or rewarded.
Dogs can show mild, moderate, and severe aggression when protecting what is theirs. Mild to moderate signs include growling, showing their teeth, snapping, and lunging. In worse scenarios, dogs go as much as chasing or biting the threatening hand or fellow dog.
What To Do
If you have other dogs in the household, a simple hack is to position them in such a way that their backs are turned against each other. As the saying goes, “Out of sight, out of mind”. Better yet, place them in different corners of the house to avoid eye contact.
For more aggressive dogs, consistent training is the key. Let your dog get used to your presence in the room by providing a safe distance while your canine eats. Give treats now and then, retreating to your position each time. Feed your canine from the hand to build trust. Work on touching and lifting their bowl gradually every day until you can take the bowl fully away from your dog without any aggression.
Have the steps repeated by other household members until your dogs are fully acquainted with the process. Over time, your dog will show less aggression to both dogs and family members, especially during mealtime.
What Not To Do
Do not attempt to “steal food” from your dog’s bowl, even if it’s playful banter. Also, don’t pet them or play with any part of their bodies especially their tail and mouth. Schedule mealtime consistently and prevent laying out bowls with food. By letting them eat anytime, your dog will have the instinct to guard the bowl at all times, making the above training futile.
4 Best Calming Tools for Aggressive Dogs
In purchasing tools to calm hostile dogs, we must remember that we are adjusting the environment and not altering or eliminating our dogs’ instincts. Pet owners must be responsible for purchasing, using, and caring for various dog tools like head halters, basket muzzles, indoor gates, and window blocks.
Head halters are designed to help you control your dog’s walking direction. Whether running errands or jogging outdoors, the Halti Headcollar can effectively stop excessive pulling while making it safe and practical for any dog breed and size. It is easy to use and has been proven an effective training tool by loyal Halti customers.
If your dog shows aggression when you bring it down for walks, you can use this Halti Headcollar to exert more control over your dog. This can be useful in ensuring that it does not cause hurt to anyone in its vicinity.
If you need to prevent your dog from barking excessively or even to not let your furkid pick up unhygienic food on the floor, you can consider using a muzzle. Aside from the body leash and collar, a basket muzzle is one of the most basic things you can purchase to control your dog’s barking and biting tendencies.
Baskerville Ultra Muzzle is the clear muzzle of choice – it’s regarded as Amazon’s Choice! It comes in various sizes to suit different breeds, has a rubber material that provides overall mouth protection, and is safe to use for your dog’s comfort.
Earlier, I mentioned separating your dogs when they get into fights or to put them away from your guests. You can use a gate to keep your furkid in that portion of the house so that it does not cause any disruption.
When it comes to dog indoor gates, trust MyPet Paws Portable Petgate to deliver. It has an innovative design that is highly safe for all dogs, boasts superior quality, and includes effective features for convenience, portability, and security of both the dog and the owner.
Sometimes all it takes to prevent your dog from barking excessively or getting distracted by outdoor scenes is by plastering a window film. This one from Rabbitgoo blocks off outdoor scenery from within while sustaining a nice ray of sunlight. You can apply it to different glass windows to give your home a more peaceful effect for your beloved canines.
Curate your home to be as serene as possible for your canine. If situations arise, be calm when approaching a hostile dog. Showing dominance is only counter-intuitive. Know where to hold them and how to guide them away from their trigger points and be generous with treats each time they obey your orders or exhibit positive behavior.
Having an aggressive dog is not an easy feat for any pawrent. But we must remember that dogs show aggression for a reason and as pet owners, it is our responsibility to understand their behaviors, as well as the proper approaches to apply. At the end of the day, commitment to corrective actions is the key to a peaceful life with your pooch.
I hope that this post on how to calm an aggressive dog has helped you solve your dog aggression problem. However, it’s never enough to simply read about it. Remember to try out the tips discussed above and you’ll find that you have a loving furkid.