Aggressive Dog Training Tips: Help Your Dog Be Happy

This post may contain affiliate links and we’ll be compensated if you make a purchase. This doesn’t affect rankings. Our review process.

Aggressive Dog

Most of the time, when you see an aggressive dog it wasn’t born that way. Owners of dogs just may not fully understand how to train their dog. This lack of training often leads to aggressive behavior in dogs because they are responding to situations using their instincts, and not proper training since they have never been taught differently.

Dogs become aggressive for a number of reasons. Normally, their aggression is born of fear or possessiveness. An owner who fails to see the signs of aggression as they develop will soon find themselves with a dog that is completely out of control. This is the owner’s responsibility, and does not mean that the dog is a “bad dog.” It just means it is time for some aggressive dog training tips to help you make your dog sweeter.

The Steps of Aggressive Behavior

If you pay attention, you will know that your dog is aggressive long before their behavior becomes serious. Here are some tips for looking for aggressive behaviors in your dog and how to end them.

Body Language

Dogs tend to use body language to intimidate; therefore your dog may try to situate himself so that he is taller than other animals. His hackles may rise, the dog may lock his gaze and display more control over the mouth muscles. Other forms are a tightly closed mouth, or lips stretched over the teeth. Your dog will be tense and will show signs of physical dominance.

Alpha Dog

Dogs are pack animals. In a pack, there is always a leader or “alpha dog.” If no leader is established then the dog will establish itself as the alpha and will be guided by instincts and how much control he has over people, other dogs, and situations. Even though dogs are pack animals, some dogs are naturally born shy and their aggression is the result of their fear. These dogs can be particularly vicious because they are often small dogs that the owner leaves unchecked, assuming the dog to be harmless because of its size.

In your home, you need to be the one to establish yourself as the alpha dog. You establish physical boundaries as well as behavioral boundaries. To do this, you must first teach the dog that you are the one in control.

Aggression is Not a Form of Punishment

Many dog owners punish aggressive dogs with aggressive behavior themselves. Rather than the dog learning to behave from this form of punishment, they learn that aggression is an accepted response. Remember that some aggression is born of fear. When you beat your dog, you might establish some fear and that may cause the dog to stop doing whatever it was punished for, but you also build a foundation for aggression to be acceptable. Sooner or later that fear you created may come out in aggressive behavior that is beyond your control. Instead, use specific methods to teach your dog what is acceptable and what is not.

Rather than using punishment to establish control, you can limit the dog’s abilities and following the pack order. Keep in mind that the alpha dog gets the best of everything, and first choice to decide what the best of everything is. The alpha dog is followed, not led. When you rely on punishment only, you are responding (following), rather than leading.

Leash Training

In order to establish yourself as the alpha dog in your home, you may have to use a leash inside your home. This is so that you can control where the dog is able to go. For instance, if you do not want your dog on the furniture, simply step on the leash when he goes to get on the couch. Prong collars and harnesses work well for this type of training because they do not choke the dog when he is being guided, but they do limit what he can do.

Sleeping

If your dog is the alpha dog, he sleeps in the best possible place. In most homes, this means he would sleep on the bed. This is fine once the dog understands he is not the alpha dog and that the alpha dog is allowing him to sleep in the bed, but you have to establish the pack relationship first. Your dog has to start at the back of the pack and work his way up. This might mean your dog has to sleep in a crate until he understands the chain of command.

Meals

The alpha dog has first choice when it comes to meal times. Since you are starting your dog at the back of the pack, he will be the last one fed. You may even find that you should crate him during meal times. He can progress to eating at the same time as you once boundaries have been established.

Playtime

Playtime is one of the best times to focus on training your dog. Toys should be kept up so that when your dog gets a toy, you are the one to give it to him. When playtime is over, the toy is put up. If your dog takes off with a toy and you chase him, you are letting him know that he is the one in charge, not you. Instead of chasing the dog, wait for him to bring the toy back, then put it away and never give it to him again. (Please note, this does not mean not to give him a toy at all. It just means to get rid of that particular toy.)

Collars and Muzzles

Collars and muzzles can be very helpful when it comes to training your dog. They may seem like harsh forms of punishment at first, but they work better than regular collars because of the way they are made.

Prong Collars

Prong collars are among the best tools a trainer can use. A normal collar will choke your dog if you pull on it. A prong collar will cause superficial discomfort similar to what a pup feels when his mother nips him in the back of the neck, indicating that his behavior is not acceptable. We recommend the Starmark Training Collar as it is a little softer than the traditional metal prong collar and it has great reviews from professional dog trainers.

Muzzles

A muzzle is a great tool to use if you have a dog that snaps or tries to verbally intimidate other animals. This is usually what happens with shy dogs who are nervous in a situation. You must ease your dog into new social situations a little bit at a time. The muzzle can be used in social situations, but to train the dog correctly, put the muzzle on the dog for about an hour before a pleasurable activity such as eating or play time. Then the dog will come to associate the muzzle with pleasant activities and will apply this feeling to social situations.

Aggressive Dog General Training Concepts

When you are training your dog, be sure to reward him or her for good behavior. You can do this with a toy, a treat, or lavish praise. This lets the dog know he has pleased the alpha dog and may be moved from the back of the pack soon.

Have patience and introduce your dog to new ideas and settings a little at a time. If your dog is nervous around people, only expose him or her to people for a short period to begin with, petting him and reassuring him all the while. Your dog feels safer with an alpha dog indicating that all is well.

Growing up, Kimberly used to get the sniffles when she was around dogs. Thankfully, she grew out of her allergy and is now able to play and snuggle with dogs as much as she wants! She and her husband adopted Sally, a four-year-old hound mix, in early 2017, and she has brought so much joy into their lives. Life as pet parents has been very rewarding.

Leave a Reply

23 Comments on "Aggressive Dog Training Tips: Help Your Dog Be Happy"

newest oldest most voted
Tabitha Moore
I have a 4.5 year old Mini Schnauzer female, she is a real sweetheart with people. She lives with 2 other females & they all get along. My problem is when we walk in public & she sees anyone especially dogs she becomes uncontrollable. She squeaks & pulls no matter what I do she will not stop. She gets the other 2 going, I know she is the problem. If I allow her to come in contact with the dog she will nip at them. What can I do to stop her? She will see anything dog or human coming within hundreds of feet, so this behavior starts rather early & lasts until they pass. Please help
kathleen ausitn
I have a 5 and half year old mini dachshund and she barks all day long………I have had her to school for training but nothing has worked…..even is she sees someone she does not know the hair goes up ….on her neck and she barks and barks and barks…….no one likes her….and it is every hard for me to like her sometimes……….she will growl if you try to take something away from her…….she growls at dogs no matter what size……BUT IF ANY OF the family comes over she whines her love for them and rolls over on her back…….if someone comes for work in the house she first barks and growls and then sooner than later she settles down and will roll over for them……but at first her growls can be scary… very scary………she sleeps with me and knows the routine in the morning ….very smart …like a child….and yes spoiled……..but I am at a loss as what to do with her….I want a loving sweet dog with out all the barking……..now I love the barking at night in the middle of the night as I comforts me to thinks if someone be around…the will hear the barking…….she is better than a security system. but I am very sad at how bad she is with people and dogs……..help…I am thinkin go the gentle leading to see…help.
JenaMarie
It sounds more like you need a animal behavior specialist. My dog is 5 and she behaves similar to how your dog is but she has never growled at me or any members of my family. She barks at everyone and doesn’t calm down. I contacted an animal behavior specialist and he said the first step is admitting that you have an aggressive dog and then a behavior specialist can help you. And you need to exercise her like crazy. Do you play with her or did you play with her a lot as a puppy?
colleen delatorre
I need to ask a question,
we have a lab mix Golden retriever,
who is aggressive towards me only,
we have 2 other dogs but they are fine,
my lab has bit me 4x already he only does this when my husband is not home and I am alone with him and then he gets in one of his moods out of no were and decide to show his dominance
and attack me,
my husband and I don’t want to put him down, he is 10 years old, we had him since he was 4 week old.
my husband worry a lot about him and that he can’t be trusted any more.
I need some advice,
can some help me.
I love all my dogs the same.

please help.

Colleen,

What kind of training have YOU personally done with this dog? Sounds like you’re not the leader, or below the leader. Try muzzling, and working with the dog in a new environment. This could mean walking around the neighborhood, or going to a new park. Put your dog on a corrective collar (Prong, gentle leader, training choke chain), and just work with him. Giving him rewards when he does the desired task you’ve given him, and giving him corrections when he has not. If this doesn’t work, I’d consult a trainer before making any drastic decisions. Everything is fixable, you just have to make the time and financial sacrifice to do so.

colleen delatorre
Hello everyone
Mark
I recently rescued a female pit. She’s approx. 4 years old and a real sweetheart except when it comes to our little Cocker Spaniel. She almost immediately attacked him. I’m pleasantly surprised that after reading your article that I’m using all the right methods. I take her out for leash/command training every morning, I also use a kennel. She does everything last including going out the door. I make sure she sees the Cocker always go first. I let her spend short periods of time with the Cocker muzzled and the one thing I do different is when she goes after the Cocker I put her on her back on the spot and hold the skin of her neck as if she’s being held by another dog. I ‘hope’ that I’m not only establishing pack order but that I am unquestionably alpha.
Sandra
We have a small dog that we cannot pat touch or get very close too. We have been looking after him since his owner passed away. We definitely can’t put a collar on him or bath or clip him we really need help as this will be a long-term situation
Shana
Wow. All of this is wrong and outdated. Like 20 years outdated.
JenaMarie
Is it? Do you have any current tips for aggressive dogs? I don’t agree with prong collars, so hopefully that won’t be one of the tips! I would love to hear from you!
Roger Middleton
I liked that you had mentioned that it can be important to pay close attention to the body language of the dog to make sure he can present himself that way. My wife and I recently got a dog and we’re wanting to train him so that he can do a lot of things for us as it would be helpful. We’ll have to start working on body language with him, but we might just have to look for a professional that handles body language and can take care of it for us.
Dog Expert
Sleepy and body language, play time etc. very useful tips. Thank you
Robin
I have a golden retriever that is aggressive to my husband.if he comes in the bedroom where he and I are he starts growling he hasn’t bite him.we don’t know what to do to stop this. He has never been hit or abused .he doesn’t act that way toward me.
Jessica
Please help!.i have a 1yr old female German sheperd..she is obedient..but very protective. I am a single mother with 2 children..preteens. she recently started growling at my 11 yr old daughter!!.i can not figure out why. 3 different occasions. My daughter was doing nothing out of the ordinary and I was present for all three instances. I do not want to get rid of her, but also can not take the risk of one of my children getting bitten. What do I do.?
Debby Valcho
I have 2 dogs, both are rescues. My older dog hardly has any issues and gets along with our newest rescue and all the grand kids. My problem is my newest rescue “Chuy”. I have had him since February and is approx 2 years old. He has over come many of his issues but lately seems to be acting out when my house is full of the kids. He act aggressively twords them growling and trying to nip at them when, 1 they get loud or run thru the house and 2 if they accidentally touch him while he is laying down or sleeping. He growles and tries to bite them. This same behavior happens at night when he is sleeping on the bed and you move or touch him he growls and tries to bit me or my other dog. It’s getting very scary for my mom when he does this if he is sleeping on her bed. My reaction is to smack him. I don’t enjoy doing that but it’s like an instinct reaction. I would love to hear of any suggestions to help with this. He hasn’t ever actually bitten anyone but I have to correct it now before that happens. Please any suggestions are welcome.
Tearsa
I live in a house with 7 dogs. Mine and her sister who is 2 years older, live with my room mates and I upstairs while 5 smaller dogs live downstairs. Whenever the smaller dogs come out to go outside, my dog immediately charges to the door they come out of and stands there showing obvious aggressive behavior. She is met all 5 dogs before and got along with them well. But despite that, she still acts this way whenever they come out. Its getting really old and annoying. We have to pry her away from the door to let them out. Its been months and nothing has helped. I don’t know how to curb it.
lynda
Thanks for great information. This helped me a lot.

Send this to a friend