Aggressive Dog Training Tips: Help Your Dog Be Happy

To sustain this free service, we receive affiliate commissions via some of our links. 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.


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.


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 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.


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.

About The Author:

Kimberly received her Bachelor of Arts in multimedia journalism from Simpson College. She has been writing about dogs since 2014, covering subjects such as dog insurance, training, health, accessories and more. Her natural curiosity helps her research as she seeks the truth when learning about, comparing and personally testing canine products and services. With every piece she writes, her goal is to help our readers find the best fit for their unique needs.

Kimberly grew up in a family that loved Labrador Retrievers and remembers running and playing in the yard with them as a child. In 2017, she and her husband adopted their Coonhound mix, Sally, from a local shelter. Kimberly's research was put to good use since Sally faced some aggression issues with other dogs and needed some training to be an inside dog. She worked daily with Sally and sought help from professionals to help Sally become the happy pup she is today.

One of Kimberly's favorite pastimes is spoiling Sally with new toys, comfy beds and yummy treats (she even makes homemade goodies for her). She tries to purchase the safest products for Sally and knows that each canine has their own specific likes and dislikes. Kimberly is passionate about dogs, and knows the bond between humans and canines is like no other.

Disclaimer: This website contains reviews, opinions and information regarding products and services manufactured or provided by third parties. We are not responsible in any way for such products and services, and nothing contained here should be construed as a guarantee of the functionality, utility, safety or reliability of any product or services reviewed or discussed. Please follow the directions provided by the manufacturer or service provider when using any product or service reviewed or discussed on this website.

Leave a Reply

newest oldest most voted
Pack theory was debunked decades ago. “The debate has its roots in 1940s studies of captive wolves gathered from various places that, when forced to live together, naturally competed for status. Acclaimed animal behaviorist Rudolph Schenkel dubbed the male and female who won out the alpha pair. As it turns out, this research was based on a faulty premise: wolves in the wild, says L. David Mech, founder of the Minnesota-based International Wolf Center, actually live in nuclear families, not randomly assembled units, in which the mother and father are the pack leaders and their offspring’s status is based on birth order. Mech, who used to ascribe to alpha-wolf theory but has reversed course in recent years, says the pack’s hierarchy does not involve anyone fighting to the top of the group, because just like in a human family, the youngsters naturally follow their parents’ lead.” Source

“The problem is, that’s not normal wolf behavior. As David Mech stated in the introduction to his study of wild wolves (Mech, 2000), “Attempting to apply information about the behavior of assemblages of unrelated captive wolves to the familial structure of natural packs has resulted in considerable confusion. Such an approach is analogous to trying to draw inferences about human family dynamics by studying humans in refugee camps. The concept of the alpha wolf as a ‘top dog’ ruling a group of similar-aged compatriots” Source

“Mech’s researchers were observing a dysfunctional group of wolves that were using threat and deference displays in order to seek safety and survive within their unnatural captive group. This was not a true pack which functions on deference displays rather than violence.” Source

What is the best age to train dog to be aggressive
Bekki Morrison
We have an almost 2 year old Boxer/Pit mix. He is great around the kids in the house, and most of the kids that come to see our kids. The problem is that he is 74# and solid muscle and he is very hard to hold on to. He has already attacked two neighbor dogs, one he has played with, with no problems, but he was on a leash. He has an extremely high prey drive and will go after our cats, neighbor’s cats, squirrels, etc. I am so stressed out every day because of having to be on guard all the tie to keep Zeus out of trouble. We have to go to court for the next two days because of him. He is extremely dog aggressive and if we can’t find something to help him be a good family dog, we will have to either rehome him or out him down. Took him to the vet yesterday and he behaved like a champ. He barks a lot at strangers, but especially at the people across the street and their dog. (That’s who he attacked more than once.) We love him and are starting to Schutzhund train him and he picks up on it really fast. He loves sleeping with our 4 year old, who has Down Syndrome, so I think Zeus knows that he is “different” and feels like he needs him. He is very reactive also, leaves will get his attention but birds don’t. Please give me some advice, as I am going crazy trying to train him out of this so we don’t have to get rid of him. We are already looking into a certified dog behaviorist, but any info or advice would be great.
I’ve just gone through a court case with my dog Bruce (Staffy x mastiff) due to him reacting to strangers coming into the yard. He has been branded a ‘dangerous dog’ due to this and now I am having to go through the process of organising an enclosure for his safety and for everyone else’s safety. It’s important to remember that at the end of the day, our beloved pets are animals, and when put into a situation that surprises them, they go back to animal instincts.. i.e barking, biting, whining, intimidating.. I fought for 7 months to prevent Bruce from being put down, and we won… I too have to begin training my dog like crazy because I never want to go through this type of thing again.
I also have a boxer puppy, he trains really well with positive reinforcement, If I yell at him for doing the wrong thing (digging, chewing) he does it 10 times worse. Treats also work for my boxer.
This is absolute bull. There are people out there that intentionally intimidate dogs because of various reasons. How does one train a dog to not react to intimidation? Normal dog behaviour can be defensive aggression from fear, year, but the elmination of that cause of fear is the problem, not the dog. Moreover, some dog beahviours are misinterpreted. Dog barks and people assume he is aggressive while ignoring he is wagging his tail meaning he wants to play. Dog chases another dog in a chase game, but owner of the dog being chased just sees ‘aggression’ though her precious is enjoying the chase as much as my dog. Should I train my dog to not place a chase game? Should I just put my dog on Prozac and never let him off the leash? Do I still have a dog? Bachelor of Arts in multimedia journalism, not Bachelor of Science in Animal behaviour
What reason would a person have for “intentionally intimidating” a dog? Everything I’ve read has stated that using positive reinforcement or reward-based training is a FAR better way than discipline-base training or putting fear into them and establishes a stronger bond between the dog and trainer. Yes, behaviors being misinterpreted is a problem but one of the biggest issues is people, like yourself, don’t take the time to learn how dogs communicate with us. For example, “wagging his tail meaning he wants to play.” While some wags are indeed associated with happiness, others can mean fear, insecurity, a social challenge or even a warning that if you approach, you are apt to be bitten.

Understanding their barks and body language would stop behaviors being misinterpreted.

Code Kochan
We have a 7 year old Catahula Hound perfectly nice around people, a little shy around guests. However the moment she’s on a leach she gets very aggressive around dogs, but fine at off-leash parks. She has attacked the same dog twice (they’re fine no harm done) but I’m not sure what to do. Training is expensive and I’m not sure I’d still be comfortable letting her outside even with it. I didn’t want to give up but she’s getting to the last straw. Of anyone knows any low-priced behaviorists, or any helpful information please help me out here.
Thank You
I have a 5 year old Pit, we adopted him from a shelter, he does great with people and kids. But once there is another dog around he gets aggressive, he has attacked one dog (thankfully he didn’t do much damage and the other dog is okay) we believe he is dominant aggressive. We want to get him into a training class but they are so expensive. (And I’m worried it won’t be 100% successful) hopefully you have some advice for us. I’m hopeless at this point and I don’t want to give up on him.
What became of this?
We have a dog who is very sweet– but only once he gets to know people. He’s a shelter dog who was abused and not socialized properly. He shows aggressive behavior towards new guests, and dogs who try to dominate him. Part of his aggression is nervous (he is a big scaredy dog) and part of it is protective. We’ve been working with a trainer and try to eliminate risk factors (telling people on the street not to pat him, only letting him play with dogs who he knows and informing guests of some of him triggers– plus putting him on the leash when new people come)– Mostly I want to know is- if we work with him long enough will he start to become friendly and we won’t have to worry? Or will we always have to take precautions?
My mother’s six year old poodle has become aggressive after the loss of my father and moving to a new home. He now wants to spend every moment with me and snaps and tries to bite her or anyone else when they try to get close to him.
I’m seeking advice on how to stop this behavior.
My sister has a dog And is a good dog when he wants to be. He’s been aggressive, bites, and barks at people that he does not recognize. We’ve grown attached to him and tried so many things to change him and we really don’t want to put him down for being aggressive. Any advice on how to help my sisters dog not be aggressive anymore? HELP.
Lydia M
I took my puppy from a dog foster home about a year ago. I love him to bits; he has a great personality, and I feel that he loves our family so much. BUT, whenever I take him for walks, we have problems. He hates other dogs and other people sometimes even growls at us. My husband and I were thinking about taking him to ‘doggy school’, but then again, it’s extremely expensive, and the nearest ‘doggy school’ is far away from us. Maybe you have some advice? THANK YOU!!!!
Lissa Lansdown
I have a four year old female Golden Retriever and got a small terrier puppy recently. At first the Goldy LOVED the new puppy, shared her ball and taught her to play. The’d cuddle together and the Goldy who’s very maternal would even groom the puppy. The other night out of nowhere she attacked the puppy, I had to pull her off and the puppy got bitten. A couple days later as carefully as I was watching for signs of trouble it happened again. This time I got bitten in the struggle. Now I’m keeping them in separate parts of the house to keep the puppy safe. I think the issue is my bed where my Goldy slept and then the puppy joined us though there was no problem the first week. I decided the Goldy couldn’t be in the bed any more because she’s too possessive of it and maybe it makes her feel like alpha dog. Now she’s miserable in the other room and I’d like to resocialize the two but am afraid that now she might resent the puppy more and blame her for losing her bed privileges. Please help! I love both dogs like crazy but can’t risk the puppy’s life.
I have this dog that bites me ,I have yelled I have done time out no treats nothings has worked I am really fixing to loose my Cookies. Also he jumps no matter what you do he jumps I really need help
I hope you found help with training, as no dog should ever be allowed to think it’s ok to bite its owner.You shouldn’t be submissive to it or you have no control.And depending on your situation,this can lead to others being bitten–a tragic outcome for the dog and others–plus liability for you.I have seen people who sort of laugh nervously when they’re nipped or jumped on instead of being clear to the dog with consistent voice tone and body language that “NO!” means “No”–it only creates confusion in the dog.
Using a muzzle and leash when the dog is excited may help calm it too,while you work at changing the behavior.
I love everything in there expect i have dog who is a greatdane,german, and routwiller and he bites a lot and sometimes he will bite for no reason
I find myself hoping this comment is just a hoax because this does not sound like the dog for you, (unless you’re using him to guard your drug stash of something).
Desperately seeking advice! Inherited my son’s Australian Red Heeler ( smidge of German Shepherd) when he died last March. 9.5 yrs old, travelled with Bill working on commun towers. Protected truck and tools all those years. Precious and well-behaved EXCEPT my vehicle must be guarded. Nicely social in all sits except when anyone approaches car. Loves his granny and knows I’m Alpha; will bark ferociously at neighbors, drive thru workers, family if they approach car. Yes, bite if part comes into car! Im a wreck!! Muzzle? Duct tape? Never yell and never smack him. He’s a blessing and a burden! Help me!!!!’
Got my husky new toys. My niece usually play with him, gives him treats and never has he bite her. After receiving his new toy, niece went to get it he snaps at her. Showing teeth then he bite her. I tried to take him outside and he became aggressive. He’s never been aggressive at all towards me. I was shocked to say the least. He is three years old, what should I do and how can I correct it
I took my Shih Tzu to the Vet because I was not sure if he up to date on medical and shots. I thought I was getting him from a rescue and found out later, he was a private adoption. I had only had him five days when I took him to the Vet. My dog attacked the Vet’s assistant and although the skin was not broke, the Vet told me I should take my dog to the Humane Society Animal Shelter. I took the Vet’s advice and took him to the shelter. Even though he was only in my home for five days, I had become attached to him. Now, I am feeling guilty and very sad. I’m not sure I did the right thing in the decision I made. I was lied to by the lady who ran the rescue and papers were not up to date and from another state and not the state where the rescue was. Please tell me I did the right thing by taking the Vet’s advise.
Jerry Loynachan
My grandson’s dog joins our three dogs on occasions when they come to visit. On three occasions his dog has been envolved in an altercation which results in blood ddrawn. Usuallly it begins over a despute over a toy or cchew bone.. My grandson usually laughs abd minimizes the incidents with its just a dominace thing..dogs being dogs. I am tired of these reaction and rather than creating a situation like bannng his animal, ow should I approach this in a positive way which will not cause a family rift?
Dog Listener Consult
If you need to puppy house training for all habits, you should let him to join the best way to dog training classes in the market of Singapore.
I just recently bought a 2 month old puppy, we have 3 other dogs plus the new one the two oldest are fine with the puppy being around but my second youngest myloh who is a year and a half old is acting really aggressive around him, he tried to attack the puppy and barks constantly. I have tried taking them both on walks where myloh is in front and blue(the puppy) is behind that didn’t work and i currently have then separated from each other by a gate I front of the bedroom for since the puppy is mainly in there. But myloh barks at the meet sight of the other dog. I tried group training him but that didn’t work. I comfort him every time he sees the dog so he knows it’s okay but he just barks non stop I’m afraid he’ll never be accepting of him. I’m at a point where I don’t know what else to do please help!!
I recommend having a session together with your older dog and your puppy(Who i think is myloh but im not sure if thats the right dog) the older dog having a muzzle on and you playing with both of them or taking them on walks *Make sure to always keep the muzzle on when doing this until he stops barking* i would have another person walk one dog, if he keeps barking i would contact a professional dog behaviorist, this does not include petsmart or petco or anything like that, go to a place where dog training is all they focus on. Probably dont just bring them in i would call first because they may want to have them come in when no other dogs will be there.
My Male yorkie who is not even 2 yet has become aggressive towards my husband and is now growling at me
Other than that he can be a very good dog
Same situation to me. Just now. My dogs are brothers. I have this dog named chingoo who is chubbier than his brother named Brancho. Both are a year and 5 months old. Chigoo is always irritated, everytime he sees his brother, or if he did something like biting or eating something he is not allowed to eat and i am trying to take that thing away from him, he openly gets mad at me. Just this evening, he bite a neighbor. He is so aggressive. I don’t know what to do. Please help us. I don’t want to give up on him….
My name is Denise I have a question regarding aggressive play between my 2 dogs the puppy (6 mints ) plays extremely rough with biting. The other dog (2 years) is becoming less tolerant what can I do to decrease the biting during their play before something happens
Hello. I have a couple of issues with my dogs that started a few years ago. I have three siblings that I have had since they were puppies. I live in an area that is over populated with porcupine. My female seems to be the leader, sounding the alarm when she smells one one our property and all three of them with rip it to shreds. I have spent thousands in vet bills (probably close to 20,000) because they will not stop. I have tried shock collars, bark collars, muzzles, and wireless electric fence. They will not stop. My female also is aggressive towards other dogs. She has cause two injuries so far, but has attacked other dogs up to 10 times. She can strike at any moment, it could be right away or after she has played nicely with a dog for hours without issue. I have leash and muzzle for her for in public places and when around new dogs but she still gets very tense and growls when leashed and muzzled. Things I have tried walking her with a muzzle on leash with other new dogs and corrected her with “no” and making her submit when she does this. She continues to do this. The last incident occurred with a dog sitter when I was not in town. He has her unleashed and unmuzzled in a public area and she saw another dog and sprinted to it and attacked, causing injury to the dogs skin (skin flip). I don’t know what to do. I am thinking about rehomeing her but how can I when she has this issues. I would really love some guidance on this. She is an alpha. When I have her out she is always on leash, when other dogs are around the muzzle is on. I really do not want to have to put her down, but it is getting out of control. My life revolves around these dogs but she really can not be trusted. Any advise would be helpful. I am constantly stressed out, when I go anywhere I don’t enjoy it because I am constantly worried about if something has happened with my dogs because they are either attacking porcupine or she is attacking other dogs.
I have the same issues and feel the same way you do. I have had personal one on one training as well as group training for my dog. He is very over protective of his territory and/or me. I will not put him down. He is muzzled in public and leashed. I have put him on CBD oil (for dogs). Right now he is the only dog in the family. At this point I would be fearful of bringing in another dog but it might help. He has settled down a little since I have put him on CBD oil but I don’t feel this is the only answer. I am looking for advise as well.
Thanks for the article, my girlfriend and I have recently adopted 3-4yr Stratford terroir/Schnauzer. He is the most loving dog toward people I have ever been around. He does suffer from boundary issues, if my gf and I are sitting on the county he wants to be right in the middle or on top of us, he doesn’t sleep with us though. But if we are on the couch he will army crawl to us to make sure we are paying attention to him. However, saying he doesn’t get along with other dogs is the understatement of the year. Recently he got out while my gf was answering the front door and our neighbors where walking his dogs at the same time and what insued was a chaos until I was able to run down the stairs and grab him up. Luckily no dogs where hurt. But we don’t want to wait for another dog to be injured. We have talked to local trainers but they insist us bringing Teddy to a group training class which I’m worried will be just bring more chaos. Any suggestions…. please help.
Michelle Schenker (Admin)
You are right to be nervous about starting with a group class. We would recommend that you find someone who will do individual training sessions with you until you have the behavior a bit more under control. Then, you could consider a group training class.
Paullette Greeno
Hi, we have joined the Rover dog sitting family and have our first aggressive dog. He was not aggressive when we did the “meet and greet”. I feel sorry for the dog because he was not trained as a puppy. He is now 4 1/2 years old. For the safety of the other dogs I have to keep him separated and that doesn’t seem fair to him..Any suggestions?
Hello. My dog is 6 years old and he is very mean to strangers. He really hasn’t ever been exposed to other people much so I think that is part of the problem. I recently brought him to my college apartment with me and with 2 of my roommates he is completely fine but with the others he has bite one. I’m really just looking for recommendations on how to change this behavior so that my roommates aren’t afraid of him.
Hi, I have an adopted street dog from Mexico. He is 2 years old and weighs about 13 lbs. The rescue dog is a very sweet, affectionate and calm dog until the Yorkie comes over. Before I got this dog my daughter lived with me with her dog. Her dog is a 7 year old Yorkie. The Yorkie grew up in our home and recently moved out with my daughter about a year ago. Over the last year I get her dog on some weekends to sit. Problem is both dogs are very territorial. They are both trying to be the alpha. It’s my house, I am trying to lay down the rules that I am the alpha not them. The rescue dog can get quite mean, snapping and growling and even physically attacking the Yorkie. My daughter is going on vacation for 2 weeks the middle of September and I am dreading having these 2 dogs together. I have been reading Cesar’s books and Sophia Lin’s book but not having much luck. Any suggestions that would help me would be greatly appreciated.