Aggressive Dog Training Tips: Calm The Beast

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Dog barking (caption: Aggressive dog training tips)Most of the time, when you see an aggressive dog, they were not born that way. An owner of this type of dog may not fully understand how to train their pup. This lack of training often leads to aggressive behavior because the dog responds to situations using its instincts since it has never been taught differently. Learn why it happens and how to get your dog to stop.

Article Overview

Why Are Some Dogs Aggressive?

Dogs become aggressive for several 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 completely out of control dog. 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.

Signs 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

Black dog barking with teeth

Dogs tend to use body language to intimidate. Therefore your dog may try to situate itself so that they are taller than other animals. The dog’s hackles may rise. He 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, the dog will establish itself as the alpha and 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 results from fear.

These dogs can be particularly vicious because they are often small dogs that the owner leaves unchecked, assuming it is 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.

How To Train An Alpha Dog To Be Less Aggressive

Once you’ve recognized the signs of an aggressive dog, it’s important to understand how you can minimize or eliminate their aggressive behavior.

Leash Training

Pinch CollarTo 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 can 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, but they limit what he can do.

Sleeping

If your dog is the alpha dog, they sleep in the best possible place. In most homes, this means they would sleep on the bed. This is fine once the dog understands it is not the alpha dog, and that you are allowing it 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 their way up. This might mean your dog has to sleep in a crate until they understand the chain of command.

Read more about dogs sleeping in your bed

Meals

The alpha dog has the first choice when it comes to mealtimes. Since you are starting your dog at the back of the pack, they will be the last one fed. You may even find that you should crate your dog during meal times. They 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. Put toys away so that when your dog gets one, you are the one to give it to them. When playtime is over, place the toy out of reach. If your dog takes off with a toy and you chase them, you are indicating that they are the one in charge, not you. Instead of chasing the dog, wait for them to bring the toy back, then put it away and never give it to them again. (Please note, this does not mean not to give your dog a toy at all. It just means to get rid of that particular toy.)

Check out our favorite dog toys

Aggression Is Not A Form of Punishment

Many dog owners punish aggressive dogs with threatening behavior back. Rather than the dog learning to behave from this punishment, they learn that aggression is an acceptable response.

Aggressive Dog barking

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 what 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’s beyond your control. Instead, use specific methods to teach your dog what is acceptable and what is not.

Rather than using punishment to establish authority, 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 the 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.

Tools To Help With Dog Aggression

E-Collars, pinch collars, and muzzles can be beneficial when it comes to training your dog. They may seem like harsh forms of punishment at first, but, in some cases, they are more effective than regular collars.

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.

Learn more about pinch collars

Muzzles

Dog with muzzle on eating out of bowl (caption: Best Dog Muzzles)A muzzle is a great tool to use if you have a dog that snaps or intimidates other animals verbally. This is what often happens with shy dogs who are nervous in a situation. 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 dog’s muzzle on for about an hour before a pleasurable activity such as eating or playtime. Then the dog will come to associate the muzzle with enjoyable activities and will apply this feeling to social situations.

Learn more about muzzles

Treats & Patience Are Critical To Success

When you are training your dog, be sure to reward them for good behavior. You can do this with a toy, a treat, or lavish praise. This lets the dog know it 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 them to people for a short period and while under your control (probably on leash), and reassuring your pup all the while. If you are still having trouble, we recommend seeking professional dog training, there are even specialized courses for dog on dog aggression. And if all else fails, sadly, it might be time to think about rehoming your dog.

What aggressive behaviors are you struggling with most?

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 work has appeared in many notable brands, including The New York Times' Wirecutter, Reader's Digest, Forbes, People, Woman's World, and Huffington Post.

Kimberly's 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.

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