How Pet Owners Can Deal with Dog Aggression
There are many problems that pet owners may face when it comes to having dogs in the home. Misbehaving dogs chew up our favorite items, get into the food that’s left on the kitchen table and use the bathroom inside the house. All of these things can be difficult to deal with. However, the most difficult problem of all when it comes to owning a dog is dealing with dog aggression.
An aggressive dog poses a danger to the people who live in the home, the people who come into the home and even to people passing by the home if the dog is able to get out of the house or yard. Aggressive dogs may frighten young children by barking loudly at them and may enjoyer people of all ages by biting them or otherwise attacking them. This can cause serious physical harm to the individual being attacked and can also result in a costly lawsuit against the owner of the pet. In extreme cases, the dog may have to be put to sleep because of its aggressive behavior.
So, what can you do to make sure that your dog doesn’t get aggressive or to stop aggressive behaviors that you’re already experience with your pet? Here are some guidelines to follow in regards to dealing with dog aggression:
• Start early. One of the most important things that you can do to prevent dog aggression is to start dealing with the problem as early as possible. If you get the dog when it is still a puppy, you can implement proper training in the early stages of the dog’s life so as to give it a structured home in which you are the boss. This prevents aggressive behaviors from developing in the first place. Making sure that the dog gets socialized with other dogs and with people at a young age is also a good way to prevent the dog from ever developing aggressive tendencies.
• Consider the causes of aggression. If you have a pet that has only recently become aggressive, the change may be due to some sort of change in the dog’s life. For example, a jealous dog may begin to act aggressive. Dealing with pet jealousy could cause the aggression problems to go away. You should also know that there are different types of dog aggression including aggression caused by fear, medical problems, being territorial and being a naturally dominant breed. Understanding what type of aggression your pet has can help greatly in determining how to resolve the problem. Learn more about types of dog aggression.
• Be kind to your dog but be firm with your dog. As soon as you decide that you need to deal with pet aggression, you need to modify your own behavior with your dog. The first thing that you need to do is to make sure that you aren’t mistreating the dog in any way. If you physically harm your dog then it will likely act aggressive in response. Going overboard with spoiling the dog can also cause problems with aggressive behavior. Learn how to maintain a proper balance between loving care for the animal and firm treatment of its behaviors.
• Consider whether you’ve done anything else that could provoke the dog’s aggression. Of course, you probably haven’t actually harmed your dog but you may do things that allow it to believe it should be aggressive. For example, when you take your dog for a walk and see someone a little bit frightening, do you move behind your dog for protection? Or do you encourage your dog to protect your home or kids in any way? If you’re asking the dog to be a protector of the family, you are setting the stage for some level of aggression with strangers.
• Firmly correct all aggressive behavior you see in the dog. If the dog growls at others when eating, barks at people passing by on the street or displays other signs of aggression then it is up to you to correct that behavior. This means stopping whatever you are doing at the time to reprimand the dog. Basically, the dog needs to know that you’re the one in charge and it needs to be told what it’s doing wrong.
• Encourage others to be firm with the dog. If you don’t want your dog jumping on guests who come to the home, tell your guests how to tell the dog to get off of them and encourage them to do so appropriately.
• Reward the dog’s good behavior. Part of re-training an aggressive dog has to be noticing when the dog is behaving appropriately and rewarding it with treats. Some basic books on dog training can give you more information about how to do this appropriate with your pet.
• Pay attention to the dog. Sometimes aggression in a pet is caused by being mistreated by others. If you leave the dog in the yard all day while you’re at work, it may be getting teased by people in the neighborhood. Likewise, if you let your kids play with the dog unsupervised, they may be treating it poorly. While trying to reverse aggressive behaviors in a dog, you should be keeping a close eye on the animal so you really know what’s going on with it.
• Get professional help for training the dog. If you have a really serious problem with a dog that is already too aggressive for you to manage then you may want to seek the help of a professional dog trainer to reverse the problem.
The majority of aggressive dogs can be re-trained to behave appropriately in the home but you have to be willing to invest the time to do so. Consider the risk that you are taking by keeping an aggressive animal in the home – particularly if you have young children in the house – and determine whether or not you are capable of investing the time and energy necessary to retrain your pet.
Finally think carefully before getting another dog in the future. There are some dog breeds which are naturally more aggressive than others so you should work on choosing a breed that is going to be non-aggressive in your home. Then you should aim to socialize and train that dog early on to avoid any problems.
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