How To Train An Aggressive Dog

Aggression in dogs is characterized by activities such as gnawing, barking, snarling, lunging, showing teeth, growling, and biting. In some situations, aggression can be directed toward objects, such as other dogs, food, or even a child as a threat.

More often, aggressive dog behavior is a learned behavior rather than inherited ones. These make training an aggressive dog to be quite a challenge. However, with some persistence. you will be able to teach your canine friend to be a submissive and obedient pet.

So if you are thinking about ways to train your aggressive dog, keep reading to learn what you can do.

How To Train An Aggressive Dog?

An aggressive dog can be trained through socialization and getting him to have a human pack leader. Aggression can be controlled through obedience training, but be sure that you have trained your dog using positive reinforcement and not physical discipline.

Be His Pack Leader

Aggressive behaviors of a dog can be due to his confusion about who is the leader. Who may take his food, or what is his proper place in the family? Who is he supposed to listen to and obey? 

These are the questions a dog that is confused about his role in the family is trying to search for.

When you’re not the alpha dog in the family pack, then clearly your dog would want to be at the top of the pack. This is why he is acting aggressively.

You should establish that you are the pack leader and any sign of aggression needs to be dealt with in a dominant manner. Start establishing yourself as his Alpha by making him follow your commands and house rules faithfully.  

Your dog should only be allowed to do something that is routine or follow what you had instructed him to do. Do not allow him to behave in a manner that pleased him.

To show your dominance over him, you ought to control his resources (such as when he would get his food, when he will be playing as well as when he would be sleeping) and give him direction on your expectation. This will ensure that he looks upon you as his Alpha dog.

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Your Dog Is OverProtective

Have you ever thought that you could be the cause of your dog’s aggression towards another dog or another person.

If your dog is used to being very protective of you or your family, you cannot expect that he is not going to bite someone he doesn’t know or when he feels that a threat is coming.

Aggression towards humans is considered a serious behavioral problem and while it may be a small problem at the moment, it can quickly get way out of control.

What you should do is to start him on a dog obedience training program and get him to socialize with a well-trained dog. 

You would be surprised by the result of him being around with a well-trained dog. Your dog will start to pick up all the good behavior exhibited by the well-mannered dog and will learn how to react appropriately when facing unfamiliar faces or environment.

Start On Obedience Training

You should teach your dog how to listen and obey your commands. Most dogs that are highly aggressive have a deep need for control. 

For example, if your dog possesses territorial aggression, he may be barking, howling or otherwise trying to establish dominance whenever someone comes into his territories. This can result in your dog either attacking the person, or trying to push them away.

In order for you to exhibit control over your aggressive dog, you would need to have him trained to be obedient.

Start with some basic obedience training commands  such as “Sit”, “Down”, “Stay”, “Come”, “Heel” and “No” as they are going to be extremely handy when you need your dog to calm down when he is in anxiety or aggressive state.

No Physical Punishment

My view is that any physical punishment on an aggressive dog is a “No -No” as that would make him even more nervous and hostile. A more subtle approach is through the use of distraction and reward.

What you should do is to make use of some objects (preferably something that he loves such as his favorite toys) to grab his attention. This will distract his focus on what is making him aggressive and would help to calm him down.

When he had calmed down, give him a food treat and praise him for being obedient. This approach is certainly way much better than yelling or punishing him. 

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Use Positive Reinforcement Approach

This approach will help your dog to associate good behavior with a reward in return. 

Begin the training with some useful commands that could help you to make your dog calm down when he is behaving aggressively. Commands such as “Sit”,  “Stay”, “No” should be the ones that you should put priority on. 

When your dog performs the desired behavior, it is important that you reward him with a quality treat right away so that he will learn to associate the behavior with a positive experience (getting a treat).

Once your dog is consistently performing the desired behavior when hearing your command, you can cut down the treat and replace with a praise. This is to avoid your dog being overfed.

Keep each training session short (to only 10 minutes) to gain the maximum efficiency as dogs tend to have short attention spans. 

Be consistent in your commands (make sure everyone in your family uses the same words) so as not to confuse your dog. 

You should always offer your dog lots of treats, praise and attention when you first start the training. Be sure to take your time with the lessons and be patient. Finally, do not yell or scream at your dog. This positive reinforcement technique can quickly change your dog’s behavior.

Start His Socialization

Start your dog on a socialization program. By having your dog interacting with new social situations, sounds, sights, people and pets, this will help him to learn how to behave appropriately and ease his anxiety and aggressiveness when facing the same situations.

During the initial socialization process, be sure to keep your dog on a leash and keep him close to you to prevent him from getting into any accidents.

An aggressive dog may need more coaxing and comfort from you before he starts to trust you. Spend more time with him to build the bond and make his socialization journey a success.

Have a routine setup so that your dog will know when he will be having a walk with you daily and this will prevent him from getting nervous.

First Command To Be Trained – “No”

Most dog owners miss out using this POWERFUL command “No” to stop their dog from behaving aggressively and as a result, they often find it hard to stop their dog’s aggressiveness.

Make sure that you have your dog trained on this command the very moment you start your dog obedient training program.

I’ve done this with my own aggressive dog, and it’s a very effective way to change his behavior. Whenever my dog becomes aggressive, I will use “No!” and then reward him for being calm. 

He will soon learn that by not being aggressive, he will earn a reward and will be willing to repeat this behavior.

To make this approach a success, the type of reward plays a vital role. Make sure that you use a high quality treat (tempting reward), preferably the one that he likes the best, to make him submissive.

You could also include a hand signal to denote the “No” intention to your dog along with the command.

Dogs are good at observing human body language, thus hand signal often works much better than vocal tone.

Desensitizing Your Dog

Dogs are also aggressive when they are afraid, during traumatic or unusual situations, or for many other unknown reasons. We’ve all seen this situation in the shelter. They cower, hide, bark and make other signs of fear. This can also mean the start of severe aggressive dog behavior problems. 

It’s important to know what is making your dog exhibit his aggressiveness and work on getting him to feel calm and comfortable when facing these stimuli. This can be done through creating a positive association with the stimuli and help him overcome the fear.

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Say for example, your dog gets nervous and becomes aggressive whenever he sees another dog. What you should do is to put him on a leash and as you walk with him in the dog park (keep him alongside), attempt to distract his attention from an approaching dog. If he did not get into any accident, reward him with his favorite treat and praise him.

Keep praising and rewarding him whenever he passes another dog without any accident. Gradually, your dog will learn to overcome his fear and anxiety when facing another dog.

There you go, now you have these 8 WAYS to train your aggressive dog, it’s time to put them to use. Feel free to comment below if you have more tips to share with us.