Aggressive Dog Behavior: How to turn it around

Aggressive dog behavior happens. Many dog owners who never thought their dog would become aggressive are startled, confused and sometimes afraid when their dog acts aggressive towards them. There are close to 20 types of dog aggression that have been identified, but all can have potentially serious consequences. If left unchecked, it can lead to biting and worse. If your dog seems to be in conflict with you over who controls the environment and/or things in the environment, he may have developed territorial aggression or possessive aggression. With territorial aggression, the dog usually defines the territory and defends it vigorously.  It could be the yard or the house – all as defined by the dog.   These dogs seem to have little, to no tolerance, for people invading their space. You try to pet the dog and he may snap or bite And with possessive aggression it could be the space the dog is occupying in any given moment or an item like a shoe, a toy or his food bowl. The best time for dogs to learn their boundaries and what is acceptable behavior in and around the home is when they are puppies. When older dogs are adopted, the best time to start is the day you bring them home.  How you define your relationship is critical to a problem-free life with your puppy or dog. Creating a great partnership means providing the right kind of structure that allows your companion to develop a strong sense of place in his relationship with you as a follower – free of emotional stress and therefore greatly diminishing any or all behavioral problems. Dogs are pretty selfish critters and always want to know, “what’s in it for me?”  They are constantly thinking, “If I do this, what will I get?” Work this to your advantage by creating daily working opportunities for your dog to “earn all the things he gets from you.”  Obedience commands like sit, down and come is a great way to teach him how to get all the things he wants; food, toys, walks with you, games with you and affection from you. He’ll love you even more. Starting behavioral training and most importantly leadership role with your dog when they are puppies is the ideal and critical time to do this. When they are young, puppies are easily desensitized to being petted and you can correct nipping and biting problems by redirecting them to perform other commands such as sit. Once a dog is older, dealing with territorial aggression is a more difficult process – because you have learned behavior to turn around. If you did not provide boundaries and leadership with your puppy or dog from the beginning and you now have issues – don’t give up. The most important thing you have to understand is that dogs are very simple creatures – we complicate them. There are simple things to do to show your dog in a truly positive, non harmful or aggressive way that you are the leader and everything is on your terms—-not his. Be as comfortable with the trainer of your dog as you are the teacher of your children. And remember, Opportunity Barks!