How to Deal with an Aggressive Dog

By Max. D Gray. Updated: January 16, 2017
How to Deal with an Aggressive Dog

Canine aggression is a common behavioural problem in both female and male dogs and is usually of great concern to pet owners. First of all you should know that most of the problems regarding aggressiveness in dogs can be solved; with love, patience and training your dog will stop behaving violently. In we explain how to deal with an aggressive dog.

You may also be interested in: List of the Least Aggressive Dog Breeds
Steps to follow:

Let's fist see what is dog aggressiveness. If your dog is aggressive, it could show one or more of the following behaviours in a particular situation:

Rigidity and threatening bark

Trying to push or move the person with their body or their nose

Growling and showing teeth

Bites with no mark, bite that leaves a bruise, bite and shake

The first thing when you are trying to understand how to deal with an aggressive dog is to know that your dog may show aggressive behaviour because it is sick. If you notice that it behaves abnormally, take your pet to the vet. There may be an organic cause behind the aggression such as a brain disease, hormonal dysfunction or epilepsy, among others. It can also result from some sort of chronic or acute pain, many of the consultations regarding aggression end with a treatment that puts an end to this behaviour. So, this is a medical way to deal with an aggressive dog.

How to Deal with an Aggressive Dog - Step 1

The second step of how to deal with an aggressive dog is to examine the behaviour of your dog to determine the type of aggression. There are many forms of canine violence and each must be treated in a specific way. There isn't one approach which serves to address all problems of aggressiveness: use a professional in canine behaviour to examine your pet and determine the source of the problem. It is important to know that there is a kind of aggressiveness that is common in dogs and is inherent to their own nature.

How to Deal with an Aggressive Dog - Step 2

Dogs are animals that live in packs and may show aggressiveness for different reasons:

  • To improve or maintain their social position
  • Defend their territory from external threats
  • Protect their food or their pups
  • Or simply out of fear

Even the head of the pack can be aggressive in attempts to control or punish the pack. It is a natural behaviour that governs relations between the pack members and enables survival, but at home this can be a problem.

When a pet becomes part of a family, they will perceive this to be like a pack and behave in the same way. Therefore, in dealing with an aggressive dog, it is essential to show who is the boss and make clear what can and can not be done. In OneHowTo we tell you how to train a puppy so you know how to mark boundaries from day one.

How to Deal with an Aggressive Dog - Step 3

A good tip to deal with an aggressive dog is to try and avoid it becoming stressed. Stressful situations are a trigger that could awaken its aggressiveness: noise, meetings with many people or more dogs and fear can trigger an aggressive response.

Sometimes a dog can become aggressive because it has been deprived of an object that it loves. For example, if it comes to personal items it may be appropriate to give it something in exchange of that specific item that drives it crazy. It must be a value exchange for your dog.

How to Deal with an Aggressive Dog - Step 4

Never make use of violence or any kind of punishment to deal with an aggressive dog. Physical retaliation is not very effective and can increase the fear in your dog and therefore will be an incentive for it to defend itself using an unexpected and violent reaction. Neither do these punishments work to correct territorial behaviour, in fact their reaction may become worse as they will feel threatened.

In the same way, if you really want to deal with an aggressive dog, it is not recommended to spark aggressiveness with games that incite its dominant behaviour. This includes games like tug of war, where your pet must pull on a rope.

How to Deal with an Aggressive Dog - Step 5

And finally, when dealing with an aggressive dog, it is essential that the whole family reach an agreement regarding a series of standards which must be accepted and respected by all. All family members should follow the same guidelines and nobody should consents forbidden behaviours. Try not to confuse your pet: consistency is essential. If you let it do something and then another member of the family punishes it for the same action, it will generate distrust and this can trigger violent reactions.

The whole family must agree on house rules: it's not fair that some should be more lenient on the dog than others. Confusing the dog will make it become aggressive. If different family members treat the pet differently when dealing with the same actions, the dog's trust in you will decrease as it will not be able to predict the consequences of what it does.

How to Deal with an Aggressive Dog - Step 6

Other tips that you can follow should your dog become aggressive is to give it the level of physical exercise it needs. Make the dog stroll, run and play and let it relate to other dogs and people in the park, on the street, on the beach... There is nothing that makes a dog happier than to explore new environments. In addition, it is also good to know that dog sterilization usually reduces violent behaviour and the anxiety level that arises from the desire to find a sexual partner.

Tell us your experience on how to deal with and aggressive dog!

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tamra stewart
I have a standard poodle female ,and my friend had her brother and can not keep him .So I took him and he wants to attack my female he has just been fix 2 weeks ago .What can I do. for I can keep him with my girl.
18 month old Lhasa Apso mix, adopted by me 5 mons. ago, neutered 1 mon. ago. Loves snuggles snuggles, gives kisses but will snarl, bite if I try to put collar, coat, harness on or off. Chews up his possessions, even Kong Extreme. Got collar stick in mouth trying to chew it. Chews his tags. Very possessive of toys, his belongings. Very worrisome re collar, harness, tags in case they get stuck, choke him but what to put on him for ID in case he escapes. Help. Thank you.
richard ahrens
question,a bichon frise dog walks with his owner with a muzzel on ,has a bite historythe dog seems ok with other dogs on leash and its fine in the dog park with out the muzzel on playing.But when on a walk with the owner he will lunge and bark at people he does not know.pulling hard on the owner.We suggested a easy walk harness for him to correct his pulling and to avoid direct contact what eles can I recommend for the owner?
We have a 4 year old female Corgi that will pick a fight with one other dog , everything we have tried to stop this has not worked. We keep the dogs separated from each other, as it gets very bad and looking for any ideas or advice.
we do not show any favoritism to any of our dogs and they get plenty of exercise.
Julia Lynch
how do I get my 4 year old husky to stop being aggressive over his food and other dogs when they get close to his face this is stressful to me and the rest of my other pets we got him from a shelter last summer we take him everywhere to the park and car ride he hate it when the other dogs get attention he get more attention than they do he look at our cats like toys we keep our cats in different room please help
Cindy Thomas
We have a 10 yr old yorkie that is showing more aggressiveness. Recently she had hidden a bone, and as I walked into the room she attacked my foot leaving it bruised with a couple teeth marks. She also will sit at the top of the basement stairs and a few times will snarl her teeth and "scare" me off and will run down the first few stairs after me. We don't understand this.. is she protecting something? her dog bowl and her bed is at the top of the stairs. Help!
Rebecca Lascelles
We have a 15 month old staffordshire bull terrier which we have had since 8 weeks old. Everything has been fine until over the past 4 months when she has nipped/bitten people at random in very different situations. One of her triggers is when we take off her harness and lead she goes to attack them and if you get in the way she will go for you. She has bitten a kennel owner on the bottom once. She has bitten a friend who came to stay on the bottom and on her thighs. She has now bitten my husband when he took off her harness and tried to hang it up. Today she tried to go for me when i took her to a play park and give her some stimulation she just seemed to want the treats and did not want to do anything to get them so i had to drop her lead and the bag with treats in and I brought her straight home. It was as if it was too much stimulation in a new place it seems to be when anything different happens she can't cope. she is perfectly fine and calm at home sleeping with her buddy springer spaniel at his side. Im at a loss what to do.
Karen D.
We recently rescued (4 mo. ago) an 8 -10 yr. female chihuahua. We have spent the entire time getting her in good health . Spayed, teeth extracted and treated for pancreaitus.
We have no background info. on her. She will show aggression with us at any given time.
We can not have any one come into the house, she will try to charge at them. we have never show any aggression towards her only love.90% of the time she is loving towards us. she is not cat friendly, she is showing improvement with this issue
liz harvey
my pugalier Daisy 7yrs old has a issue with some dogs when we are walking or even at the beach if a dog comes over to her she'll try and snap at their faces not all dogs get this reaction from her .Can you please help me to control this behaviour.Cheers Elizabeth

OneHowTo Editor
Hi Liz
Has Daisy always had this problem or is it a sudden change in behavior? If new, we recommend consulting your veterinarian to rule out the possibility of pathology, stress or anxiety. Additionally, you could consult a canine ethologist in order to socialize Daisy correctly. For more, read
How to Deal with an Aggressive Dog
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How to Deal with an Aggressive Dog

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