How to Deal with an Aggressive Dog

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.

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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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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