Dog aggression is a tricky thing to correct. While you don’t want to let him do whatever he wants, challenging an aggressive dog can make the situation worse. Here are some tips.
Don’t Stare Him Down
Sustaining eye contact with an aggressive dog is a major mistake. It signals that you are challenging him, and if he decides to accept the challenge, he’s likely to attack. Avoid eye contact with aggressive dogs.
Don’t Attempt to Physically Punish Him
Responding physically to a dog’s aggression can get you bit. Even if he doesn’t respond immediately, he may develop an association that will lead to aggression later on. In one of his training videos, Dr. Dunbar mentions a man who got bit after he went to greet his dog. The man had previously punished his dog, jingling his keys in his pocket right before he started. Next time the dog heard the keys…pow, he attacked.
Be Wary of Scolding
Responding verbally is much better than challenging him with eye contact or physical punishment, but it should be done with caution. If a dog is scolded for growling he may stop using growling as a warning sign and move straight to biting in the future. Dogs that bite “out of the blue” have typically been punished for growling in the past.
Don’t Use Powerful Leash Corrections
If the behavior occurs when he’s on leash, don’t give him a strong leash pop. This will only serve to increase his negative associations with whatever he was growling at, making the problem worse.
Do Work on your Pack Leader Status
Set clear house rules and enforce them consistently. Make your dog follow a No Free Lunch policy in which he has to earn his treats and attention by doing something good. Cutting off free rewards can free him from an entitled, top dog attitude. And correcting that attitude can help correct his aggression.
Do Get involved with Obedience Training
Participate in a daily training program. Make sure you are spending 10-15 minutes a day with him teaching him commands and having him work on obedience. This can help lower aggression right away as he learns to follow your orders.
Do Take Him for More Walks
Exercise helps reduce aggression because it provides him with a proper outlet for his energy. It also strengthens the bond you share with him while helping solidify your status as the pack leader.
Correcting dog aggression is not about you yelling or acting aggressively toward him. Instead, the key is to go back to the dog training basics – set clear rules, be the pack leader, and meet his needs as a dog. Once you lay the foundation for a good relationship with him, you’ll find that his behavior and obedience will greatly improve and his aggression will have been corrected. This won’t happen overnight, but with steady effort, you’ll get there.
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