Uncontrolled aggressive behavior is one of the major reasons why dogs are either given to animal shelters or put down. All dogs, and all living creatures, have the capacity to act aggressively because it is a survival technique. However, when the dog acts aggressively towards other pets or humans, the behavior must be corrected as quickly as possible. In addition to the possibility of injury to the other party, serious legal ramifications can arise.
Although any dog can growl and bite inappropriately, certain breeds are much more prone to this kind of behavior than others. The size of the dog is also a factor in this and an attack by a Chihuahua will be considerably less serious than an attack by a German Shepherd or Rottweiler. However, any dog that behaves aggressively should first be seen by a veterinarian to make sure that a physical condition, such as infection, cancer, or a thyroid problem, isnít at the root of the behavior.
One of the biggest causes of dog aggression is fear. The dog in question is acting aggressively precisely because it thinks it will be attacked, and evidently adheres to the old adage, "The best defense is a good offense". If you have gotten a puppy and would like to prevent future inappropriate aggression, the puppy should be socialized at an early age. Because of dog diseases, wait until the shots have all been taken care of and then take your puppy with you to introduce it to different situations.
Dogs that become used to being around other dogs and people at an early age will be much less likely to react aggressively in later years. However, even adult dogs can be trained to overcome aggression by careful training and socialization.
Unless you will be able to sequester your aggressive dog away from people and other animals for its entire lifespan, the dog should be trained to overcome its aggressive tendencies. The safety of others will always be the first consideration, so make sure that the dog is on a leash and is wearing a muzzle during training.
An aggressive dog can be socialized to feel comfortable and calm in the presence of others. It will take time and patience, but even violently aggressive dogs can be turned into good canine citizens in most cases.
In order to do this, you need to enroll the dog in an obedience class and make sure the person conducting the class understands your dogís aggression problem. Learning to obey basic commands is a good way to bring the dog under control in other situations. Take the dog to an area where it will be exposed to people and dogs and keep it to the side. When a dog or person comes near and the dog begins to lunge or to growl or bark, give a sharp tug at the least to redirect its attention. In addition to the corrective action, you will need to reward the dog when it behaves correctly. Have a supply of small treats on hand and be lavish with pets and verbal praise as well when the dog remains calm.
People who love their dogs tend to make excuses for the dogís bad behavior. However, there is no excuse for a dog biting another dog or a person unless the owner is under attack. This sort of behavior can have very serious consequences for both the dog and the owner. In extreme cases, when someone has actually been killed by an aggressive dog, the owner has served jail time. The owner can also be sued for bites and the offending dog can be ordered to be put to sleep. It is critically important to get your dogís aggression problem under control.
If your dog is acting aggressively towards others, start seeking a solution immediately before the problem gets totally out of hand. You and your dog will both be much happier.