Dog Is Aggressive Towards Me But Not My Husband​

My Dog Is Aggressive Towards Me But Not My Husband 

My Dog Is Aggressive Towards Me But Not My Husband

Your dog might be aggressive towards you but not your husband or spouse because of a lack of early socialization. The other common reason is that a traumatic incident occurred involving that person or some one with similar characteristics can cause aggression to a specific person. 

Lack Of Socialization

Socialization is about helping a pup to develop relationships with a wide range of people or animals. If, for example, if your dog has never meet someone with long hair or high heels, they may be startled when, as an adult dog, they first see you with long hair or high heels. Do you think that lack of socialization could be the reason why your dog is aggressive towards you but not my husband? If so, try the Treat & Retreat Method. 

The Fix: "Treat & Retreat"

In your situation, making you more attractive through treats can be really helpful. However, make sure you are not making an attempt to interact or say hello but instead throw treats for the dog to get. Over time, you becomes a much more exciting person to be around.

I am commonly asked “why is my dog aggressive towards me but not my husband” and this is because men tend to be better at respecting our dogs personal boundaries. This is because they are are less inclined to be physically reassuring than women. If you have attempted to reach out to the dog or have them sniff your hand you are guilty of not respecting a dogs wishes.  This is why you need to do the “treat and retreat method” instead of the reach method.  This is a common problem among women who feel  “that the dog is aggressive towards me but not my husband”

Treat & Retreat

Past History Of "Trauma"

If you do not think socialization is the reason your dog is aggressive towards you but not your husband, it could be because of trauma. 

Trauma can be anything from accidently stepping on your dog to hitting them with a broom. Imagine someone with a long blonde hair startles your sleeping dog by tripping over them. Your dog then decides that because you similar characteristics you are a potential danger. Your dog has developed a response to a specific trigger.  They have learned that being aggressive towards you that trigger is a successful strategy in preventing them from being stepped on. 

The Fix: Desensitization

We want our dog to react calmly even if we share characteristics with someone who has caused “trauma” to our dog.  That might include walking past your dog or even holding him or her. 

The technique that’s used is called desensitization. Aggression in our dogs indicate that they have become over sensitized to the trigger.  Trauma has occurred and our dog to associate the trigger with something bad. This is why they have become too sensitive to the trigger. 

A trigger that almost all dogs have been exposed to is barking at dogs while walking. If an off-leash dog ran over and began growling and snarling, then our dog might become sensitized to that situation. Now they start barking and lunging at the end of the leash whenever another dog comes close. Desensitization aims to remove the sensitization process and allow the dog to respond in a more neutral way.

How To Desensitize Our Dog

You need opportunities for your dog to experience the trigger but in a diluted form. So rather than picking up your dog you need to stay 6 feet away.  At this distance, your dog knows that they’re there but doesn’t react. 

Over time the distance can be reduced while always ensuring that your dog remains calm. Treats can also be given to make the trigger more pleasant to be around.

Top tips for effective desensitization

1. Slow and steady wins the race

Many aggressive dogs have been practicing their aggression for years, and a handful of positive experiences will not yet balance that out. Desensitization often needs to be carried out over several months to build a solid history of the trigger being present but without the need to react.

Slow and steady is the perfect way to describe the desensitization process. When I first started dating my husband I was cautious of his intention because of negative experiences I had in the past. Overtime, I gained confidence in our relationship and no longer overreacted when his phone died or when he forgot to text back. Previous “trauma”  sensitized me to those triggers.  Six years later I did not think twice when my husband went on a bachelor trip to Las Vegas. However, if that trip had occurred  1 month into our relationship I doubt I would have handled it well. Your dog is the same way, if you rush the desensitization process your dog will likely react because he/she is still unconvinced about how safe it is to be in that situation.

2. Variety is the spice of life

If your dog is aggressive only towards women with long blonde hair, there’s still a lot of variation in the blonde hair population. For your dog to know that all women with long blonde hair are safe to be around, they’ll need to be introduced to various people during the desensitization process. You will need to ask helpers to get creative with what they wear, how they walk, and even their body language to introduce that variety. In other words, its highly unlikely that your dog is just aggressive to you and not your husband. It is more probably they are aggressive to women with similar traits to yourself. 

3. Manage the environment

It’s essential you control your environment when desensitizing your dog.  This ensures that your dog has only neutral or positive experiences when near the trigger. Start the desensitization process in a safe space for your dog (i.e. house, certain room, under the bed). Unfortunately, too many times our environment only confirms our dogs behavior. There you are, twenty feet away from your helper and your dog, when suddenly an a high pitched scream comes from a young girl with long blonde hair.  Now your dog has even more evidence that people with this characteristic need to be told to go away.  The training needs to be called off until your dog has calmed down and you can regain control of the environment. 

Desensitization Worksheet

Is Your Dog Aggressive?

Is your dog reacting only in certain situations. If so, you need to look at the bigger topic of aggression. You’ll find help and advice on the different types of aggression and what may have caused it. 

What is dog aggression?

Aggression could be used to describe a dog with a history of biting but it could also be used to describe a dog that’s being threatening without making any physical contact.  

What are the different types of aggression?

Dogs who show threatening behavior do not always lead to a bite. However, it’s still essential for you to take the problem seriously and ensure your dog is helped before a bit occurs.

Types Of Aggression

Offensive aggression

Offensive aggression is  about moving closer to the target. That might be another dog, animal, or person. In offensive aggression, you’ll see the dog lunging and chasing. Their body posture is all about looking as big and intimidating as possible. That means standing tall with a stiff body and their hackles raised. Their tail will be straight up and may be wagging slowly. Ears are up and forward, and there’s direct eye contact or staring. Finally, their teeth are bared, and they may be barking and growling. 

Defensive aggression

Defensive aggression stems from fear. They have their body crouched and tend not to face their opponent directly. Their tail is usually down, and their ears are pinned back. They may look away or switch between staring and avoiding eye contact. The defensive dog might bare their teeth, and they may growl, bark, whine, or whimper.

What causes aggressive behavior?

 Fear, Territorial, Possessive, Redirected, Pain Induced, Maternal, and Idiopathic are the sources of aggressive behavior. Understanding each cause is important in helping your dog overcome aggression.

When your dog feels distressed or uneasy, they can respond aggressively. This is because they are trying to get away from the scary situation or make it go away. If this doesn’t work a ‘fear aggressive dog’ will attack.

Fearful dogs give subtle body language signs to try to tell us that they’re not happy with what’s happening. These include licking of the lips, blinking, and lowering their head.

Territorial aggression is often a defensive response rather than offensive. When someone comes into an area that your dog considers their home, they may react aggressively to get that person or dog to leave.

When your dog has something they consider to be high value, they may become aggressive when someone comes close by or attempts to take it from them. Don’t forget that what your dog considers high value might be very different from your perspective. The sock that was stolen from the laundry, or the candy wrapper found on the floor, might be very valuable to your dog!

When your dog can’t get to whatever is causing them to be aggressive, they can become frustrated. When that happens, they switch their aggression to the person or animal that they can reach.

Imagine a leash reactive dog when they see another dog out on a walk. They’ll probably start barking and trying to lunge forward at the end of their lead. As the frustration grows from not getting closer to the other dog, they might spin around and nip their owner on the leg. The aggression has been redirected from the other dog towards the owner.

When your dog is in pain, then you may see some defensive aggression. This doesn’t mean that you have an aggressive dog, just that the discomfort they’re feeling is making them tell you loud and clear to stop handling them or stay away.

When a female dog feels that her pups are in danger, then she can become aggressive to get that threat to move away. Just as with pain-induced aggression, this doesn’t mean that the Mum will show aggression in any other situation; it’s specific to protecting her young pups.

Idiopathic aggression is when there is no trigger for the aggression. Instead, it appears to be totally unprovoked and unpredictable. This type of aggression is very rare and is often caused by an underlying medical problem.

Common Aggression In Pets

Food Aggression

Food aggression is when one dog acts aggressively towards a person or another dog, but only in the presence of food. When there’s no food around, the dogs may be the best of friends, and that was exactly the situation with Jet the Patterdale Terrier

Why did my rescue dog attack my other dog over food?

Food is a valuable resource, and your rescue dog may have been living in a situation where they were hungry and had no idea when their next meal would be. There may also have been other dogs who tried to steal their food.

In these situations, your rescue dog has learned that they need to be aggressive around food to ensure that they get enough to eat. With regular meals and a full stomach aggression around food can begin to disappear. However, some dogs may need more help to learn that they no longer need to act aggressively around food.

Jet was rescued from a home where he lived with several other dogs. Mealtimes were unpredictable, and the dogs were often hungry. This meant that food was extremely valuable when it did arrive. Jet quickly learned to guard his food to prevent it from being stolen by another dog. This was very successful, and because of that, Jet continued to show aggression towards other dogs at mealtimes. Jet shared his new home with Rosie, a yellow Labrador. If Rosie came anywhere near Jet while he was eating, he would bark and snarl until she left. The first way that Jet was helped was to make sure he got to eat in peace. So, Jet was given his food in the kitchen with the door shut; now, there were no other dogs around to be aggressive towards. Jet was then given a few weeks to settle into his new home and make friends with Rosie. While the plan was always for Jet to eat in his own area, the owners wanted to make sure they could give the dogs treats without any aggression problems. The training aimed to make Rosie the predictor of good things happening rather than something to be worried about.

Lynda Taylor-MSc in Applied Animal Behaviour and Training (Distinction).

Case Study Jet: Behavior Plan For Food Aggression

Both dogs on leash, with Jet inside the living room and Rosie out in the hall

Bring Rosie into the doorway of the living room and begin feeding Jet treats. Rosie leaves, and the treats stop. (Rosie was also given treats throughout the training)

Bring Rosie one step into the living room and begin feeding Jet treats. Rosie leaves, and the treats stop.

Repeat step 3 until Jet becomes excited when Rosie enters the room. This might be wagging his tail or leaping up to get the expected treat.

Now the distance between Jet and Rosie can be reduced. This needs to be done slowly over several training sessions. All the time keeping a close watch on Jet’s body language for any signs of him becoming tense. If that happens, Rosie needs to be moved further away before Jet has the opportunity to become aggressive.

Success from this approach is all about working slowly and methodically. Jet will need several training sessions over two or three weeks to help him to learn that another dog can mean good things happen. It’s also important to continue managing the situation by feeding or treating the dogs separately until the training is completed.

Common Aggression: Social Aggression

Social aggression is when a dog shows aggressive behavior towards others in their social group. That might be towards other dogs or the humans they live with. The problem with using a term like social aggression is that it describes what we might see but not why it’s happening. To help the dog behave differently, we need to understand which one of the “aggression causes” is in play.  Once we know that, we can plan the best way to teach the dog how to cope in a different, non-aggressive way.

Explanation For Social Aggression

Dogs are sociable creatures, and given the opportunity, they live in groups. There’s little sense for members to fight with each other and risk injury.  

We used to think about a dominance hierarchy with one top dog as the leader, and they controlled all the resources such as food, space, and toys.  Recent research has challenged whether that’s really what’s going on, and that raises the question of whether alpha female aggression even exists.

Different dogs have differing levels of desire for different things. That might mean that it’s very important for one dog to get lots of fuss and attention. For another dog, they would rather be chewing their bone or playing with a favorite toy.

Rather than aiming to be the ‘pack leader,’ your dog might just be more intent on getting the prime place on the sofa next to the fire or making sure that only they get to play with the squeaky ball. 

Common Aggression: Post Surgery

Post surgery your dog will feeling dizzy and disorientated. They might also be feeling some pain or discomfort. They also have no idea why they feel that way, not to mention the stress from being in the veterinary surgery to begin with. 

For the dog left at home, the arrival of their friend, who is acting pretty weird and smells very odd, can also lead to unexpected behavior. So, it’s no surprise that there might be some behavior that you wouldn’t normally expect given all of those issues. Giving your dog time and space to recover will prevent problems from happening to begin with.

Why did my dog become aggressive after neuter?

Neutering can result in fear-related aggression. That’s because testosterone increases the production of chemicals in the body, encouraging risk-taking behaviors and reducing fear. When your male dog is neutered, they can only produce small amounts of testosterone within the brain’s adrenal cortex.  Testosterone is also known to increase serotonin, which has a calming effect. This then delivers a double hit on your dog’s ability to cope in challenging situations.

For a dog who is already fearful or lacks confidence, you’ll need to balance the potential benefits of castration with the risk of increased or newly developed aggressive behaviors.

Common Aggression: Stranger At Door

The doorbell ringing can be a huge trigger for many dogs. For some, it’s excitement for a new person to meet, but for others, it’s fear and aggression for the stranger. While it can be tempting to rush to the door while shouting at the dog to be quiet, that tends to just add to the frenzy.

 

Keeping calm and calling the dog to you enables you to guide them to another room where they can wait safely until the visitor has left. It doesn’t take many repetitions before your dog learns where they need to go when the doorbell rings. If there’s a handful of treats scattered on the floor or a food stuffed toy to chew on, then they’re going to learn that pretty quickly!

That does mean that preparation is essential. Make sure you have some treats stashed away by the door or a food stuffed toy already prepared and in the fridge.

Alexa Life Hack

I hooked my Furbo (treat dispenser) to my Alexa doorbell. Every time the doorbell rings Furbo throws a treat. My dogs no longer react to the doorbell but instead run to the Furbo. 
Colby Lehew
Trainer

Common Aggression: Towards Other Dogs

Is your dog aggressive off leash or just on leash. If your dog is aggressive towards other dogs when out for a walk, it could be that they’re leash reactive. This means that the aggression only happens when they’re on a leash. If they’re off-leash, then there are no problems.  

The reason for your dog’s aggression is because of past trauma. That might be a young dog who came bounding over uninvited or the aggressive dog who snarled and barked, lunging at the end of his leash.

What about the dog who’s aggressive when putting on the leash?

Did your dog get tangled in the leash, which then made them worried? Or did the end of the leash accidentally catch them in the face? Even though these may have seemed relatively minor things, your dog may think differently. Now, they have decided that the leash is something to be worried about.

If there’s nothing that you can think of that caused the issue, then a medical problem is the next thing to consider. If your dog has discomfort in their neck area, then the leash attached to a collar will cause pain. That, in turn, can cause an aggressive response.

Tasha The Doberman

Tasha, the Doberman, suddenly objected to the leash being attached to her collar. Whenever her owner attempted to clip it on, Tasha would grab her hand. Although Tasha never caused any bruising or broke the skin, her owner was understandably worried about this new behavior.

Thinking back to events over the previous week, there was an incident when Tasha had got tangled up in the leash. It had taken a few minutes to sort it out, and Tasha had become very anxious. Even though she seemed fine on the walk, that experience caused her to worry about the leash.

Soon, when anyone went to clip the leash on, Tasha tried to get away. When her collar was held, there was no escape route. Tasha escalated her communication to show how worried she was by using her teeth to grab her owner’s hand. Now she was successful; her owner moved away and stopped trying to clip on the leash. Now Tasha had a way of preventing the leash from being clipped onto her collar.

Thankfully, it’s possible to change these types of responses, and the way to do that is through counter conditioning. This involves changing the emotion from one that’s fearful to one of excitement.

With Tasha, this was done by showing her the leash and then feeding treats. It wasn’t long before she was wagging her tail when she saw the leash coming out. Then her owner could progress to placing the leash clip to the collar while still giving treats. Finally, the leash was clipped on.

While the process took a few weeks of daily training sessions, care was taken to ensure that Tasha always felt confident being around the leash. Her owners carefully watched for any signs of her body becoming tense, and if she wanted to back away from the training session, then that was okay, she was allowed to do that. In turn, Tasha never felt the need to use her teeth to tell us she was feeling worried.

Lynda Taylor-MSc in Applied Animal Behaviour and Training (Distinction).

Why is my dog being aggressive all of a sudden?

Was there anything out of routine?

Some dogs are real creatures of habit, and when that routine changes, they can find it unsettling and challenging to cope with. That might be different people in the home; maybe you have visitors staying or builders completing some work for you. Have you had to leave your dog for much longer during the day than normal? 

Have stress levels been high?

If there’s been a bereavement, arguing, or even a new arrival, the stress that causes can result in your dog reacting in a very different way to normal. Another thing to consider when thinking about stress is, are you  more easily stressed than other members in the family such as your husband?  

When was your dog's last vet check?

Pain is a common cause of aggression in dogs. When your normally well-tempered dog is suddenly aggressive without any obvious reason, then a trip to the vets needs to be first on your list.

Possible causes of pain include arthritis, dental decay, and internal injuries. Some illnesses can also affect your dog’s brain, which then leads to what seems like unreasonable aggression. Is your dog older? Older dogs are more susceptible to conditions such as cognitive dysfunction and brain diseases, they can happen at any age.

What are the least aggressive dog breeds?

Many factors can influence whether a dog is likely to be aggressive or not. But statistically, some breeds are less likely to show aggression than others. Research carried out by James Serpell from the University of Pennsylvania found that the following breeds were the least aggressive towards both humans and other dogs:

Are Rescue Dogs Aggressive?

Most rescue dogs are no more aggressive than any other dog.   It is important to think carefully about the temperament of a new dog but to also be aware that any dog who finds itself in the wrong situation can be aggressive.

Can Puppies Be Aggressive?

Aggression is very rare in young pups, and when it’s present, it’s almost always connected with fear. When thinking about the reasons for the aggression, there are several potential causes:

The Mom’s temperament

Canine fear and aggression can have a genetic component. developments in gene research show us how how important to meet Mom, Dad and other close relatives before purchasing a pup. If they are fearful or nervous, then it may be an indicator that your puppy could also grow up with the same temperament.

A stressful pregnancy

When the pups’ mother is placed in a high-stress situation, it can result in the fetuses receiving cortisol to help prepare them for the stressful environment. However, this comes at a cost. That’s because once the pups are born, they are more likely to be both reactive and fearful.

Birth factors

Puppies that are rejected by their mothers tend to have a higher risk of developing behavior issues, including anxiety and fears. It’s important to know that this isn’t a certainty, but breeders and owners need to be aware of the risk. Then a plan can be put in place to ensure lots of positive experiences for the pups while they’re growing up.

Lack of human contact

There is a connection between the development of fear-related behaviors, including aggression, and where the puppy was raised, according to research carried out in 2002. 

The researchers looked at pups that spent their first weeks in a home environment with a breeder and then, after vaccinations, experienced life with a family.  These youngsters had a much lower chance of developing fear-related behavior, including aggression towards strangers. 

Sadly, for those dogs who had been reared in a non-home environment, such as a barn or shed, there was an increased likelihood of aggressive behavior when examined by a vet.

Not every dog raised in a kennel environment will end up being aggressive. However, if you are looking to improve the odds of having a confident adult dog, it’s essential to find a great breeder.

What are the signs of aggression in puppies?

A fear-aggressive puppy will usually attempt to back off or hide away, trying to avoid any contact. If they do growl, it will be done quietly to not draw any attention to themselves.

A normal pup is the one who comes forward to make contact. They grab hold of your trousers as you walk past and growl loudly as the ‘tug game’ progresses across the room.  It’s important to know that this isn’t aggression, it’s normal puppy behavior.

Play or Aggression?

Crossing the Line

You need to know when their dogs have crossed the line between play fighting and aggressive behavior. Signs of dog aggression include:

  • Raised hackles
  • Stiffness
  • Snapping, growling, or barking
  • A hard stare
  • The tail is held straight and wags very slowly from side to side

Appropriate Play

When a dog wants to play, you might see this body language:

As the primary care giver of your dog. You need to asses if they are being aggressive towards us or are they just playing. If your dog is showing aggression. When you see these signs, then you need to immediately distract the dogs and call them away from each other.

Two Dog Households

Dog Aggression To Puppies

Not all adult dogs like puppies. Some may like being around them but only for short periods. Puppies don’t always know when to stop, and just like children, they need some supervision to make sure that they don’t push things too far.

Most older dogs will give the puppy a warning if they are too annoying. They’ll do this by curling their lip and giving a hard stare. If this first warning doesn’t work, then a low growl will be next, followed by a snapping of jaws. At this point, most pups will get the message and leave the older dog alone

But if the puppy does not back off and there is no owner around to intervene, then the older dog may need to escalate the situation. This is when there’s the possibility of the older dog drawing blood. 

Most adult dogs have bite inhibition, so that means that they can control the amount of pressure they bite down with. If you’ve ever watched your dog demolish a bone, then you know just how much damage could be done to that pup if they wanted to.

So, if the older dog bit the puppy and the injury is minor, then you know that they have been very controlled in their response. But it is a clear sign that this dog was pushed way too far. It’s the owner’s responsibility to step in and ensure that their dog is never placed in a situation where they have little choice other than to bite.

How to introduce an aggressive dog to another dog

Introducing an aggressive dog to a new dog is a slow and steady process. Aim for introductions to start several weeks before the two dogs will be living together, even longer. That’s because you may need the dogs to meet several times before you get an idea of whether they will be able to get along. 

The parallel walk method helps dogs to meet calmly and safely. Both dogs should be on a leash attached to either harnesses or comfy collars; it’s important that the equipment  does not causes pain or discomfort. No prong collars or choke chains and no e-collars; we don’t want the dogs to associate the pain with each other.

The dogs are walked in the same direction but on opposite sides of a wide street. If one of the dogs is reactive you may need to find a location with more space to create a greater distance between them. 

As you’re walking, reward your dog with treats whenever they calmly look at the other dog. If the aggressive dog reacts by barking or lunging, you need more distance between the two dogs. 

Gradually reduce the distance between your dogs while keeping them moving in the same direction. Eventually, the aggressive dog is allowed to approach and sniff the new dog. Leashes need to be kept loose, and after a few seconds, calmly call the dogs apart to give them a break.

The tandem walk method is one another way to help dogs to bond.  Instead of having the dog across the street, the dogs is behind the other dog with at least 12 feet distance (this depends on your dogs reactivity). Walk your dogs together, making sure the proper distance is maintained. After a while, turn around and have the other dog lead the walk. You may need to increase distance on the swap. Each dog has their own preference. 

Meeting out on the street in a controlled environment is very different from living with each other. Management is essential while the dogs are learning to get along.

Helping an aggressive dog to live with another dog.

  • Feed the dogs in separate rooms with the doors closed until each dog has finished and the bowls are picked up.
  • Set up quiet areas in the home so that the dogs can have time away from each other.
  • Carefully watch each dog’s body language so that you can spot the signs of tension building. Then you can intervene before a fight breaks out.
  • Make sure there are lots of extra toys to reduce the likelihood of guarding behavior.
  • Ensure both dogs get plenty of exercise.
  • Reduce the stress levels by not having visitors or deliveries during the first few days.
  • Introduce regular training sessions to increase how responsive each dog is to you.
  • Avoid any punishment or corrections; these increase stress and damage the relationship between you and your dog.

Best Ways to Handle Aggression in Dogs

It’s not easy having an aggressive dog. Others can be very judgmental, and that can just add to the difficulty of the situation. When your dog does react, it can be tempting to do something in return to get them to stop. This might be shouting, yanking on the leash, or hitting them. The problem is that when you do this, it just confirms to your dog that this situation needs an aggressive response.  Not only was the original trigger worrying enough to begin with, but now there’s also the physical discomfort and stress coming from the owner to deal with as well.

Handling an aggressive dog is about avoiding trigger situations. If you find yourself in one, then it’s important to leave as calmly as possible.

Can an aggressive dog be cured?

There is no guarantee that an aggressive dog can be completely cured. Even when the dog has shown no sign of aggression for years, it’s possible for there to be a combination of circumstances that trigger the aggressive response. Maybe they have pain from an injury, and that then means a stressful vet visit. When they get home, and the delivery driver knocks at the door, it all proves to be too much, and the aggression reappears. 

This means you must always be vigilant. You need to consider what the triggers for aggression are and then take steps to keep their dog from harm.

Very often, owners take the approach of managing the situation so that the dog isn’t exposed to whatever causes the aggression. The problem with relying solely on management is that at some point, it breaks down. That might mean you forget to shut the door, and now the dog who is aggressive towards strangers is in the same room as the visitors.

This might seem very doom and gloom, but even though many aggressive dogs can be helped, you need to be realistic in their expectations.

managing aggression

How do I stop my dog's aggressive behavior?

We can use management so that the dog isn’t put in a situation where they need to be aggressive or you can change the way the dog thinks about the issue by using behavior modification.

Management

1. Create space

Creating space can be done by crossing the road or going onto a driveway and waiting for the other dog or person to pass. You  may also be able to move the dog behind a barrier, such as a car or low wall. If there are no obvious barriers, you could try using your body to block your dog’s view.

By doing this, we avoid a head-on confrontation. If there’s enough space, your dog may not feel threatened, and so that means that there’s no need to react aggressively. In the home, space can be created by ensuring that your dog has a safe and secure place to be when other people or dogs are around. 

2. Distract using dog treats and toys

Some dogs can be distracted with their favorite treats or toys, especially if the trigger is further away. If your dog’s body language tells you they have already spotted their target, then trying to get their attention with treats and toys might not be an option.  This is because they are now solely focused on the trigger.

3. Walk away briskly

If your dog has less time to stare or obsess, then you may be able to distract them more easily. Briskly walking away can get you out of that situation fast. 

4. Protecting your dog from rude dogs or people

In an ideal world, other people would be responsible enough to stop their dog from running across or prevent their child from rushing over to hug the ‘doggie.’ Sadly, that’s just not the situation many dog owners find themselves in.

5. Be your dog’s advocate

If you know your local park is where there are loads of off-leash dogs doing their own thing, then that’s not going to be an option for a walk for your dog aggressive dog. Likewise, trail walking on a weekend might be a nightmare if it’s full of families enjoying a day out if you have a people-aggressive dog.

Despite asking people not to come over and say hello or to put their dog on a leash, sadly, members of the public are often convinced that everything will be okay. If your dog has the slightest potential to react, you should firmly tell them to back off. While they might take offense, that’s a much easier situation to deal with compared to your dog reacting.

Walking an aggressive dog

All dogs need the opportunity for exercise; however, walking the aggressive dog comes with some real challenges. There is an argument that aggressive dogs shouldn’t be walked in public. If you have a large yard, your dog might be able to get the physical exercise and mental stimulation they need without going out. However, for most homes, that’s just not possible. 

That means that it’s essential that other people and dogs are safe when you’re out with your dog. You also need to know that if your dog redirects to you, that you’ll not be hurt. One way to achieve this is through your dog wearing a muzzle. Do be aware that muzzled dogs can still cause injuries to others, so all walks need to be on a leash.

Muzzle training

Training your dog to enjoy wearing a muzzle is a great idea for all dogs, not just those who are aggressive.  That’s because there may be situations, such as emergency veterinary treatment, when the likelihood of your dog biting is much higher. If they already think it’s great to have the muzzle on, that removes some of the stress from the situation.

Most dogs get excited when you get the leash out because that predicts going out for a walk. Our dogs are brilliant at making these types of connections, so we can use this to teach that the muzzle means something good is about to happen.

The right type of muzzle

Before you start muzzle training with your dog, it’s essential to get the correct type of muzzle. An aggressive dog will be wearing the muzzle while out on a walk, so it’s important that it doesn’t affect their breathing and that they can pant and drink without it being removed.

Fabric muzzles that close the mouth are only suitable for very short periods of time. So that might make them an option for when treatment is given in the veterinary office. 

The basket type of muzzle is the best option for the aggressive dog when taken out for exercise. This doesn’t restrict breathing, and they will still be able to drink and eat treats, all without the muzzle being removed.

Teaching your dog to love their muzzle

Teaching your dog to love their muzzle is best carried out over several days. Use small treats, like cheese or cooked meats, that are both smelly and tasty. Repeat every step several times and make sure that your dog is relaxed at each stage before moving to the next. 

  1. Let your dog sniff the muzzle, and then give a treat. 
  2. Hold the muzzle with one hand and then position the treat just inside. Now your dog needs to put the tip of their nose inside the muzzle to get the treat. 
  3.  Slowly move the treat further into the muzzle until your dog eventually puts all their nose in to get it.
  4. Gently slip the muzzle onto their nose and give him a treat. Immediately remove the muzzle.
  5. Now put the muzzle on and fasten the buckle. Treat your dog through the muzzle and then immediately remove it.
  6. Put on the muzzle, fasten it. Count to three, then treat and remove. 
  7. Now, over several sessions, gradually increase the time the muzzle is on before giving a treat

You know you’ve done a great job with muzzle training when your dog gets really excited as soon as they see it!

Blinders

The theory behind dog blinders is that if your dog can’t see the trigger, then they won’t react to it. While that may seem logical, it’s anything but. First of all, blinders only cover part of the dog’s vision, so they will still see other dogs and people. Then there’s the anxiety that’s likely to be caused by not being able to see properly. For a dog that’s already anxious, this might be the thing that puts them over the edge and into aggressive mode. 

Then there’s the fact that our dogs have a sense of smell that is so much better than us. In fact, they are thought to have the ability to smell objects or people as far as 20km away. So, even if they can’t see another dog or person clearly, your dog will definitely know that they’re close, just by their smell.

What to do with an aggressive dog that bites

A dog with a bite history is a huge responsibility and one which you will need to carefully consider if you can manage. This is a situation where the skills and advice of a canine behaviorist experienced in working with aggressive dogs come in. They will assess your dog and help you consider if and how you can keep both your dog and other people safe.

They will ask how severe the bite was. A dog who barely broke the skin before backing off is a very different scenario to one that inflicted multiple deep bite wounds and had to be fought off. The behaviorist will also want to know the details of the events surrounding the bite, so make a note of everything you can remember that happened before and after the attack.

How about a dog that snaps?

Dogs have great control over how they use their teeth. If you’ve seen two dogs playing, you’ll know that they often grab hold of each other with their teeth yet do no harm.  When your dog snaps at you, it’s a very deliberate way of giving you a warning without any intention of making contact with your skin.

Very often, our dogs try more subtle ways of communicating with us first, such as going still, yawning, licking their lips, and blinking. When this doesn’t work, then they might escalate to a growl. Then they may try a snap. Now that progression from going still to growling and snapping can happen very quickly, so sometimes, it can be easy to miss those first signs.

When a dog has been told off for growling, they may no longer try that way of communicating and instead go straight to a snap. If that doesn’t work, then your dog may escalate to a bite. That makes it so important to pay attention to what your dog is trying to tell you.

Now that doesn’t mean to say that you have to live with a dog who snaps at you. Instead, you need to work out what caused your dog to decide to take that action.  Then you can find a non-confrontational way to prevent the situation from happening again. So, if you were trying to move your dog off a chair when they snapped, then you could train your dog to come away by using treats. 

Medication for dog aggression

Our understanding of how the dog’s brain works and what causes problems is evolving all the time. That means that we now have a range of behavioral medications that, in some cases, can help a dog to be less aggressive.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Ut elit tellus, luctus nec ullamcorper mattis, pulvinar dapibus leo.Some aggressive dogs behave the way they do because of a medical condition. Issues that cause pain can trigger aggressive behaviors, as can conditions such as thyroid abnormality, seizures, and the confusion that some older dogs can experience. Even dog feed has been implicated as a contributing factor in some aggression cases.

This all means that if your dog has an aggression problem, then before anything else, they must see a veterinarian. If your dog is given the all-clear, then the vet will be able to assess if medication may reduce the likelihood of more aggression. Not all vets are behavioral experts, so they may refer you to one that requires you to work in conjunction with a canine behaviorist. 

Over the counter supplements for dog aggression

As well as medications from your veterinarian, there are also natural remedies that some owners have found helpful in reducing their dog’s aggression.

  • Skullcap – This herb is well known for its ability to reduce anxiety.
  • Chamomile – A herb used to reduce the symptoms of stress and anxiety.
  • Belladonna – May be helpful for dogs that tend to be aggressive without any obvious cause.
  • Passionflower – Contains flavonoids that encourage relaxation and reduce tension, anxiety, and panic.
  • Tryptophan – An essential amino acid that increases the levels of the calming and sleep-inducing hormone serotonin.
  • Thiamine (Vitamin B-1) – The ‘anti-stress’ vitamin that enhances the immune system and improves the body’s ability to withstand stress.

Aggressive dog training

All dogs benefit from training; it opens the possibilities of where they can go and the experiences they can have. When the training is reward-based, using food and toys rather than punishment it’s also a great way of developing a strong positive relationship with your dog.

We’ve already mentioned that many aggressive dogs are actually very fearful. So, they become worried about what might happen if that other dog comes too close or if the person at the door comes into the home. 

Training provides different options. This means that when you see another dog in the distance, you ask your dog to heel so that you can gain their focus and get out of the situation. When they’re heeling, they’re not lunging and growling at the end of the leash. 

When a person stands at your gate, you can ask your dog to come to you, which removes the need to stand and bark. 

Over time, some dogs show less aggression now that it’s not being practiced regularly and because they’ve been given something else to do instead of being aggressive. Even for those dogs who still need additional behavioral help, there are huge advantages to working with a well-trained dog. First of all, they are used to the training process and learning new behaviors. Then, they know how to be focused and show self-control. And most importantly, their owner understands how to be consistent, to be understanding of their dog, and help them be successful as often as possible, all essential skills for rehabilitating the aggressive dog.

Aggressive Desensitization Training

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