Not all dogs are social creatures. Some dislike being around other dogs, much like an extremely shy person might avoid parties and other gatherings. Aggression can result when the owner refuses to become the pack leader. The dogs then fight over dominance. Here are some common signs of aggression and what you can do to prevent your dog from attacking other dogs.
Signs of Dog-to-Dog Aggression
Sometimes owners are oblivious to their dog’s aggressive tendencies. Here are some signs of aggression owners should look for in their dogs:
- Lunges at other dogs – Aggressive dogs will block out everything – including commands from their owners – and focus on solely the other dog. They may snap and growl, even when on a leash. In fact, some dogs are actually more aggressive when on a leash.
- Attacks other dogs when around his belongings – Some dogs can be very territorial, and it is never a good idea to bother a dog that is eating or playing with a toy. However, when another dog gets near his toy or food, and the dog responds by attacking, this is a serious problem.
- Barks, snaps and growls excessively
- Exhibits fear around strangers and in new environments
- Frequently chases moving objects, such as small animals, cars and people
- Often escapes from the yard or kennel to roam free in the neighborhood
Why dogs become aggressive
Genes and hereditary are the most common factors in determining aggression in dogs. Breeds such as pitbulls, mastiffs and greyhounds are naturally more aggressive than other breeds. However, this gives them no excuse to attack other dogs. Other factors that play a role include:
- Hormones – Male dogs that have not been neutered tend to be more aggressive than those who have been neutered. In addition, females who are in heat, pregnant and nursing tend to be more aggressive than spayed females.
- Living conditions – Being neglected and forced to live a life without much human contact can lead to aggression. However, surprisingly, dogs that are overly spoiled can also become aggressive. They eventually start to believe that they are human and fight with the other humans in the family over pack order.
- Teasing – Being teased by children or even adults who pass by the home can make a dog angry.
- Too much punishment – It’s acceptable to reprimand a dog when he misbehaves, but when the punishment is unwarranted or too extreme, the dog fights back through aggression.
Ways that owners can prevent aggression include:
- Proper socialization – Puppies should be socialized early on so they learn to behave properly around other dogs. They should learn how to play with other dogs. Keeping a dog isolated is doing it no favors.
- Consistent training – When a dog engages in undesirable behaviors but the owner does nothing to remedy it, the dog is being rewarded. It is important to identify such behaviors and teach your dog that they are unacceptable through the use of commands and punishment. An example of this type of training can be found here.
- Controlling the dog – Some owners let the dog control them rather than the other way around. Although dogs are considered family members by many dog lovers, they are not humans. It is the duty of the owner to keep the dog in line and let them know the house rules, to include where to sleep and when to eat.
- Secrets to Dog Training – For good and inexpensive training on how to handle and train an aggressive dog, Secrets to Dog Training is a great course, including videos and free consultations, on how to have a very well-behaved dog.
What to do about an aggressive dog
The best thing a dog owner can do is monitor the dog’s behavior and nip any type of aggression in the bud. Letting aggression to continue will allow it to get worse. In some cases, aggressive dogs end up being euthanized.
If your dog is aggressive and nothing seems to remedy the situation, a visit to the veterinarian is in order. Sometimes aggression is caused by a medical condition. The vet can check your dog and rule out any ailments.
If no medical issue can be found, you will need to re-train your dog so he lives on your terms, not his. Make some changes to his environment and current rules as sort of a “boot camp.” This is not to punish him, but to teach him who is in charge. Using a crate is also a good idea when you are home with him, but cannot supervise him. A crate gives dogs their own space without being harassed by kids and other dogs.
It is also important to find out what type of affection your dog prefers. Although many enjoy petting and playing games with their owner, many aggressive dogs prefer walks. Walking is a good activity because it empowers the owner.
If you are having difficulties training your dog on your own, it may be time to see an animal behaviorist. These people are specially trained in dealing with behavioral problems in dogs. They use a variety of techniques to reduce your dog’s aggression and turn him back into a loving member of the family.