How to Prevent Aggression in Your Dog

How to Prevent Aggression in Your Dog
Francisco María García

Written and verified by the lawyer Francisco María García.

Last update: 27 December, 2022

Dogs are considered to be man’s best friend. And that is why a dog is the chosen pet of millions of adults and children all over the world. But what should you do when your dog shows the first signs of aggression?
 There are two classic ways that dogs exhibit aggressive behavior:
  • Growling and/or barking.
  • Biting

It has been estimated that 60 percent of biting incidents involve dogs that had already shown aggressive behavior, such as growling or barking.

In certain cases, the manifestation of a dog’s aggressiveness increases gradually. And, if it is not treated properly, it can put both the dog and his owner at risk.
Therefore, it is very important to pay attention to the first signs of aggression in your dog and know what to do to prevent it and improve their social behavior.

What causes aggression in your dog?

There are many possible causes of aggression in your dog. But one thing is certain: no canine is aggressive by nature. A dog reacts aggressively to the external stimuli. Usually, they react out of fear for the unknown.
aggression in your dog
Before you take action against your dog’s aggression, you need to understand what may be causing such behavior. That being said, here are the three main causes of anti-social behavior:

1. Breed or ancestry

There are many myths about this. Believing that a certain breed is doomed to always be violent is as wrong as believing that a certain breed could never be violent. Each dog reacts in a different way to each situation that it is exposed to.
However, it is true that some breeds and pedigrees have a greater tendency to exhibit aggressive behavior. You should understand this information well before you pass judgment.

2. Upbringing/training

A simple example can help you to understand easily. Breeds such as the Rottweiler and the Doberman are considered dominant, with a tendency towards aggressiveness. But these dogs also occupy the top positions in intelligence and obedience rankings.
That reaffirms the theory that there are not any violent breeds or bloodlines, and that character is formed during a dog’s training. About 90 percent of dogs with aggressive attitudes have been subjected to violent owners or a pattern of violent behavior.

3. Defending territory

A dose of aggression is fundamental for animals to survive in the wild. Dogs descend directly from wolves. For them, it is essential for ensuring the safety of their herd. And that is achieved by defending their territory and the food available in their environment.

4. Vulnerable situations

When subjected to vulnerable situations (fear or pain), dogs can become aggressive. They simply use the saying “the best defense is a good offense” in the name of self-preservation.

How to prevent aggression in your dog

Ideally, you should prevent aggressive behavior from developing in any dog, regardless of its breed. Therefore, you must follow certain recommendations.

1. Choose an appropriate breed

Many dogs can develop violent behaviors because of pent-up excess energy or lack of leadership in their lives. Therefore, before getting a pet, it is important to find out which breed is the most appropriate for your lifestyle.
It is not a good idea to keep large and/or very energetic breeds in small environments. Also, dominant breeds need special attention in matters of training, adaptability and obedience.

2. Periodic visits to the veterinarian

As we have seen, dogs can react violently to pain caused by an illness. Therefore, it is important to go to the vet periodically and get check-ups to prevent any undesirable health problems. 

3. Directed training

Dogs go through two fundamental periods of socialization and adaptability in the first stage of their lives (when they are puppies):

  • Primary socialization: this begins in the second month of a puppy’s life. The mother instinctively encourages her pups to become leaders. It is  important for weaning to occur at this stage.
  • Secondary socialization: starts at the end of weaning. At this time, it is essential for the owner to assume the role of dominant herd leader.

4. Impose limits in order to train

All dogs need a lot of love and patience in order to learn. But affection must not be confused with irresponsibility. Responsible puppy training must impose limits so that its territorial dominance does not put it at risk in the future.

Other aspects of dog training

Physical exercise and intelligence games

Many dogs become violent thanks to the stress caused by pent-up energy and too much idle time. This is common in dogs who live in small environments.
aggression in your dog
One practical solution is to walk your dog in the morning and again at night. Make each walk last for at least 15 minutes.
It is also important to foster a dog’s intelligence. Teach them basic tricks, such as sitting down, and giving you their paw, in exchange for a reward.

Professional training

Professional training is the preferred method for dog owners who live in big cities. Many owners do not have enough time to train their pets. Therefore, it is important to seek professional help from dog trainers and walkers in order to channel your dog’s energy.

Do not use violence as punishment

Violent acts produce more violent acts. That is why training should be based on positive reinforcement. You should never use physical aggression or humiliation as punishment. Reverse the educational process. You can get your dog to react correctly in a positive way, by using prizes and recognitions.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.