While your dog may be your best friend, he may be the neighborhood bully when it comes to his interactions with other canines. Although dogs will attack other dogs for a variety of reasons -- many of which are genetic or instinctive -- there are several things you can do to curb some of your canine’s aggressive behavior and turn him into a welcome member of society.
Fit your dog with a sturdy leather or nylon collar or harness; a good fit will allow you to place three of your fingers horizontally with the palm up between the collar and your dog. Keep your dog on a leash when you are out walking him or at any time you are apt to meet a strange dog. Be sure to hold the leash securely.
Learn to recognize the signs of aggression in your dog, so that you can correct him before he has a chance to attack. Common signs of aggression include a tense, upright body with the hair on the neck standing vertically; ears close to the head; either slanted forward or backward; narrowed eyes; exposed teeth, and tail straight out from the body. the dog will often be growling or barking in a challenging tone.
Correct your dog at the first sign of aggression by telling him "no" in a firm tone. Back up the verbal command with a quick tug on the leash if necessary. You may also redirect the dog's attention by walking him off quickly in a different direction or asking him to "sit" or "lie." Prompt correction each time will let your dog know this type of behavior is unacceptable and will not be tolerated.
Reward your dog with verbal praise or a pat when he has obeyed your commands and has ceased aggressive behavior. You may also reward him with an occasional treat. Positive reinforcement is very important when training your dog.
Introduce your dog to new canines gradually, keeping lots of distance between them at first. Slowly decrease this distance as long as no aggression is shown. Do not hurry the procedure; at the first sign of a problem, correct your dog. Socialize your dog by taking him to obedience classes so he can be around other canines in a controlled situation.
Avoid areas and situations that may cause your dog to act aggressively until you have completely socialized him. For example, if your dog always shows aggressive tendencies when you walk past a certain house, move to the other side of the street. If your dog acts aggressively when you take him to a dog park, do not got there until he is socialized and obeys your commands at all times.
Be sure that you do not come between your dog and the dog toward which he is showing aggression. While most dogs will not attack their owner on purpose, there is a danger of your dog accidentally biting you while trying to get to the other dog. In addition, do not under any circumstances, use choke chains, prong collars, electric shock collars or similar devices unless you are working with a professional trainer. Not only can these devices injure your dog, they can also intensify the problem if used incorrectly.
If your dog continues to show aggression and attack other dogs, consult a veterinarian to rule out any health conditions that could contribute to his behavior. You should also contact a professional trainer if the dog is too large for you to correct or if the aggressive behavior continues after ruling out health issues and other causes, such as too little exercise. Neutering also often curbs aggressive behavior.
Items You Will Need
- Paws Across America: How To Interpret Your Dog's Body Language, Facial Expressions and Vocalizations
- Dog Problems.com: Interdog Aggression: Why Dogs Fight With Other Dogs
- Pet Place.com: Inter-Dog Fear Aggression
- Deborah Ashlock; Professional Dog Trainer; Lawrence, Kansas
- dogs are fighting image by Ivonne Wierink from Fotolia.com