Countless dogs are put down each year when they display aggression toward people. This aggression is born out of anxiety and fear. Many times the dog is simply interpreting a human's behavior as threatening. Lack of socialization is one of the main culprits. It is key to expose your dog to as many animals and people as possible before it reaches fourteen weeks. Another factor is abuse: A dog that has been mistreated by humans will naturally be distrusting of them. Thankfully, there are a number of basic steps that you can take to alleviate this potentially dangerous situation.
Break down the triggers for your dog's aggression. Socialize your dog if it acts aggressively toward strangers. Display alpha male behavior if it is aggressive toward members of your family. Quickly correct these tendencies by using leash restraint. Slowly introduce your dog to more people, both children and adults, preferably before 12 to 14 weeks of age. Be careful not to crowd your pet as this can trigger fear.
Manage your dog's environment. If the animal is nervous around children, keep your pet on a leash at all times until it is accustomed to them. Dogs can sense fear, and this makes them skittish. Avoid shouting and hitting your dog if it displays aggression. This will only increase your pet's fear and consequent aggression.
Use different, real-life situations, like allowing your dog to greet someone at the front door. Take it to bustling places that have the potential to trigger fear and aggressive behavior. Be sure to keep your pet on a leash at all times until the animal is desensitized to this environment. Erect a fence around your house to prevent the dog from roaming at will.
Keep obedience training lessons for your dog short and consistent. Give your pet a treat for a reward as well as positive verbal reinforcement when it obeys your commands. Isolate the animal when it misbehaves.
Contact a professional animal behaviorist as soon as possible if your dog continues to display aggressive behavior toward people. If you leave such behavior unchecked, one savage attack or bite can lead to untold problems.
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- Watch for these tell-tale signs of aggression in your dog; raised hackles, stiffening of the body, growling, snapping, exposed teeth, curled lip and maintained eye contact.
- Neuter your dog. This will reduce hormone-driven aggressive behavior.
- Genetics plays a large role in your dog's aggressiveness, but environment has a lot to do with it as well.
- Take your dog to a veterinarian for a checkup. Any latent pain in your dog's body can cause him to become irritable. A vet can determine if a specific problem is causing your pet's aggression. Often medication will be prescribed.
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