When dealing with canine aggression, it’s smart to get expert advice from a variety of sources. The American Kennel Club, as well as providing registry services and advocacy, provides advice and guidance to dog owners. While the AKC's advice is supported by professional opinion it is by no means definitive. If you have an aggressive dog, the AKC has information that may be helpful, but it’s smart to also consult independent trainers and behaviorists.
Visit the Vet
Your veterinarian will be able to rule out any underlying medical causes for aggression. These causes may include head trauma, epilepsy, hydrocephalus and encephalitis. Once you’ve ruled out this potential, but rare, cause for aggression, you can focus on tackling the behavioral and environmental factors driving your dog to be aggressive.
The AKC takes the position that neutering reduces aggressive behavior in dogs. While evidence suggests this is true, neutering is not a quick fix and will not always solve the problem without supporting behavioral modification. It’s possible to fix the aggression without surgically altering your dog, too. The AKC offers no advice on dealing with aggressive females.
Rehabilitation and Training
Owner compliance with a planned course of rehabilitative is the AKC's strongest recommendation. The organization believes that the more effort the owner puts into helping the dog alter his behavior, the more likely it is that the owner will be successful. The AKC recommends finding an aggression support program that works for you and your dog.
Exercise is essential for any dog to be happy, but it is especially useful in helping aggressive dogs, as it gives them a chance to burn off any excess energy that may be contributing to the problem. The AKC recommends regular exercise for aggressive dogs. High-profile dog experts including TV dog trainer Cesar Millan agree with this position. If your dog does have aggression problems, it’s essential that you keep him on a leash when he’s exercising out and about. It may not be ideal, but it’s far more preferable than dealing with fallout from an attack on another dog. If you follow a plan, seek advice from as many experts as possible and deal with the source of the aggression, a time will come when it’s safe to let your dog run free.
The American Kennel Club recommends you seek advice and support from a variety of professionals. The organization recommends you consult your vet for a referral to a behaviorist who is experienced in dealing with aggression.
Simon Foden has been a freelance writer and editor since 1999. He began his writing career after graduating with a Bachelors of Arts degree in music from Salford University. He has contributed to and written for various magazines including "K9 Magazine" and "Pet Friendly Magazine." He has also written for Dogmagazine.net.