Dog Aggression

Preventing Aggression

  • Frequent and regular interactions with other friendly dogs are important, especially during the first year of life.
  • Interactions with other dogs should be monitored to avoid adverse responses due to overly exuberant play or even aggressive responses from other dogs.
  • Do not allow aggressive displays at windows and fences toward other dogs passing by the home or car.
  • Improve your control by teaching your dog to respond to verbal commands.
  • Learn how to correctly control the leash, as pulling on leashes and collars may actually increase aggression.
  • Teach your dog to associate other the presence of other dogs with good things, like especially delicious food treats.
  • Reward your dog for non-fearful and non-aggressive behavior.
  • Good veterinary care is essential, as some medications and some conditions, especially those causing pain, increase aggression.
  • Seek help at early signs of fear or aggression toward other dogs. Aggression is much easier to prevent, than to “cure.”
  • Spay or neuter your dog.

Breaking up dog fights

  • NEVER, EVER reach for the collar. Reaching for the dog may result in severe owner injury and redirected aggression.
  • Holding a small dog in your arms is equally as dangerous. Sometimes, it’s best to free your dog and give him the opportunity to escape.
  • Making loud noises, splashing with water, grabbing the hind legs are possible methods of breaking up fights. If you must, grab the dog by the hind legs, walk backwards–don’t stop, otherwise the dog may turn around and bite you.

Safety & Management

  • Preventing human and canine injuries is the first concern.
  • Avoid situations that may evoke an aggressive reaction.
  • If there is a fear component, avoid situations that have resulted in the dog being fearful, even if not aggressive.
  • Aggressive dogs must be confined away from potential victims or under the direct physical control of a responsible adult whenever an aggression-provoking situation could arise (e.g., in any public locations and on walks)
  • Determine triggers so you know what situations provoke your dog and you can avoid them.
  • Practice an “escape strategy” where you can quickly turn your dog around 180 degrees and leave if you encounter another dog.
  • Using a basket muzzle may be necessary.
  • Dogs that have previous shown aggressive responses to other dogs are not suited to be in dog parks or to roam off leash.
  • NEVER allow dogs to “fight it out.”

Leash Walking

  • Until your dog is trained, encounters with other dogs must be prevented. This might mean curtailing walks or exercising the dog at locations and times when other dogs will not be encountered.
  • If the dog must be walked, only adults with control over the dog should walk him.
  • When on walks, the owner must be vigilant and avoid encounters with other dogs or quickly leave the situation if other dogs are encountered.
  • Loose roaming dogs can present a problem for both the owner and the dog and injuries are possible.