Just about every dog owner hopes that their dog will defend them in sticky situations, but overly aggressive dogs can cause more trouble than they ultimately prevent. Most frightening of all is the potential of risk for your family. Everybody has read the scary stories about kids getting savaged by dogs at home. Further than that, dog bites are often the subject of litigation when guests or innocent passersby are attacked by dangerous dogs.
Use these tips to raise your pet as a good family member, and remember that most dogs will instinctively defend you when necessary – there’s no need to “teach” them what they already know.
Why do Dogs Bite?
Nipping, chewing, and mouthing are part of normal puppy play, but they do need to learn that they shouldn’t do these things to people or other animals.
However, dogs do sometimes bite in earnest, and there’s always a reason. A dog that bites may feel possessive over something, feel the need to establish dominance, be afraid or stressed out, feel under threat, or they may simply be protecting themselves because they’re in pain.
Preventing aggression and fight or flight reactions with “fight” as the dog’s first choice is part of raising a pup to become a good family companion. If your dog already bites, try to find out the reason, and if you still can’t figure it out or counteract it, get help.
1. Beware of the Dog: Avoid Breeds Known for Aggression
There’s a difference between a willingness to defend and pure aggression. Certain dog breeds are even banned in countries around the world because they are known to be aggressive.
Before choosing a dog, look into the temperament you can expect from the breeds you like and avoid breeds with a reputation for aggression. Remember that they can be a danger to yourself and your family if not very carefully raised and trained. Most law enforcement officers agree that a medium to large dog that barks is enough of a deterrent to keep criminals away from your home.
Having said that, it’s possible to have a perfectly gentle dog from a breed with a bad reputation – provided you pay careful attention to his training.
2. Provide Ample Space and Be Present
Dogs are sociable animals. If you’re hardly ever at home, you probably shouldn’t keep one. With loneliness and boredom, dogs often develop bad behaviors that make them difficult to deal with. In addition, spending time with your dog helps him to learn which behaviors you like and accept. As pack animals, dogs are eager to be obedient to the leader of the pack (you.)
Space is another important point for similar reasons. Space to run and play is a must for dogs, especially big breeds. Too little space leaves you with an energetic animal with no healthy outlet. It can certainly contribute to aggression and other undesirable behavior. Check on the space and exercise requirements for your dog according to his breed and give him what he needs.
3. Socialize Your Puppy
If they aren’t exposed to people and pets outside your family, dogs can easily become aggressive. Sometimes, it’s a matter of being overly territorial and possessive. Sometimes, it’s a kind of panic reaction. But unsocialized dogs are at greater risk of becoming unnecessarily aggressive. Invite friends over while your puppy is still new to your home and take it to places where it will encounter other people and their pets. Puppy school is a great start. While learning doggy obedience lessons, your dog also gets to meet other people and animals in a non-threatening situation.
4. Use Positive Reinforcement in Dog Training
A frightened dog is often an aggressive dog. Trying to scare your pet into good behavior is going to be counter-productive. If you really need to admonish your dog, a sharp, commanding tone or even just ignoring him for a little while should be sufficient. Whenever he behaves as he should or obeys your commands well, lavish him with praise, love and affection. If you’re still having difficulty, consult a professional dog trainer who has a good track-record in dealing with problem behaviors.
Top Tip: Socialize and Train
The more time you’re able to spend with your dog training him and teaching him to socialize with other pets and people, the better your relationship will be. If your ordinarily placid pooch suddenly starts acting aggressively, he might just be in pain. Consult a veterinarian.
Will your well-socialized dog defend you if you’re ever attacked? The answer is usually a big “yes.” Teach your dog to be gentle and trustworthy and you’ll have a loyal friend who will do absolutely anything for you no matter what the risks may be.