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Dealing With An Aggressive Dog

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Training a dog is usually a lot of fun and relatively easy to do, however; if your dog is leaning towards aggression, your work is cut out for you. Learn how to approach this precarious situation and what your options are, with the following tips and advice.

1. Establish clear rules and boundaries

A dog that is confused may act out, especially if he’s getting mixed signals from people in the household. If, for instance, one person in the house plays rough with him and encourages playful aggression, the dog may think he is acting within his bounds. Make everything understood to him and don’t allow any deviations to your commands what so ever.

2. Socialize the dog extensively

Being around other dogs is an important part of controlling aggression; dogs who are hungry to socialize will act more on instinct than according to what you tell them. Curb his obsession by allowing him to interact in a controlled environment and watch for any signs of of a dangerous liaison. Use stuffed-animals at first to test his reaction if you’re concerned he may attack another dog, letting him sniff it then rubbing it against his neck or belly. If he takes it into his mouth with any force, tell him “no!” very firmly and repeat the process until he can control himself.

3. Never become angry or aggressive yourself

Losing your temper will encourage your dog to lose control. If he perceives you as any kind of threat, he is no longer responding to training, he is acting in fear. Be firm and consistent but never show any signs of not being in control or of being overly frustrated.

4. Establish positive reinforcement immediately

The instant your aggressive dogs does something good, praise him or toss him a treat. When he associates being good with a great reward, he will be more inclined to behave. Even if he’s just sitting quietly at your feet, bend over and pat him every few minutes to demonstrate that the absence of aggression is a good thing that he can expect rewards from.

5. Wear him out with exercise

Lots of times, aggressive dogs are simply full of pent-up energy. If your dog tends to be unruly to begin with, failing to exercise him properly will magnify all his shortcomings in the worst ways. Every dog needs to run and play anyway, so if you’re challenged with behavior issues, see that he gets more than his share of exercise.

6. Talk to your vet or a professional trainer

If your dog isn’t responding to training or it isn’t happening fast enough, bring him to the vet. She can eliminate any health issues and offer you sound advice. You should probably consider professional obedience training at this point as well, otherwise the aggression is bound to have serious consequences somewhere.

No matter how much you love your dog, if he poses a threat to other dogs or worse, the people he comes in contact with, immediate and effective action must be taken. Don’t wait until the behavior turns into a permanent habit and nobody can work with your dog, intervene as early as possible.

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