In a domestic environment, temperamental canine personalities left unchannelled into healthy outlets with clear rules and guidelines, your dog can soon fall prey to ruling the roost and become thoroughly unpleasant to live with. Here’s how to handle an aggressive dog:
Firm positive reinforcement training from the start will ensure your dog doesn’t get to that stage in the first place, but if you have an adult dog displaying aggressive behaviour you can still get a handle on it.
Make the rules
Ensure that you make the rules within the home. Set boundaries and stick to them and be consistent.Dominant behaviour can soon turn into aggression so its important to stop it in its tracks as soon as possible.
Don’t be an enabler
It can be all too easy to inadvertently enable aggression from your dog; for instance, if they snarl at someone, your first action may be to pick them up out of the way, but this is only rewarding the behaviour. Instead, remove them from the room with a firm voice.
Gradually, with continual reinforcement, your dog will learn that aggression; means they are in the wrong, treats are withheld, they are no longer allowed to be present, and they do not get to sit on your lap.
Reward positive behaviour
When your dog begins to react positively to a situation where they would have previously reacted aggressively then reward them with praise. Divert the onset of potential bad behaviour as soon as your dog starts displaying signs of aggression with a command, and when your dog complies, treat him or reward him with praise. Dogs are intelligent and will soon catch on that this behaviour is not benefitting them.
Don’t neglect basic training
Many with aggressive tendencies lack the basic understanding of simple commands and boundaries, and whatever the age of your dog, it is not too old to start teaching them some manners!
Make sure that your dog can walk nicely on the lead, and will respond to basic commands such as sit, no, lie down, leave it, and come.
It is also important to ensure that your dog is well exposed to other dogs and people, so that they learn to behave positively around a variety of pets and people. Do not be afraid to socialise them in a variety of different situations, to the park and beach but also in bigger, busier areas with more people and always introduce them to other dogs and pets too. The more exposed they are, the more well-rounded they will become.