If you have ever had to deal with aggressive behavior in your dog, you know how terrifying it can be, both physically and emotionally.
It’s important to learn how to stop protective aggression in dogs as soon as possible so that it doesn’t continue any longer than necessary.
While these behaviors are often tough to address, there are many steps you can take to curb them as quickly as possible.
So before we get into the Guide to Stopping Protective Aggression in Dogs, here are some important things to note.
Can an aggressive dog be cured?
Yes, an aggressive dog can be cured, but it will take time, patience, and consistency on your part. It’s important to understand that aggression is a natural behavior for dogs, so you shouldn’t try to eliminate it.
Instead, focus on redirecting your dog’s aggression towards more positive outlets, such as toys or chew bones.
With enough time and effort, you can teach your dog to stop being aggressive.
Why would a dog suddenly become aggressive?
When a dog becomes aggressive, there are a few reasons why. The first one is fear-based.
Sometimes when dogs aren’t properly socialized as puppies, they can react aggressively towards new people or other animals (even ones that aren’t necessarily threatening).
A lack of training can lead to dogs acting out, too. For example, if they don’t know how to greet other dogs without getting overly excited, they might growl or bark at them.
Fear-aggression can also be caused by pain, whether it’s emotional or physical.
Why is my dog aggressive and protective?
Find Out What Caused The Behavior If your dog is displaying protective aggression, try to find out what the trigger was.
It could be something as simple as a visitor walking into your home, or even an unfamiliar person approaching your dog on the street.
You must address this fear before working on the behavior.
If there is no identifiable trigger, consult with a veterinarian or animal behaviorist for possible causes of the aggression.
The next step is determining if you have control over it.
Is it happening when you’re at home? Can you put your hand up so that he feels like he has his packmates’ protection?
Does he only show aggression when another dog comes near him? If not, continue reading below.
The third step is identifying the type of aggressive behavior; One way to do this is by looking at how many triggers are present.
For example, does your dog bark at strangers who come into the house? At people who approach him on walks? At other dogs who come close?
Or does he only display aggression when another dog comes near him? You should also look for patterns.
If you see that every time a particular person approaches your canine friend, there’s growling and barking from them both, it might be worth speaking with that individual about how they are behaving around your pup.
Guide to Stopping Protective Aggression in Dogs
1. Don’t Intervene If You Can’t Prevent An Incident From Happening:
It’s important not to intervene unless you can prevent an incident from happening. If the dog is growling, lunging, or snapping at another person, get between them as quickly as possible.
Calmly remove the dog by using your body as a shield so that he can’t reach the other person.
And don’t worry about being bitten – it will be far less painful than if you did nothing and the victim was attacked.
Some dogs might become aggressive if they see someone coming toward their food bowl. These dogs need to be trained through positive reinforcement-based methods, like clicker training and rewarding desired behaviors.
If your dog has already begun acting aggressively, you’ll need to show him who’s boss!
Try flooding him with alpha signals: crouch down close to the ground (don’t let him come near), put on a very serious expression (no smiling!), make yourself look big with big gestures, and use his name calmly but firmly while staring straight into his eyes without blinking.
2. Use Calming Signals To Calm Down The Dog:
If you see your dog starting to become protective, it’s important to remain calm. This will help diffuse the situation and prevent your dog from feeling like it needs to protect you.
Try using some calming signals, such as turning away from the person or animal your dog is growling at, avoiding eye contact, and speaking in a soft, calm voice.
If your dog continues to be aggressive, you may need to move away from the situation entirely until it has calmed down.
You can also try taking your dog for a walk to distract them. Playtime with favorite toys and chew bones are other great ways to calm your dog down when they start acting aggressively.
3. Avoid Any Provocation Or Confrontation:
Cesar Millan states, The underlying cause of aggression is always a response to something. One way you can stop this aggressive behavior is by not provoking it.
Some things that might provoke your dog include jumping on him, petting him too hard, or playing too rough.
In addition, do not confront your dog while he is exhibiting aggressive behavior.
If you notice any signs of impending aggression such as growling or snapping at you, then remove yourself from the situation and call for help if necessary.
It is also important to note that dogs often exhibit protective aggression when they are guarding their food dish, when they are being teased with a toy, or when there is an unfamiliar person in the house.
To avoid these triggers, it may be best to keep your dog separated from visitors until they feel comfortable around them.
If your dog does show signs of irritation towards someone, try putting them in another room or even out back so they can calm down.
A great way to relieve anxiety for both the dog and owner is to provide ample socialization early on during puppyhood.
You should spend time getting used to meeting new people by having friends over and allowing strangers to pet your pup under supervision.
These interactions will help them become more tolerant of other people so when you finally do have guests over, your pup will be much less likely to show any symptoms of aggression.
4. Teach Sit, Stay, And Off (If Needed)
If your dog is displaying protective aggression, it’s important to take steps to correct the behavior. One of the best ways to do this is to teach your dog basic obedience commands like sit, stay, and off.
This will help your dog understand that you are the alpha leader and that he or she needs to listen to you.
It may also be necessary to use positive reinforcement, such as treats or praise, when your dog exhibits good behavior.
With a little patience and consistency, you can help your dog overcome protective aggression. Remember, it’s never too late to change your dog’s behavior!
5. Positively Reinforce Any Good Behavior Toward Guests (Or People in General)
It’s important to remember that your dog is reacting out of fear, not aggression. The best way to deal with this behavior is to make sure your dog is comfortable around people.
This means gradually exposing them to different types of people, starting with those they are most comfortable with.
If your dog shows any good behavior toward guests, make sure to positively reinforce it.
This could include treats, petting, or verbal praise. Eventually, your dog should be able to comfortably greet any guest that comes into your home.
When someone new arrives, don’t let the dog run up to them right away – introduce yourself first and let the dog approach on their terms.
Start by feeding your dog near the door so he associates visitors with something positive.
Next, have a friend come over and toss some treats on the ground (without interacting with the dog). Once he starts eating the treats, reward him verbally and physically while he eats his treat.
When your pup approaches you for more food or attention, try introducing him to another person through a baby gate or other enclosure before you release him from his space.
You can also feed your pup outside if visitors tend to come when you’re at work or when you’re unable to supervise them yourself (and vice versa).
6. Stay Vigilant At All Times
As a dog owner, it’s important to be vigilant at all times. If you see your dog acting aggressively, remove them from the situation immediately.
It’s also important to socialize your dog from a young age, so they’re comfortable around other people and animals.
If you have a rescue dog, be extra cautious as they may have experienced traumatic events that could trigger protective aggression.
Above all, always consult with a professional trainer or behaviorist if you’re unsure how to proceed.
What’s the difference between an aggressive dog and a protective dog?
An aggressive dog lashes out without provocation or warning, while a protective dog becomes aggressive only when it perceives a threat to its owner or pack.
The difference between the two is largely one of intent: an aggressive dog wants to harm, while a protective dog only wants to scare off the perceived threat.
Does a dog growling always mean aggression?
Before you can start implementing this Guide to Stopping Protective Aggression in Dogs, you need to understand what triggers it.
It’s commonly believed that a dog who growls is ready to attack; however, your pet may only be communicating a message of fear or anxiety.