This article will explore a few of the common types of dog aggression. It also will recommend ways to prevent and treat dog aggression, as well as suggest a few natural products that may help reduce dog aggression.
Types of dog aggression
Some dogs become very possessive about objects, places, and even their favorite people. Does your dog growl if you try to take away a favorite toy? What if you approach him while he is sitting in his favorite spot on the couch? Does he snap at other people when he is sitting in your lap? These are signs of resource guarding.
Sometimes our canine companions become aggressive with other dogs, displaying signs such as stiff posture, growling, barking, and even attacking other dogs. Some dogs are aggressive toward any dog. Other dogs may react to a single dog due to complex social interactions that have gone awry.
If a person has abused a dog, that dog is more likely to become aggressive toward people. Dogs that lack socialization skills or have breed tendencies to guard and protect their family also can be aggressive with people. This type of aggression usually requires expertise in dog aggression to address.
Fear or anxiety-based aggression
A great deal of dog aggression, whether against people or other dogs, has roots in the base emotions of fear and anxiety. In short, some dogs feel threatened by certain situations or triggers. Like people, when dogs feel threatened, whether the threat is real or just perceived, defensive, aggressive actions can result.
Some canines seem to have a baseline level of anxiety that makes them prone to defensive aggression. Others are more situationally triggered to express this type of aggressive behavior (ex: aggressive when on a leash, behind a fence, or around loud noises).
Watch for signs your puppy is developing aggressive tendencies. As with many behavioral issues, they can best be managed or eliminated if caught and addressed early.
Training programs for dogs with aggression
Don’t punish aggression signals
One of the most common mistakes that many people make is to punish or “dominate” their dog at the first signs of an aggressive response. For example, before a dog bites, he will often display a locked stance, hard stare, raised hackles, low growl, twitching lips, etc.
These warning signs of aggression are part of a dog’s social communication system. It is designed to tell other dogs (and people if they know how to listen to dogs) that if the threat doesn’t back off, they will attack.
When people punish a dog for showing the early warning signs of aggression, they inadvertently make a dog with aggressive tendencies more dangerous. Next time, there may be no warning before an attack. Dogs that no longer show warning signs are the most dangerous.
The best way to prevent dog aggression is to make sure puppies get as much exposure to other dogs, people, and environments as possible when young. When owners reward good behavior with positive reinforcement such as praise and treats, puppies learn to be confident, which helps prevent fear-based aggression later in life.
Hire a professional dog trainer
Unfortunately, dog aggression can be very tricky to diagnose and treat. If your dog is displaying aggression against other dogs or people, it is probably time to hire a professional dog trainer who specializes in aggressive behavior. The trainer can help identify why your dog becomes aggressive and work with you to develop techniques to address the problem.
Look for trainers who use positive methods, including slowly introducing a trigger in the presence of rewards and who show you how to demonstrate humane leadership. Avoid trainers that suggest you should “dominate” your dog or are willing to hurt your dog with devices such as prong or shock collars.
Natural products to treat dog aggression
Studies show using essential oils, specifically lavender, helps reduce a dog’s stress levels and promote a more restful state. It’s useful for dogs with travel phobias and those in dog shelter environments. Products that use relaxing pheromones also help some dogs deal with anxiety. Some professional trainers now use those products in combination with training programs to treat dog aggression.
CBD oil is an extract made from the hemp plant, a non-psychoactive plant in the cannabis family. Although CBD has many well researched potential health benefits, its role in reducing anxiety is one of the most well studied. Because stress causes many dog aggression issues, some trainers and dog owners find using CBD oil to help the dog relax makes training more successful.
For example, some dogs display aggression when you try to clip their toenails. Combining CBD oil with a training and desensitization program can help reduce or eliminate your dog’s fear. That will make this essential grooming ritual less traumatic for everyone involved.
If you decide to try CBD for your dog, be sure to purchase a full spectrum, and organic oil made just for dogs. Also, it is essential to buy on a website that includes lab testing, so you have confidence knowing you are purchasing high-quality hemp oil for your beloved pet.