Dogs are valued family members and hold a cherished place in their owners’ hearts. That’s why it’s frustrating for dog owners when their pet starts acting aggressively or exhibiting unwanted behaviors.
Work with professionals
If you have a temperamental dog, you don’t have to teach your dog to behave on your own.
Work with professionals who know how to identify the causes of your dog’s behavior, your type of dog’s unique temperament, and how to correct their behavior without damaging your relationship with your dog.
The first professional you should contact is a veterinarian. Whether you’ve adopted a rescue dog or purchased a pup, you must have a complete check-up and establish a relationship with your vet.
The vet can explore possible medical influences causing your dog’s aggressive behavior. As dogs typically show aggression in response to fear or pain, an underlying injury or illness could be the root of your dog’s temperamental behavior.
The other person on your team should be a professional dog trainer in Dayton, Ohio. A skilled trainer will help you and your pet navigate challenges.
They can teach you how to safely interact with your dog when it’s agitated and read canine body language so you can respond accordingly.
Look for a dog trainer who’s a certified canine behavior consultant.
Trainers with this certification have undergone special training to help temperamental dogs and can properly assess your pooch before creating a specific training program.
Use protective equipment
While using restraints and protective equipment may feel unnatural, it’s necessary when navigating the world with a temperamental dog. Consider it this way: you’re protecting your dog from bad situations.
You can’t control the behavior of others, and many people don’t think logically when interacting with animals. Preventing a fight or biting incident ensures you aren’t found legally liable for an accident, and your pet doesn’t pay the consequences.
Consider using a muzzle when taking your aggressive dog for walks. This protective measure prevents your pet from biting someone who doesn’t ask for permission before approaching and touching your dog.
Muzzles can also protect you if your pet runs into a triggering situation and you need to get them out quickly.
Use a strong leash or harness whenever you’re in public with your dog— even in off-leash or accepting areas. You’ll have to get creative if you don’t have ample space for your dog to roam at home. Look for enclosed outdoor spaces or visit parks during the off hours.
You can also get vests that say “Do not pet” in bold letters. It’s also important to advocate for your pet and vocalize this boundary.
Create a safe, engaging environment
One of the most overlooked temperamental dog training tips is creating a safe and engaging environment for them to retreat when feeling overwhelmed.
Create an enclosed outdoor area where your dog can play and relax if possible. You can install an invisible fence to give them free rein in a big yard without the cost or effort of building a physical fence.
If your dog struggles around children or other animals, you can also use indoor gates to create off-limit areas. Be sure to communicate the rules to children and guests.
This approach is also beneficial as a new dog adjusts to life at your house. They may need time to acclimatize to the new surroundings, and having their own space is helpful.
Include toys and comfort items in your dog’s new space. Make it clear that no one else should touch their toys, food bowl, or bed.
Learn triggers and warning signs
Dogs show several warning signs before they lash out. Learning those warning signs is the best way to communicate with your dog and take control of a situation before it escalates.
While growling is an obvious sign of distress, more subtle signs often occur before this point. Other signs include:
- Stiff posture
- Visual fixation (staring)
- Pinned ears
- Teeth bared
- Fidgety movements or pacing
- Lunging toward someone/something
- Fur standing on end
Suppose this behavior targets you; back off and give your dog space. If this behavior is targeted at someone or something else, remove your dog from the situation as quickly as possible.
Understanding what sets your dog off will also help you avoid triggering situations. For example, your dog may be fine around new people but not other dogs. As such, avoiding the dog park would be a wise choice.
Some dogs are territorial about their food bowl, while others respond poorly to loud noises. If you aren’t sure what triggers your dog’s behavior, keep a journal of what’s happening when your dog shows signs of aggression so you can track common themes.
Understand territorial aggression. Your dog may be overenthusiastic about protecting you or your home.
Engage in enriching activities
Keeping your dog entertained and engaged can help them overcome temperamental behavior.
Try to keep your dog on a structured schedule for feeding and walks. It’s also helpful to schedule undistracted one-on-one time with your pet so they feel comfortable and connected with you.
Invest in enrichment toys to keep your pet engaged when you aren’t around. Kongs and snuffle mats are fan favorites.
Use positive reinforcement
Focus on positive reinforcement rather than punishments when training an aggressive dog.
Dogs have the emotional processing and cognitive skills of a small toddler. Their unwanted behavior is a response to feeling scared— and they can’t tell you what’s wrong.
Don’t punish your dog for doing something wrong.
Instead, reward them when they do something right. Using positive reinforcement will show them how to get the love they want and deserve.
Practice emotional control
Finally, don’t let your frustration get the best of you.
Understand your dog’s temperament. If you’re frustrated, your dog likely will be, too.
Stay calm when your dog starts acting temperamental, and be patient as you navigate the training process. If you’re getting frustrated, get your dog to a safe space and take some time away to breathe and reset.
The training process can be incredibly stressful, but with consistency and compassion, you and your furry family member will get where you need to be.
Karen Nightingale is a proud mom of two and a passionate writer. Her focus is on giving back to the world and helping the environment. She believes you can find adventure every day and that anyone can create a flexible, natural lifestyle without stress!