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Do you have an aggressive dog? If your dog growls, bites, or otherwise acts aggressively, it may be a sign that they need help. Thankfully, there are ways to get your dog the support it needs.
However, you first need to figure out why your dog is behaving that way. There can be several things causing your dog to act aggressively, which we’ll talk about in this article.
The best solution is to get a professional trainer. Aggressive dog trainers can help train aggressive dogs to be more docile and gentle.
Signs You Need Aggression Dog Training
Sometimes, it’s painfully clear that your dog has aggression issues. At other times, signs of aggression can be a bit more subtle. Let’s talk about some common manifestations of aggression in dogs.
- Guttural barking
- Showing their teeth
- Lunging forward
Stiff body posture, when your dog seems to freeze up, is a warning of imminent aggression. Also, bites can be signs of aggressiveness, whether they are softer bites or more powerful nips.
What Causes a Dog to Act Aggressively? Types of Aggression
There are a few types of aggression in dogs. It is crucial to understand what type is affecting your dog, so you can figure out what is causing it to act aggressively. Let’s go over some different types of aggression.
Protecting Their Territory or Possessions (Territorial or Possessive Aggression)
Sometimes, dogs will get aggressive when they feel like their territory or possessions will be “stolen” by others. Many animals are territorial, including some dogs.
This type of aggression may manifest against other dogs, other pets (such as cats), or even humans. For example, if your cat sleeps in your dog’s bed, the dog might get aggressive. If a strange human visits the house and the dog feels they are “invading” their territory, they may become aggressive towards them.
Your dog might also become aggressive when eating if another animal tries to come close to their food.
Protecting Someone or Another Pet (Protective Aggression)
If a dog feels that someone important to them is in danger, they may become aggressive to ward off the perceived attacker. This someone might be your baby, and your dog might be protecting it from a strange human it never saw before.
It can also be the dog’s puppies. If your dog has puppies, they may become aggressive, even if they have never been aggressive previously.
Afraid (Fearful or Defensive Aggression)
Many dogs become aggressive when they feel trapped or cornered to scare away the attacker. If they have no retreat, they might growl, snarl, or even bite. A dog might try to retreat first before acting aggressively.
Showing Dominance (Dominance Aggression)
A dog might be aggressive to other animals or even humans when trying to establish dominance. This type of aggression may also be called social aggression, as it can happen when your dog is playing with other dogs while trying to act as the “leader of the pack.”
In Pain or Frustrated (Pain or Frustration Aggression)
Sometimes, dogs can become aggressive when they are in pain. When the pain becomes too much to bear, they lash out. Even gentle dogs can act aggressively when they are in real pain.
At other times, dogs act aggressively when they feel frustrated. For example, many dogs become aggressive and lash out at other dogs or passersby when they are on a leash.
You might see someone calling this type of aggression “leash aggression.” That is because they feel trapped and frustrated that they can’t do what they want.
Competing for a Mate (Mating Aggression)
When trying to mate, a male dog might be aggressive towards other male dogs when competing for a female. This type of aggression is sex-related.
Have an Illness
Some dogs develop Sudden Onset Aggression syndrome, which is genetic and caused by seizures. This type of aggression is not related to other types of aggression and can be treated. Thankfully, it is very rare.
Another very rare condition is rabies. The chances of your dog having rabies is low in most developed countries — in some countries, authorities have eradicated rabies.
For example, the UK government declared the country free of rabies. If your dog has received the rabies vaccine, you likely do not need to worry about this disease – rabies is mostly a problem in particular regions, like Asia or Africa.
What You Can Do to Prevent Aggression
Fortunately, there are things you can do to help prevent aggression in dogs. Here are some tips that might help:
- Make sure your dog has enough exposure to strangers and other dogs. Giving them a chance to socialize can help reduce their fear of others.
- Make sure they are well-fed, and you go for a checkup regularly so they don’t develop orthopedic pain.
If your dog is aggressive, look for aggression dog trainers before putting other people in situations where they may get bitten.
- Use a muzzle when out in public to help protect other dogs and humans.
- Always be gentle with your dog. Being strict, rough, or abusive can cause dogs to develop additional aggressive behaviors.
- Consider neutering your dog, as that can help tame aggression.
If you can’t seem to handle your dog’s aggression, it’s best to start looking for dog trainers for aggression. A professional dog trainer knows how to determine the cause of a dog’s aggression and address and treat it.
6 Resources for Finding Professional Dog Trainers for Aggressive Dogs
Looking for resources for finding certified dog trainers?
On these six websites, you’ll find directories of certified trainers who can help your dog. It is vital you only use a certified trainer, as uncertified ones can end up causing more harm than good.
Sometimes, you may see trainers referred to as “behaviorists” or those who understand and modify behavior.
1. The American College of Veterinary Behaviorists (ACVB)
The American College of Veterinary Behaviorists maintains a directory of board-certified veterinary behaviorists. Veterinary behaviorists understand the link between a dog’s behavior and its environment, health, nutrition, and experiences.
If your dog is acting aggressively, they can pinpoint the causes of that aggression in its environment or experiences and help fix the problem. They can also treat medical conditions.
2. The Animal Behavior Society
The Animal Behavior Society does not offer aggressive dog training. However, it can provide a directory of Certified Applied Animal Behaviorists (CAABs).
Use the search function of your browser to enter your city and find a trainer in your area. If there is none, some behaviorists offer phone consultations.
3. Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers (CCPDT)
The Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers, established in 2001, certifies dog trainers under strict guidelines.
For example, to obtain the CPDT-KA certification, the trainer must have at least 300 hours of dog training experience in the last three years. Other certifications are available as well.
Finding a certified trainer in the Certified Dog Trainer and Behavior Consultant Directory is easy. You can search by country, state, city, postal code, and name.
4. International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants (IAABC)
The International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants, or IAABC, provides courses and memberships to help improve the quality of dog and cat training around the world.
You’ll want to look for a Certified Dog Behavior Consultant (CDBC) or a Certified in Shelter Behavior — Dog (CSB-D) if you are dealing with a dog from a shelter. Some specialists have gained certification to work with several different species of animals.
When searching for a consultant in the directory, make sure to filter for dog consultants. You can then select your country and search by zip code or city and state.
5. Pet Professional Accreditation Board (PPAB)
The Pet Professional Accreditation Board offers Accredited Training Technician & Professional Canine Trainer certification for professionals who use only humane practices when training dogs.
Its training methodology is based on science, and it has a strict code of conduct. There are over 50 accredited professionals in the PPAB directory.
6. The Academy for Dog Trainers
The Academy for Dog Trainers started in 1999. It trains and certifies dog trainers by putting them through a two-year program. Trainers need to apply first, and they need to graduate from the virtual academy by completing the program to get their certification.
You can search for a certified trainer by country, state, city, specialty, name, and more. If you want to learn more about the course curriculum all trainers go through, click here.
It can be scary when your dog acts aggressively, especially if it tries to bite you, your family, or your friends. If you take your dog to the vet and it does not have any illness or pain, you need to get a professional dog trainer to figure out what is going on.
Most dog aggression issues can be addressed and fixed, but only a certified trainer can treat them properly. A certified trainer will not hurt your dog but will figure out what is bothering it and get it the help it needs.