Training Aggressive Dogs


As soon as puppies can see and hear they need to socialize, initially it is only with the bitch, their litter mates, and their breeder. During this early stage they start to learn how to control the pressure that they exert with their teeth when playing or feeding. If they bite another pup too hard the pup will yelp, if they bite the bitch too hard the bitch will nip them in return. This way they learn what is acceptable and what is not. After pups leave the nest and before they are around 14 weeks of age they need as much varied social training as possible to give them the best chance of being a well balance dog. During this time you, as the new owner, need to train him in what is good behaviour and what is bad.


Aggression can become very serious if not checked at an early stage. It is generally preventable, if early signs, of aggression are noticed and acted upon. Over 1 million people are bitten each year, and these are only the ones that are reported, many more happen without being reported, so you can see that it is a very serious problem.


When you are bringing up your puppy do not at any time allow him to teeth you, even accidentally, scream and walk away from him, he will soon learn that play time ends if his teeth touch you. If you have not done this, at a latter age he will do this to strangers, and if he dose not get told off for it, it could be the first step to nipping someone. If you suspect that you have a dominant dog do not play games like tug of war, your dog’s jaw strength is phenomenon, and if he wins, which he will if he is a big dog, then he has asserted his dominance. Play  “fetch” games instead and incorporate training while you are playing.


It is too easy for inexperienced dog owners to think that the early stages of  aggression are funny and amusing, which of course they are when puppy is young, but becomes a serious problem in an adult dog. From the age of 12 to 15 months most dogs become mature, and it is at this age when they really start to become protective, and start showing aggression. It is very important that you continue to expose them to situations that make them socialise, e.g. bringing strangers, both adults and children, into your house so that they come to accept that it is OK for non “pack” people to come in. Your family is your dog’s ”pack” and it is in your dog’s instincts to protect you. What you are trying (and hopefully succeeding) to do is to make him accept you as his leader, the Alpha dog, with all members of your family next in line in the pecking order, with him (the dog) at the bottom of the pile. If you are not the pack leader and he has come to think that he is the alpha dog, because you have always let him have his way) then you have problems and aggression will naturally be displayed.

Training adult aggressive dogs really is a job for the professionals. If you have an older aggressive dog it could turn on you to enforce its dominance so be very careful. If you are unsure of your dogs level of dominance and are your-self inexperienced then employ a professional dog trainer to do the training for you. The information that follows is to give you more of an in-site and awareness of your dog’s problem. Too many people do not realise that their dog is showing the early stages of dominance, which will turn into aggression, until it is too late for them to handle the training.



 This can all be made even worse if you have a particularly dominant dog. Dominance is all relative to the company your dog is in at any time. Really dominant dogs will assert their authority at all times. It is this type of dog that you must not try and master. If this dog has grown up unchecked then it is a job for a professional trainer to train the aggression out of your dog.. But if you have succeeded in training your dog to accept you as his pack leader (and this has to be done by kind consistent training, not by bullying, or heavy handedness) he can still be dominant to other dogs or strangers, but not to people. You can have a really loving family dog that is dominant, and therefore potentially aggressive to everyone else. You really do need to know the temperament of your breed, of dog, and understand the character of your particular dog. Like us humans they are all individuals.



To help avoid your dog thinking he is the leader of the pack do be sure to have areas of the house where he is not allowed, e.g. the bedroom, if he is not allowed in it re- asserts your superiority because he is not allowed into the den. Another point is to not allow him to sit on the furniture, or on you, keep his feet on the floor. Show your dominance by grooming him, and being sure that you feed him after you have eaten, if this is not possible then spit in his food, it makes him think you have eaten first. A lot of problems can be avoided if your dog is given enough exercise, it can lessen boredom and frustration, both of which will increase his bossiness towards you.


This training must be consistent, not only from you but from all the family members.



You are welcome to use this article written by Valerie Dancer, for your website or publication. Providing it is copied in it’s entirety, including the web site address, linking back to us.   Copyright 2006


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