If your dog is aggressive, you’re probably at your wits’ end trying to find out what to do. A dog that snaps at other animals can be a pain to take for walks and a constant source of worry. Rather than keeping your pet inside, or only walking him in the middle of the night so as not to encounter other dogs, the answer could be socialization.

How To Socialize an Aggressive Dog

Why Is My Dog Aggressive?

Dogs really should begin socializing with others when they are puppies, between 3 and 14 weeks, to prevent them from developing aggressive traits when they’re older. Puppies under 14 weeks of age should be treated kindly by all other dogs, adults and children around them, with plenty of handling and no harsh discipline otherwise they run the risk of becoming aggressive towards others.

Some breeds are more likely to be aggressive, and inbreeding may exacerbate a dog’s natural aggression. Unneutered males, and females who are in heat or pregnant may be naturally more aggressive too.

The environment around a dog can also play a role in causing aggressive behavior. If it lives in poor conditions or is punished harshly, it could become more aggressive. However, conversely, if you spoil your dog, it may cause the same kinds of problems. Also, if your dog is often attacked by another dog, it may become increasingly aggressive as a response.

Taking Charge Of The Situation

The key to socializing an aggressive adult dog is making it clear you are the boss, and that he must be obedient. This can only be done by earning the respect of your dog, instead of scaring him with punishments as this will only make his poor behavior worse.

Exposure to children, other dogs and adults is important for an aggressive dog, however you shouldn’t leave him along with anyone. If you need to use a muzzle to protect other people during socializing, then don’t be afraid to use one.

Finding out what triggers aggressive behavior in your pet is important to resolving the problem. You need to gradually exposure your dog to those triggers in such a way that he starts to become comfortable with them and realize that they don’t represent a threat.

Handling Discipline

Although disciplining your dog for aggressive behavior is important, it’s vital not to be harsh or frightening. Gentle discipline is the key. Give praise for friendly, calm behaviour in any situation where he would normally show aggression, but don’t allow your pet to growl, bark or approach other dogs aggressively.

Introduce Your Pet To Others

Going on daily dog walks will ensure your furry friend sees and meets other people and dogs, and is the ideal chance to practice appropriate behavior. If your pet gets enough exercise, he will feel more submissive and calm, which will also make sure that encounters go more smoothly.

How To Socialize an Aggressive Dog

If your dog barks or acts up while meeting other animals, don’t yell or pull on your dog’s leash. This will make them more excited and turns the experience into a negative one. They’ll then start to associate that negative feeling with other animals and that will just compound the problem.

Instead, stay calm and assertive. Try distracting your dog with a touch, or a quick pull of the leash to the side. If that fails too, just walk away calmly.

Safe Exposure To Social Activities

Introducing your pet to new social activities will help a lot with socializing and teaching them to be well-behaved and calm. Avoid rushing into anything – just one new thing each week will be enough. If you need to use a muzzle and leash, don’t worry about using them, and allowing your dog to observe at first rather than rushing straight into participating will also help.

Don’t just take an unsocialized dog to the dog park and just hope that everything will be ok. Instead, expose him slowly to the environment by just walking him around the outer edge of its fence, so he can watch the other dogs playing and having fun. This will help him to see the positive experience he could be having, and show him appropriate behavioer in practice.

Getting Professional Help

Sometimes, even when you follow these tips, your dog will still display aggressive behavior. If you don’t know what steps to take next, seeking advice from your vet or professional dog trainer could be the solution since it could be a medical condition – especially if your dog used to be very calm and well-behaved.

Olivia Williams
Olivia is our head of content for MyPetNeedsThat.com, mum of one and a true animal lover. With 12 different types of animal in her family, it's never a dull moment. When she isn't walking the dogs, feeding the cats or playing with her pet Parrot Charlie, you will find her product researching and keeping the site freshly updated with the latest products for your pets!

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