5 Tips on How to Stop Dog Aggression Towards Other Dogs
Most dog owners believe that a little antagonism between dogs that are unacquainted with each is other is normal, but this is not necessarily true. Generally, well-socialized dogs will use body language to show their desire to intermingle or avoid each other.
Unfortunately, not all dogs have this kind of demeanor. If your dog is always antagonizing other dogs, here are 5 tips on how to stop dog aggression towards other dogs.
What Is Dog Aggression?
Aggression is one of the most common and problematic behaviors in dogs. In fact, it is one of the main reasons why dog owners hire professional dog trainers, veterinarians, and behaviorists. The word aggression refers to various behaviors that happen for several reasons and under various circumstances.
The truth is that all animals will show aggressiveness when protecting their territories, offsprings, and themselves. Even house pets will show aggression when trying to keep the peace or negotiate social interactions. Therefore, a dog’s aggression can mean different things, depending on the circumstances.
Signs of Dog Aggression
Generally, a dog’s aggression comprises a wide range of actions that often start with warning signs and end with an attack. When a dog shows aggression towards another dog or people, it usually displays some or all of the following intense behaviors:
• Standing still and rigid
• Throaty barks that are very threatening
• Leaping forward or charging at the other dog without making contact
• Mouthing, as if to move the other dog, without applying forceful pressure
• Muzzle punching the other dog
• Showing teeth
• Biting the other dog
• Biting and shaking the other dog
It is important to note that some dogs don’t follow this series of actions, and will just show a number of these behaviors simultaneously. Sometimes it’s difficult for you to notice the warning signs before the dog attacks the other dog. In other instances, it will take a few milliseconds between the warning signs and the attack.
7 Types of Aggression in Dogs
If your dog has started to show aggression towards other dogs and people, you need to take your time to evaluate the situation so that you can find a quick and effective solution to the problem before it goes out of hand.
For instance, you need to establish the reasons why the dog has suddenly become aggressive. Also, consider when and where the dog shows aggression towards other dogs.
Consider anything else that happens when the dog shows aggression. How long does the aggressive behavior continue and what seems to stop it?
Understanding these situations is important because you will know the circumstances under which your dog becomes aggressive. Remember that the only way you can successfully change your dog’s behavior is to have a correct diagnosis.
A dog’s aggression can be classified in many ways. A simple way to understand why your dog is aggressive towards other dogs is to consider the purpose of the aggression.
Once you look at the aggressive behavior from this angle, you can easily determine the reasons why your dog shows aggression and understand what it hopes to accomplish with the aggression. Here are some of the main types of aggression in dogs.
1. Territorial Aggression
Dogs are naturally territorial. That’s why you will find wild dogs defending their habitats from intruders. For instance, wolves will attack and chase away any coyotes or other wolves who do not belong to their pack when they invade their territory. Unfortunately, some domesticated dogs have the same tendencies.
They will bark and charge at other dogs that do not belong to their pack or that attempt to invade their home turf. This territorial behavior is one of the reasons why many people keep dogs in their homes. It helps to keep intruders away. However, some dogs with this kind of behavior will attack even friendly intruders and other dogs in the home.
Territorial aggression normally occurs when a dog invades the territory of another dog, especially when a new dog comes into your home. It can also happen between male and female dogs. This kind of aggressive behavior is very rare in puppies. It usually starts to show as the puppies mature, usually between one and three years of age.
2. Protective Aggression
This type of aggression usually happens when your dog thinks that she or any other member of her family is in danger. Since dogs are social beings, they live together in packs.
Therefore, they will always gang up against a perceived enemy or when one of them is threatened. This also happens to pet dogs. If your dog thinks another member of the family (human or animal) is in danger, she will become aggressive.
For instance, a dog who has never been aggressive towards other dogs in the past can suddenly become aggressive when she has a litter. Also, you might notice protective aggressiveness in your dog when you bring a new dog, another pet, or a child into your home. This kind of behavior affects both male and female dogs, but it is rare in puppies.
3. Possessive Aggression
Most dogs will display possessive aggression towards other dogs when they want to guard their possessions, especially food and toys, from other dogs. Remember that dogs belong to a family of wild animals that have to compete for food, shelter, and mates.
So, although pet dogs don’t have to face such punitive realities, they will still show the tendency to protect what belongs to them from other dogs.
Most dogs will become aggressive when other dogs or pets come near their food, chew bones, or toys. Others will even guard their preferred resting spots, crates, or beds. It is very easy to notice a possessive dog because she will become aggressive when she is protecting something she covets.
Unfortunately, some possessive dogs will hide their possessions around the house and guard them against unsuspecting dogs and other pets. This behavior affects both male and female dogs. It is also common in puppies and adult dogs.
4. Fear Aggression
Just like any other animal, a dog will become aggressive if it is cornered or trapped. The first thing your dog will do when it is threatened is to get away from the threat, but if fleeing is not an option, it will defend itself by becoming aggressive. So, your dog may be afraid of the other dog but still attack it if she thinks that is the only viable recourse.
Normally, a fearful dog will cower in the presence of another dog, but attack when the other dog attempts to make contact. You will also notice that the fearful dog will run away when the other dog approaches, but if the other dog turns to leave, she will come up from behind and nip.
This type of aggression is normally characterized by random nips and bites because a fearful dog likes to bite and run away. Most fearful dogs do not show teeth or growl as a warning sign. Their main warning sign is the fearful posture and attempts to retreat. This type of aggression is common in male, female, puppies, and adult dogs.
5. Defensive Aggression
When threatened, a dog with this type of behavior will defend itself by attacking. Defensive aggression is almost similar to fear aggression, but the strategies applied by the dog in both behaviors are different.
Although a defensively aggressive dog is motivated by fear, it will launch a good defense instead of retreating. Such a dog will employ a combination of fear and offensive tactics.
They will do so by charging, barking, or growling at the other dog, and regardless of whether the other dog stops or advances, the defensive dog will deliver the first attack. The only time the dog will abort the attack is when the other dog flees.
This behavior is common in both male and female dogs. It is also more prevalent in adult dogs than in puppies because adult dogs are more confident.
6. Social Aggression
If your dog sees herself as higher in status than other dogs in the family, she will show aggression towards them. Dogs that live in packs normally live by certain rules as a way of minimizing conflict between group members.
So, if you have more than one dog in your family, they will take on a hierarchical order of doing things including deciding which members of the pack should have the first crack at food, chances to mate, and best resting spots.
So, if a dog in the lower rank tries to eat before the higher-up, she will be met with a lot of hostility. The higher-ups will also reinforce their status frequently through ritualized aggression towards those of lower status. This kind of aggressive behavior is also referred to as dominance or status-seeking aggression.
Dogs with this kind of behavior are usually friendly, but can easily resort to violence if they feel like another dog has overstepped its bounds. This type of aggression is rather common in male dogs than in females. It is also more prevalent in purebreds than in mixed breeds.
7. Pain-Elicited Aggression
It is normal for an otherwise friendly and calm dog to act aggressively when in pain. For instance, a sick dog can bite other dogs and humans with little or no warning.
Sometimes your dog will act aggressively if the training equipment, such as the pinch collar or shock collar, you are using inflicts pain. This type of aggression is common in both male and female dogs.
5 Tips on How to Stop a Dog Aggression
Depending on the reasons why your dog is acting aggressively towards other dogs, there are several steps that you can take to stop the aggression. Here are some of the first steps to take when you want to stop your dog’s aggression towards other dogs.
1. Block Your Dog’s View of the Other Dog
If your dog acts aggressively towards other dogs on the road, driveway, or in the park, you should always ensure that there is enough space between your dog and the other dogs. You can do this by crossing the road or stopping and waiting for the other dog to pass.
You can also block your dog’s view of the other dog by moving her behind a barrier or blocking her with your body. This trick works best for fearful dogs. So, if your dog is not the fearful type, the best thing to do is turn and walk in the opposite direction.
2. Model Neutral Experiences
This means that you have to train your dog to pass by other dogs without any major incident. For instance, you can build confidence in your dog by allowing her to have neutral greetings with other dogs as consistently as possible.
Through repetition, you will be teaching your dog to be friendly to other dogs and to avoid confrontations. That way, she will learn to remain calm because she doesn’t expect a highly charged interaction.
3. Short and Sweet Greetings
Make sure you politely interrupt your dog’s greetings with other dogs and get her to refocus on you. Do this as often as possible to ensure that your dog doesn’t get over-excited. If you find your dog standing her ground and refusing to move away, then you have taken too long to interrupt the greetings.
4. Understand the Aggression Triggers
You need to know what triggers your dog to behave aggressively towards other dogs. For instance, if the other dog naturally looks dominant with raised ears, tail, and fur, they are likely to trigger an aggressive response from your dog. Also, if you are unsure about the other dog’s reaction when greeting your dog, just move along without stopping.
5. Desensitize Your Dog
In most cases, a dog becomes aggressive if the other dog’s stimulus is too strong or the environment is unstructured for any meaningful dog training to happen. This means that your dog will overload quickly and become sensitive because the other dog is too close, staring, overexcited, or charging towards your dog.
You can easily desensitize your dog by training her in a quiet, enclosed environment, and begin with the weakest version of the problematic provocation. Also, use distance to weaken the effects of your dog’s reactiveness.
The best way to stop dog aggression towards other dogs is to socialize her and create neutral experiences every time she meets other dogs. When you are training your dog, do not force her to do anything that makes her uncomfortable. Also, understand different aggression triggers and how to avoid them.