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How to Help Your Aggressive Dog: Top Tips

How to Help Your Aggressive Dog: Top Tips

Feb 9, 2024

If you have a dog that shows signs of aggression, such as growling, snapping, or biting, you might be feeling worried, frustrated, or even scared. You might wonder why your dog is behaving this way and what you can do to help them.

First of all, it’s important to understand that aggression is not a personality trait, but a behaviour that has a cause and a solution. Aggression is often a way for dogs to communicate that they are feeling threatened, scared, or in pain. It’s not a sign that your dog is bad or that you are a bad owner.
However, aggression is a serious problem that needs to be addressed as soon as possible, before it escalates or leads to injuries. In this blog post, we’ll share some tips on how to help your aggressive dog and prevent future incidents.

Identify the Cause of Aggression

The first step to help your aggressive dog is to identify the cause of their aggression. There are many possible reasons why dogs may become aggressive, such as:

  1. Illness or injury: Some medical conditions or injuries can cause pain or discomfort that may make your dog more irritable or defensive. For example, arthritis, dental problems, ear infections, or skin allergies can trigger aggression in dogs.
  2. Fear: Fear is one of the most common causes of aggression in dogs. Your dog may be afraid of certain people, animals, objects, or situations that they perceive as a threat. For example, your dog may be afraid of strangers, loud noises, other dogs, or being left alone.
  3. Possessiveness: Some dogs may become aggressive when they want to protect something that they value, such as their food, toys, bed, or owner. This is also known as resource guarding. For example, your dog may growl or snap if someone tries to take away their bone or approach their bowl.
  4. Dominance: Some dogs may become aggressive when they want to assert their status or control over others. This is also known as dominance aggression. For example, your dog may challenge you or other dogs by staring, blocking, or mounting.
  5. Frustration: Some dogs may become aggressive when they are frustrated by something that prevents them from getting what they want. This is also known as frustration aggression. For example, your dog may bark or bite if they are restrained by a leash, fence, or crate.
To identify the cause of your dog’s aggression, you need to observe their behaviour and look for patterns. When does your dog become aggressive? Who or what triggers their aggression? How do they react? What are their body language and vocal cues? You may want to keep a diary or record a video of your dog’s behaviour to help you analyse it.
If you suspect that your dog’s aggression is caused by a medical condition or injury, you should take them to the vet for a check-up. Your vet may be able to diagnose and treat the underlying problem, or refer you to a specialist if needed.

Consult a Professional

Once you have identified the cause of your dog’s aggression, you should consult a professional who can help you with a behaviour modification plan. A behaviour modification plan is a set of strategies and techniques that aim to change your dog’s behaviour by addressing the root cause and teaching them alternative responses.
Depending on the severity and type of your dog’s aggression, you may need to consult different types of professionals, such as:

  1. A vet: A vet can help you rule out any medical causes of aggression and prescribe medication if needed. Some vets may also have experience or training in behaviour therapy and can offer advice or referrals.
  2. A behaviourist: A behaviourist is a professional who has a degree or certification in animal behaviour and can provide a diagnosis and treatment plan for your dog’s aggression. A behaviourist may use methods such as desensitisation, counterconditioning, or positive reinforcement to help your dog overcome their aggression.
  3. A trainer: A trainer is a professional who can teach you and your dog basic obedience and manners, as well as specific skills to manage or prevent aggression. A trainer may use methods such as clicker training, leash training, or impulse control to help your dog learn self-control and calmness.

    When choosing a professional to help you with your dog’s aggression, you should look for someone who has experience and qualifications in dealing with aggressive dogs, and who uses humane and science-based methods. You should avoid anyone who uses harsh or aversive techniques, such as alpha rolls, choke chains, shock collars, or physical punishment, as these can worsen your dog’s aggression and damage your relationship with them.

    Follow the Behaviour Modification Plan

    Once you have a behaviour modification plan for your dog, you need to follow it consistently and patiently. Behaviour modification is not a quick fix, but a long-term process that requires commitment and dedication. You may need to make some changes to your lifestyle and environment to help your dog succeed, such as:

    1. Avoiding or managing the triggers of your dog’s aggression: You may need to limit your dog’s exposure to the things that make them aggressive, or use tools such as muzzles, leashes, or crates to keep them and others safe. You may also need to teach your dog a cue or signal that tells them to move away or calm down when they encounter a trigger.
    2. Providing your dog with physical and mental stimulation: You may need to increase your dog’s exercise and playtime to help them burn off excess energy and reduce stress. You may also need to provide your dog with enrichment activities, such as puzzles, games, or toys, to keep them mentally stimulated and entertained.
    3. Rewarding your dog for good behaviour: You may need to use positive reinforcement, such as treats, praise, or toys, to reward your dog for showing calm and friendly behaviour. You may also need to use counter-conditioning, which is a technique that involves pairing a trigger with something positive, to help your dog associate the trigger with something good instead of something bad.

    You should follow the instructions and guidance of the professional who designed your behaviour modification plan, and monitor your dog’s progress and response. You should also communicate regularly with the professional and report any changes or challenges that you encounter. You may need to adjust or modify the plan as you go along, depending on your dog’s needs and results.


    Having an aggressive dog can be a stressful and challenging situation, but it doesn’t have to be a hopeless one. With the right help and support, you can help your dog overcome their aggression and enjoy a happier and healthier life with them.
    If you need more advice or information on how to help your aggressive dog, you can contact us at Superpet, the UK’s leading online pet store. We have a team of experts who can answer your questions and provide you with the best products for your pet’s needs.
    We hope you found this blog post helpful and informative. If you did, please share it with your friends and fellow pet owners, and leave us a comment below. We’d love to hear from you and your dog!


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