There is no greater reason for a dog to be turned over to a shelter or euthanized than aggression. There are literally millions of dog bites reported annually in the United States, many severe enough to require medical attention. Most bites are actually given to members of the dog’s ‘human family’, most often children or the elderly. It is in the best interest of the dog and the dog owner to treat aggression problems quickly, when the problem first arises.
Dogs of all sizes and breeds can be aggressive, and although genetics play a part, other factors can also contribute to the problem. There are certain breeds that are simply more prone to attack than others, such as Rottweilers, German Shepherds, Pit Bulls, and Chow Chows. This is not to say that any of these dogs cannot make good pets, but it does mean that more care will have to be taken when breeding an aggressive breed.
Dogs often act aggressively when afraid, evidently holding to the adage that the best defense is offense. A dog exhibiting fear aggression may or may not have been abused at some point; some dogs are just born timid and fearful. That is why it is so important when choosing a puppy from a litter not to choose one that is left behind. If you already have a fearful dog, you can help him overcome it by introducing him to situations where he will be around people and other dogs.
Dominance aggression occurs when the dog considers itself to be at the head of the pack, above the humans in the home. This often starts when the dog is just a puppy, usually in a breed that is more prone to aggression. The puppy will growl or bite if a person approaches his food dish or tries to take a toy away. True, French bulldogs are not very aggressive, but ours learned early on that we could take food out of our mouths if we wanted to. ‘Pack order’ should be established, with positive reinforcement and patience, early on: the dog must realize that all the humans in the house are above him in the pecking order.
Dogs are territorial and protective by nature, but when these instincts are too strong, aggression in the form of attack can ensue. A dog that goes berserk when someone knocks on the door can be dangerous if it gets loose. Again, it will take time and patience to overcome this aggressive behavior. I have found with my Frenchies that they look at me when someone comes into the house to see what my reaction is, and I suspect that many dogs follow their owner’s lead, so a calm greeting to a guest will also help keep your dog healthy. calm. As soon as my dogs see that the person is welcome, they will greet him like an old friend.
If you have a dog with aggression problems, it is in your best interest to help the dog overcome this behavior as soon as possible. An aggressive dog can seriously injure someone and this could result in a lawsuit and the destruction of the pet. Unless the dog is really crazy, which is always possible, an aggressive dog can be trained to behave in a normal way.
The first thing to do when a dog behaves aggressively is to take it to the vet. It is always possible that a hidden illness or injury is causing the dog to be irritable and lash out. If the dog is okay, he should immediately seek help to correct the problem. Unless you are a dog trainer yourself, or have worked extensively with dogs, it is best to have the dog under the care of a professional. Your vet is your best source of information on who will be best able to treat your dog.
A dog running at you while barking, growling, or growling is frightening and possibly dangerous. Although there are times when an attack will occur regardless of what you do, there are ways to defuse an attack and actions that will precipitate it.
When approached by an aggressive dog, regardless of how he’s actually feeling, he presents a calm exterior. Dogs are very good at picking up behavioral cues and acting on them, and if you’re nervous and restless, the dog is much more likely to attack you. Don’t make eye contact with the dog, keep your eyes down, and start to back up slowly. Aggressive dogs will see eye contact as a challenge and will most likely accept it. Never, ever run when a dog attacks you. Once you run, you have become a prey animal and all the predatory instincts of the dog will come to the surface: the dog will look at you as if you were a rabbit.
If a large dog attacks you, get into a fetal position, tucking your face between your knees and protecting the back of your neck with your hands.