Many natural canine reactions can be misinterpreted as  aggression  by uneducated humans. This is generally the main problem with dogs and their owners, when a situation arises in which the dog feels threatened his natural response is to defend himself.

To the untrained eye this seems like unmitigated aggression, but would anybody with an  untrained eye  own a dog anyway  You bet they would!

There are many conventional ways of treating this aggression, but a lot of the time they are ineffective due a lack of understanding of canine behaviour, If we took a step back and reviewed each and every situation in which our dogs showed aggression we would probably find that we would react in much the same way. However, there are some dogs who demonstrate various degrees of aggressive behaviour which we as dog owners need to understand and then deal with.

It is essential to understand what is likely to make a dog react aggressively. This is quite simple, if it would make you or me react aggressively then it would probably make a dog do much the same.

So the first step in dealing with aggressive behaviour is to eliminate as many situations as possible where a dog may want to bare his teeth or growl. It is important to understand your dog and how his mind works to the point of knowing which dogs or other pets he would not wish to associate with. For example, it would not be advisable to leave two dominant, male dogs together unattended if one or both of them was not used to company from other dogs. This boils down to common sense. Dogs should be able to interact with other dogs, but this needs to be done over time if you have an  aggressive  dog.

Gradual introductions to other dogs should help Rover feel more at ease in the presence of Fido and Scout. But this is not to sat that there will not be problems involving aggression, because there could be. This is why it is important for dog owners to know how to read body language. Just like humans can demonstrate aggressive body language like pointing and staring, dogs often initiate confrontation through body language. Tell tale signs include ears becoming pricked up, raised hackles and bared teeth. These are definite signs of aggression and should be dealt with as a matter of urgency.

There are many methods of treating this problem in dogs, one of the more radical yet effective ways involves the use of complimentary medicine. Holistic remedies such as the use of flower extracts offer alternative methods of correction. Used along side conventional behaviour modification techniques cherry plum extract offers an effective alternative to chemical drugs. It helps curb aggressive behaviour and is often effective alongside a dedicated behaviour modification programme. There is however, no substitute for a good well disciplined training regime to help control the behaviour of your dog.

If your dog does not respond to conventional methods of correction it is important to look at what causes his aggressive tendencies and attempt to remove the problem at the source. A dog is very sensitive to his environment, any tension or fluctuation in atmosphere will be sensed by the dog. If he feels uneasy he could turn that feeling into aggression. Monitor his behaviour to see if there is anything causing him irritation or bother. Trial ad error is often the only way to detect the root of the problem, if this is the case and still you cannot find any cause of cure for the aggressive behaviour consult your vet who may be able to refer you to dog behaviourist.

Sometimes the simplest solution is the most effective. A lot of dogs are effected by their diet. Once again trial and error could reveal the root of your dog s unwelcome behaviour. Certain foods trigger certain reactions in dogs. Allergies can cause your dog to become aggressive. Other symptoms of allergy include hyperactivity, loss of appetite and stamina.

If your dog is feeling run down or generally ill this may cause aggression. Echinacea is an excellent supplement to boost the immune system and is readily available from many health food shops.

Your dogs exercise routine may be agitating him. Does he appear exhausted or even hyperactive after exercise  Is he receiving too much or too little exercise  Once again vary his exercise and diet in order to eliminate causes of aggression.

Holistic remedies, although effective are no substitute for a well trained dog. They are most effective when combined with other behaviour modifying measures.

Fighting between canine members of a household usually involves dogs of the same sex, often littermates. Trigger people in the family often stimulate such fights, though sometimes food or another dog may also stimulate fighting. To avoid such fights, it is best not to obtain littermates of the same sex, particularly those that appear competitive within the litter.

Also, when a new dog is adopted into the family, it is a good idea to pay more “jolly-type” attention to the resident dog(s) than was shown before the newcomer’s arrival. Make the additional pet fun for the resident pet. Allow the new animal to fit in and adjust with less attention than is shown the older members. This will cause resident dogs to have pleasant associations with the new animal.

If a fight should erupt, never induce more hostility into the situation by shouting, screaming, scolding, hitting, kicking the heads or bodies of the fighters or pulling them apart by the heads or necks. Most serious canine quibbling seen involves owners who induce hysteria into the original battle, which, if allowed to reach its conclusion naturally (if the owners had left the scene or remained passive), more than likely would have concluded bloodlessly and with one permanently dominant and one submissive dog.

The most effective method for stopping a fight requires that someone pick up the more aggressive of the warring pair by the tail, just high enough so its hind feet cannot touch the ground. If both dogs are aggressors, then both must be elevated. Lack of hindquarter traction often quickly short circuits hostility. If either dog has a docked tail, the hind legs may be picked up to equal advantage.

A common underlying cause of persistent fighting is owner hysteria when such fights break out. Most owners of multiple dogs who do not have such problems did not become hysterical when fights or hostilities initially erupted.

In more than 95% of sibling-type fighting, the dogs never fought unless the owners were present. A good percentage of them were boarded together in the same run without hostile signs. This brings us to one type of remedial program that is often successful: boarding the dogs together on neutral territory, there to be visited by the family under controlled conditions after a week or so. If no fight ensues, a daily series of visits, followed by rides in the family car to other neutral areas, will often help if the plan spans 3-6 weeks. After this, a daily trip home can be included.

Dogs fighting for any reason must be taught to respond to simple commands to Come, Sit and Stay when the owner directs. All fondling, coddling or solicitous behavior toward the pet must be avoided. This helps the owner assume dominance over the dogs involved and is prerequisite to all procedures recommended.


  1. Beverly

    I have a papillion 6 year old mix and since he was a puppy has had a biting problem. I have had him to a behavior specialist, training and nothing helps. He always bites the hands. Now, when I try to put his leash on, he started biting my hands, so I have to muzzle him to get his leash on.
    I cannot ever have him around my 3 year old grandchildren because of his biting. He does not like to touched in certain areas either, even though it is petting, such as the top of his back, and if he is laying on the sofa with me or my husband and we move our legs for example, he immediately turns quickly and wants to bite either of us.
    Do you have further suggestions as to what we can do to stop his aggressive biting?

  2. Kevin

    i have a dog named roy, he gets aggressive, whenever i take him out to a walk. it seems that he wants to go on his own way. like, whenever i try to go one direction, HE goes to another direction. he is always getting aggresive when i walk him. but i did notice some problems that i did wrong. i havent been walking him every day and he is not paying any attention to me at all. i tried giving him treats to calm down and pay attention to me but he doesn’t want the treats either. he bites the leash all the time and bites other dogs. he even pulls the leash. if i walk him every day it will be horrible but i know i should do it. can you give me some advice?

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