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How to Prevent Aggression Between Dogs 

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Aggression between dogs, like aggression in general, is a complicated issue.  It is one case where the truism an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure is true to the tenth degree.  If you want to prevent your dog from displaying aggressive behaviour towards other dogs, you need to curtail any signs of this when your dog is still a puppy.  Puppies do not outgrow aggressive behaviour.  They must be taught early on that humans must always be respected, and that aggression towards other dogs will not be tolerated.  If you wait until your dog is an adult, you will have a big problem on your hands.  Let’s look at some tips to curtail aggression in a puppy first.


First of all, you should never let your puppy chew on you, even in play.  If he ever attempts this, correct sternly and offer him a chew toy.  If needed, you can also give your puppy what is called a scruff shake.  This involves grabbing the loose skin on either side of his neck, lifting him slightly off his front paws, and giving him a little shake.  You must make it plain to your puppy that chewing on you is not acceptable behaviour.


You should never let your children play with your puppies unsupervised.  You must never let them roughhouse with each other like they are litter mates.  You do not want to give your puppy the idea that he is somehow on the same level as your children.  If your kids want to play with the puppies, show them how to play fetch instead.


Make sure that every member of your family acts as a leader towards the puppy.  Every family member should be taught how to give theaggressive dog puppy commands that he will obey.


Your puppy must learn that humans control the food.  Every member should at some point add a little food to whatever the puppy is eating.  If the puppy growls, correct sternly verbally or with the scruff shake.


Practice taking away and returning your dogs toys.  You may want to teach your puppy the “give” command.  When you practice this command and your dog does give you his toys, make sure you praise him. 


It is a good idea to get your puppy neutered, as young males are the most likely to be involved in a biting incident.


If you follow the tips above and you are still having trouble with signs of aggression from your puppy, consult a trainer or behaviourist immediately.  More than likely, you are doing something that is causing your puppy’s aggressive behaviour.  A professional trainer or behaviourist can help you determine just what that might be.


If you have a fully grown dog that is exhibiting aggressive behaviour, either to yourself, other people, or other dogs, you have a time bomb on your hands.  Hire a professional behaviourist immediately to see if anything can be done.  Aggressive behaviour in a dog is akin to cancer.  You will not be able to treat it yourself.  Only a professional with experience in these matters will have a chance.  If you are not sure what constitutes aggressive behaviour, below is a checklist of warning signs:


1)      Has your dog ever tried to stare you down?  Not a loving stare, but a cold, challenging stare, complete with an erect, ready to fight body?

2)      Do you avoid doing certain things around your dog because he might growl or bear his teeth?  For example, if you try and get your dog of the couch?

3)      Do you find yourself making excuses for your dog, telling yourself that he’ll grow out of it?

4)      Do you feel your dog is safe, except in certain situations, like around children?

5)      Has your dog ever bitten someone?


If you’ve answered yet to any of the above, you have an aggressive dog on your hands.  You need to see a professional.  There are over 4.5 million dog bites every year.  Don’t let you dog become another statistic.  I wish I could be more light hearted about this topic, but I can’t.  If your dog is demonstrating aggressive behaviour to other dogs or anyone else, it needs to be treated seriously immediately.  See a professional.


- Grover