Are you feeling out of your depth because you don’t know how to socialize an aggressive dog?
You might think that it’s mission impossible, but I’m going to prove you wrong.
Keep on reading to find seven tips that will help you deal with your dog’s aggression.
Related: how to introduce a new dog to an aggressive dog
How to socialize an aggressive dog
I’ll admit that this topic is close to the heart.
When there’s an incident involving dogs, I get upset and angry when I read posts on social media about “dangerous” dog breeds which should be banned.
The truth is irresponsible dog owners are the ones to blame for their dog’s action.
Since you’re looking for answers on helping your aggressive dog, you’re not one who would close your eyes and ignore the problem.
So, let’s see what can you do to help your pooch to overcome his problems.
#1 Understand why your dog is aggressive
I know that living with an aggressive dog is hard and makes you feel embarrassed and worried about what other people would think of your dog’s behavior.
After all, you don’t want strangers to think that you’re not doing a good job of raising your pooch.
Start solving that problem by understating why your dog is more aggressive than others. It’s probably a combination of several factors:
- Some breeds are naturally more protective and territorial than others. Small dog breeds are no exception.
- Lack of proper socialization. Puppies should be exposed to as many stimuli as possible while young. In this way, they get used to different people, sounds, and animals and are less likely to be aggressive.
- Traumatic experience. Sometimes a bad experience with another dog or a stranger can affect your dog’s personality and make him fearful. Sadly, fearful or abused dogs often react aggressively to protect themselves.
#2 Find your dog’s triggers
Saying, “My dog is aggressive,” is a plain statement of the problem.
You have to be more specific if you want to resolve the issue and socialize your aggressive dog.
Answer these questions:
- What is Fluffy aggressive towards – people, animals, or both?
- When does Fluffy react to the trigger? How close should it be?
- Does she bark and growl, or does she try to attack and bite?
These questions will help you discover your dog’s triggers and her thresholds.
In other words, how close you can take your dog to the trigger before Fluffy reacts.
#3 Take precautions
No matter if your dog is aggressive towards people or animals, you have to take precautions for the safety of everybody else and your dog’s well-being.
Otherwise, attempting to socialize your dog and help Fluffy overcome her triggers might end in a disaster:
- Muzzle your dog if there is any chance that Fluffy might attack, bite, or injure another human or animal. I know that it sounds harsh, but it’s for your dog’s safety.
- Get a dog harness or a head halter if your pooch struggles a lot and you can’t hold her tight.
- Close the blinds if your dog gets aggressive when watching people/animals on the street.
#4 Avoid triggers
Sudden exposure to a trigger almost always leads to an aggressive reaction.
Imagine how you’d feel if you see somebody you’re scared of in front of you.
Your pooch feels the same with the exception that Fluffy has natural means to defend herself.
Since our goal is to desensitize the dog to her triggers, you must be in control of the situation. So:
- Choose a suitable route for walks where you’re less likely to encounter any triggers.
- Pick a time for walks when there aren’t many people hustling and bustling.
- Keep your dog close to you, and do not allow Fluffy to lead the way.
- Respect your dog’s boundaries, and don’t bother Fluffy when she is upset.
- Inform people not to pet your dog or get close to her.
The goal is to avoid exposing the dog to the same trigger over and over again because it strengthens the aggressive response.
#5 Start obedience training
Obedience is important for every dog and twice as important for aggressive ones.
That’s because you must be able to recall Fluffy and control her in difficult situations.
Start by mastering basic commands, for example:
- Watch me
- Leave it
Your dog should respond to your commands to matter what’s happening at that moment.
That could save you tons of problems when the dog reacts aggressively to something. So, you need to reinforce the response every day.
#6 Expose your dog to her triggers one at a time
When you’re ready to socialize your aggressive dog, you should choose one trigger and work on it. Here’s what to do:
- Place the trigger somewhere your dog can’t see it.
- Then bring the dog closer until Fluffy notices the trigger.
- If Fluffy reacts negatively, retreat and take a break.
- Increase the distance between Fluffy and the trigger until the dog doesn’t react, bark/growl, etc.
- Reward Fluffy every time she behaves calmly around her trigger or reacts less violently than before.
- You want to build a positive connection between the trigger and Fluffy’s calm reaction so that Fluffy knows that she gets tasty treats for being a good girl.
- Practice, practice, and practice.
#7 Talk with a professional
Depending on how aggressive your dog is towards people/animals, you might want to speak with an expert on dog behavior.
The thing is that every dog is a unique case.
While I can give you some general pointers, I can’t do more without observing how your dog reacts and how she acts.
I know that it might be embarrassing, but it’s better to get help on time.
You don’t want to get in trouble if your dog bites somebody or hurts another animal.
What’s more, it’s far easier to deal with an aggressive dog if you have support.
Socializing an aggressive dog is possible as long as you’re patient and committed.
But you have to know that your dog might never be completely fine around her triggers.
So, you must always be on your guard and ready to intervene at the first signs of trouble.