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How to Stop Aggressive Behavior in Dogs Toward Other Dogs

I understand your concern about your dog’s aggression towards other dogs. It can be frustrating and worrying for dog owners, but there are many possible reasons behind this behavior, and with the right approach, you can help your furry friend overcome it. This blog post will provide you with the 10 best tips on how to break dog aggression towards other dogs. By implementing these tips consistently, you will lay the foundation for a well-socialized, well-behaved, and non-aggressive companion.

Signs of dog aggression towards other dogs

Vocalizations:

    • Growling: This is a clear warning sign, ranging from deep, guttural growls signifying intense dislike to low, rumbling growls indicating resource guarding.
    • Barking: Loud, continuous barking, especially accompanied by other aggressive body language, suggests hostility towards the other dog.
    • Whining or snarling: High-pitched whining or snapping snarls can indicate fear or anxiety that could escalate into aggression.

Body language:

    • Stiffened posture: Standing tall with a rigid body, raised hackles, and flattened ears often signify a threat display.
    • Direct stare: Intense eye contact without blinking is challenging and can intimidate the other dog.
    • Lunging or snapping: Attempting to bite or snap at the other dog while lunging forward is a direct act of aggression.
    • Tail carriage: A low, tucked tail between the legs means fear or submission, while a stiff, upright tail could suggest dominance or aggression.
    • Hair standing on end: Piloerection, causing the fur to stand on end, is a physiological response to excitement or fear, which can precede aggression.

Movement:

    • Freezing: An unnaturally still posture with tense muscles could signify a predator-like readiness to attack.
    • Circling or stalking: Moving cautiously around the other dog with focused attention can be a precursor to an attack.
    • Exaggerated sniffing: Aggressive sniffing, accompanied by growls or other displays, can indicate territorial behavior or resource guarding.

Why is my dog so aggressive towards other dogs?

Understanding the roots of your pet’s poor behavior is extremely important. Here are some of the most common reasons why dogs might be aggressive towards other dogs:

1. Lack of socialization

how to stop dog aggression towards humans

If puppies are limited in their exposure to other dogs during this critical period, they may become fearful and uncertain, which could trigger poor reactions in adulthood. Their past negative experiences can also lead to lasting emotional scars and create fear-based aggression behavior.

2. Resource guarding

Most dogs protect their things, such as food, toys, and attention from their owner. Therefore, they may become aggressive if threatened by another dog near these things. This is due to their territorial instinct.

3. Medical conditions

If your dog is exhibiting aggressive behavior, there could be underlying medical issues causing pain or discomfort. Some examples of such problems include joint pain, ear infections, and allergies. 

Hormonal imbalances are also possible reasons. Unneutered males and females, during their heat cycle, may experience hormonal fluctuations that can cause increased aggression.

5. Breed predisposition

Certain breeds, like Dobermans, Rottweilers, and some terrier breeds, are more prone to displaying territorial or dominance-related aggression. However, individual temperament plays a significant role. 

6. Lack of training

Dogs that haven’t been trained to interact appropriately with other dogs may result in aggression. If you don’t have much time, check out this Tackling Reactivity Bundle to learn how to stop aggressive behavior in dogs toward other dogs at your own pace and convenience.

How to break dog aggression towards other dogs

1. Establish a safe space and routine

Create a safe place for your dog at home to help reduce their anxiety and help them feel secure. This designated area should have their bed, toys, and water. You can make it a more positive place by occasionally leaving treats in this area. 

Stick to a consistent routine for feeding, walks, and playtime to help them feel more stable. This stability will contribute to a more balanced and confident demeanor, reducing the likelihood of aggressive behavior. 

2. Create positive associations with other dogs

Give your dog treats, toys, or praise when they see another canine. This will help them associate other dogs with good things. Over time, they will stop feeling anxious or aggressive and start looking forward to meeting more furry friends.

3. Controlled desensitization and counter-conditioning

Aggression usually comes from fear or anxiety. To help your dog overcome this, you can try a technique called controlled desensitization and counter-conditioning. This method involves gradually introducing them to other dogs in a positive and controlled way. 

Start by finding the distance where your dog remains relaxed. Then, slowly introduce the sight or presence of other dogs at a distance that doesn’t provoke aggression. Use high-value treats or toys to reward calm behavior. As your dog becomes more comfortable, gradually decrease the distance. 

If your dog reacts negatively, increase the distance again. With time, this process helps your best friend develop a new, positive association with other dogs, replacing fear and aggression with joyful anticipation.

4. Establish clear pack leadership

Dogs are social animals that benefit from clear leadership. Establishing yourself as the pack’s leader can help reduce anxiety and aggression. You should use a calm and assertive approach, avoiding aggressive or harsh punishment, as this worsens behavioral problems.

Set clear rules for your dog to follow, such as waiting for your permission before eating or passing through doorways. In addition, reward obedient behavior with attention or treats. Consistency and positive reinforcement are essential for building a solid leader-follower relationship.

5. Leash training for control

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Teaching your dog to walk calmly on a leash is necessary to control their behavior when encountering other dogs. A well-behaved canine on a leash is easier to manage in complex situations. Start by practicing loose-leash walking in a low-distraction environment. Then, reward them for walking calmly by your side. Gradually increase the level of difficulty by introducing more challenging settings.

6. Use a head collar or no-pull harness

If you’re looking for better control over your dog during walks, head collars and no-pull harnesses can be helpful. They work well in reducing pulling and lunging, giving you more control in situations where your canine may encounter other dogs.

Start by using them at home and associating them with positive experiences using treats and positive reinforcement. Once your dog is familiar with the tool, gradually use it during walks and reinforce loose-leash walking behavior.

7. Regular exercise and mental stimulation

To keep your dog happy and healthy, you have to exercise them physically and mentally. This releases excess energy and reduces the likelihood of aggressive behavior. Simple activities like walks, playing toys, and mentally stimulating games or training lessons can help keep your dog calm and focused. 

8. Obedience training for distraction and control

Another great tip is to teach your dog basic obedience commands to manage and redirect their behavior. Commands like “sit,” “stay,” and “leave it” can help distract them from aggressive impulses and refocus their attention. 

Practice these commands in different settings and gradually introduce distractions like toys or treats. When encountering another dog, use these commands to maintain control and guide their attention away from potential triggers to prevent escalation. Don’t forget to reward them promptly when they react positively to commands. 

9. Leverage calming aids

Calming aids and techniques can also help reduce anxiety and aggression in dogs. Use products like pheromone diffusers, calming sprays, or anxiety wraps to help them feel more relaxed. 

10. Seek professional help

If your dog’s aggressive behavior continues or worsens, it’s best to seek help from a professional dog trainer or behaviorist. These experts can evaluate the situation, offer personalized advice, and create a behavior modification plan that suits your dog’s specific needs.

To find a qualified professional, do your research and choose someone with experience in dealing with aggression. Professional guidance will make a significant difference in resolving complex behavioral issues.

How to prevent dog aggression towards other dogs

1. Early and positive socialization

Socializing your puppy can prevent them from displaying aggressive behavior towards other dogs. To do this, expose them to various environments, people, and other well-behaved canines during their critical socialization period, typically between 3 and 14 weeks of age. This helps your puppy build positive associations and shapes their perception of the world, contributing to a well-adjusted and social adult dog.

If you don’t know how to do it, enroll your puppy in well-structured puppy socialization classes, which provide a controlled and positive environment for interactions with the world. 

2. Avoid punishment and emphasize positive reinforcement

Punishment makes them feel afraid and anxious and can even lead to aggressive behavior. Positive reinforcement creates a learning environment based on rewards for good behavior. So, positive reinforcement is a good way to train your four-legged friend instead of punishing them. By using this method, you strengthen your bond with your dog and foster a positive attitude towards training and interaction.

Conclusion

how to break dog aggression towards other dogs

Remember, patience and consistency are key when addressing aggressive behavior in dogs. Each canine is unique, so pay attention to their individual needs and adjust your approach accordingly. If you encounter challenges or observe concerning behaviors, consult a professional trainer or behaviorist for personalized guidance, or simply join a proven online class specializing in solving dog aggression like this.

Last but not least…

For further training and an all-in-one solution for most behavior problems your dog has now or may have in the future, check out this free online dog training workshop that improves dog-owner relationships and prevents poor behavior like: 

    • Barking
    • Accidents
    • Leash pulling
    • Not coming when called
    • Jumping on people
    • Running out the door
    • Chasing cars or animals
    • Chewing
    • Nipping or biting
    • Begging
    • Getting too excited
    • Ignoring commands

The workshop is conducted by Dr. Alexa Diaz, Ph.D., one of the most respected service dog trainers in the United States, and Eric Presnall, host of the Animal Planet TV show “Who Let the Dogs Out.” Many readers have loved it. Click here to get it.

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