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How to Stop Dog Aggression Towards Humans in 2024

Last updated on December 26th, 2023 at 09:03 pm

Aggression in dogs takes many forms, but it’s most concerning when directed towards people. There are many risks involved, not only for the person who might get hurt but also for the dog who may be put down because of their aggressive behavior. Signs of dog aggression towards humans include erect or pinned-back ears, wide eyes, stiff muscles, teeth showing, and actions like growling, snarling, barking, or biting. But don’t worry. This blog post will teach you how to stop dog aggression towards humans.

How to stop dog aggression towards humans

how to stop dog aggression towards humans

Aggression towards people can be categorized into two types: aggression towards strangers and aggression towards family members. Each type has its own unique reasons and requires different methods of dealing with it. We will dive into it right now.

1) Aggression towards strangers 


Dogs may feel uncomfortable around strangers or certain types of strangers, such as men or men with beards. Often, there is a reason for this, such as that they were bred to be guard dogs or not fully socialized from a young age. When these pups encounter someone they feel uncomfortable around, they want to increase the distance between themselves and that person. They may either flee or behave aggressively to make the person go away. 

The primary emotion driving this behavior is fear and anxiety. Some breeds are genetically more resistant to socialization. For example, dogs bred to be guard animals are often wary of strangers. Remember that they cannot distinguish between a stranger who is a burglar and one who is an old friend of the family.


Put a muzzle on your dog

If a dog has not been appropriately socialized or has a history of aggression or biting, it may be impossible to make them love all people or be friendly to strangers. In such cases, managing their behavior is crucial to ensure the safety of people around them. 

One way to manage their behavior is to condition them always to wear a muzzle when encountering people they fear. A muzzle can give the dog the freedom to be outside and the owner peace of mind when knowing they are not at risk of biting others. However, even with training and progress, there is no 100% guarantee that the dog will never bite again.

Don’t force yourself on a dog you don’t know

When meeting a dog, standing back and turning to the side is best. Let the dog decide if they want to approach you. Avoid looking directly into their eyes, bending over them, or patting them on the head. Instead, crouch down and look away. If they approach you in a friendly manner, allow them to sniff you first and gently rub their chest.

Always supervise young children around dogs. Teach your child how to interact safely with these furry animals. Do not let your child jump on or bother your pup, and keep them away when the dog is eating or has a favorite toy or bone. Remember to respect them and their boundaries to prevent accidents.

Taking steps to reduce stranger fear or anxiety

To help a dog overcome their fear, gradually introduce the dog to the type of people they fear from a safe distance. The scary person will be paired consistently with a delicious treat. This way, over time, they learn to associate the scary person with good things, and their underlying emotions change from fear to happiness at the sight of that person.


You can prevent your dog from becoming aggressive towards strangers by pairing different types of people with positive experiences. For example, when your puppy sees a child, give them a high-value treat, and do the same when they see a person with a cane.

You should encourage strangers to give your dog treats as well. This will teach them that meeting new people is a good thing. While it’s great if your dog is friendly to strangers, taking these steps will help prevent potential aggression towards people in the future.

2) Aggression towards family members 

how to stop dog aggression towards humans

There are 3 main reasons why dogs show aggression towards family members: 

2.1. Resource guarding 


Dogs may exhibit a behavior known as resource guarding, which stems from their ancestral wolf instincts. This behavior involves protecting their food, places, people or even objects like toys or other items. Resource guarding is a natural behavior and does not imply that the dog is trying to dominate their owner. Instead, it is an inherent instinct that some dogs possess.


Reducing food or object guarding

Don’t take it personally if your dog guards their food or objects. They don’t mean to upset or dominate you. To help the dog, teach them to enjoy having things taken. Feed your pup in a separate area, and don’t let anyone near them while they eat. In addition, bring the food bowl away at non-meal times because some dogs will guard an empty bowl.

Make a list of stuff they’ve guarded and control access

When your dog grabs something, it’s important to act carefully. Don’t try to take it away forcefully, as this could lead to a bite. If the item is not dangerous, just ignore your dog. However, if it’s valuable or harmful, get some delicious food from the fridge and throw it far away from the object. When your dog goes to eat the food, calmly pick up the object. Keeping a list of items they guard and control access is a good idea.

If visitors arrive, put your dog in a crate or another room

If your dog tends to guard food or objects, put them in a crate or another room when children or visitors come to the house. This is important because children may accidentally drop food and try to grab it at the same time as the dog, which can lead to dangerous consequences. Always take precautions to ensure their safety.


When you adopt a dog, ensure they don’t become aggressive when you try to take things from them. You can prevent this by regularly trading whatever your dog has for something even better and then returning the item to the dog. If the dog is okay with you taking things from them, that’s great. Note that trading items will add an extra layer of safety.

The steps to prevent guarding are: 

Food guarding: One effective technique to prevent food guarding behavior in dogs is to approach them while eating, remove their food bowl, drop in a piece of a really yummy treat, and then return the food bowl to the dog. By doing this, they will learn that humans approaching them while they eat is not a threat but rather an opportunity for something even better. Over time, this technique can help reduce the likelihood of food-guarding behaviors in your furry friend.

Item guarding: The first step is to walk up to your dog and remove the bone or toy they are guarding. Then, give them a nice treat as a reward. Next, return the item to them. By consistently following these steps, your dog will get used to and even enjoy when you take things from them.

Location guarding: If your dog growls or snaps when you try to make them move off the couch or bed, they may be guarding that spot. To prevent this behavior, teach them to obey the “off” cue, encouraging them to vacate that location happily. Keep in mind that when you have guests, especially children, don’t let your dog rest on any furniture, as they may guard.

Sleeping dogs: Some dogs can snap and bite if awoken suddenly from sleep. To avoid this, don’t let them sleep in your bed, and don’t touch them when they’re sleeping. Instead, if you need to wake them up, call them to you gently.

2.2. Body handling issues 


Dogs may growl or bite when touched because they were not taught as puppies that it’s okay for humans to handle them, like when someone feels their paws or ears or tries to groom them. If a dog stiffens their body, stares hard, growls, snarls, snaps, or bites when touched, these could be warning signals.


Training your four-legged animal to enjoy being touched and handled is possible. Even dogs who are usually anxious during nail trims can learn to love the experience. Start by gently touching areas they already enjoy, such as their chest or back, then praise and treat them. Gradually move on to touching their paws, ears, and belly while using high-value treats. Use a clicker to mark the exact moment they accept touch, then reward them again. Over time, your dog will associate touch with happy feelings and learn to love your gentle hands.

2.3. Pain or illness


A gentle and friendly dog can act aggressively when in pain. That’s why it is essential to be cautious when handling an injured animal. A dog with a painful condition or an infection may bite without warning, even if you are trying to help them. Remember that improperly using certain pieces of training equipment, like the pinch or the shock collar, may cause pain to your dog and lead to a bite. 


If your dog starts acting aggressively and it’s not normal behavior for them, it could be a sign of an underlying medical issue. Certain health problems, like hypothyroidism, painful injuries, encephalitis, epilepsy, or brain tumors, can cause aggression. Speak with your veterinarian to determine if this might be the case with your dog. Treatment or medication will be of great help in improving their behavior.


how to stop dog aggression towards humans

If you’re dealing with an aggressive dog, it’s not an easy situation, but it can be solved with a comprehensive approach. Different reasons for aggression require other solutions, which may involve changing your daily routine, attending workshops, taking online classes specializing in solving dog aggressive behavior, or working with a professional trainer. Remember that every pet can change for the better with effort and patience.

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.

About us: Pet Chao is a community for Asian dog breed enthusiasts. Our goal is to keep you and your four-legged friend healthy and happy by providing valuable resources and fostering a like-minded community.

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