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Nine Tips If Your Dog Becomes Aggressive — 34 Comments

  1. Hi Vickie — Do take this seriously. She *could* bite you. This is beyond the scope of what blog comments can solve. Take her to the vet for a thorough exam. Find a good dog trainer, and https://apdt.com/ — the Association of Pet Dog Trainers — is a good resource for trainers using the best methods. And consider rehoming her if necessary. In the meantime, be very careful around her. Best wishes!

  2. We rescued a beagle mix approximately 1.5 years old she is fixed and has recently showing agression at me she is extremely affectionate with my boyfriend I am the major care giver good or bad I do it all,she growls,bares teeth and has came close to biting me please help me

  3. Wow, Dara, as a Rottie-lover and owner myself, your post speaks to my heart. He sure had a bad start with all that crating, glad you have him. If I were in your shoes, I would look for a different dog trainer, one that is more involved with positive dog training. Go to https://apdt.com/ and see about people there, as this is an organization founded by the great Dr. Ian Dunbar and others.

    Adolescent dogs naturally go through some changes but you definitely need to get him more socialized as soon as possible!

    Best wishes,

  4. Hello, I have a 17 month rottie. We adopted him from another family that had him crated 10-18 hours a day. He came to us with food aggression, which is much better now with frequent feedings and a maze bowl. He gets along great with my 2.5 year old mastiff. We know he hasn’t been socialized well and he is currently in dog training classes with other dogs. 2 weeks ago we were walking our dogs and a little girl in the neighborhood asked to pet him. He came from a house with 5 kids previously. Anyway , he accepted the petting but then put his nose in her stomach and let out a growl. We obviously yanked her away. Then 2 days later my teenagers had a party outside. He was separated but growled at 2 different teenagerswhen they were petting him, which he allowed at first. We kept him in thecrate and figured he was over stimulated. Now I have family over for a birthday party and I was cooking on the stove and put a baby gate in the kitchen with dog with me. My BIL went to throw something in garbage and he went to lunge and growl. But then restrains himself. He seems to be very protective now. He still gives us kisses but will even growl at us if we are too close. He gives us a “side eye”. It’s just a growl never showing his teeth. Why the change? I was reading that rotties can grumble and I think I am having a hard time distinguishing the two. My trainer makes me use a prong collar and wants me to yank him if he becomes reactive to other dogs or people. I know I need to get him out to socialize him more. What is causing the change in personality in 2 months? He has a loving home and loves his 3 walks a day. He gets plenty of attention and exercise. Any suggestions are welcomed. I will be making an appointment next week to run bloodwork and see the vet. I don’t want to get rid of him or euthanize him, but I can’t lie it has crossed my mind for safety reasons.

  5. I have a 9 month old great dane. She is very affectionate, and listens fairly well, but lately we’ve been having these issues where she barks and runs around the house full speed and growls, and nips (not really full biting) and sometimes lunges. Sometimes it seems out of nowhere, but we have noticed she does this when we try to put her in her crate. She doesn’t do it very often, but it does seem to be getting worse

  6. Katelyn, sounds to me like you need the help of a dog trainer or classes. The tricky part is finding a trainer who uses positive reinforcement methods rather than dominance. The Association of Pet Dog Trainers at apdt.com has listings of trainers around the world, you could try there.

    Pinch collars are a mixed bag, not usually the approach I prefer.

    Best wishes,

    Neutering would definitely help the aggression.

  7. I have a 17 month old male Rottweiler, and lately he is becoming very stuborn when he takes stuff. If there’s a towel he will take it and when you try and take it back he wont let go for a while and when we smack his nose he’s starting to growl. I want to fix this so I don’t have to get rid of him. I’m only 14 so I can’t walk him because he pulls so much. I’m getting a pinch collar for him today to see if that helps, and we’re going to start taking him to behaviour training, but are there any other suggestions? Would neutering help the aggression? Would it help him marking his territory around the house? Any suggestions would be perfect because I’m desperate here. 

    Thank you!

  8. We have a 5 year old yorkie and got a Husky/ golden retreiver mix last Feb. They have gotten along well until 2 weeks ago, the yorkie is now starting fights with the Husky golden.. who will be a year old this month, Took the yorkie to the vet and is being treated for a skin/ yeast infection. shes benn on the Medication for over a week and her behaviors are getting worse, we can’t even have them in the same room and she snapping, growling  and trying to attack the other dog even thru her kennel… any suggestions

  9. I have a pug dog and my father moved in with me in May because of health issues, his Chicua is very aggresive and gets jealous of my Pug, the Chicua starts after my pug and my pug finally gets mad and they go at it, the chicua is a very mean dog, he is very protective of my father and does not like anyone else to be around my dad, I am at my wits end on what to do with this dog.  My father never did any training with this dog, do you think a shock collar would help when she attacks my pug. Any suggestions would be appreciated.  thanks

  10. Yvonne, there is only so much that can be done on the internet. I highly recommend that you find a good dog trainer in your area and get some help with this dog! Best wishes.

  11. my shepard hound cross does not let anyone near our car my grandaughter went to pet him he was raised with her not alot but he knows her and he nipped at her to bite her but when he is not in the car he is ok he is a little cranky with other dogs and puppies

  12. Younes, I suggest you re-read this article and think about how each point might apply to your dog. Not all will, but several will. For example, #1 is to immediately manage the situation for safety. So be sure the dog does not have the chewing bone when small children are around, for example.

    #5, which is similar, says to avoid situations that would bring out the aggressive behavior. Try giving your dog edible chew toy or Kongs, in other words, things that are similar to chewing bones but that she may not feel so much desire to guard them.

    If you can’t handle the situation yourself after trying for a while longer, then definitely go for #8!

    Best wishes!

  13. 1,5 year old huskie its a top dog and real kind! accept for 1 problem : she becomes aggressive when you come near her chewing bone. If somebody has some tips or experience about this please reply!


  14. This is a great article. If people would just know how to train their pets, the problem with agression would go down so much. The first thing I taught my dog to do was sit. I would go over it with her all day long and then I taught down. When we would walk up to people, the first thing she would do was try to jump on them. I didn't want people to get scared or get hurt so I made sure I trained her well on that. When she was a puppy and was still trying to learn, I made sure I put her in the crate when people came over to our house. As she got older, the calmer and better trained she became and more people enjoyed being around her. This is also a great article for someone who just got a dog and they have no idea where to begin training. When they read this, they should be able to get plenty of information.

  15. Alyssa, you are welcome to print the article from this page. Just be sure to print the url
    on your printout. It's ok with me if you cut and paste the article without all the other stuff on the page.

    Please add that the usual legal disclaimers apply. Neither I nor my business Hartworks Inc nor the website training-dogs.com shall have any responsiblity for how people apply the comments in the article.


  16. Awesome article. Is there a way for me to print this and use this as a starting point for clients who have issues with aggressive dogs?

  17. If this is how you reacted this time, imagine what your dog associates the word “no” with. Probably with all sorts of unpleasant things. Therefore, his reaction was a defensive one: He thinks “no” means “I'm going to do something scary to you,” so he was telling you “I'm threatened by you, leave me alone!” First of all, stop saying “no.” Most people over-use the word and it simply becomes a bad word to the dog (meaning mom's going to be mean to them), without actually changing the dog's behavior. When the dog starts to do something you don't like, use a different word (like “uh uh”) in a gentle tone and block or distract the dog away from the behavior in a non-confrontational way. This teaches the dog that “uh uh” means the behavior he's trying won't be successful and he'll simply quit. If you're always punishing your dog, this is bullying and he'll eventually get sick of it and start defending himself. Absolutely do NOT punish growling! You'll end up with a dog that jumps to a bite with no verbal warning. Punishing the growl doesn't change his emotional state and, in fact, will likely make it worse.

  18. I suggest you get some training help locally. Be sure to find a trainer who uses positive methods — one good source is apdt.com

  19. I have a 7month old cattle dog that has been a lovely dog up until now. This morning I said no twice to it and it reared its teeth at me. I then smacked it on the nose and it did this again. I know it was wrong but I just couldn't help myself. Any help?

  20. Brandee, this one is over my head, though obviously any dog who has recently bitten two children will need extremely attentive managing, perhaps including that muzzle when you take her out walking. And of course don't let kids pet her.

    I suggest you find a behavior specialist online to consult with. I am not a professional dog trainer myself. Take a look at dogstardaily.com where a number of top trainers blog.

    And best wishes!


  21. I could use some advice! My husband and I rescued a year-old, 16-pound cocker spaniel mix that we found abandoned on the side of the road… covered in ticks and spray-painted green. She took to us immediately… we took her to the vet right away and took care of her health problems… for the first 2 weeks she was fine… even some friends came over and she interacted with them with no problems.

    However, one day after about 3 weeks we took her out for a walk and she nipped at one little boy´s ankle and then right after that bit a little girl in the FACE who tried to pet her. Since then we are obviously very wary about having her interact with anyone besides us, especially children. She does fine with both of us in the house and gets along well with our other dog… but since then whenever other people come over she barks and barks; and the other day when I took her to the vet we had to put a muzzle on her so that the vet could check her teeth, because it seemed like she might bite the vet otherwise.

    I am living in Chile in a medium-sized city that doesn´t have any behavioral specialists; so I won´t be able to consult with one. Can you give me some tips about how to try to get to the root of her problem and start to solve it? I would like to be able to take her out and let her interact with children some day…

    Thanks so much for your advice!

  22. Robin, nobody on the internet can tell you one way or the other. You need to find a good local trainer. Try http://www.apdt.com for a start.

    And do continue to put him away when the kids are there.

  23. We have a 2 1/2yr old male elkhound lab mix.We adopted him at 11 weeks fron the spca.He was always the nervous type but as he gets older he is getting worse.He doesnt really like people(or they just scare him).Whrn he is chained out and children walk by our house,his hair on his entire back stands up and he barks somethinf fierce.Our neighbor tried to pet him and he got bit.My daughter and her boyfriend were horse playing and the dog bit her in the back of the leg.The vet said he will always be the nervous type but we have small grandchildren now.He gets a little excited when they are running around.I have started putting him away when the kids are here,but I want to know if this is something he can overcome?PLEASE HELP!

  24. Em, I certainly understand about money being tight — been there myself plenty. But if you can’t make some progress very soon, you really do need to find a GOOD trainer, someone who will use positive, painfree methods with your dog. As I mention above, there are recent blog posts on how to find a good trainer, anywhere in the world.

    That said, here is a possible approach. Do manage the situation for safety especially around children and your fiance. Do as many of the nine steps as you can.

    If you haven’t already downloaded my free ebook on clicker training — link on a tab at the top of this page — then get it and start clicker training your dog.

    Or even without a clicker, one way or another, start playing with food treats and your dog. I would try this first a short time AFTER she has eaten a meal, so hunger is not a factor. Here is what I mean:

    I would also use rather boring food treats to keep her emotional level lower. Just one piece of her dry food at a time would do. O

    Ask her to sit (or do some other behavior she knows) and then give her a food treat which she has to take out of your outstretched palm, if this is safe for your hand. If it isn’t, then set the treat on the floor or a chair for her to take. You want her to develop some self control around food.

    This is a whole long process that is worthy of an entire blog post itself, but in a nutshell, training any dog to actually reach the point where she is ok with you or your fiance being around when she eats is essential…

    BTW, I once had a veterinarian who was extremely relaxed about most things but he felt very strongly that rawhide chews were dangerous. I have never used one since. I highly recommend Nylabones (or there may be other brands) instead.

    Another resource: I am really impressed with the Clickertraining ebook that I’ve reviewed: http://www.rosanahart.com/dogs/clickertraining-4-secrets-review.html

    It would cost some money, though less than one session with a trainer, and these people really know their stuff. Way more than I do!

    Here’s what I wrote about them and dog aggression:

    Also, click on the category Aggression in the sidebar for an article I did about other websites on dog aggression.

  25. Hi, there. I need help with my mini austrailian shephard/chow mix dog. She just turned a year old in February, however, she’s always had a bit of an issue with food agression. We’ve had her since she was six weeks old, so we know that she’s not had to fight for food or been mistreated. When she eats, if we get to close, she’ll growl and still eat while she’s growling so I’m always worried she’ll choke. And then when she has a porkhide twist or rawhide, she’s recently gotten to the point where she starts swallowing it whole to where she starts gagging, so my boyfriend will try to swoop the piece of rawhide out of her throat. Both times this has happened she growls like she’s a rabid dog, but lst night she bit him. to the point where he needed stitches on his thumb and his index finger. I know she’s passed needing training. I’m just really short on money for extras. I’ve put away all treats, atleast for now, so she won’t have the reason to get possesive and bite.

    I’m just worried that if we have kids over or, God-willing, kids of our own, then we willb e putting them in danger. Any ideas or tips? And I read the 9 here, and they are good, I just didn’t know if anyone had any personal success stories that may help me out.

    Thanks for reading!

  26. Susan, it sounds like your situation is more serious than ours was. I suggest re-reading step 8, on finding a good trainer, even if money happens to be tight. I’ve also recently written a couple of blog entries this month on finding trainers and when they are needed.

    This sounds like something where an experienced person present will see things and be able to help you. I’d say it’s highly likely that you can work this out if you do find a good trainer.

    Best wishes!


  27. I can totally relate to your situation in #5. My fiance (Alex) and I adopted a pet from the “Adopte a Rescue Pet” program. The dog tries to guard me from my fiance as well as our other dog (she is a teacup chiuahua). It’s especially obvious when we are all in the living room and the dog is laying at my feet in front of the couch. When Alex enters the room, the dog will growl at him.

    The dog plays with Alex and the other dog all the time. Alex spends lots of time with the dog, takes him for walks, and has trained the dog to sit, stay, come, lay down, and even roll over. Then, when I come home from work the dog has a completly differant personality! He growls at Alex and almost completly ignores him and his commands. He’ll only answer to me, if he answers to anyone. I’ve tried all the advice that has been given to me. I’ve tried ignoring him, and having Alex give him treats. I don’t pet him or try to confort him. I’ll usually take him buy the collar and lead him to the crate. But in the end, he does the same thing the next day.

    What did you do to stop this? When your husband gave the dog treats in the hallway, did he call him? Did he not let him back in to the office? How did he keep the dog from growling at him once all three of you were in the office? Any feedback would be great. Thank you!

  28. We rescued a texas rednose female pitbull not spayed .She had pups 6 months earlier .Brought her home she is very aggresive towards our 10 year old male pitbull since we brought her home 5 days ago .How do we introduce them safetly .Tryed spraying her face , are keeping them in seperate rooms they each get private time out what do we do ?

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