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How can I tell if my dog is violent?

Dog Aggression Toward Other Dogs: Warning Signs, Treatment, & Prevention

dog aggression, dog with mouth open

Dog aggression toward other dogs is a very serious matter. Until your dog is successfully treated, keep them a safe distance from all other dogs — “safe distance” meaning the minimum amount of space they need to remain calm and unstressed.

Even if physical contact is never made, managing a dog who’s pulling and lunging on-leash is very difficult — not to mention stressful for all parties — and attempting to defuse an attack in progress is downright dangerous.

Be aware that even the briefest fight can result in a fine, a lawsuit, or — most devastating — the injury or loss of your pet or someone else’s.

Here’s what you should know about canine aggression toward other dogs.

Signs Of Dog Aggression Toward Other Dogs

Whether on a walk, at the groomer, or just visiting the vet, watch for the major warning signs of aggression toward another dog:

  • Lunging
  • Posturing
  • Direct eye contact
  • Raised hackles
  • Pricked ears
  • Teeth exposed toward the other dog

If you see these behaviors, calmly remove your dog or redirect their attention to something else.

Nature Versus Nurture

Crossbreed dogs playing in snow

(Picture Credit: Brigitte Blättler/Getty Images)

Nature and nurture each play a role in shaping your pup’s personality.

True, certain types of dogs were, historically, bred specifically to fight other dogs. However, since most modern countries have outlawed dog blood sports, breeders have mostly bred aggressive traits out of their dogs.

Breeds once born and raised for aggression now often make great lapdogs and family companions.

Even if a particular breed was created with aggressive traits, the right training and socialization — environmental factors — can and do triumph over genetics. Similarly, breeds known to be gentle and easygoing can become highly aggressive if mistreated.

If you’ve brought home a puppy, you’re in a good spot: their behavior is yours to shape. If you have an older dog and you suspect they may be dog-aggressive, training — or rather, retraining — will be much trickier.

In such cases, consulting a professional is always the best path.

How To Treat Dog Aggression Toward Other Dogs

Most behaviorists use desensitization to treat dog-to-dog aggression. With professional guidance using plenty of positive reinforcement, you can gradually decrease the physical distance between your dog and other dogs without raising their anxiety level.

This takes a great deal of time and patience — often several months to a year — but ultimately your dog will associate the approach of other canines with good things like praise, treats, and attention. Get guidance from a behaviorist before beginning desensitization.

In the meantime, don’t increase your dog’s stress by physically punishing or yelling at them, and forget prong or choke collars. Added pain and stress will only escalate your dog’s anxiety and increase the aggression.

The last thing you want to teach them is that the presence of other dogs means bad things happen.

How To Prevent Dog-To-Dog Aggression

dogs meeting

(Picture Credit: Pablo Reinsch/Getty Images)

There’s no surefire way to prevent aggression, but there are basic steps you can take to greatly decrease the chances your dog will develop a problem:

  • Socialize your puppy. Arrange supervised play dates with other pups, and encourage interaction with well-mannered adult dogs who can teach your puppy how to behave.
  • Neuter or spay your dog as early as your vet recommends is safely possible; this will greatly reduce hormone-driven aggression.
  • Always treat your dog with kindness and respect, using positive reinforcement to train. Physical correction, intimidation, and isolation only encourage aggression by adding to a dog’s anxiety.

Dog aggression toward other dogs is treatable but nearly always requires the help of a trained professional and lifelong vigilance. Doing everything you can to prevent incidences in the first place may be a better option as you continue training.

Have you ever trained an aggressive dog to remain calm around other dogs? Got any training tips? Let us know in the comments below!

More information about dog aggression:

  • DogSpeak: Understanding Canine Aggression
  • Expert Q&A: Newly aggressive toward dogs!
  • Preventing aggression around food bowls, treats and toys

Signs That a Dog Is Potentially Aggressive

Signs that a dog is potentially aggressive

Most of us have come across a dog that we have immediately assumed is aggressive at least a few times in our lives. It might have been something about their look, stance, growl, bark, or how they tried to break free from their leash that led us to think the canine we encountered was one to steer clear of. The dog’s breed, posted signs to beware of the dog, or word-of-mouth reports in the neighborhood may have motivated you to want to avoid this four-legged friend as well.

Although it would be challenging to convince someone scared of dogs that not all of them are to be feared, the truth is that not all canines are aggressive. Throughout the rest of this article, we’ll address signs that a dog may be dangerous, why dogs act out in aggression, and what some of the most dangerous breeds are. We’ll also discuss the prospect of holding a negligent owner liable for their dog’s actions.

Why Dogs Become Aggressive

Breeders have long focused their attention on making most canines friendly to humans. Like any living being, dogs have good days and bad days or experience situations in which they don’t feel their best. There are various reasons why dogs may act out in aggression, including if they:

  • Feel that their territory is being encroached upon or otherwise threatened
  • Haven’t been socialized
  • Are being antagonized or ill-treated
  • Don’t feel well
  • Are anxious, scared, or being subjected to stress
  • Fear for their safety
  • Are trying to protect their litter or pack

Certain situations may also bring out a dog’s playful side. It may be challenging for them to tell when playtime is over. Aggression may occur as a result.

How Can You Tell if a Dog Is Potentially Dangerous?

While you may rightfully assume that a dog that jumps on the fence while barking loudly or starts charging at you unprovoked is aggressive, it’s ideal if you can learn about a potentially dangerous canine before a face-to-face confrontation occurs. You can do this by assessing the dog’s body language. That can tell you a lot about its demeanor.

Don’t Place Too Much of an Emphasis on Sounds Dogs Make

It’s best if you don’t readily assume that a dog’s sounds are a sign of aggression. Dogs have limited vocalization capacity. There are three primary sounds dogs can make, including:

The sounds one canine makes in an attempt to come off as aggressive may be a way another dog greets someone or lets you know that they’re looking for attention.

Canine Body Language to Focus On for Signs of Aggression

Signs a dog may feel threatened or angry, making them more prone to become dangerous, include:

  • Its fur starts to stand up
  • It starts snapping at others
  • Its body becomes stiff
  • It avoids eye contact
  • The whites of its eyes become more visible
  • It shows its teeth
  • It snarls or growls

While large dogs often intimidate individuals, small ones can be just as dangerous. All sizes and breeds of dogs are capable of causing serious injuries like dog bites.

Are Some Dogs More Apt To Be Aggressive Than Others?

Dogs that you need to worry most about appear small and playful but instead pack a serious bite. A study conducted by the American Temperament Test Society aimed to pinpoint dog breeds most apt to act out aggressively despite being unprovoked. The top three dog breeds that made the list included:

  • Chow-chows: Can be overly assertive to the point of being domineering. This may have something to do with the fact that they have limited peripheral vision. They behave best when they’ve been socialized early on.
  • Chihuahuas: Are loyal to their owners, meaning they often fear or act possessively around strangers.
  • Dachshunds: Often put on a big attitude to compensate for them not having a larger stature. They can have difficulties getting along with children unless introduced to them early on in the canine’s life.

ATTS determined that the three types of dogs above are most likely to either avoid anyone they deem to be threatening, panic, or react aggressively when encountering individuals, especially in the scenarios described above.

How To Minimize Chances of a Dog Attacking You

One good rule of thumb that you should always employ to avoid a confrontation with a potentially aggressive dog is to keep a safe distance from one pacing back and forth or jumping up on the fence while barking. If an encounter is inevitable (such as if the dog is charging you), then you’ll want to:

  • Avoid making any loud noises that may further agitate the canine
  • Not make any sudden movements (like running) that may startle the dog
  • Avoid making eye-to-eye contact with the dog
  • Turn to your side so that the profile of your body is facing the dog

Many individuals who are confronted with a charging dog extend out their limbs to try to thwart an attack. This often makes the dog respond with even more aggression, which results in deeper bites akin to a mauling.

How Can You Minimize the Chances of an Aggressive Dog Hurting Your Child?

It’s always best for both you and your child to avoid petting any dog that you’re not familiar with. Even if it seems friendly, you may want to ask its owner about its health and typical behaviors to ensure that you’re not purposefully exposing yourself or your child to unnecessary dangers before interacting with it.

You should always closely supervise your child any time they interact with an unfamiliar dog. It’s also best if you encourage them to do the following:

  • Not to disturb it as it’s eating, taking care of its litter, or sleeping
  • Approach it calmly
  • Allow the dog to pick up on their scent by extending their closed hand
  • Not to pull on its tail
  • Only to pet its chest or shoulders (not its head)

A dog that isn’t aggressive will generally respond well to the above-referenced cues.

What To Do if You Suffer a Dog Bite

Countless individuals get bitten while they’re at the park, out for a walk in their neighborhood, visiting others’ homes, or otherwise going about their everyday tasks each day here in Albuquerque. New Mexico law affords you the right to hold negligent dog owners liable for the injuries their aggressive dog inflicts upon you.

Our attorneys here at Buckingham Barrera Vega Law Firm have extensive experience handling a wide range of personal injury cases, such claims involving dog bites. If a canine has attacked you, you may have disfiguring and life-threatening injuries. Seeking compensation ensures that you can pay your medical expenses to include mental health costs and reduce the chances of a negligent dog owner allowing their pet to hurt someone else again.

Here at Buckingham Barrera Vega Law Firm, our dog bite attorneys offer a free case review to go over your rights and let you know if we can help. Schedule your complimentary consultation here today.

How to Stop a Dog From Being Aggressive Towards Cats

It’s common for dogs and cats to clash, but it can become a serious problem if your dog shows true aggressive behavior towards your own cats or any other animals that wander into your backyard. As a responsible pet parent, it’s essential to tackle the problem if your dog is aggressive towards cats because it could cause a lot of distress or even serious injury. Fortunately, there are plenty of things you can do to promote harmony between cats and dogs. Below are some tips to stop a dog from being aggressive towards cats below.

Portrait of a husky dog looking at a green lawn

obedience training to teach your dog how to live with a cat. While you work on giving your dog proper training, supervise your two pets closely when they’re together to avoid an unpleasant incident.

  • Barking, growling or staring when a cat catches your dog’s attention
  • Trying to physically separate you and the cat
  • Stopping eating when a cat appears
  • A high prey drive to chase small objects or animals
  • Refusal to share sleeping or living areas with cats

Before You Start

Before you start obedience training to stop dog aggression towards cats or introduce a new cat to your household, there are some things you can do to reduce the likelihood of your dog chasing or being aggressive towards a cat. It’s important to make sure your pet gets plenty of exercise and playtime. A bored or under-stimulated dog is more likely to become easily frustrated by cats in its living space.

If you’re introducing dogs and cats for the first time, getting the initial meeting right is one of the most effective ways to reduce the chances of aggression developing. Suddenly bringing a cat into your home without a proper introduction could cause your dog to feel threatened and become aggressive.

Instead of immediately allowing your two pets to mingle in the same area, try putting one in a different room with a gate or other barrier keeping your dog and cat apart. Doing this will allow your dog to get used to the cat’s scent and how it looks, moves and behaves so it understands that the cat doesn’t pose a threat. Once your dog seems relaxed in the cat’s presence, you can try letting them into the same room while observing your dog for signs of it becoming anxious or stressed. If you notice any early signs of aggression from your dog, separate the animals immediately and give your dog a little longer time observing the cat through the barrier before trying again. Also, it is just as important to allow your cat time to get comfortable since your cat’s behavior can contribute to your dog’s prey drive, so remember to watch your cat’s comfort level just as closely as your dog’s before moving forward with face to face introductions.

Dog and cat best friends playing together outdoors

dog training school like The Dog Wizard can help you handle unwanted behaviors like cat aggression and transform your aggressive dog into a well-behaved canine. A professional dog trainer will work with your dog’s natural temperament to design an effective training program and teach you how to reinforce good behavior at home. No magic involved — just proven, positive training strategies based on dog psychology.

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