Anytime a dog is acting aggressive; there is a reason for it. Aggression in dogs happens because of genetics, environment and training methods. There is always a trigger for aggressive behavior. One of the first steps a professional dog trainer or behaviorist will do when dealing with an aggressive dog is find out what is triggering the aggression. There can be many reasons for this. Treating aggression consists of four steps. The first step is getting a through vet check. We need to rule out any physical problems before we can start any behavior program. The second step consists of safety and management. The third and step involves developing a positive relationship and structure. And the last step deals with treating and changing the dog’s aggressive response. In order for the program to be effective each part of the program must be followed.

1. Aggression is often described as a snowball going downhill. It starts very small and insignificant and quickly becomes huge and intimidating. It is very important that we try to limit the number of aggressive incidents that occur. Limit access to anything that triggers the aggression. Some other important points to remember are:

Walk the dog on a gentle leader
Muzzle before vets, groomers, etc.
Keep the dog kenneled or in a crate when unsupervised
Try to walk the dog in areas or at times when you are unlikely to come into contact with other dogs.

Remember good management skills are very important for any dog owner, but it is especially important for owners with aggressive dogs.

2. Positive relationship and structure: A dog is a pack animal, which is one reason they make such good pets because they respond to a social structure. In the wild, the pack is very loosely organized, but there is always a pack leader. In order for the pack to survive there needs to be structure. A dog living in a domestic situation needs to understand that its human pack members are at the top of the social scale. We need to be strong leaders in the dog’s eyes; otherwise the dog will develop unwanted behaviors. A dog does not have to be physically punished in order to learn that we are the pack leaders. A more desirable way to establish our position is to control what is important to the dog.

Social contact

As you structure the relationship, it is also important to provide your dog with some mental and physical stimulation. A dog needs exercise and a change of scenery once in a while (walks at the beach, in the woods, going to parks are all good and necessary things for your dog.) Another good thing to do for your dog is to put him on a quality diet. Nutrition has a direct effect on your dog’s behavior.

3. Treating the aggression: Treating the aggression is a gradual process and should be done with a professional trainer. The aggressive response needs to be dealt with. Using harsh physical methods to deal with aggression can backfire. Putting a choke collar and trying to “correct” the aggressive behavior with a leash correction can make the behavior worse.


If your dog is showing signs of aggressive behavior please contact an experienced professional dog trainer or behaviorist. Aggressive behavior can be very dangerous and needs to be addressed sooner rather than later.

Author's Bio: 

Eric Letendre, the author of The Amazing Dog Training Man, invites you to visit for leading edge dog training tips, instructional video clips and articles that will help you train and understand your dog. You can also get weekly dog training updates with a free Smart Dog Newsletter subscription, available at