Puppy Aggression

Puppies may seem cute and cuddly on the outside. However, that seemingly innocent puppy biting and chewing can mean serious danger to your yours friends, neighbors and visitors if they aren't dealth with at an early age. When it comes to aggressive puppy behavior, there are laws that state your dog can be put down if it bites someone.

To ensure that DOESN'T happen, you must train and socialize your puppy at an early age. Puppy aggression doesn't just mean puppy biting; it means barking and lunging at people as well. While the behavior may seem cute on the outside, if not properly treated at an early age, it can develop into serious dog aggression and will be much more difficult to fix at an older age.

Firstly, you should know the reason why puppy becomes aggressive. There are number of reasons for puppy aggression, including:

  • Being alone for long periods of time. Boredom and anxiety can often lead to aggression that comes out of frustration.
  • Being bullied by other dogs or people. Ensure your children and friends are not picking on your puppy. It may just lash out in response.
  • Physical pain or discomfort. If your puppy is suffering from discomfort, whether from a fresh cut or a genetic disease, it may just respond to this with aggressive behavior.
  • Genetic Diseases. Some dogs, like Cocker Spaniels, suffer from a rare disease known as "rage syndrome," which causes them to lash out spontaneously. Do some research on your particular dog breed or mix to ensure they aren't susceptible to violent compulsions.

Finally, your puppy, if it is of a larger breed such as a German Shepherd or Doberman, may feel he needs to protect his territory and thus lashes out at strangers--or even family.

Whatever the reason, it takes a lot more than simple dog obedience training to handle a dog's aggressive problems. It would be wise to consider some serious puppy training.

Here are some solutions:

  • Early Intervention is Key! The absolute best way to deal with aggressive behavior, is to prevent it in the first place! The good thing about starting with a young puppy rather than an older dog is that puppies are more impressionable and akin to learning proper training. So the first time your pup growls, bites, or chews, immediately "GRRRR" at him and say "NO" in a firm, confident voice. Make sure you offer an alternative, preferred response to the action so he can be rewarded for performing it. For example, if you say NO when your dog barks, ensure that you give your dog a treat or lots of attention when he stays quiet, otherwise he will never get the proper message.
  • If you act quickly and consistently enough, your puppy will halt its aggressive behavior before it even becomes an issue.
  • Establish yourself as the leader from the start. Set rules that are humane but consistently enforced. Get your puppy accustomed to your handling off food, toys, and his body. Let him know that toys are a treat, not a privilege, and that food is always served on YOUR schedule, not his. Additionally, cuddle and pet your puppy when he or she is calm, not excited. Do not work your puppy into a fluster and then expect him to not show his teeth or some snarling when you unexpectedly pick him up.
  • Do not scare or yell at your puppy. Puppies are easily startled, so if you are going to punish your dog, do so with just a firm rebuke rather than physical punishment or a loud voice. Reward your dog with treats and praise for calm, subordinate behavior. When your puppy sees that behaving well is a good thing, he will be much less prone to act out aggressively.
  • Beware of puppy teething. Puppies teeth between the ages of three and six months, and at this time they become more playful. Puppy biting and chewing becomes more common because it allows the puppies to soothe their aching gums. While a little playful gnawing isn't aggressive, it CAN lead to aggressive biting if encouraged. Be tolerant of your puppy's biting, but rather than letting him chew your hand or other body parts, give him something cold. A great solution is to put your pup's favorite toy in the fridge overnight, then give it to him to chew on all next day. This will not only keep him from nipping on humans, but also help soothe the teething pain.
  • Socialize your dog at an early age. This is absolutely crucial in your dog's development and essential in preventing unwanted aggressive behavior. The more used to other dogs and people your puppy is, the less likely he will develop common aggression problems later in life. Show him respectful behavior towards children, visitors, and other dogs at an early age, and reinforce this behavior. Your dog will learn to love people and other dogs, and relish in their company.
  • Finally, do not encourage your puppy's aggressive behavior with games like wrestling or tug of war. Games that encourage winning bring out the most aggressive behavior in dogs, so avoid these types of games. Instead, encourage light, non-competitive games such as running and playing fetch.

A pleasant behavior towards your dog and good socializing will drastically diminish aggression in puppies. Allow your pup to have fun and be young, but be firm and consistent in your training. Your puppy, family, and friends will all thank you!

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