This post was provided to Pet Guardian Angels of America by Noah Rue
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How to Calmly Deal With an Aggressive Dog
Many dog owners have incredibly strong bonds with their pets and would go so far as to say
they’d trust their dogs with their lives. Although we may never want to think about the possibility of our furry friends being anything other than sweet, it’s important to remember that dogs are just like all other animals – they can react aggressively when put under stress. When this happens, knowing how to remain calm and react appropriately can help you diffuse the situation and prevent an attack from occurring.
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Read the Dog
There are many different reasons why a dog may behave aggressively. Recognizing them can
help you address what’s making your dog uncomfortable before it becomes a problem and
causes them to lash out. Dogs require a lot of attention but are generally pretty easy to please. However, sometimes we get busy and don’t pay enough attention to notice that their behavior has changed and that they’re stressed.
You can tell your dogs is stressed when they do any of the following:
- They’re having digestive issues.
- Their eating patterns have changed.
- They isolate themselves more than usual.
- They spend an excessive amount of time sleeping.
Just like a person, any time your dog has a big behavioral change, it can be a sign that
something is wrong. A good dog owner will look into what’s wrong as soon as possible to make
sure their dog is healthy and getting what they need. However, other times, something
situational can trigger your dog into having an aggressive reaction.
You can often tell how a dog is feeling by the way their bodies move. When they’re excited, their ears usually perk up and their body movements are quick and jumpy. Sometimes, the
heightened excited feelings can turn aggressive if they get out of hand. However, when a dog is seriously aggressive, they’ll often growl, crouch, and keep their tail and ears down as their inner predator comes out.
If you’re not sure yet what makes your dog tick, be cautious in every initial interaction they have. Some dogs don’t do well with children, as kids can be erratic; and their shouts, lack of boundaries, and unsteady petting can cause the dog to become nervous. In general, it’s best to always be careful around children; however, you can relax a little once you know your dog does well with kids.
Around Other Dogs
Even if your dog is great with other dogs, the dogs they’re interacting with might not be.
Personality clashes between dogs, as well as overly playful behavior that turns aggressive, can cause either dog to become hostile. Before letting your dog off their leash at a dog park, make sure they play well with others, and always keep an eye on them to make sure they play nicely.
Diffuse the Situation
The key to dealing with an aggressive dog is to react calmly when you see a situation
escalating. Dogs can often feel how the people around them are feeling, and if you start yelling or reacting angrily, it may put them on edge.
Diffuse the situation by following these steps:
- Back away slowly: This will indicate to the dog that you’re not a threat. Don’t turn your back on them or run, as their instinct to chase will likely come out.
- Stay quiet: If you’re scared and have the urge to yell or cry, try to keep it inside. Hearing your agitation can let them know they’re succeeding, which may encourage them.
- Lower your hands: Although putting your hands up is a sign that you’re not dangerous, the dog may feel threatened and see your hands as an easy target to bite.
- Ignore them: If you deescalate the situation enough to where you can ignore the dog, they’ll become bored when they stop having your attention and back off.
- Take a defensive position: if it comes down to a fight, you’ll have to show them that there’s a chance they won’t win by showing them you can also attack.
If you experience the misfortune of being bitten by a dog, you’ll need to find the owner and talk to them about next steps. Whether or not there was negligence involved, an aggressive dog can put others in danger and will need to be rehabilitated to avoid future instances. The dog owner will also need to take care of your medical bills, and you can take legal action if they are resistant to taking accountability for their dog’s actions.
For this same reason, it’s good to invest in pet insurance if you can afford it. You never know when your dog may be in a similar accident, and in order to avoid being overloaded with a person’s medical bills, you should make sure your dog is insured. Often times, this is only between $30 and $50, and it can cover injuries, as well as your dog’s veterinary bills.
More often than not, domesticated dogs have very kind and sweet personalities. However, there are many reasons a dog may not be its normal self. By reading the dog’s behavior and knowing how to diffuse the situation, you can hopefully avoid a situation that can be traumatic for both you and the dog — and keep your experiences with dogs as friendly and happy as possible.
Noah Yarnol Rue is always looking where his next trip will take him . When he’s not traveling the world, he’s writing articles on the new things he learns. Noah also enjoys a good meme from time to time. You can find Noah on LinkedIn.