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Stop Your Dog From Being Aggressive – Part 2

albuquerque aggressive dogPart 2: Desensitization

There are many reasons dog’s behave aggressively from frustration to fear or territoriality. No one likes to think that their dog is aggressive but it is a very common problem. One of the most common causes of aggression is a lack of proper socialization when they are a puppy. When a puppy is not properly socialized they will run away and try to hide behind their mother. If an adult dog is fearful, and they cannot run away, they become aggressive. This is the classic fight or flight response. ¬†There are many things you can do to help stop your dogs aggression. Keep in mind that behavioral training takes time and consistency, so be patient.

If you are unsure how to cope with your dog’s aggression, please reach out to your Albuquerque veterinarian at Vetco and we can help discuss options.

The purpose of desensitization is to expose your dog to what he fears but in a way that is that is safe and less intense. This helps your dog to become less anxious as he is exposed to his fears. Your presence in the face of their trigger helps show them that they are safe and will help them to safely confront their trigger.

Steps to Desensitization:

  1. Make sure your environment is safe. Make sure that they cannot run away and get out of the area. Do not make them feel trapped either, so do not crate them or put them in a confined space. Your dog needs to be able to back away but not run away.
  2. Make sure your dog is in the proper equipment. Put on a harness or a good leash that you trust and with which you are able to control your dog. Put on a muzzle if they have a history of biting. The proper equipment will help keep you and your dog safe.
  3. Start by introducing your dog to their trigger (aka. whatever sparks their aggression) from a distance.
  4. Once your dog starts displaying anxiety through backing away, growling, aggressive posturing, stop and stay there. Do not punish them for being aggressive, but use a soothing voice and pet them to help calm them down.
  5. Once they calm down, keep them in a calm state for 30 seconds and then give them a treat.
  6. After the treat, remove them from the trigger and praise them again.
  7. Do the same thing every day but move a little closer each time.

Do not have the trigger approach them. Do not have the trigger make sudden moves or do anything that seems aggressive. When your dog is at the point of being within contact range, allow your dog to sniff the trigger on their own. Once they are comfortable with that you can work on the trigger moving and walking up to them.

Your dog may never be ok with having contact with the trigger and that is ok. The goal is to get them to be within a closer range of the trigger without showing aggression and without experiencing a lot of anxiety. This takes time and consistency. Be patient and your dog will get there in time.


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The information provided on this website is written by Vetco staff. All information is meant to be informational and is not meant as veterinary advice. If you have a health question regarding your pet, their treatment or anything concerning their veterinary care, please call Vetco to consult with a veterinarian.