You’ve just settled down to watch this week’s episode of your favorite show, but your dog is demanding attention. He’s had had his walk for the day, but still wants to play! Perhaps he’s a puppy or just particularly energetic, but whatever it is, he won’t take no for an answer. But their idea of playing can often lead to aggression, such as growling, nibbling and even full on biting. Everyone wants to be able to play with their dog, but a dog that displays aggressive behavior when playing could potentially be a risk not just to you, but children, strangers and other dogs too.
Training your dog to NOT play aggressively could save you from a world of future problems. Not to mention it means you can play with him without the risk of losing a finger. Thankfully, with patience and a proactive attitude, you can nip displays of playful but aggressive behavior in the bud relatively quickly.
Training your dog not to be aggressive can be done through a variety of methods. You can try and encourage them to play with toys instead of your body, you can ensure they have a cool off period when they start to show signs of aggression, plus you can let them know when you are dissatisfied with their behavior.
The key to training aggressive behavior out of your dog is consistency. You need to keep up the training until all displays of aggression have gone. Combating aggressive play is seriously important, otherwise, their aggression could manifest itself outside of play and could lead to serious injury. It is not a straightforward and easy road to tackling aggression, but with persistence, in several weeks or months you could have a transformed dog. While training aggression out of puppies may be easier, even graying dogs can respond to this sort of training too.
Before you begin tackling aggressive behavior, you’ll need to get a few things together. It is firstly worth getting a toy for your dog that will be used instead of your hands and arms. You may also want to get some treats to reward your dog for playing gently. These could be actual dog treats, or their favorite food, be it cheese or some lean meat. The only other thing you need is patience and a proactive attitude.
You’re now equipped with the knowledge and some tasty treats, it’s time to get to work!
I need help with my parent's older dog being overly aggressive with our two year old female Austrailian Shepherd. Initially, Maggie will play well with Ruby. However, after she gets tired from chasing a dog that's 6 years younger she will begin getting snippy and noticeably aggressive. Can you provide any thoughts on how we might be able to avoid this from happening?
Hello Tyler, It is fairly common for older dogs and younger dogs to disagree because of the differences in energy levels. Maggie is probably getting tired and feeling overwhelmed after playing for a bit because Ruby does not let up when Maggie is giving her signals that she is ready to stop. Maggie may be resorting to aggression because she feels like she has to to get Ruby to give her space. You will need to do a couple of things. The first is supervise their play and be Maggie's advocate. When you see that she is getting tired and not having fun anymore distract Ruby away from Maggie. Perhaps have Ruby do something with you, or go lie down with a toy, or even have some quiet time in her crate, if she is use to being crated, with a fun toy, like a Kong chew toy stuffed with her kibble and a little peanut butter. If you separate the two dogs before Maggie feels overwhelmed she will begin to feel like you are handling the situation and that she does not have to be the one to control things. The second thing that you can do is to reward Maggie with something she loves, such as treats or a favorite toy, whenever Ruby comes near her. When Ruby is away keep things boring for Maggie and when Ruby comes close give Maggie something special so that she will associate Ruby's presence with good things and begin to want Ruby around. I would suggest doing both of those two things, as well as rewarding Ruby for leaving Maggie alone when you interrupt their play. Teaching a "come" or an "out" command can be great for Ruby. An out command is simply a command that means get out of the space you are currently in, that space being wherever Maggie is. Best of luck with your dogs, your girl is beautiful in the photo. Thank you, Caitlin Crittenden
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