How to Calm an Aggressive Dog?


Aggression is a serious behavioral problem in dogs. If not given proper attention and management, it could cause harm to your pet, other animals, and people around you. Your dog may suddenly show signs of aggression for no obvious reason. Or you may have just encountered or taken a dog home and noticed that he behaves aggressively when faced with other animals or people. It helps to know the signs and types of aggression, so you’d be able to know how to calm an aggressive dog.

Types of Dog Aggression

In learning how to deal with an aggressive dog, understand that the behavior may stem from all sorts of reasons. It could come from dog anxiety when a dog is exposed to an unfamiliar person or environment. Aggression could also be due to pain your dog may be suffering from or fear. The following are the different types of aggression you may see in dogs:


· Social aggression

Social aggression may occur when more than one dog is present in the household. A dog may also show aggression when you’re unable to properly socialize your dog.


· Pain-induced aggression

A dog may behave aggressively if he’s in pain due to an injury or a medical condition. This could present you with a very dangerous situation. A dog in pain may bite if you try to touch or help him.


· Fear-motivated aggression

Fearful dogs have a high tendency to behave aggressively. If you want to know how to stop dog aggression towards strangers, you may consider that your dog is acting out of perceived fear.


· Redirected aggression

Aggression in dogs may merely be redirected to you or other people or dogs, but stem from an entirely different stimulus that a dog may be unable to attack directly. Fireworks or loud sounds can cause anxiety, fear, and frustration in dogs and it helps to know what to do when your dog is exposed to this kind of stimulus.


· Genetic predisposition

Some dog breeds may be more aggressive than others. See our list of most aggressive dog breeds.


· Resource guarding

Dogs may show signs of aggression if they see a threat to their territory or “resources” they may be guarding including their toys or food.


· Protective aggression

This type of aggression is mostly seen in mother dogs who are guarding their newborn puppies. Dogs can also be protective of their family members. For instance, if you want to know how to deal with a neighbor’s aggressive dog, you may consider it as a form of protective aggression.


· Learned aggression

Aggressive behavior may persist if dogs learn that they get what they want by exhibiting this type of behavior.


· Frustration aggression

Dogs that are kept in a leash or kennel for most of their lives are likely to feel frustration, resulting in aggressive behavior, which will be directed to anyone who comes near.


· Territorial aggression

Dogs may behave aggressively in defense of their home or territory.


· Predatory aggression

Predatory aggression manifests in dogs that often chase small animals, cats, and even children.


Signs of Aggression in Dogs

How to stop an aggressive dog? To be able to, you need to know how to spot the signs of aggression in dogs. There are warning signs that may range from mild to severe, including:

  • Ears pinned back
  • Fast pacing
  • Rigid body
  • Raised fur
  • Lips stretched out exposing the teeth
  • Tail between legs or cowering
  • Quickly wagging tail
  • Aggressive eye contact
  • Barking, growling, or snarling
  • Lunging
  • Light nipping
  • Biting


How to Calm an Aggressive Dog

How to stop dog aggression towards the owner or other animals? The first step is to remain calm and focus on your dog’s needs. Dogs are likely to sense it if you feel fear or panic. Take control of the situation and find out what’s causing your dog’s unwanted behavior.

1. Consult your vet.

You have to rule out the possibility that your dog’s aggressive behavior is caused by injury, an illness, or an underlying medical condition. Your vet could do a full workup and determine if your dog is showing pain-induced aggression.

2. Learn how to train an aggressive dog.

If the aggression has become severe, you may consider calling a professional who can help with behavior modification. Experts can apply some known behavior modification techniques to stop dog aggression towards people.

If you’re only starting to see early warning signs that your dog has a tendency to behave aggressively in certain situations, there are things you can do:

  • Remove your dog from situations when he gets overexcited.
  • Train your dog to calm down. Ignore him if he barks to get your attention.
  • Reward your dog when he is calm. Reinforce calm behavior by offering your dog treats whenever he settles down or stops barking at your command.
  • How to stop dog aggression towards cats and other dogs? Socialize your dog properly. Introduce him to dogs that interact well with other animals and don’t entertain rough behavior.
  • Introduce new places or activities to your dog. For instance, if he barks at people or growls at other dogs in the park, you may consider new places or activities that won’t encourage him to repeat this kind of behavior.


3. Don’t hurt your dog.

Don’t ever punish your dog as doing so can only worsen the behavior. If your dog reacts aggressively towards strangers, remove him from the situation.


4. Introduce a calm environment.

A change of scenery might be able to help calm an aggressive dog. You can make small changes like keeping your dog in a comfortable room when he starts to act aggressive and keep him there until he calms down. How to stop an aggressive dog towards other dogs? If your dog behaves aggressively when he meets other dogs during your walks, you may want to take a different route.


5. Medication

Your vet may prescribe medication if the aggressive behavior poses a danger to you or people around you. Calming medications and treats can help your dog become more responsive to behavior training and better manage their impulsive behavior.



Aggression in dogs can be scary but remember that there’s always a reason behind aggressive behavior. Try to determine the root cause of aggression in your dog and invest time and effort in training and socializing your dog. If needed, seek help from a vet or an animal behavior expert who can give you professional advice.


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