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Preventing Dog Attacks Caused by Canine Aggression

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Preventing Dog Attacks Caused by Canine Aggression

Systematically controlling canine aggression is necessary in preventing dog attacks. Dogs too aggressive to keep may have to be euthanized. So, you owe it to your dog to implement proven aggression-control techniques as early as possible.

Preventing Aggression While Your Dog Is Still a Puppy

It’s never too early to start training your dog not to bite. Here are some steps to teaching a puppy not to bite:

  • Provide plenty of enjoyable toys to your puppy
  • Do not play games like wrestling and tug-of-war that encourage puppies to use their teeth in play
  • Do not encourage puppies to mouth or bite your fingers, even if you regard such behavior as adorable or affectionate
  • If your puppy bites, say "Ouch!" loudly, to signal your dog is hurting you and must stop
  • Never, ever physically punish puppies (or dogs) when they bite, which can increase the tendency to act aggressively, as they learn from your example
  • Express your displeasure, and disengage from puppies when they bite, conveying aggression will result in the temporary loss of your attention
  • When your puppy bites, lightly clasp the lower jaw with your thumb and forefinger for 10 seconds, continuing as your puppy moves
  • If your puppy licks rather than bites your hand, shower your puppy with praise
  • Use aversion training by coating gloves with a bitter-tasting substance, like the juice of an apple, until your puppy does not want to bite anymore

Preventing Aggression in Adult Dogs

Additional training and stronger prevention measures may be necessary to lessen aggression in your adult dog. Here are some steps in preventing attacks by adult dogs in your household:

  • When your dog growls or bites, immediately shout "Ahhhhh!" back, and immediately disengage
  • Do not allow play that involves wrestling or biting, or your dog pulling a toy you're your hands using the teeth
  • If your dog becomes over-stimulated and begins to act aggressively or bite during playtime, end it until your dog calms down
  • As some dogs bite to protect territory, do not allow your dog to monopolize places and possession not specifically provided to him or her, as well as clearly designate your dog’s own spaces with a fence, pen, kennel or other marker
  • As some dogs bite out of fear, introduce your dog to new people and places gradually, while reinforcing a calm disposition with praise and rewards
  • Muzzle aggressive dogs if a health condition causes them to bite out of pain or discomfort
  • Muzzle aggressive dogs around visitors and children

You and your veterinarian may decide that your dog requires professional help in curbing aggressive behaviors—do not hesitate to ask your vet for referrals. In addition, sterilization may curb aggression in some dogs. Again, your vet will provide you with the information necessary to make this decision.

Staying Safe around Potentially Aggressive Dogs Owned by Others

Learning what to do when confronted with potentially aggressive dogs is paramount to ensuring the safety of you and your family. Here are some key steps to avoid provoking a dog attack:

  • Never stare into a dog’s eyes
  • Never tease dogs behind fences
  • Never approach dogs chained in yards
  • Never touch or handle a loose dog
  • Never run and scream from a loose dog—instead, remain totally still and quiet
  • Never pet or play with a dog that’s eating
  • Never pet or play with a dog that’s sleeping
  • Never pet or play with a dog without an owner’s permission

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