Hey dog owner!
You came here to learn about stopping dog aggression and dog barking.
Dog aggression and dog barking, lunging, biting, barking at windows, barking at the fence, reactivity, barking on walks, etc. are a wide range of aggressive or nuisance dog behaviors.
I’m going to use this article to act as a definitive guide to put a stop to all sorts of dog barking and aggression.
You’re going to find how-to’s, videos, checklists, and training to help you better understand your dog’s barking or aggression problem as well as actionable strategies to stop dog aggression and barking.
Feel free to read the whole article, or skip ahead to training sections that best explain how to put a stop to your dog’s particular type of barking or aggression:
- Nuisance Dog Barking
- How to stop dog barking at night/How to stop a puppy from barking at night
- How to stop dog barking at neighbors
- How to stop dog barking when left alone
- “My dog barks at everything!” Dogs who bark at every sound or noise they hear
- Dog won’t stop barking in crate
- How to stop dog barking at window
- Stop neighbor dog barking
- Aggressive Dog Barking
- How to calm an aggressive dog
- How to stop dog aggression
- How to socialize an aggressive dog
- Types of aggressive dogs
- What to do with an aggressive dog that bites
- Aggressive dog training tips
- Dog reactivity
- Dominance in dogs
- Dog aggression training near me
- Dog barking on walks
- How to train your dog to ignore other dogs
- Dog aggression towards people
- Dog suddenly aggressive to other dog in the house
- Territorial aggression in dogs
- Dog aggression towards owner
- Resource guarding dog
- Food aggression towards other dog
How to stop dog barking at night/How to stop a puppy from barking at night
There are a few steps to get your dog or puppy to stop barking at night:
1- Where is your dog?
If you’ve got a dog sleeping outside that would be the first thing to consider changing. Dogs are social creatures. Banishing them to be outside can make life very difficult for them. It’s uncomfortable, either hot or cold, and nighttime is when lots of critters come out.
If your dog MUST sleep outside I would consider perhaps crating your dog in the garage or finding another spot where the dog can sleep inside a crate or kennel.
If your dog is an inside dog and your dog is barking at night then look at the next steps.
2- Have your dog crated/kenneled at night.
Lots of dogs bark if they’re free to roam the house at night. They’ll hear a sound, see something outside, etc.
For dogs like that they need to learn the skill set of HOW to just calm down and go to sleep at night.
The crate becomes a silent teacher that allows them to learn how to do just that. They don’t have the option to wander and they learn to sleep.
Don’t put things in the crate. No need for food, water, or toys overnight. Lots of dogs can’t even handle having a dog bed in the crate because they’ll chew it. If that’s the case, it should be just a crate or kennel that’s completely empty.
3- If your dog is barking or whining in the crate…
Some dogs get really loud in the crate.
For starters, if they’re barking or whining because they need to go potty outside you’ll need to learn how to recognize that with practice.
But if your dog is barking or whining because he wants to get out then we need to try different tactics.
- Ignore it. There are lots of dogs who will stop barking in the crate if you ignore them. The reason being is that they’ll get nothing out of their attempts for attention and will just settle in and be quiet. Other dogs won’t, though. They’ll be loud even if ignored. For them we need to:
- Pattern interrupt. A pattern interrupt isn’t a correction. It’s just meant to distract the dog with the idea that if we can interrupt the pattern the dog is on, he’ll choose a new pattern. Like being quiet. A pattern interrupt could be to toss a bean bag at the crate, to clap loudly, or use a shake can (A can that has pennies in it. You toss it near the crate and the sound of the shaking pennies can distract a dog). If ignoring doesn’t work, and a pattern interrupt doesn’t work, then you may need to correct the dog.
- Correction can take on various forms. If you have the crate next to your bed you can use a spray bottle with water and spray the dog when he or she is vocal in the crate.
You can also try a citronella collar. They aren’t always 100% effective. Some dogs really don’t care. But they’re a fairly cheap thing you can try. Click here to try out one that I recommend.
You can also try a bark collar. DO NOT BUY A BARK COLLAR AT THE PET STORE. Pet stores carry the worst brands that are absolutely lousy. This is a collar we’ve been using for years and you can get free shipping from Amazon. Use this bark collar if you don’t want to mess up you dog.
Check out this video for extra help as well-
How to Stop Dog Barking at Neighbors
If your dog is barking at your neighbors we need to first examine one of two things:
1- Is your dog barking at neighbors while you’re home?
If so, then there’s a lot we can do.
The thing to consider is that barking at neighbors is a very hectic and territorial type behavior for your dog. Your dog isn’t thinking so much as he or she is tapping into a very primal urge to protect or guard the home.
The opposite of this HECTIC mindset is a CALM mindset.
Calmness always outshines any sort of chaos or fear or anxiety going on in your dog’s brain. The two different states of being can’t co-exist, so if you have calmness you can’t have chaos.
So how can you create calmness from your dog when you want it to stop the barking at neighbors?
Now, I know you’re going to say it.
“My dog IS obedient! He knows how to sit, lay, shake, roll over!”
I get it. Nearly all dogs I meet for the first time know how to do these basic dog obedience commands.
But there is a HUGE difference between knowing HOW to do those commands, and actually doing them when needed.
If you have a dog that will do obedience commands then you can solve this barking issue really quick.
For example, let’s say you have a great recall command (come) and a great down stay then it’s very formulaic how you can solve this barking issue.
The moment your dog starts barking at your neighbors do a quick recall followed by a down-stay.
With enough repetition what will happen is that your dog will start barking at your neighbor, but then immediately expect a recall, and he or she will already start running back to you.
Now, if you don’t have your dog’s obedience at a level where he’ll do that you’ll need to get it there.
It starts FIRST with some leash training, then you can move to off leash training. Here’s a course on exactly how you can accomplish this.
2- Is your dog barking at neighbors while you’re not home?
If this is the case then you have very limited options.
Dog training is all about communication. And if you’re not at home you aren’t in a position to communicate with your dog.
That leaves only two things you can do if your dog is barking at your neighbors while you’re not home:
- Management: Managing your dog means putting your dog in a position where he or she can’t be barking at neighbors. This could be a dog crate or kennel.
- Some sort of correction. Ultra sonic trainers are garbage, don’t even bother with them. You could try a citronella collar or a bark collar. Don’t get a bark collar at a pet store, they’re junk. This is a great, cost-effective bark collar on Amazon.
How to Stop Dog Barking When Left Alone
If your dog barks when left alone you’ve got very few options.
As I mentioned in the previous section training your dog is all about communicating the things you like and don’t like. And when you’re gone, communication becomes something you can’t do very well at all.
So you really only have two options for stopping barking when left alone:
1- Crate or kennel your dog somewhere safely where he or she isn’t going to be able to nuisance bark.
2- Correct the barking with some sort of collar. Don’t use any of the sonic trainers. They are a dog training gimmick that really don’t work.
My Dog Barks at Everything!
We frequently get clients at our dog training business who have dogs that bark at everything.
Almost always these are dogs that are overly neurotic and anxious and fearful. I’m talking about a dog who barks when he hears a noise, a dog who barks when he sees a light or shadow, a dog who barks in an apartment when he hears the neighbors upstairs, etc.
For dogs like this the solution is far LESS about correcting the barking when it happens and MORE about helping the dog feel less anxious and nervous.
Here are several things you can do to cut down on your dog’s anxiety:
1- Teach a skill set. Teaching nose work, agility, retrieval, or other activities goes a long way towards building confidence. The reason why is it gives the dog something constructive to work on. Learning something constructive adjusts the dog’s focus from things that are scary to things the dog can do well.
It also provides lots of opportunities for the dog to have victories and praise. As you and the dog work together, praise builds the dog up.
2- Obedience, obedience, obedience.
This is the big one.
The best way to explain this is to talk about what I call ‘Chaos Behaviors’.
This irrational and wild barking is what I would term a chaos behavior. Your dog isn’t thinking when barking like this. He or she is just reacting to an outside stimuli.
The polar opposite of CHAOS is calm…structure…control.
Where control and calm exist, CHAOS cannot exist.
We can literally help work a dog out of a chaos behavior by injecting calm and control. In other words, we can get rid of fear and anxiety by replacing it with calm and structure.
Obedience training comes in to play here.
Here’s a video on how to improve your dog’s obedience immediately:
Let me give you a few examples. If you have a solid down stay you can use it to counteract the chaos.
Let’s say your dog barks when he hears a sound outside. Let’s say you work hard on getting a down stay.
Now, the next time your dog starts barking at a noise you have him lie down and stay.
What will happen with most dogs is they’ll lie down and kind of growl a bit and grumble about lying down.
But they won’t be barking. The reason being is that the majority of dogs CANNOT maintain both a structured physical position like a down stay AND maintain a chaotic mindset.
What I want you to remember is that the MIND tends to follow the body. If the body is calm and structured the mind follows.
So having that solid down stay will immediately overcome much of the barking.
Even if the dog continues a bit of grumbling and growling what will happen with practice is you’ll start to see that growling diminish and get smaller and smaller and smaller.
The dog will actually start to feel more comfortable and will recover quicker and quicker and quicker.
With enough practice the dog will default into NOT barking when he hears that same noise from outside.
Now, I’ve used the example of a down-stay in this case of barking. But it could also be a ‘place’ command where the dog goes to a bed and lies down.
It can also be combined with a recall where you’re calling the dog AWAY from barking at a window or a door and then pair with that down stay or place command.
The bottom line is that however your dog’s barking presents, you can use things like down stays, place commands, and recalls to help work your dog through those challenges and eventually get to where the dog won’t even do them.
Here’s the reality…
This works. And it makes sense to most dog owners when I present them with this concept.
The HARD part is getting that obedience level to where it needs to be. Most dog owners already have a DOWN command.
What they don’t have is a down command that is strong enough to overcome the fear and anxiety that is causing the barking in the first place.
If you need help, we’ve got some options.
Dog Won’t Stop Barking in Crate
If you’ve got a dog who won’t stop barking in the crate I’ve got some ideas that can help:
1- Play around with the location of the crate. Sometimes if you put the crate on the other side of the house where your dog can’t hear you as much this can help a dog calm down. Some dogs, however, feel more comfortable when they’re close to the hustle and bustle and this will help them feel more comfortable and calm down any barking.
2- Play around with the style of crate. Lots of dogs in wire crates will bark more. The crate doesn’t feel enclosed and this can cause a lot of dogs to feel uncomfortable. Dogs have a ‘den instinct’ and this leads many of them to want to feel enclosed and as if they were in a den. Having a wide open wire crate doesn’t always make them feel comfortable.
You could try a plastic, enclosed crate or perhaps just get a cover for your wire crate. Some dogs will be happier in a situation like this and it will help with the barking.
3- Ignore it. Some dogs are barking in the crate because they’ve learned that if they pitch a fit they’ll get attention. DON’T DO THIS. Don’t give your dog attention for barking. Ignore it.
4- Some dogs will bark in the crate even if they aren’t getting attention from their owners. They just like to bark. For dogs like this you’ll need some sort of correction. I recommend a bark collar although a citronella collar can sometimes work.
These steps will help your dog who won’t stop barking in crate.
How to Stop a Dog Barking at Window
In order to stop a dog barking at windows there are a few steps:
1- Teach a strong recall is your first step.
Most dogs I meet don’t have a strong recall.
Use this video to train your dog to come when called:
They know HOW to come when called. But they won’t do it when they are distracted. In this case, distracted by something outside the window.
In order to teach this strong recall you MUST have two components:
- The dog must enjoy doing it. Food, toys, and praise can help the dog really enjoy coming when called.
- The dog must realize that coming when called is not optional.
In other contexts this can be a killer. A dog who doesn’t know he must come when called can get killed by running into the street. Or get lost if he runs off on a hike.
And in the case of barking at the window, a dog who doesn’t come when called can create problem behavior around the house.
In order to teach a dog that he or she MUST come when called you need to set yourself up for success.
One of the biggest mistakes that dog owners make is they give commands they can’t back up. For example, perhaps they call their dog but all they’ve got is a treat. The dog can now decide if he’d like the treat or if he’d like to continue barking at the window.
Most will choose to keep barking at the window.
This is why dog owners say their dogs are obedient only if they feel like it. Because the owner TRAINED the dog to only listen when he feels like it.
You have to have a way to reinforce the recall command.
In the beginning stages what this means is…
DON’T CALL YOUR DOG UNLESS YOU HAVE A WAY OF SEEING THIS THROUGH!!!
That might mean having a leash on your dog.
YES! A leash on your dog IN the house. It’s a great way to start training. If you do it well you won’t have to have a leash on the dog forever.
I know, it’s a hassle to keep a leash on the dog indoors.
But it allows you to be able to reinforce not only a recall, but ALL commands.
As your dog does well you can eventually wean the dog to a small leash. A traffic leash of 12-18 inches is good.
And from there you can wean the dog to being off leash.
But having an untrained dog off leash in the house is a recipe for your dog deciding to do whatever he or she wants.
Alternatively, you can also use an e-collar to train your dog to come when called.
2- Once you have a strong recall it’s time to use it.
Ideally you would call your dog to you as he’s STARTING to wind up and bark out the window.
If you’re late, still call the dog.
Make sure to be able to follow through with either your leash or electric collar.
The idea is you want to be FAST.
The dog starts to wind up…recall.
Winds up again…recall.
And over and over.
When you do this over and over here’s what happens.
The dog starts to pair his or her emotional state with your obedience commands.
The dog starts to realize, “Hmmm. Every time I start to get wound up, my owner is back there calling me. ”
When this happens over and over the dog will actually start to check him or herself.
He or she will realize that the emotional STATE triggers a recall. You’ll actually find that when something is going on outside that your dog will come look for you, expecting a recall.
You MUST be consistent. If you can’t be in a position where you can call your dog away from the window make sure the dog doesn’t have access to the window at that time.
Stop Neighbor Dog Barking
Okay, I decided to include this one because it’s one that I get asked about a lot.
And…unfortunately, I don’t have good news.
If your neighbor dog is barking your best bet is to talk to your neighbor.
I know that some people have used things like sonic dog training devices that emit a high pitched sound designed to startle the dog into not barking.
I’ve actually heard a few people tell me it worked okay…until it didn’t.
Most barking neighbor dogs quickly learn that the high pitched noise isn’t that big of a deal and they go right back to barking.
So if your neighbor’s dog is barking, your best bet is to work with your neighbor on getting his or her dog to stop.
Or invest in ear plugs.
Okay, we’ve been talking mostly about barking up to this point. Some contexts may be aggressive, others not.
But let’s start digging in to aggression problems.
How to Calm an Aggressive Dog
I decided to include this in the article because it’s a term that a lot of dog owners search for.
In fact, I’ve got a video explaining strategies for calming an aggressive dog here:
Dog owners often see their dog acting aggressively and they want to know how to calm that dog.
They’ll do things to try to soothe and comfort the dog, hoping that their petting and their coddling will calm an aggressive dog.
But here’s the reality.
This desire to calm an aggressive dog often leads to worsening dog aggression.
The message the dog is getting is that you’re going to praise any aggression attempts. You see, from the dog’s perspective he or she is getting intense, and here you come petting and cooing and praising the dog.
This lets the dog know that what he or she is doing is GOOD. He or she doesn’t understand that you’re trying to calm. Your dog just understands that you are happy with their aggression, even though you obviously aren’t.
We don’t want to do that.
We don’t want to inadvertently tell the dog that their aggression is a good thing.
I’m going to get into detail in the coming sections on how to fix all types of aggression.
For this section, though, I wanted to point out that our goal isn’t to calm an aggressive dog.
Our goal, instead, is to do a few things:
1- Improve the relationship with your dog. You want your dog to trust you more and use that trust to overcome aggression.
2- Have a structured mindset. We want a THINKING dog, not a dog who simply reacts aggressively to anything that makes him or her nervous.
3- We want to correct the aggression properly so your dog realizes that aggression isn’t tolerated.
It’s not about how to calm an aggressive dog, it’s about how to systematically change the dog’s mindset so the dog realizes that aggression isn’t a strategy that works.
Read the following sections to see how we do that.
How to Stop Dog Aggression
I’m going to break the subject of dog aggression into multiple parts.
Some sections will deal with overall concepts you need to understand in order to stop dog aggression.
Other sections will deal with step-by-step strategies to stop dog aggression.
Both are important.
Many dog owners want just the step-by-step. But in doing so, they don’t understand the concepts and foundations behind fixing dog aggression.
I want you to understand theory and mindsets that stop dog aggression.
AND I want you to understand how to go out and actually apply these principles with your dog.
This section is going to help you understand the overall principles and strategy behind stopping dog aggression.
No matter what kind of aggression you’re trying to stop there are a few things that MUST change:
- You need to improve your relationship with your dog.
No. This isn’t about being Alpha. I dislike that term. It’s not accurate and doesn’t fit.
It’s not about being tough and dominant.
These are outdated ideas that really don’t fit reality.
Now, don’t get me wrong.
Hierarchy exists with our dog friends.
But if we’re trying to see positive change by being dominant you aren’t going to get there. Efforts to be the dominant alpha typically ignore the individual that is the dog and attempt to get to good behavior with just brute force.
We don’t need to do that.
A good relationship is one where you recognize that your dog is an individual with drives and needs that are influencing behavior.
And a good relationship is one where your dog recognizes you as in charge. Not because you’re harsh or alpha.
But because your dog learns to trust that by focusing on you and being obedient to you that he or she will get what they want out of life.
- Your dog needs to change his mindset.
Aggression comes from a very hectic, chaotic, freaked out, and scared mindset.
If we’re going to SOLVE those aggression issues we’re going to need to be able to create a mindset that is the opposite:
- Under control…
These TWO ITEMS are how we STOP dog aggression.
It’s not about how to punish dog aggression when it occurs, although sometimes that’s appropriate.
It’s ALL about getting the right relationship and changing the mindset of your dog.
I’m going to talk much more about how to do that in the upcoming sections.
How to Socialize an Aggressive Dog
Before socializing an aggressive dog the first thing I want to ask you is…
WHY are you trying to socialize an aggressive dog?
I’ll add some details to my question.
It’s pretty frequent that we’re training a dog with an aggression issue and the owner will confess that their goal is to be able to go back to the dog park without their dog showing aggression.
To them I ask. . .Why?
Your dog is acting aggressive at the dog park because he or she doesn’t feel comfortable. He or she is nervous, anxious, scared.
WHY would you want to take your dog to a place where he or she feels so uncomfortable?
Sure, training can help get rid of the aggressive behavior. And training can help your dog feel MORE comfortable.
But in a situation like a DOG PARK where you have ZERO control over the other variables, there is no point in training your dog with the goal of taking them back to such an uncontrollable space.
Here’s another example…
Not too long ago I had a conversation with a dog owner whose dog had bitten some kids.
Her goal was to socialize her dog with kids so that the dog would accept rough treatment from kids.
I was speechless.
Her reasoning was that she had several kids, she couldn’t watch them all the time, so she wanted to socialize the dog with kids and train the dog in such a way that it would accept tail pulling, poking, and grabbing.
I explained to her that if she couldn’t ensure the safety of an animal then she shouldn’t have an animal.
I recognize that things happen and that no one can 100% ensure the safety of anyone or anything.
But if you are going to take your dog to an environment where you don’t have strong enough control over the variables such that you have a reasonable expectation that your dog can be kept 100% safe then you SHOULD NOT go to that environment with your dog.
Whether that’s a dog park, being around kids that aren’t known to be kind to dogs, an area where people don’t control their dogs, etc. just don’t go there.
I’m NOT going to try to teach you how to socialize an aggressive dog in such a scenario where the dog is not being set up for success or is not in a safe place.
Now that I’ve established that…
We need to talk about how to socialize an aggressive dog into scenarios that are more appropriate. Things like:
- Combining households where one or more dogs have aggression problems
- Being able to walk your aggressive dog in an area that has other dogs
- Adding a new dog to a home with an aggressive dog
- Off leash hiking in areas where other dogs will be
So let’s talk some foundational stuff that you may want to do before starting to socialize an aggressive dog.
1- Muzzle conditioning
Through training you should be able to get your dog to be in close proximity with other dogs and/or people.
But you have to make that a safe scenario. And your dog is going to have to earn your trust.
Until your dog has earned that trust, a muzzle may be a good short term training tool to keep everyone safe.
So before you ever need it, start getting your dog used to wearing it.
At random times throughout the day put some food in the muzzle and have your dog eat out of it.
As your dog gets accustomed to putting his or her nose into the muzzle then you’ll experiment with fastening the straps.
Do it only for a bit at first. Small and random moments.
As your dog gets more used to the muzzle have him or her wear it completely strapped up for longer and longer periods.
2- What to avoid.
NEVER let dogs meet nose to nose on leash.
This type of greeting is what often starts leading to dogs having aggression. It’s not comfortable for the dog. It’s a scary way for dogs to meet.
Don’t allow it to happen.
3- Before EVER starting the socialization process you’ve got to work on the mindset and relationship.
There are countless ways to help this but the number ONE way to get great relationship and mindset is through high level obedience training.
I’m not talking about getting your dog to sit for a treat or lie down for treat.
I’m not talking about a dog who knows what ‘come’ means but won’t do it when there are distractions.
I’m talking about a dog who, whether on the leash or off the leash, whether with distractions or without distractions, is going to listen to you the first time you ask for obedience.
That level of obedience helps with the mindset. That level of obedience is calming, soothing, and is the opposite of chaos and hectic.
That level of obedience helps with the relationship. If your dog is complying with your commands he or she is looking to you in a leadership role.
This training forms the backbone of socializing an aggressive dog.
When you have this as a foundation it’s time for you to start getting closer proximity to other dogs or people.
Here’s how you want to do it…
Find neutral ground for the dogs. Have each dog heel next to their owner’s side. If your dog’s issue is with people, it would be the same. Have the dog heeling by your side while the other dog/person is walking parallel.
The idea is we want the dog to focus on walking WHILE the dog’s trigger is in their peripheral vision.
This allows the dog to gradually kind of ease into the fact that he or she is around a trigger and to deal with it.
Dealing with a problem head on is tough for a dog. Being slowly introduced with something in the dog’s peripheral is a whole lot easier.
Perhaps in that first session, or maybe several sessions later depending on how fast your dog is progressing, you’ll get closer and closer. You’ll allow a little sniff here or there.
You’ll allow casual interest.
From there it’s a matter of doing this with more dogs/people.
If it’s a case of another dog moving into the home this level of structure needs to happen at home, too.
No free-wandering together until the dogs can be trusted.
Crating while gone or separating somehow when you aren’t home is important.
Around the home the only interaction should also be in the peripheral at the beginning.
When you’re in a room together the dogs should each be holding ‘down-stays’ or ‘place’ commands.
No free feeding.
No allowing dogs on the couch or bed.
You control the doorways, these tend to be an area where dogs can fight. Have dogs wait before going through doorways and not trying to push through together.
As your dog shows that he or she can be more trustworthy, you can start allowing more leeway around the house. More interactions in socializing with other dogs/people.
It can be a long process, but remember it’s a process that works when you work the process.
Watch this training video on dealing with dog aggression:
Types of Aggressive Dogs
If you’re going to work on aggression it’s important to understand types of aggressive dogs.
1- There are no aggressive breeds.
Rottweilers, Pit Bulls, Dobermans, German Shepherds, and Chihuahuas are not aggressive breeds.
There are plenty of aggressive dogs within those breeds, but they aren’t aggressive breeds.
There are also aggressive Golden Retrievers, Labradors, and aggressive dogs found within all breeds.
So while there are no aggressive dog breeds there are breeds that are more prone to aggression due to genetics.
Don’t get confused, genetics do play a big part of dog behavior.
And some dogs’ genetics make them more prone to aggression, and others less prone to aggression.
This isn’t a popular stance.
Plenty of dog people are happy to believe that dogs want to chase tennis balls, herd sheep, swim, or cuddle based on their genetics…
. . .but they somehow think that aggression is unrelated to genetics.
Again. . .just because a dog is of a certain breed doesn’t mean they are going to be aggressive. But there are breeds that are going to have higher amounts of dogs with genetic aggression versus other breeds.
2- Causes of aggression
Most aggression is fear based.
Dogs, when they’re afraid, have three options available to them:
- Fight- Fight can be as little as barking or growling or it can be as much as lunging, biting, and attacking.
- Flight- The flight response is when a dog runs away from something they’re afraid of
- Avoidance- Avoidance is when the dog looks away or seems to pretend that he or she doesn’t notice
The issue with fear based aggression is it tends to snowball bigger and bigger.
Perhaps a dog starts out with a growl because he’s afraid.
Lo and behold, it works.
Well, at least he thinks it does.
Because he growled and he survived.
So next time perhaps he’ll go a little farther. And then farther.
And that farther might be lunging, barking, and maybe eventually biting.
Most dog to dog aggression, dog to human aggression, and dog to child aggression is fear related. Something about that individual spooks the dog and causes the fight response to come out.
Aside from fear-based aggression the next biggest culprit of aggression is resource based.
The dog wishes to protect a ‘thing’.
That thing might be food, toy, a person, or other limited resource that the dog wants to control.
Aside from fear and resource guarding the third biggest cause of aggressive behavior is territorialism.
A dog who has come to see his or her home/vehicle/yard/etc as their territory may be very willing to use aggression to defend it.
While this aggression is understandable, it becomes VERY important to have great obedience control over your dog so you can manage scenarios involving territorial dog aggression.
If your dog is understandably being protective when someone knocks on your door you need to have the control necessary to get him to back off from the door and wait for your command, for example.
What to Do With an Aggressive Dog That Bites
Here’s the reality behind all dogs on earth.
They can ALL bite. Every dog is capable.
As much as we love these furry guys and gals, they’re predators with teeth.
Check out this video:
Dogs have emotions. They get afraid. They get territorial.
While it’s not okay for a dog to bite there are many scenarios when dogs DO bite where they were put into situations where they were destined to fail.
So what do you do with a dog that bites?
There’s not a good answer to this because all situations are different.
Some scenarios were fluke accidents, a dog who was sick or hurt and bit for that reason, or otherwise a situation that isn’t likely to repeat itself.
Situations like this may warrant heavy training, management, and ensuring that the situation that led to the bite doesn’t repeat itself.
This isn’t a guarantee of safety, but there are no guarantees of safety in dog ownership. But in these circumstances, a path like this can give you the best chances of a positive outcome.
There are other situations, however, where a dog has a history of biting children, for example, where they shouldn’t live in a home with children.
Yes, there are even scenarios where a dog should, unfortunately, be put to sleep because managing a dangerous dog isn’t feasible.
The bottom line is, though, that if you have an aggressive dog that bites. . .things need to change.
Aggressive Dog Training Tips
I’m sorry to burst your bubble here.
If you’ve got a dog with an aggression problem you need a lot more than training tips to overcome the problem.
So instead of some aggressive dog training tips I’m going to outline the exact formula that we’ve used to solve THOUSANDS of cases of dog aggression over the years.
1- First and foremost we MUST obtain a high level of obedience training with your dog.
I’m not talking about getting your dog to sit for a treat, lie down for a treat, etc.
I’m sure your dog knows how to do that already.
I’m talking about getting your dog to a level of obedience where he or she is going to listen to your commands no matter what distractions are around.
This level of obedience is about 80-90% of fixing aggression.
Frankly, it’s hard.
But this is where you MUST start.
2- Use the obedience to start training your dog to think differently about his or her aggression triggers.
Let’s say it’s other dogs that trigger your dog to act aggressive.
Once you’ve got a level of obedience where your dog will listen to you around other dogs it’s time to apply this training.
You see, if your dog is aggressive to dogs his or her entire association of other dogs revolves around fear, insecurity, etc.
But you can change that association, starting with obedience.
Let’s say you heel past another dog and you insist that your dog ignores the other dog.
And now, because you have all this great obedience, your dog will do it.
That first time your dog’s associations aren’t going to change.
But let’s say your dog heels past one, then two, then five, then twenty dogs and more.
He or she is going to start realizing that other dogs aren’t as scary as previously thought AND that you are a great leader that can be trusted.
You see how that works?
By using obedience we can take away your dog’s ability to react aggressively to your dog’s aggression triggers.
As that happens more and more a ‘rehab’ of sorts takes place.
3- Use counter-conditioning to smooth out the rough edges and get your dog to feel more comfortable.
A simple way to describe counter-conditioning is the act of turning a negative association into a positive.
Here’s where most dog trainers go wrong with counter-conditioning.
They start with it.
For example, they’ll have a dog who is barking at other dogs and they’ll try to get the dog to take a treat instead. They’re attempting to counter-condition the dog to actually enjoy being around the other dog.
The problem is that the dog is so freaked out by other dogs that he doesn’t want anything to do with your treat.
Have you ever tried using a treat or a toy to distract your aggressively reacting dog into listening to you?
Most people will fail.
But by first getting your dog’s obedience to a high level, then using that obedience to desensitize your dog to his or her aggression triggers, you will THEN be in a position where you can counter-condition your dog to feel positively about the source of his or her aggression.
Again, if you’re looking for aggressive dog training tips, those won’t be of much use.
You need fundamental change to overcome aggression problems, and quick tips won’t get you there.
In the dog training world we dog trainers like to label aggressive behaviors in different ways depending on how it presents itself.
Dog reactivity is one of these terms that often gets lumped in with conversations about dog aggression.
Reactivity is what it sounds like…
A dog who REACTS to surroundings.
Some dog trainers say that reactivity isn’t the same thing as aggression. It’s simply a dog that is reacting with barking and lunging but doesn’t have aggressive intent.
I don’t agree with these dog trainers.
If a dog is barking and lunging out of fear, reacting, then that to me is aggressive behavior.
The reactive dog may not have any desire or intent to actually bite.
But it’s still a dog displaying aggressive behavior regardless of whether or not they’re going to back it up with a bite.
If you have a reactive dog you should follow the same plan outlined in this section on aggressive dog training tips.
Check out a training video on how we solve this:
Dominance in Dogs
Dominance in dogs is one of the biggest ‘culprits’ I see blamed for dog aggression.
But it’s rarely the case.
Now, there is a school of thought that exists nowadays which claims that dominance in dogs doesn’t exist.
This is a nonsense theory that can quickly and easily be disproved by simply observing dogs interactions.
All living beings have systems of hierarchy that are forced, voluntary, coerced, or peaceful.
There is no getting around the notion of dominance, it exists in all living beings.
Having said that, dominance in dogs is rarely the reason for dog aggression.
Most aggression in dogs is due to fear, insecurity, territorialism, fights over resources, etc.
Aggression rarely occurs because one dog wants to dominate another.
Don’t get me wrong.
I’ve observed it many times over the years. At my dog training company ; we deal with many cases every year where one dog in a household is trying to dominate another dog and it turns into aggression.
But these are the minority of training cases we deal with.
So while the issue can exist, it’s not the most common cause of aggression.
Dog Aggression Training Near Me
The idea behind this article is to give you ideas and resources for how to solve aggression with your dog.
But the reality is that some of you are going to need more help and an article isn’t going to cut it for you.
We’ve got training resources for you no matter where you live.
So if you’re the dog owner who is typing in ‘dog aggression training near me’ then here are some resources to find a trainer near you.
Dog Barking on Walks
Does your dog bark on walks?
There are a few causes of this:
1- A dog who has bad manners and is just barking at squirrels or sounds
2- A dog who is reactive
3- A dog who is truly aggressive and is trying to bite
No matter WHY your dog is barking on walks let me share with you a skill set that will either put a stop to it or should drastically reduce dog barking on walks.
I’m talking about our crazy man method.
Our crazy man method is a leash training method that helps dogs stop pulling on a leash.
When you have a dog who is walking right by your side it’s easy to stop dog barking on walks.
The method is basically about doing lots of directional changes with the idea of teaching your dog to focus and pay attention to you.
When the focus is on you, it’s NOT on your dog’s triggers, and that will stop the barking.
Here’s a training video on how to do this crazy man leash training method.
Practice this leash training method and you’re going to find that this will help your dog barking on walks problem.
How to Train Your Dog to Ignore Other Dogs
Here’s a great video we did on getting your dog to ignore other dogs
A lot of dog owners dealing with aggression problems want to simply train their dog to ignore other dogs.
This is actually a sound training plan.
There’s no reason for your dog to want to interact with every dog he or she sees.
Lots of dog owners think that dog socialization equals play.
Play MIGHT be part of a socialization plan for some dogs.
But some dogs don’t want to play, find play uncomfortable, or are socially awkward when they play.
Good socialization is about teaching your dog to respond to his or her environment in a way that is appropriate for the individual dog.
And for some dogs that means to train your dog to ignore other dogs.
A bit of foundation on this topic.
When your dog isn’t minding you how you want there are only three reasons why…
- Focus problems
- Communication problems
- Relationship problems
In reverse order, a relationship problem revolves around a dog who doesn’t respect you. Feels possessive of you. Or otherwise doesn’t see you in a leadership role.
This often leads to a dog feeling adrift, nervous, and fearful.
Communication problems are common.
A communication problem is when the dog is unclear on what you want.
Owners often THINK they’ve communicated what they want. . .but it wasn’t clear to the dog.
When it’s unclear to the dog it may look as if the dog is being naughty, stubborn, etc.
But it’s generally just a dog that is confused.
Now, onto the focus aspect. And this is the important one for this conversation.
Many dogs ‘misbehave’ because of focus problems.
They get so focused on the cat, the squirrel, the doorbell ringing, the other dog, the ‘whatever’. . . .and they don’t know HOW to put their focus on things that are constructive. . .like the dog owner.
So if you’re going to train your dog to ignore other dogs you’re going to do so based on one simple concept:
Focus, in dog training, is built on a term we call ‘spacial awareness’.
Spacial awareness is all about teaching your dog to be aware of their space as it relates to YOU, not as it relates to the distracting object.
We’ve developed a method using electric collar training called the Step Back Recall.
This step back recall is a humane way to do e-collar training to teach your dog to focus on YOU rather than on the distraction.
Here’s a video on how it’s done:
Dog Aggression Towards People
Dog aggression towards people is dangerous. Don’t take it lightly.
I find that dog owners often want to apologize for their dog or downplay the severity of their dog’s aggression.
But this can lead you down the wrong path.
Take it very seriously and do some real work on getting your dog over this issue.
Here are two resources that can help:
1- A training video on how we get dogs over this dog aggression issue.
Dog Suddenly Aggressive to Other Dog in the House
This is one that we deal with a lot.
There are some constants that we see pretty frequently. There are exceptions but what we find often is:
- The dogs that are fighting are of the same gender
- They’ve often been living together without issue for months or even years
- Something triggered the aggression; might have been a squabble over food, a toy, a human, a doorway, or other.
- They fight once, it fulfills something, and they do it again later. And again. And it’s pretty common that the fights become more severe and more frequent.
Does this describe the scenario in your home?
If so, we’ve found a formula that works REALLY well.
1- First we have to separate the dogs. This could mean keeping them in separate rooms, It could be crating and rotating. But we’ve got to keep everyone safe.
2- Then we’ve got to work heavily on obedience training.
Like I’ve mentioned in other sections, I’m not talking about basic obedience training.
I’m talking about a level of training where your dog will listen to you no matter what.
If you need help achieving this level of training click here for our training program.
3- Once the dogs are listening very well it’s time to use that obedience to get them to share space again.
Start with leash walking.
If you need to have them muzzled because it’s tough to trust them then do so.
If you’ve got two people in the household have one walk one and the other of you walk the other dog.
Don’t worry about the dogs interacting. Just have them move together while walking well by your side.
Moving together is one of the best ways to get dogs to bond in a healthy way.
From walking together you want to get them to have structured downtime together.
We typically have dogs do ‘place’ commands in the same room but separated by several feet.
Once you’ve got dogs doing structured motion and structured non-motion activities together you can start getting a bit more interaction.
Have them go through doorways but with you having them wait first then calling them together individually.
Have them follow you around the house with you guiding them and having them do down stays if you’re going to be in a room for a bit.
You will gradually allow more and more freedom until life gets back to normal.
4- Avoid certain things.
Don’t let the dogs on the couch or the bed.
Don’t free feed by leaving dog food out in the house.
Don’t let them be loose together while you’re gone.
We’ve done this process with dozens of cases now with great results each time.
Territorial Aggression in Dogs
Territorial aggression in dogs is a tough one to work with.
The reason being is that most people get a dog with the idea that, partially, the dog’s job is to watch over the home.
On that level, it’s somewhat appropriate for the dog to be territorial. To bark at things they see outside the window. To alert to people on the property, etc.
The issue that most dog owners have is that they have no control over their dog’s territorial aggression.
Meaning: when their dog is barking at the door, barking at the fence, barking at the person on the property. . .the dog owner doesn’t have any control. They can’t get them to stop.
And THAT is the BIG problem with territorial aggression in dogs.
Not the fact that the dog is acting aggressively, but the fact that the owner can’t get the dog to stop.
It’s important that we don’t PUNISH this territorial aggression.
If we do, we run the risk of the dog not wanting to alert you to potential danger.
What we’re better off doing is training obedience behaviors that can REPLACE the territorial aggression.
There are two main behaviors that we want to train for this:
1- A great RECALL command.
This is the command that will be used most often.
If your dog is aggressively barking at the window, we need to get them AWAY from the window to stop them.
The same is true for barking at the door, barking at the fence line, etc.
If we’re concerned about whatever the dog is barking at, we allow the dog to continue.
But if we’ve determined that the threat is not a threat we then need to call the dog AWAY from where they are.
Having a great ‘Come’ or ‘Here’ command can do that.
2- A great STAY behavior.
I call it a STAY behavior rather than a STAY command because I don’t ever train a ‘stay’ command.
To me the command ‘stay’ is redundant.
If we’ve asked the dog to sit, lie down, or go to ‘place’ then the stay should be implied. Meaning, keep doing that thing until I release you.
When we combine a stay behavior with a recall we can manage just about any territorial aggression in dogs.
For example, if your dog is barking at the doorbell, having him come and then lie down on his bed. Problem solved.
If your dog is barking at the fence line have him come and then lie down and stay.
Simple as that.
Just joking. Well, while it is SIMPLE in concept, the training isn’t always easy.
It’s not easy to get a dog to come and stay when the dog is distracted.
Here’s our training program.
And here’s some free training on how to get your dog to come when called with distractions.
Dog Aggression Towards Owner
If you have a dog that is being aggressive to YOU as the owner, you’ve got some hard conversations ahead.
Things you need to consider include:
- What type of aggression are we talking about? Was it a one-time aberration type aggressive behavior? Or is it a dog that has a history of acting aggressive when he or she doesn’t get their way?
- Does the dog have a health or defect problem? A dog that is willing to be aggressive towards his or her owner may have a deeper issue. In my career I’ve found things like thyroid imbalances, brain tumors, joint pain, and other ailments have caused dog aggression towards owner.
- Is this a safe scenario? There are some dogs that are so aggressive towards their owner that even with heavy training and intervention the daily maintenance of such a dog is going to be far too risky. You have to stay safe. Your family has to stay safe. Not every family situation is going to lend itself to safety with a dog who is being aggressive towards the owners.
My recommendation is that if your dog is a real risk you need to weigh options between re-homing the dog and euthanasia.
But if you’re in a position to get training and help for the dog it’s going to happen on the back of improving the relationship you have with your dog.
Relationship improves not by being tougher or ‘alpha’ or bigger or stronger.
Relationship with your dog improves by setting clear expectations that you follow through on.
In other words, obedience training becomes one of the best ways to improve the relationship you have with your dog.
Resource guarding dog
Resource guarding is when your dog gets overly possessive or aggressive over resources.
A resource is whatever a dog thinks is valuable.
Resources can include:
- Entryways, the control of movement
- Furniture/Elevation. Some dogs want to ‘possess’ the upper hand by being elevated
- Random objects like a stick, piece of toilet paper, piece of paper, or other. I’ve even seen dogs resource guard ice that falls on the floor from a refrigerator ice maker. Basically anything the dog finds valuable is something the dog can resource guard.
So how do you fix a resource guarding dog?
Here’s a video on how you can do so:
In a nutshell, you need to change the dog’s perception of their relationship with you and their relationship with the resource they are guarding.
Food Aggression Towards Other Dog
This is a problem that all too many dog owners actually create with bad feeding practices.
I’m constantly shocked at the number of dog owners who have multiple dogs in the same household who engage in free feeding where they just leave a bowl of food in the house.
This is such a bad idea and should never happen.
It shouldn’t even happen if there is only ONE dog in the home.
But it should DEFINITELY never happen if we’ve got multiple dogs in one home.
That free fed dog dish will just stand out as something that one or more dogs might start feeling possessive of, and might decide to defend with aggression towards the other dog in the house.
If you have multiple dogs the best way to feed them, generally, is to have them each go to their crate for meal times. The dog is asked to go in the crate/kennel, and once they do, the food dish is put inside with them.
The dogs are then given 5-10 minutes to eat the food and then they, and the food dishes, are removed.
The food dishes are put away and this is the only way dogs ever eat.
If treats like bones are to be given, the same process occurs. The dogs go to their crates, enjoy the treat, and then they’re let back out.
This is the healthiest way to feed dogs their food and treats and to avoid food aggression towards other dog in the household.