Proper socialization is extremely important. A puppy weaned too early, for instance, may bite too hard because they did not learn through playtime with other pups that this can hurt others. An older dog, either abused or codependent on their former owner, may not know what to do with you or the other new people in their life. This is one of the top causes why potentially wonderful best friends end up meeting an early end. People simply don’t know what to do. In today’s article we will advise you on some techniques that you can use to build trust and help to soothe and tame your new friend. Let’s discuss how to socialize an aggressive dog.
Yes, you certainly can. What you need to understand is that this is going to be a slow process. Do not expect results overnight. Keep in mind that previous trauma or lack of training which a dog might have received has been in place for some time before you came along. That said, with a bit of patience, treats, and trust, aggressive dogs can definitely be socialized. Like all friendships, there simply needs to be a foundation of trust.
Socializing a puppy that has been weaned too early or had a previous owner that treated them poorly is quite a bit easier than it is with an older dog. Some things that you can do to teach them to be less aggressive are as follows:
- Scruff pulling – Just under the ear there is a bit of loose skin on your pups neck. If you tug on this, catching your dog by surprise, and say ‘no!’ then this is a gentle way to correct the little one which is normally done by other pups or even mom. Think of it as speaking your wishes in a language which your puppy will understand better.
- Ouch = Stopping play -Sometimes your puppy hasn’t been socialized enough to know when their bites are more painful than playful. Remedy this by teaching them the same way that another puppy would. When your pup bites too hard, pull your hand away and say ‘ouch!’ dramatically and immediately stop play. After 3 or 4 minutes then you can resume play, but always let your pup know when they are biting too hard in this manner and they should soften their bite over time.
- Supervised mingling – Dog parks are a great way to help your pup to get some more socialization skills. Be sure that you are using a leash, however, and you will want to make sure that all interactions are supervised. Once your pup starts making friends with another pup then you can talk with the owner and perhaps do away with the leash but make sure that initial interactions are closely supervised so that neither pup gets hurt. This method is a basic, but effective method how you can socialize an aggressive dog to play with other dogs.
Now you are probably wondering, ‘How can I socialize an aggressive older dog?’. Building up trust with an older dog is a longer process but there are things which you can do that are quite effective. One of the first things that you will need to do is to learn your dog’s triggers. Perhaps your dog doesn’t like blonde women or doesn’t like men with beards? These are just quick examples but there can be all kinds of things that make your dog fearful or simply aggressive. You will want to pay attention when walking them or when visitors come so that you can learn what you are dealing with first.
Once you know what is upsetting your dog then you can work on countering their previous conditioning. Some example tactics include:
- Desensitizing them to their triggers – If your dog gets antsy around other people, you can try slowly getting them used to having one or two friends over. While they shouldn’t touch the dog, they might be able to toss treats, for instance. You can also calmly tell your dog that the person is okay and pet them while the other person is close. Over time they will start to associate the trigger person with more pleasant things.
- Training in commands to distract them – Teaching your dog commands like ‘lay down’ or ‘sit’ give you a means of distracting them when they start to get edgy. When your dog is looking nervous, tell him or her to ‘lay down’ so that the dog lays at your feet. Giving them something else to do when they are getting nervous helps to distract them and to gradually become more comfortable with things which made them aggressive previously.
” When your dog is looking nervous, tell him or her to ‘lay down’ .”
- Positive reinforcement of all good behaviors – Keep lots of treats handy and simply reinforce all good behaviors with treats. For instance, if your dog sits at your feet you can say ‘sit!’ and ‘good dog!’ and give them a treat. This method is slow but dogs that are otherwise resistant to training can often learn many things this way.
- Positive conditioning vs. triggers – If your dog is afraid of other dogs or people, you can try introducing those triggers while introducing treats or playtime at the same time. The goal is to take previous bad associations and to replace them with better ones. Essentially you are just showing your dog that these things which upset them before are not bad things when you are around.
Lastly we would advise you do NOT punish your dog unless it is in the form of a time-out. Anger directed at the dog may be what has made it aggressive in the first place. Instead just give your dog love, patience, and positive reinforcement and once the trust is built you’ll have a whole new best friend!