Tips to Determine if your Dog is Aggressive

February 18, 2013

When adopting a new dog, it’s easy to not know their previous history with other animals. Sometimes, when a dog is aggressive, it can seriously harm other animals, or put itself in danger. Luckily, there are steps you can take to figure out how a dog will react to other animals.

First of all, in any situation, keep an eye out for the following warning signs:

  • Lunging
  • growling
  • snarling
  • biting or snapping

They tend to mean that the dog might have some aggression problems and it would be advisable to contact an expert.

To see if the dog is aggressive, start by, with the dog leashed, bringing another dog within a reasonable distance and judge the reaction. Does it stay still? Show any signs of aggression? Act nervous? Determine the correct course of action and go on. Bring the other dog closer. See if the reaction changes. You’ll have to do this multiple times.

Then, if you’re confident that the dog will behave appropriately, take the dog off the leash. Repeat the test, keeping close to the dog, so that you can grab it if you have to.

Tips:

  • Don’t be afraid to start out small. A decent sized stuffed animal can sometimes help to gauge a dog’s reaction to other animals if you’re apprehensive about bringing other animals around.
  • Remember that small dogs need this test too. Teacup Chihuahuas and toy poodles have the ability to be aggressive and bite. While their size and small amounts of strength may be less physically dangerous to humans, remember that picking a fight with a larger dog can get small dogs hurt.
  • Vary the test. How does the dog react to different sized dogs? Cats?
  • If a dog seems aggressive, immediately stop. Contact someone who can determine if there’s a problem.
  • Remember that fear is problematic too. Dogs can act out if they’re afraid.
  • Showing a sign of aggression or fear doesn’t mean a dog needs to be written off. Most dogs can be rehabilitated. Sometimes younger dogs just need to be trained. Sometimes a dog just needs some TLC. Don’t be afraid to ask for help from other people.

And most importantly, remember that the dog’s safety and comfort are important. After all, a dog is supposed to be man’s best friend.

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