Professional Dog Trainer Method to Stop Dog Aggression

By: David Codr

Published Date: March 13, 2024

stop dog aggressionFor this Omaha dog behavior training session we shared tips to stop dog aggression to help 8 month-old Belgian Malinois Sentry.

Young puppies go through multiple developmental stages and one of the most important is the first four months of their life. It’s so important it’s often referred to as the critical socialization period.

If a young puppy is exposed to other dogs in a positive way before they reach 5 months, they usually build a positive association with other dogs. If they don’t have early positive experiences around other dogs, many dogs will act in a way that we perceive as aggressive; barking, growling and lunging at other dogs to make them go away.

As Omaha’s Dog Behavior Expert, I learned a long time ago that these are not aggressive dogs, in fact quite the opposite. These dogs are insecure and fearful and they are barking at other dogs to make the other dog go away. Just like any other behavior, if a dog practices it often, it can quickly become a habit. That is unfortunately what happened to young Sentry.

I regret that Sentry’s guardian didn’t sign him up for our puppy classes when he was younger. Since we incorporate supervised playtime at the end of every class, it’s quite possible that Sentry would’ve never developed this perceived aggressive dog behavior if he had taken classes when he was young. Sadly, we see people make this mistake with puppies all too often, and its entirely avoidable.

If you have a young puppy, or plan on getting one, make sure that you enroll them in a positive puppy socialization class as soon as you can, preferably before they turn four months of age. Don’t be fooled into thinking your pup’s openness is permnament. If you dont get them socialzied around a varierty of other dogs when they are young, you may end up with a fearfully reactive dog who barks at other dogs like Sentry.

Now that Sentry is a mature puppy, I knew we needed to turn our attention to dog behavior modification. This is a more complicated process that takes more time and effort than simply exposing a young puppy around other dogs. That is why we implore anyone who reads this to get their puppy into a positive puppy socializaiton class before its too late. Time with a puppy is precious and doesn’t come back around again.

When I am working with a dog who acts aggressive around other dogs, my primary goal is to change the dog’s emotional response. Ideally I would like them to create a positive emotional response around other dogs, but in some situations, the best we can hope for is for them to be neutral or indifferent – provided the other dog leave them alone. This is one of the more commonly used techniques professional dog trainers use to stop dog on dog aggression.

In our first couple of sessions, we worked on a number of basics, establishing a marker word, going over Dog consent and body language, the find it away game and some loose leash walking tips.

How to Stop Dog Aggression

For our final session, I arranged for our dog behavior specialist Avery to accompany me. I had her handling my Dalmatian Quest at a distance while we practiced something called the Engage Disengage game. This method to help aggressive dogs works for all dog breeds, so you dont have to be a Belgian Malinois dog trainer specialist to do it

Since we didn’t have a third person to film, I don’t have any footage of Sentry’s practice at this exercise, but I do have a video that we share with our dog behavior clients. The great thing about Engage Disengage is its an easy way to treat dog aggression.

If you have a dog that is aggressive to other dogs, the engage disengage game is a wonderful way to start helping them build a positive association.  To learn how to use this tip to stop dog aggression, check out the free positive dog training video below.

The key to this secret to stopping aggressive dog behavior is to identify the appropriate distance.  If you’re too close, your dog will feel uncomfortable and react by barking lunging or snarling at the other dog. That is the ast thing you want to have happen. The key is to find a distance where you are far enough away where the dog doesn’t feel threatened.

This is a great way to stop dog aggression but it does need regular practice. I recommended that centuries guardian recruit some friends and practice in a park. Having the other dog handler working with you gives you the  ability to have them move their dog further or closer depending on your need. And working in a neutral site like a park with a lot of space can also work to your benefit.

Pro Dog Training Tips to Stop Dog Aggression

  • Properly establish a marker word or clicker.
  • Make sure that you have enough distance between your dog and the helper dog.
  • Click for mark the instant your dog looks at the other dog.
  • Start clicking for looking away once your dog gets good.
  • Practice in short 3 to 5 minute practice sessions.
  • Move your dog away and give it a couple minutes to relax before practicing again.
  • Try to practice in two or 35 minute sessions with breaks in between.
  • Don’t overdo it, this is a very emotionally intense exercise.
  • Don’t move to close to quickly.
  • Always go with your dogs pace.
  • Recruit another dog and handler to practice with.
  • Practice at a park that is not busy with a lot of open space.
  • A short exercise session 15 minutes before can help high energy dogs.
  • Don’t push too far. You need to end on a positive note.
  • Keeping score can help track your progress.
  • Count the number of looks vs the number of Berks or reactive behavior.
  • Your goal is to have a high number of looks without barking and very few or preferably zero barking.

If you have an aggressive puppy, our puppy classes will help with socialization. Click here for more info or to enroll your puppy today.

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This post was written by: David Codr