How to Soothe an Aggressive Dog

Aggression in dogs is not always the easiest issue to overcome. It will take some time and dedication. The good news is that there are things that you can do to change the way that your dog behaves so that they won’t be so aggressive. Your success will greatly depend on how much time you spend with your dog, whether or not you are using the right methods to soothe your aggressive dog, the history of your dog’s aggression, and how committed you are to making a change.

Noticing Aggression


Some dogs will have classic tell-tale signs of aggression, while others may be slicker about their aggression. Aggression is a serious issue because it has a lot of risk that comes along with it.

If you need an example of an aggressive dog, check out the following video, and then keep reading about signs of aggression in dogs:

It is important to recognize the warning signs of aggression in dogs. Some dogs may just be very playful, and it can sometimes come off as being aggressive. Here are some signs that will tell you if it is, in fact, aggression that you are dealing with.

Signs of Aggression in Dogs

  • Having a still or rigid stance
  • Threatening, guttural barking
  • Charging or lunging forward
  • Muzzle punching
  • Growling
  • Baring their teeth
  • Snarling
  • Snapping
  • Biting or nipping

A lot of times dogs will follow a sequence of behaviors like this, while other times they may show no signs that they are about to get aggressive and may just attack. The more receptive you are to your dog’s behaviors, the better you will be able to stop them from hurting anyone. They typically don’t just bite or attack without showing some signs of aggression first.

If you notice these behaviors, then it is time for you to take action to ensure that your dog overcomes this aggressive behavior. The longer you let it go on, the more ‘learned’ the behavior comes. This is often times why dogs end up being put to sleep due to their aggression. The sooner you nip it in the bud, the better off things will be for your dog.

Have a Plan for Your Dog

Coming up with the right plan for soothing your dog’s aggression isn’t really all that difficult. It just seems like it is harder than it really is. The problem is, many people try techniques that don’t work well, or they aren’t using the techniques the right way. This can make matters worse, or can at least slow down the problem of getting over the aggressive behavior.

First and foremost, you need to learn ways to immediately soothe them and stop the aggressive behaviors. Then, you can move forward to look for ways to prevent it from happening in the future. Here are a few steps that will help when it comes to soothing them and calming them down out of an aggressive state:

  • Start by removing them from the aggressive situation
  • Talk to them in a calming voice
  • Avoid raising your voice at them, as it can make matters worse
  • Let them stay alone for a few minutes to calm down

This is usually the easiest way to stop aggression, but you don’t want to have to constantly remove your dog from situations because they are being aggressive. This is why it is so important to come up with a plan of action to retrain your dog to have appropriate behaviors rather than inappropriate behaviors. This will take some time, but will be well worth it in the long run.

Behavior Modification in DogsThe Importance of Proper Behavior Modification

Behavior modification is likely one of the most important methods that you will consider when it comes to overcoming aggression. If you don’t do things the right way, it can actually cause more problems. Some people just think that popping a treat in their dog’s mouth is the best way to modify their behavior, but the truth is that it really doesn’t work that way. It is important that you look into proper behavior modification techniques if you really want it to be effective for you and more importantly – for your dog.

What NOT To Do

When you have an aggressive dog, there are a few things that you don’t want to do. ‘Normal’ dogs may be able to handle certain methods that may make matters much worse in dogs that have aggression. Here are a few of the methods that you will want to avoid:

  • Intimidation
  • Pain or discomfort
  • Scare tactics
  • Yelling

These are actually not tactics that you want to use on any dog, not just a dog that has issues with aggression. Remember – it can and probably will make matters worse if you use these tactics on a dog that is already aggressive. It will surely do the opposite of soothing them!

How Not to Soothe an Aggressive DogPeople try these methods, and when things get worse, they feel that they have no other option except to have the dog put to sleep or have them put into a new home with a different environment. While rehoming an aggressive pet when children are involved may not be a bad idea, there are other options that will help you to overcome the issues that you are dealing with.

3 Best Ways to Treat and Soothe Your Dog’s Aggression

1 Behavior Modification

We already touched a bit on behavior modification, but now it is time to look into the proper way to do it. With this type of treatment option, you can change the way that your dog responds to particular situations. This is typically where most people start out when they deal with aggression. Some people may choose to hire a behavior trainer for their dog, but that doesn’t mean that they will do all the work. They will show you the techniques that you need to try at home. If you don’t apply these practices, chances are you won’t see improvements.

You will start by teaching your dog a few simple commands, such as to sit, stay or come. This is the foundation of your dog’s obedience/behavior training. This will help them to prepare for more targeted training that will actually help their aggression.

Once you move on to the targeted behavior modification, you will work on helping your dog to reduce their level of stress and anxiety. This, in turn, will help them to have more self-control over their actions. Remember, you don’t want to push your dog too quickly when it comes to modifying their behavior. Watch for their cues that they are ready to move forward with training.

2 Environmental Modification

Changing your dog’s behavior is just the first step. You may also need to make some changes to the environment that your dog is in. Sometimes it may be as simple as changing up their diet. Perhaps you just need to reroute your walks with them to keep them away from other aggressive dogs. Maybe you should slowly introduce them to guests. If you start to notice aggression, make a small environmental change, such as putting them in a room by themselves until they calm down. It may be that they are overstimulated, and this may be what is causing them to act aggressive.

3 Medication

Some veterinarians will actually prescribe medications to aggressive dogs. There are a few different types of prescription meds that are designed to treat aggression in dogs. The problem is that many pet owners think that giving their dog medication will eliminate their responsibility to modify behavior and environment, and that isn’t the case at all. In fact, the medications won’t just work by themselves.

Dogs that require medication to help with their aggression typically have a higher level of anxiety than your average dog. Medications may help them to be more responsive to the behavior modification techniques. It can help to make them less impulsive, and also give them more self-control. Here are a few medications that are commonly used to treat aggression in dogs:

While these are all commonly used to treat dogs that have issues with aggression or other behavioral problems, it isn’t necessarily a quick fix. It also should not be considered in every case. Your veterinarian will be able to let you know if it is a good idea for your dog.

Don’t just let your dog stay aggressive. This is a recipe for disaster, not to mention the fact that it puts you at a liability risk. Use these tips to help soothe your aggressive dog and ensure that their behavior is modified so that you don’t run into aggression issues again down the road. The sooner you get started, the better.



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I've been a dog lover since the day I was born but it's the current four legged love of my life, Phoebe who inspired me to create the Munch.Zone.

We moved together from Israel to New York in 2013, love hiking together, and never pass up a trip to the dog park. Watching her over the years sparked so many questions about dog behavior and health needs, and it wasn't always easy to find answers. Thus, the Munch.Zone was born.

On any given day you'll find me watching Netflix originals, eating popcorn, and thinking about how to get into house flipping.

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