Behavior to watch out for

Sudden dog aggression is not as common as it seems.  Dogs often show subtle signs of fear and anxiety before they bite or become aggressive.  Dogs who display the warning signs will not necessarily become aggressive, but if you have a dog that bites or an aggressive dog, it’s best to watch for these signs that your dog is becoming anxious.

  • Licking lips when there is no food around
  • Yawning when the dog isn’t tired.  These yawns often tend to be snappier than true yawns.
  • Panting when the dog is not hot
  • Ears to the side, brow furrowed
  • Moving slowly.  Contrary to what some people think, dogs do not always freeze before they bite.  A dog in slow motion is one to watch out for
  • Freezing and stiffening up
  • Staring.  This often goes along with freezing or stiffening up, and sometimes with moving slowly as well
  • Pacing
  • Avoiding food or refusing treats. Some dogs are just overfed, but if your dog is refusing treats, he might be stressed
  • Cowering or submissive like behavior.  Sometimes this can appear with play-like behavior but in fact the dog is anxious and may be testing for a reaction

How to greet a dog

  • Ask the owner if you can say hello
  • Approach dogs casually and present your side, opposed to head on
  • Use a “soft gaze” which includes glancing at the dog’s nose, ears, etc. Don’t stare, use your peripheral vision, or
  • Crouch, don’t tower over a dog
  • Let the dog approach you, don’t lean forward and hold your hand out
  • Gentle pets on the side of the neck – Don’t squeeze, hug and pat hard or slap


Tools to prevent an aggressive dog from biting

  • Gentle leaders head halters.  These are fantastic tools!  Dogs can still bite while wearing a head halter, however properly used its possible to pull gently up, closing the mouth.  Fitted correctly and used properly, it is also more possible to control a powerful or aggressive dog that may want to lunge.  In addition there is less change of damaging the dogs trachea if he does pull.  Dogs should be desensitized and conditioned to wearing them.  Dogs often paw at them to get them off, or roll on the ground, but studies have indicated they do not become stressed out by them.
  • You can find Gentle Leaders on Amazon
  • There are other alternatives such the Halti head halter or  Sporn head halter  (on Amazon) as well, although the Gentle Leader is most common. THey all fit slightly different.
  • Basket muzzles.  Basket muzzles are considered to be the most humane form of muzzle.  Dogs should be desensitized and conditioned to wearing them.
  • You can find basket muzzles on Amazon here
  • Crates.  A dog in a crate or in a room on its own can’t be out around your family or house guests biting them.  But be careful your dog isn’t in there too long, or has the opportunity to be teased or provoked while inside them.  In addition some dogs have phobias about crates and do much better behind a metal gate (Amazon) that you can easily install in your home.

If you are interested in learning more about treating dog aggression, check out our e-book, The Dog Aggression System Every Dog Owner Needs (print version soon to be on it’s way).  It not only describes behavior modification, but talks about other ways to help improve dog aggression.