Stamping out aggressive behaviour

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Don't let your cute puppy turn into an aggressive dog

A lot of people think dogs bite "because that's what they do". But dogs don't become aggressive without good reason, and most dogs express aggression because they find themselves in a stressful situation. So it stands to reason that the best way to prevent your puppy from becoming an angry or aggressive dog later is to help him to avoid or tolerate stressful situations. You should learn to recognise signs of fear such as being backed into a corner, or being restricted by his lead.


Fear is the common factor

To become afraid, dogs don't necessarily need to have had a nasty experience. Dogs that are fear-stricken are those that don't get the opportunity to socialise with enough people. So socialisation is very important - for advice on socialisation click here. If your puppy is brought up to see people (grown-ups and children alike) as providers of fun, praise and treats, they won't need to display threatening behaviour.

You should also expose your puppy to noises and situations that might frighten them from a young age, to help them overcome their fears. Then potentially scary things, like the vacuum cleaner, traffic or the postman, become everyday occurrences they take in their stride.


Your puppy and other people

All people are different, whether they're friends, family or strangers - and in the eyes of a puppy, the different ages, shapes and sizes we humans come in can be mightily confusing. So make sure he encounters as many people as possible from an early age. That way, strangers will seem less strange and he'll soon learn to become calmer and more trusting. Just make sure all these new friends don't overwhelm him with vigorous displays of affection.

It's also important that your puppy becomes acquainted with children. Few youngsters can resist fussing over a puppy and although they mean no harm, this can be alarming for the dog. It's a good idea to take your puppy for a walk near the local school; children will need no encouragement to come up and say hello. But don't forget that puppies can become tired quickly, so make sure any meeting times are kept quite short and give your puppy time to rest.


Play-biting shouldn't get out of hand

Before you collected your new puppy, he was used to playing with his own brothers and sisters. And play-biting is a puppy's natural game. So once he's settled into his new home, he'll want to play-bite with you. But to curb excessive biting, you'll need to divert his attention away from your hands to his toys.

The chances are, whenever you spend time with your puppy, stroking and making a fuss of him, he'll want to chew on your hand, so make sure you have one of his toys ready. Make it hard for him to bite your hand by making a fist and offer a toy instead, waving and wiggling it around him. It won't be long before he learns that toys are lot more fun to play with and chew than a big fist.



Your puppy only knows what you teach him

It's important to remember that whatever you teach your puppy now will be normal behaviour for your grown dog. So when he's playing as a puppy, try thinking of him as a mature dog, and judge whether his behaviour is acceptable or otherwise. If he starts growling, or attempting to bite a hand holding a toy, or rushing a young child during play, stop the game at once and walk away with the toy. He'll soon learn why the fun stopped and avoid the behaviour that caused it.


If you have any concerns about your puppy's behaviour, or would like more information about available books, training courses or classes, your vet will be pleased to advise you.

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