Your dog is aggressive towards humans, you do not know how to react and you do not know why he adopts this behavior.
Here is an article that will first allow you to understand why your dog is aggressive and to know the little tricks to manage each situation.
The dog is not born aggressive
First of all, a very important point: a dog is not born naughty or does not get up in the morning saying to itself: “Here! I’m going to attack humans today. ” There is always a trigger, an accumulation of negative / traumatic experiences and / or an inappropriate attitude on the part of the master who pushes the dog to “attack before being attacked”.
The 21st century dog must be perfect!
Then, nowadays, we ask our dogs to be perfect doggies: who get along well with all dogs, who do not run after game, who leave cats alone, who tolerate the presence of any what a human, who accept all contacts, who share all their resources, etc. (the list can be very long).
But we sometimes forget that dogs remain animals with natural instincts, their own canine codes, their own sensitivity as well as survival reflexes in case of dangers.
Thus, we can never blame a dog for reacting to a situation that is unsuitable, insecure or even dangerous (according to him) and which, moreover, is caused by humans.
So beware, I am absolutely not saying that dogs that are aggressive towards humans should not be taken back or re-educated! But sometimes the biggest part of the job will be understanding this behavior and readjusting the dog’s environment and the attitude of the people he meets.
Why does a dog become aggressive towards people?
I propose here the three main causes that can explain the aggressiveness of a dog on humans:
- Dog aggressive due to poor socialization : it is obvious that a dog which has never seen humans during its period of socialization will ultimately be afraid of what it does not know afterwards. So, just like socializing the puppy with its peers, it will also need to make it meet a maximum of people (children, people in wheelchairs, people with caps, crowd, etc.).
- Dog aggressive because of a bad experience : be careful however, all meetings must be regular, certainly, but above all positive! Be aware that “hyper-socialization” can do a lot of damage. When introducing people to an adult puppy / dog, we must take into account the signals sent by the dog in question and stop contact if the latter does not seem comfortable. Then, of course, a dog will have a lot more problems with Man if the latter has abused him, abused him physically and / or psychologically.
- Aggressive dog because of a predisposition to fear : finally, you can also have a fearful dog from birth, a hyper-sensitive dog, either by its character, or because of a bad development. Thus the aggressiveness of the dog will ultimately be the (legitimate) response to a rather wobbly emotional state.
The 3 main tips to implement to prevent aggression of the dog towards people
Read and interpret the calming and warning signals from the dog
Never force contact if you notice that your dog is not comfortable! And a dog that is not comfortable will send a multitude of signals: yawning, licking a nose, turning his head, growling, possibly barking or even running away.
If you insist on contact despite all these signals, your dog will have no other option but to attack to stop this contact which he will absolutely want to avoid.
Offer an appropriate and quality socialization
As I said before, good socialization will be essential so that your dog, as an adult, has an attitude of confidence at the sight of people he is not used to meeting or, conversely, in front of people he meets on a regular basis.
Clearly, since the dog will naturally be afraid of what he does not know, it will be important that he considers it “normal” and “usual” to evolve in the midst of humans. Hence the need for good socialization especially between the 3 and 12 weeks of the puppy.
Establish a relationship of trust
Then, this is the most important advice to implement: have a relationship of trust between the owner and his dog. A dog that feels safe with its owner will have far fewer reasons to attack a human.
A huge work on the attitude of the master will then be done because, in many cases, it is the distrust and the fear of the master who cause the discomfort of the dog! This is an example of the vicious circle.
Tips for anticipating / managing problematic situations
- Wearing a muzzle : accustoming a dog positively to wearing a muzzle will be the first thing to do when you have an aggressive dog. Besides, for any dog, wearing a muzzle should always be associated with something positive. After all, you never know what could happen: a dog might, during its lifetime, need to wear a muzzle for X or Y reason. As for aggressive dogs, I recommend the muzzles where it is possible to give them treats through.
- Strengthening obedience : this advice goes hand in hand with establishing a relationship of trust. If your dog trusts you, if he listens to you and if he co-operates with you, then it will be much easier for you to manage his various reactivities towards humans. Indeed, when a dog enters a “second state” and he has only one desire: to keep the person who puts him in this state away, it is often difficult to capture his attention and “bring him back to you ”… So tell yourself that if, in normal times, your dog does not have much obedience, it will be even more difficult for you to manage to calm him down. The indications which will help you on a daily basis: walking on a relaxed leash, the “stop”, the “fixed”, etc.
- Make the presence of humans positive : put yourself at a distance where your dog does not react to the sight of humans and play with him, give him treats (even through the muzzle), etc. Clearly, offer your dog an activity that he enjoys in the presence of humans (at a distance where your dog is comfortable). Then, little by little, come closer. Be careful not to skip the steps. These habituation and immersion sessions must be regular but above all short! For this advice, I recommend the presence of a professional to accompany you because if this work is not done correctly, it could make the problem worse.
- Anticipate his reactions as much as possible : try to anticipate as much as possible your dog’s possible reactions. Be careful not to trigger your dog! Concretely, you must both be relaxed, confident, and at the same time anticipate the slightest “problem”. So yes indeed, having a reactive dog on humans is tiring, exhausting on a daily basis … But if you make sure to find serene places to walk your dog without being afraid of meeting people and that in parallel with that you offer short and repeated sessions of familiarization with humans, you will get a more relaxed dog.
Call on an education and behavior professional
Finally, it is very important to clarify that, despite reading this article, if you have an aggressive dog, it is essential to call in a professional dog training and behavior. The articles are good, they allow you to understand and give you some leads to improve your attitude or the environment offered to the dog … But nothing beats personalized advice and adapted to the case by case because each situation and each “aggressiveness” will be different.