There are different types of aggressive behavior in dogs. Some dogs display defensive aggression and will not attack unless they are backed into a corner. Other dogs may develop an offensive aggression and any dog that comes within range could be a target, whether it is a true threat or not. This aggression can be attributed to many factors. For instance:
- Anxiety, fear or phobia – The dog may have been attacked by a larger dog when it was a puppy and as a result has developed a natural defense mechanism to all dogs. This dog may have also been abused by a previous owner.
- Lack of structure – A dog will revert to its natural instinct of protecting its domain without proper structure and training.
- Lack of proper exposure to other dogs – Without proper socialization, dogs can see all other dogs as a threat.
- Thyroid malfunction or other medical conditions.
Breeding and genetic predisposition.
Treatments for an Aggressive Dog
First and foremost, before any corrective action can be taken, it is necessary to know the underlying cause of the dog aggression. A vet should first check to diagnose any medical issues which may be contributing to dog aggression. For instance, a dog suffering hypothyroidism would not benefit from a treatment plan that is centered on training with no medical action. On the other side of the coin, a dog with no medical problems that could be causing the aggression would only benefit slightly from a purely medical approach to treatment.
After diagnosis is confirmed, the proper treatment plan can be implemented. There are several treatment plans available depending on the source of the aggression:
- Dogs that are aggressive from fear or because of a genetic predisposition can be treated with proper training. However, they may not be fully “cured.” A combination of training and medication designed to sooth the nerves may be the most beneficial treatment.
- Aggression in dogs that lack formal structure in their daily lives can, in most cases, be treated with proper training. Exposure to other dogs and a detailed daily routine will help the dog get over its natural aggressive tendencies.
- Medical issues that are attributable to aggression in dogs can be handled in most cases with medication and possibly surgery. This method of course assumes none of the other factors of aggression are present.
Natural Remedies for Dog Aggression
In most cases, dog aggression can be lessened through proper training and socialization with other dogs. But there are instances where training alone will not solve the problem. If a dog was abused as a puppy, it is possible that they will never fully recover and will always be leery of anything not in their daily routine. In these cases, in addition to constant reinforcement through training, holistic medicines may also help. If this is a the case with a particular dog, look for some of the following ingredients in any holistically-based medicine:
- Scullcap – Scullcap is an herb known for its ability to calm anxiety and other traumatic events. It is beneficial in treating dogs that get overly nervous when visiting the vet or other potentially stressful trips.
- Chamomile is an herb used to reduce symptoms of stress and other anxiety.
- Belladonna is beneficial with dogs that are prone to lash out aggressively for no apparent reason.
- Passion Flower contains several flavonoids which help to promote relaxation, soothe tension and relieve occasional anxiety and panic caused by emotional stress.
- Tryptophan is an essential amino acid that has been found to increase brain levels of serotonin, a calming neurotransmitter and/or melatonin, a sleep-inducing hormone.
- Thiamine (Vitamin B-1) is considered an "anti-stress" vitamin because it enhances the activity of the immune system and improves the body's ability to withstand stressful conditions.