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Nobody wants their dog to be aggressive. But sometimes it just happens.
And if your dog isn’t aggressive, he may one day run into a dog that is.

For those reasons, learning about dog aggression and ways to handle it can be useful to any dog owner. To that end, Irith Bloom, director of training at The Sophisticated Dog pet training in Los Angeles, California, has some answers for us. Bloom has been training various types of animals since the 1980s. Her certifications include Certified Professional Dog Trainer, Knowledge & Skills Assessed (CPDT-KSA), and Certified Dog Behavior Consultant (CDBC). She’s also a Karen Pryor Academy Certified Training Partner, a Victoria Stilwell Positively Dog Trainer and is certified in Behavior Adjustment Training, a technique designed to help reduce fearful and aggressive behavior.

The Honest Kitchen: If your puppy is attacked, how can you keep him from becoming aggressive later in life?

Irith Bloom: If your puppy is attacked, there are several things you can do to minimize the odds of aggressive behavior later in life. Here are a couple of suggestions:

Make sure the puppy is completely physically okay. If the puppy is in pain due to something that happened during the attack, the continued pain will tend to make the puppy more anxious, and therefore more likely to behave aggressively. Go to a veterinarian as soon as possible after the incident and get the puppy a proper physical checkup. Dogs can have bruises or even broken bones without having puncture wounds, so it’s crucial to make sure the puppy is physically fine. It may be a good idea to take the puppy to a doggy chiropractor, too. Whether you are seeing a veterinarian or chiropractor, make sure the puppy gets treats while being handled, so he’s less likely to be nervous about the situation.

After making sure the puppy is physically okay, you can begin working on helping the puppy feel safe in the presence of other dogs. One useful technique is to feed the puppy treats any time another dog is in the area. You should do this even if the other dog seems friendly and the puppy seems calm. This will help the puppy learn that seeing dogs leads to good treats, no matter how the other dog behaves. If the puppy doesn’t want to take treats while another dog is around, that’s generally a sign that the puppy needs more distance but doesn’t quite know how to get that distance. Help the puppy out by coaxing him away gently—not yanking.

If your puppy prefers playing with toys over food while at home, you can offer the puppy a toy and play with him when you see other dogs, instead of using treats. If the puppy will not play in the presence of the other dogs, though, that’s a sign that you need more distance.

Any time there is another dog around, allow the puppy to decide whether or not he is interested in going up to, or even closer to, the other dog. If the puppy wants to move away, let him move away. Just like humans, dogs feel more comfortable when they are able to control how close they get to something scary. Letting the puppy choose whether to stand still, move away, or get closer will help the puppy feel secure.

If the puppy does seem to be interested in approaching the other dog, make sure it’s safe to get closer. To do that, ask the other dog’s handler, “Does your dog like puppies?”

Read More at The Honest Kitchen Blog
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