Companion Animal Behaviour Referrals


                                  AGGRESSIVE DOGS     

In order to reduce the risk of future injury or damage to people, animals, property or the dog itself:

     ▪     avoid punishing the dog, eye contact and unexpected or intimidating actions – these may trigger or increase aggression

     ▪     muzzle the dog when taking him out of the home (see below)

     ▪     prevent the dog from coming into contact with anyone/anything that may be the recipient of aggression

     ▪     avoid situations in which aggression has previously been witnessed, e.g. if the dog is aggressive to other dogs at the park, take him elsewhere or, if aggressive while off the              lead, keep him on the lead

     ▪     if such situations are unavoidable, the dog must be muzzled and under the control of a responsible adult

     ▪     remove objects that the dog may try to guard, e.g. toys and food bowls

     ▪     ensure that borders to the property are secure to prevent the dog escaping

     ▪     when the dog is unsupervised or not tethered, do not allow people or animals into the area – lock any doors or gates to prevent access

     ▪     if the dog is aggressive to other pets in the home, use a child gate to keep them apart. If this leads to frustration, place the dog in a separate room.

     ▪     consider leaving the dog in the car.  Ensure that the car is not/will not become hot and that he settles down in the car.

     1.     if the above are not feasible, consider putting the dog into boarding kennels.

     2.     alternatively, if the aggression is only aimed towards the owner, a pet-sitter or other known person could look after the dog in their own home.

Training your dog to accept a muzzle – ONLY USE A BASKERVILE STYLE

     1.     Ensure that the muzzle is the correct size for the dog.

     2.     Allow the dog to sniff the muzzle and give him some treats.

     3.     While the dog is relaxing, stroke him with the muzzle.

     4.     Leave the muzzle near the food bowl while he is eating.

     5.     Put some treats in the muzzle for him to retrieve.

     6.     Put the muzzle on the dog, leaving it undone, and give him a treat.  Gradually

increase the length of time it stays on whilst giving treats through the gaps in the muzzle. Only reward the dog when he has been calm and still.

     1.     When this is accepted, try to fasten the muzzle while giving him a treat.

       Gradually increase the length of time it is worn whilst giving treats.

     1.     Start taking the dog for short walks whilst wearing the muzzle.  To

begin with, go to areas which will not cause excitement or confrontation.    Praise him for remaining calm whilst wearing the muzzle.

     1.     Continue using the muzzle whenever you take the dog out.  Ensure that the

dog has many enjoyable experiences while wearing the muzzle so that he does not associate it with any unpleasant experiences that may occur.

Protecting people within the home

      1.      Keep the dog away from such people.  If this is not possible then a responsible adult must supervise them, particularly children.

     2.     Do not allow children to handle aggressive dogs.

     3.     Avoid situations that provoke the dog, e.g. if the dog is defensive of food, feed him away from people, e.g. outside.

     4.     Use a muzzle while the dog is around vulnerable people.

Protecting other animals within the home

     1.     Keep the aggressive dog away from the other animals.  As long as this doesn’t antagonise them, allow them to see each other, but provide each with an area that they can escape to out of sight of the other.

     2.     If dogs have never fought away from home they may be exercised together, but it must be noted that it cannot be guaranteed that they will not fight on a walk.

     3.     There must be two people to keep the dogs separate at the beginning and end of the walks, when a fight may be most likely to be triggered.

     4.     Do not allow the dogs together in small spaces, e.g. doorways or sharing a car seat.

Protecting visitors to the home

     1.     Ideally, do not allow the dog to meet visitors – keep him in a different room, using a child gate, or put the dog in the car before visitors arrive (providing the dog is happy in the car and that it is not hot in there).

     2.     If segregation is not possible, do not allow the dog to meet visitors at the door – put the dog in another room, allow the visitors in and then allow the dog to meet the visitor (keep the dog on a lead and at a safe distance from the visitor).

     3.     The dog should be muzzled throughout the visit.

Controlling aggression away from the home

     1.     Avoid areas where aggression has been triggered previously – walk the dog in different places.

     2.     Avoid walking the dog at times that aggression has been triggered previously, e.g. walk the dog at lunchtime instead of the morning.

     3.     Use a muzzle.

If aggression is directed towards the owner, have two people, each holding a lead on either side to assist handling.

Useful Links

Owners whose dog has been involved in an aggressive incident may like to watch the Blue Cross video on how to introduce a muzzle to your dog: