help your pup learn to play nice

Teaching aggressive puppies how to chill out 

Aggression that starts small (a nip here, a show of teeth there), can get more serious and more difficult to treat as your pup gets older and larger. You don’t want aggressive behavior to become ingrained. With love and patience, you can help your wee doggo learn what you expect as good behavior.

A cartoon puppy pulling on its owner's pant leg

How to spot aggression in your puppy

Aggression is a threatening or harmful action toward someone or something else (like your favorite pair of shoes, for example). Bites can cause actual harm, but aggressive behavior also includes aggressive barking, snarling, growling, and snapping, even without physical contact.  

Note that plain old puppy chewing isn’t aggressive in itself, but you still want to teach them when it’s OK to use their teeth, and when it isn’t. See more about puppy nipping

A dog doesn’t have to actually bite anyone to be considered aggressive.

What’s making my puppy act aggressive?

Maybe your puppyBFF acts one way toward you, and in an aggressive way toward others. In these situations, your pup’s aggressive behavior may be a result of perceived threats from new people, new touching, even a new presence close to their food (no one wants their food taken). Or it could be a sign of a physical or medical issue that needs attention from your veterinary team - so it’s always worth discussing aggression with your vet.

Small Pomeranian puppy barking on the couch
A Terrier mixed breed lying on the ground

If your pup’s aggression isn’t caused by an identifiable physical issue, there are other causes to address or rule out. These include stressful living environments, needing more exercise, lack of socialization, genetics, plain old miscommunications, and misreading your expectations. The sooner you address these issues, the better for everyone.

Puppy Aggression

What can I do to curb aggression?

To manage pup’s aggressive behavior, you’ll have to work with your pup. You’ll need to know what sets them off, and come up with a proactive strategy to make that trigger less upsetting. The basic steps include:

  • Know your pup’s triggers for aggression
  • Avoid these triggers whenever possible
  • Do not physically or verbally challenge your pup when they become aggressive
  • Do not disregard aggression as an isolated experience

Download more about pet aggression

How Banfield can help

Talk to your veterinary team if your pup is aggressive. They can help you rule out or treat health conditions that may be causing your pup’s snappy responses. They may also be able to refer you to more resources, like animal behavioralists, who can work with you on a positive training regime for your pet.

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