How To Stop Aggressive Behavior In Your Small Dog

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Do you own a small dog? Then you probably know about their big personalities despite their small stature. Many small dogs are known for their ‘attitude’ that’s no match for large dogs. And while it may be fun to watch those tiny creatures bossing around bigger dogs and people, dog aggression can cause real problems for both pets and their owners. In this guide, we will be delving more into what small dog aggression is, how to identify its signs, and more importantly, what you can do to stop this misbehavior.

Understanding small dog aggression

Dog aggression among small dogs doesn’t always equate to a dog that bites. As a matter of fact, some aggressive dogs are ‘mellowed down’ and never act out more than the occasional growl. Meanwhile, others can attack dogs and even people.

Possibly the number one reason for such behavior among small breeds is due to the huge inconsistency in how humans treat each breed. Humans are often far more tolerant to how small dogs behave, say, jumping on people than they are on larger dogs. Another reason is also the odd belief of little dogs that they’re big. This is because many of them are often looking down at other dogs from their owners’ arms or purses.

Signs of aggression in small dogs

To effectively stop aggressive behavior, you must first know how to spot the signs of aggression. What kind of body language do these dogs display before an attack? How can you know that a dog is too nervous and is close to being aggressive? Here are the top signs of aggression in dogs:

  • Snarling
  • Growling
  • Stiffy body posture
  • Baring teeth
  • Ears pinned back

Effective ways to handle aggressive behavior in small dogs

Dog aggression is a complex issue. And we’re gonna give it to you straight and clear there’s no easy fix or an overnight solution that will turn your dog into a well-behaved pooch. Furthermore, knowing the reason for his aggression can immensely help. That, and with lots of patience, you can learn how to stop dog aggression before it’s too late. Depending on the specifics of the problem or the cause of aggression, here are ways to stop this bad behavior:

Situation 1: Dog aggression towards strangers

Is your small dog being aggressive to every stranger, or maybe a certain group of people, such as kids, women, men, etc.? Does his aggression show when a stranger comes to your house or when they see them on the street? Knowing who he’s being aggressive to will help you solve the problem. It can be leash aggression, which needs training, or a past trauma that they connect with certain people. In both situations, positive reinforcement training and gradual desensitization to the stressor are the best methods.

Situation 2: Dog aggression towards cats

The truth is, cats and dogs are not natural enemies. Still, some pooches get agitated around cats. Depending on the severity of aggression your dog shows, learning to stop such behavior can be a matter of safety. Thus, it’s crucial to make enough effort in socializing them. It’s likely gonna be a long process as felines can be finicky and moody.

Situation 3: Dog aggression towards owner

As heartbreaking as it is, some pets can act aggressively towards their owners. If your dog has done this, don’t take it to heart. In most cases, this display of aggression towards you is due to another issue, such as resource guarding or dog-on-dog aggression. There’s also a possibility that his strange behavior is due to an underlying health problem. If he starts growling or nipping at you suddenly, rule out any injury or illness first.

Situation 4: Dog aggression while eating

Dogs don’t go by the rule of ‘sharing is caring as humans do. It’s common for them to start snapping at anyone who approaches their kibble or even their favorite toys. This is what they call possessive aggression. The key is to make him realize that no one wants to take away their food. Go slowly and stand near them while they eat until they’re comfortable enough for you to pet them while eating.

Reason 1: Illness and injury

Some medical conditions can cause doggos to develop aggression. If such behavior comes out so suddenly, it may be due to an illness or disease. Pain, for instance, is an especially common cause of aggression. He may have a condition that’s causing him great stress and discomfort. If so, talk to your veterinarian before addressing it as a behavioral problem. A vet will know what medications are best for your fur kid.

Reason 2: Fear

Another reason for aggressive behavior is fear. Many dogs act aggressively when they sense danger, feel trapped, and feel the need to defend themselves. If you have a rescue dog that’s aggressive or more scared than normal, he may have been neglected, abused, or traumatized. Improper socialization as a puppy can also be the cause. In this case, your pooch may need obedience training with special instruction that has handled this type of dog. You may also be able to manage it on your own with patience and training.

Reason 3: Display of dominance

Dogs can also behave aggressively as a show of dominance. It’s often directed towards other dogs, but can occur with humans, too. Dominance is a behavior, not an innate trait. While some may have stronger tendencies than others, dominance in dogs is typically triggered by circumstances. Regular obedience training and increased exercise can help curb your small dog’s dominance aggression.

Other tips to combat aggression:

Your dog may be tiny in size but an aggressive dog, no matter how small, can make your life miserable. Other ways to help solve his aggression are as follows:

  • Setting clear expectations for your dog and sticking with them. Make a list of rules and boundaries that you and your whole family should follow
  • Keeping him exercised enough to burn off excess energy. Mental stimulation is also important. Daily exercise and playtime, especially with other dogs and people can help encourage healthy interactions with others.
  • Introducing your small dog slowly is the key if he’s being aggressive towards larger dogs. Of course, this must be done under close supervision with at least a single adult to control the interaction.


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