Stopping Retriever Aggression

Aggression in any form is unacceptable in a dog, especially if you have young children, so stopping retriever aggression is a very important part of owning a dog.

stop retriever aggressionThe best time to stop aggression is before it becomes a bad habit. Aggression in older dogs might be due to other factors like illness, fear or pain.

Types of Aggression

Look out for any of the following:

  • Growling. Growling during play is natural in a puppy but if he growls when you come near the food bowl or when you try to remove a toy, this is a form of aggression that should not be tolerated.
  • Jumping. This is a more subtle form of aggression where a dog is trying to dominate.
  • Biting. This is definitely an aggressive act and needs prompt attention.

Tips on Stopping Retriever Aggression

Training a dog from puppyhood involves asserting yourself as the leader and showing the dog who is in charge. This limits aggression or stops it before it even begins.

  • Earn your dog’s respect. Becoming the alpha leader is probably the most important thing to get right. If you are in charge, it releases the dog from this responsibility and ensures that he will look to you for direction.
  • Begin puppy training immediately. It is never too early to start training a puppy. The earlier you start building rapport, the easier stopping retriever aggression will be.
  • Consistent training is key. Decide right from the start which behavior is acceptable and which behavior is not and stick to it. Remember, growling and mouthing might be cute in a puppy but it is definitely not so cute in a grown dog, so discouraging it early will make your life easier in the long run.
  • Always use positive reinforcement. Retrievers are clever, highly trainable dogs that thrive on affection. Reward any good behavior, no matter how small and your dog will try harder to please you. If you make training and obedience fun and rewarding your dog will be keen to do more of it.
  • Socialize your dog. Often aggression is the result of fear or insecurity in the presence of strangers and other dogs. A well socialized dog will not have these problems. Take your puppy out where he can meet people and dogs in lots of different situations.
  • Never meet aggression with aggression. If you use force and physical punishment to counter aggression you will only make things worse. As the pack leader you are giving permission to your dog to continue with the unacceptable behavior by answering aggression with more aggression. You cannot achieve peace by waging war and stopping retriever aggression will not be accomplished by using force.
  • Pay attention to your signals. If you are anxious and fearful your dog can immediately pick up on this and might feel the need to protect you by showing aggression. If a burglar was in the house, this would be a good thing, but if you were taking a walk down the street, it would not.

Dogs are predatory pack animals at heart but they can be trained to be obedient, loving companions. Invest in the time and effort it takes to bring up a well behaved dog so that stopping retriever aggression is never necessary.