Dr. Sophia Yin, animal behavior expert, presented three tips for handling aggressive dogs at the 2013 American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) annual conference. Though her presentation was geared toward handling these dogs in a veterinary setting, these tips can also be used outside of the veterinary hospital.
Please remember that this presentation was simply a brief. Dr. Yin had eight minutes in which to present her most important points. So there is much more to this topic and this is far from being a complete discussion. But the tips are good and they are a wonderful starting point.
1. Correct the environment to make it less scary for the dog. Create barriers to vision by placing partitions between pets so they do not see one another. Control noise – create a quieter environment by using soundproofing and other noise reduction alternatives.
2. Approach the dog correctly. Do not approach head on and never reach over the top of the dog’s head. Instead, approach the dog while standing sideways to minimize your profile. Approach from behind if you are taking a pet from an owner’s arms to minimize the pet’s discomfort at your approach. Avoid making direct eye contact with the dog. Many dogs view this as a direct threat.
3. Give the dog direction by making your expectations clear. For instance, if you want the dog to walk with you, set a fast enough pace to keep the dog moving rather than pulling the dog behind you or allowing the dog to explore the environment while walking.
Following these three suggestions will give you a good place to start in dealing with dogs that are aggressive due to fear. Be aware that fear is quite often the motivation behind aggressive behavior so anything you can do to reduce fear for the will be helpful.