Tackling problem behaviour in dogs

The PDSA Animal Wellbeing (PAW) Report found that 230,000 dogs show signs of aggression towards people every week, and nearly 400,000 show aggression towards other pets every week.

This includes growling, snarling, snapping and biting.

PDSA is urging all owners to make sure their dogs aren’t at risk of adding to this animal welfare and public health problem. Cases of dog attacks are still being reported in the papers. PDSA Senior Vet, Elaine Pendlebury said: “In many dogs the main cause of aggression is fear, and this type of aggressive behaviour can be prevented by properly socialising puppies. Start socialising puppies when they’re very young – PDSA’s website has plenty of information on socialising young dogs, visit www.pdsa.org.uk/dogbehaviour”

If you have a dog displaying signs of aggression, advice needs to be sought without delay. Firstly your dog should wear a muzzle whenever you are in a public places or with visitors. Never leave them unsupervised with strangers.

You should take your dog to your vet to check there are no underlying medical reasons for the aggression. If it has a clean bill of health, the next step is to find out what is causing your dog to behave like this. Once this is known, in many cases your dog can be taught how to behave.

If your dog has developed problem behaviour, never punish them ie hitting, smacking, shouting. Punishment causes anxiety and can make the problem worse. It can also lead to further problems.

Basic reward-based training should be started as soon as you bring your puppy home. Start with simple commands such as “come”, “sit” and “leave” and make sure the training fits with their short attention spans. Seek advice from your vet when your puppy gets their first vaccinations, as they may run puppy training classes or be able to recommend a suitable one for when your puppy is older.