Aggressive Dog Training – Getting Through the Hard Parts


Michael Baugh CDBC CPDT-KSA

Living with a dog who has aggressive behavior can be hard. There are all kinds of emotions involved: human emotions and dog emotions.

Taking on the project of helping a dog change his behavior feels complicated sometimes. It’s a process. There are details. We have to work at it. All the while, there’s the risk our dog will act out, maybe even bite.

How do we get through the hard times of aggressive dog training, especially the early days when we are just getting started?

Depend on your trainer. If you aren’t working with a trainer, hire one. Choose someone who understands how to use positive reinforcement dog training to change unwanted behavior. Pick someone who is properly credentialed, a dog trainer with a CPDT or CDBC certification. Both is better. When training feels hard, turn to your trainer for help between sessions. Let them clarify your training tasks and the overarching plan. Make sure they explain how your training relates to your specific goals with your dog.

Trust the process. Easing or resolving aggressive dog behavior doesn’t happen all at once. There are steps and incremental successes. Stick with it. Don’t give up. And, again, turn to your trainer. That person should understand dog behavior. They should also be a good human teacher and coach.

Practice. Practice. Practice.

Be safe. Protect your dog from aggressive outbursts. It’s okay to avoid triggers of aggression (it is preferable, in fact) while you train. Keep things calm and stress-free in the early days of training. You’ll add stressors as you progress under your trainer’s guidance.

Focus on your wins. Attitude in dog training is everything. How you think about your dog and the training process affect your outcome. All of us tell ourselves stories about our dogs, what they might be feeling or thinking, why they are behaving the way they do. If you’re going to tell yourself a story, let it be a hopeful one. You’re smart. You’ve got this.

Remember, behavior is always changing. Sometimes it changes for the worse. More often, when we guide and influence it, behavior changes the way we want it to. That one bit of truth is so empowering. Let that inspire you and keep you going. Behavior changes. We can, and do, affect how it changes. There is hope, alway.

Michael Baugh teaches dog training in Houston, TX. He specializes in Aggressive Dog Training.