How to Approach a Dog that Is Aggressive

The most important thing you can do when meeting a dog is to make sure that your body language and tone are non-threatening. If a dog senses that you’re nervous, they may become defensive. Though it’s natural to be afraid of an aggressive dog, try to stay as calm as possible.

What are signs of aggression in dogs?

Signs of aggression in dogs include barking, growling, snarling and lunging. The aggressive behavior can be triggered by many things. Some dogs may be displaying protective aggression if they feel that their territory is being threatened; others may be showing dominance when confronted with a person or animal they consider to be lower in rank than they are. They might also be expressing pain-related aggression after being injured or fearful because of a traumatic incident such as the loss of an owner or another dog attacking your pet.

Some dogs are naturally more aggressive than others, so it’s important to know how you can identify an aggressive dog before approaching them and moving on from there.

Approach the dog slowly.

You may be afraid that a dog who is acting aggressively will bite you. But it is important to approach them slowly and carefully, because they are often scared and defensive. Don’t rush or run, as this can make the situation worse.

Don’t make sudden movements toward the dog; if you do have to reach into your pocket for something (e.g., keys), move in slow motion so as not to startle him/her.

Don’t stare at or make eye contact with the dog, since this can be interpreted as threatening behavior by some dogs and provoke an attack response (this goes for children too).

Do not touch their face – even if they are smiling, licking their lips, etc., this still signals aggression because they are trying to show dominance over you by making themselves appear bigger than they really are!

Use a calm, assertive voice.

When approaching a dog that is aggressive, you want to make sure you are using a calm, assertive voice. Dogs can pick up on stress in your body language and voice, so it’s important to remain as relaxed as possible while addressing them. Speak in an even tone and use a command that the dog understands. In addition, avoid using commands that are too complicated or similar to ones the dog already knows; this will only confuse them further and cause confusion about what you want them to do next.

Assess the situation.

Before approaching an aggressive dog, it’s important to assess the situation.

  • If the dog is sick or injured, it may be trying to protect itself or its owner from perceived threats. In this case, it’s best to leave the animal alone and seek help instead of risking injury.
  • If you suspect that a dog is in pain and acting out because of it, don’t attempt to handle him until he receives treatment from a veterinarian.
  • Finally, if his aggression seems unwarranted (i.e., there are no other dogs around) and he doesn’t appear injured or ill—but just plain mean—it can be difficult for even an experienced animal behaviorist to tell whether or not you should approach him.

Steer clear of the dog’s face.

The most important thing to remember when approaching an aggressive dog is that dogs have a better sense of smell than humans and can often detect fear, which prompts them to act out. Keep this in mind when you’re deciding how far away to stand from the dog—the farther away, the less likely it will be able to smell your fear. Additionally, if you are cornered by a dog or feel like you have no escape route (for example, on a sidewalk with nowhere else for you or your child to go), this could also cause a bite.

Also keep in mind that some dogs are more likely than others to target people’s faces because they want to inflict pain on their enemies while ensuring they don’t get bitten back themselves! Be sure not only that there’s enough distance between both parties but also make sure there aren’t any barriers around like fences or bushes where they might be able to get at your face easily without getting hurt themselves first.

Stay in front of the dog at all times so you have a way to leave if necessary.

When approaching a dog that is aggressive, you want to make sure that you are in control. If the dog is on a leash and has room to move away from you, keep his line tight so he can’t lunge at you. If he’s off-leash and running towards you, try to stay out of his path.

If the dog is confined in an area where there isn’t much room for movement (such as an enclosed yard), don’t walk directly towards it because this may cause him to feel threatened or cornered as well as put yourself in danger. Avoid walking behind him if possible; this will encourage him to turn around and see what’s behind him.

Be careful about approaching dogs that are crated or behind fences.

The same rules apply when approaching a dog that is crated or behind a fence. You don’t know what they are capable of and your approach could be perceived as threatening. If you see a dog through the window of a locked house and they are aggressive, it’s best to walk away unless you know the owner has already called animal control to have them removed from their home.

How do you calm an aggressive dog?

You should use the same tone of voice you would use with a human child. You know how when you’re talking to your dog, they’ll sometimes start panting and acting like they can’t wait for what treats are coming next? That’s because dogs respond to our voices more than any other part of our body language—which is why it’s so important that you speak in a calm, assertive voice instead of a loud one. If a dog doesn’t understand what we’re saying, they might interpret it as aggression on our part and become defensive themselves.

To keep things simple, here are some tips for speaking in an assertive way:

  • Speak slowly but calmly
  • Control your breathing
  • Make eye contact

How do you get an aggressive dog to trust you?

Be patient. It can take time to build trust with a dog, particularly if they are fearful or aggressive. Don’t rush things by trying to pet or play with the dog if that makes them uncomfortable. Be consistent. It’s important for you and your dog to have a clear understanding of what is expected from both of you in order for trust to develop, so be sure your commands are always followed by rewards (like treats) and corrections (like verbal reprimands) when necessary.

Always use a calm voice when interacting with your canine companion, even if they’re growling or barking at you! Your sweet tone will help keep everyone feeling safe during this social interaction, which is crucial for building any sort of bond between two individuals.* If possible, bring along some treats so that you can use them as rewards when your pup behaves well; this will reinforce positive behavior while also showing them that good things happen after behaving appropriately.

Can a dog be trained not to be aggressive?

Yes, but it depends on the underlying cause of the aggression. If you have an excitable dog that’s been spooked by something and is still having trouble calming down after five minutes, then it may be best to seek professional help with this issue. Otherwise, if your dog is simply reacting out of fear or territoriality—and you don’t mind some minor scuffles in your home—you can try training him yourself. Be sure that your training environment is safe for both of you: use a muzzle if necessary (or at least put up gates) and keep any other dogs away from yours during these lessons until he becomes more comfortable.

How do you assert dominance over an aggressive dog?

When you approach an aggressive dog, it is important not to show fear or anger. Doing so will only make the situation worse and may provoke further aggression. You can also look away from the dog as long as you’re not turning your back on him.

It’s best to keep your hands at your sides when approaching an aggressive dog. This will show confidence and lack of aggression on your part, which may help calm him down enough for you to do what needs doing—whether that looks like handing over food or getting out of his way so he can pass by safely.

Why would a dog suddenly become aggressive?

There are many reasons a dog may suddenly become aggressive. In the wild, dogs have very few predators and live long lives without any human interaction. This is not the case for most domesticated dogs today. Instead of hunting for their own food, they eat from a bowl or plate every day; instead of being expected only to protect their territory and family, they are expected to welcome strangers into their home; instead of sleeping in a hole in the ground or roaming around freely with other dogs, they sleep on your couch or get stuck inside all day (and sometimes night) because you work full-time and can’t leave them alone outside.

The problems above could lead to stress in an animal that has never dealt with them before—and since they don’t know that these things aren’t supposed to be stressful yet (like humans do), it’s understandable why they might react aggressively when faced with this new situation.

Do shock collars help aggressive dogs?

A shock collar is a device that delivers an electric shock to your dog’s neck when it barks, growls or lunges at people. Some dogs find this uncomfortable and stop the unwanted behaviour.

There are a few drawbacks to using a shock collar:

  • They can be ineffective in some cases. If you have an aggressive dog, it might take dozens of shocks to make him change his ways. You may also have trouble finding someone who can train your dog properly with a shock collar on hand, since some countries ban their use by animal trainers and behaviourists due to safety concerns about their potential for abuse.
  • They’re not appropriate for all dogs. Dogs who were abused as puppies are more likely than others to react defensively when approached by strangers; these dogs should never wear shock collars under any circumstances because they’re likely already scared by new people approaching them unexpectedly (for example).


There’s no need to fear! Simply follow the advice given in this article and you’ll be able to handle any situation with a dog that is aggressive. After all, if you remain calm and assertive as well as being aware of your surroundings then everything should turn out alright!