6 Tips for How to Get an Aggressive Dog to Like You

Dogs love unconditionally.  At least, that’s what everyone else seems to say.

But your dog hates you.  Not people – YOU.  The person reading this right now.

This comes up quite often – especially in homes where the dog develops a super strong attachment to only 1 family member.  For example, your wife can pet the dog with no problems, but every time you approach, he becomes hostile.

So how do you get an aggressive dog to like you?

  • Should you bribe him with treats and rewards (like they do in the movies)?
  • Should you become a military drill sergeant and show force?
  • Should you just accept the fact that you and this dog will never be friends?

The following may offer some relief.  Note that these should be used together with our aggressive dog training tips (listed here).  The recommendations down below are only for developing closer bonds with your puppy.  They won’t actually address the underlying causes of his aggression.

How to Get an Unfriendly Dog to Become Your Friend

Ready to begin?  Here are 6 quick tips to get you started.

1.  Hand Feed Your Dog

Feeding your dog helps to reinforce social bonds.  It also helps to establish you as the caregiver (i.e. Alpha Wolf) – rather than as a peer.

However, some dogs don’t take kindly to hand-delivered treats, no matter how tempting that treat is.  If your puppy growls whenever you try to spoon him food, then:

  • Place the treat in his bowl (make it obvious that you’re doing so)
  • Back away and wait until he’s finished
  • Approach again and gently place more food in the bowl

Over time, he will associate your presence with rewards.  And he should grow more friendly as a result (like in the movies).

2.  Socialize Often

Some of your dog’s hostility may be a result of poor socialization.  Make sure he gets plenty of “facetime” with you, strangers, and other dogs.  The more comfortable he becomes around others, the less aggression he’ll display in the future.

This is not a process you’ll want to rush.  Only allow these visits when your dog is in a calm or playful mood.  At the first sign of aggression, stop the socialization and put him on a time out.

3.  Avoid Aggressive Behavior

This goes without saying, but:

  • Never use violence.
  • Never raise your voice.
  • Never make sudden gestures.

As the alpha in the pack, your job is to remain cool, calm, and collected at all times.  Even when your dog chews up your favorite slippers or growls uncontrollably – stay relaxed.

For more on the importance of calm dominance, click here.

 4.  Kill Him with Kindness

Affection, cuddles, and pets.  Use these in abundance.  Even the least friendly pooches in the world respond to genuine affection.

However, there’s a time and place for love.

Like socialization (up above), only show your dog with affection when he’s well behaved.  Ideally, you’d reward him with pets and a soothing voice every time he does something good (i.e. something worth repeating).

5.  Play and Exercise Are Essential

Dogs need lots of exercise.  Lots.

Failure to meet this basic need will result in frustration, boredom, and maybe even ill will.  But if you tire him out with games of fetch or long walks, he’ll be much happier – and hopefully – much closer.

Also, if your dog has a few annoying habits (like chewing on furniture or digging in the yard) give him outlets to blow off steam.  For example:

  • Give (rather than leave) chew toys to keep him occupied.
  • Create a designated “dig” area in the yard.  You can do this with some rope and stakes.  If you’re really ambitious, you can even construct a sandbox made of 2x4s.

6.  Set Boundaries

Like young children, dogs need rules, boundaries, and challenges.  They become anxious (and poorly behaved) if they have to assume authority roles.  And without challenging stimuli to keep them occupied, they become bored.

Obedience training can help knock down barriers in your canine relationships.  Set aside time each day to work on simple commands.  Or schedule a few minutes every day to work on aggression training.

Not only will this make your puppy a more loyal companion, but it will also make him better behaved – a double win.

A Word of Caution on How to Get an Aggressive Dog to Like You

None of the above is a quick fix.  They’re simple tips that will help you move closer and closer to a fulfilling doggy relationship.

But a word of warning.

Take things slow.  Your dog is aggressive – and that’s the primary problem.  And stopping this underlying hostility should take priority over how to get an aggressive dog to like you.  Don’t expect long-term “friendship” results if your puppy is still violent in other situations.

So use the above tips in moderation while focusing the bulk of your energy on treating your dog’s hostility.  For canine aggression training, click here.

Happy dog training.

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