Adult Dogs

Do You Know How to Tell If a Puppy Is Aggressive?


It almost seems like a silly question.  If you have a dog who is being aggressive, you already know it.

In fact, that’s probably why you’re reading this right now.

And yet, many dog owners have a tough time learning how to tell if a puppy is being aggressive (or just being a puppy).  After all, most young dogs go through a biting phase.  And it’s not uncommon for puppies to display outward signs of fear, playfulness, or curiosity.

Some puppy parents dismiss their dog’s aggressive tendencies, pointing out that they don’t act this way all the time.  “It’s a temporary thing.”

Other dog owners overlook the problem completely – in much the way that indulgent parents excuse their children’s behavior despite complaints from teachers.

But if you’re reading this article now, you probably already have certain doubts and reservations.  And as a general rule, it’s better to play it safe than sorry.  Failure to correct aggressive behavior in your dog now could result in much larger problems down the road.  Young puppies are much easier to train than full-grown adult dogs are.

Discover How to Tell If a Puppy Is Aggressive

Most puppies go through a biting phase.  In fact, if your dog doesn’t mouth, nip, bite, or explore things with its teeth, you’ve got a very rare animal indeed.  So you can’t really use “biting” as litmus test.

However, there are telltale signs of a deeper behavioral issue.  Things like stiffening, snapping, growling, and baring teeth are not very common in young dogs.  These are tendencies that only appear with maturity – largely because they are learned responses.

If your dog is only 1 or 2 years old, and he is displaying these types of signs, you’ve got a problem on your hand.  Or rather, you WILL eventually have a problem on your hand when your dog grows to full size.

For a more exhaustive list of common signs of aggression, click here.

Preventative Dog Training Is Your Best Course of Action

It actually doesn’t really matter whether you think your dog is aggressive or you know that your dog is aggressive.  You’re still better off training him either way.

Regardless of your diagnosis, you should focus on redirecting your dog’s energies into constructive outlets that play to his or her strengths.  You accomplish this by:

  • Rewarding appropriate behavior and withdrawing from (or ignoring) inappropriate behavior.
  • Establishing clear-cut rules about his place within the pack (i.e. the family) and your role as the pack leader.  Be sure to read our article on dominance training.
  • Creating a loving environment full of affection, playtime, and nurturing.
  • Scheduling regular training sessions throughout the week – preferably 5 to 30 minutes every day.

The most important thing is consistency.  Like humans, dogs are creatures of habit.  And the more regimented you make the above tips, the sooner you’ll begin seeing results.

If you have additional questions about canine training or want to learn more about correcting aggressive behavior in general, be sure to read our comprehensive resources located here.

Happy puppy training!

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