How to Deal with Puppy Aggression

An aggressive puppy can be challenging for pet parents to deal with. Learning how to stop puppy aggression in its initial stages is imperative.

Living with an aggressive puppy can be challenging for pet parents to deal with. Learning how to stop puppy aggression in its initial stages is imperative.

Puppies can bring joy and excitement to people’s lives. By having a new puppy, the house will undoubtedly feel more alive than it ever has before. But from day one, you need to watch for potential warning signs of an aggressive puppy.

A lot of people make the mistake of poorly training their puppies while they are young. The younger a puppy is, the easier it is to modify their inappropriate behaviors. Waiting for puppies to “grow out of it” is a terrible idea as puppies grow into the behaviors they get away with.

It is your responsibility to be open-minded when you see a problem. Never excuse or ignore undesirable behavior. Without help, there is little doubt an aggressive puppy will become a dangerous dog!

In this article, we will teach you how to look for signs of aggression within your puppies. We will also give you ideas on how to correct this behavior and ways to deal with an aggressive puppy.

Warning Signs of an Aggressive Puppy

If you’re worried that you may have an aggressive puppy, it may help you be at ease if you know how to identify normal and aggressive puppy behavior. It’s crucial to determine whether puppy aggression is just playing or something more serious.

Aggression in puppies can be manifested by a lot of things. So with that said, let’s get into the signs you should be watching out for.


Aggressive Puppy Biting

Biting is a big problem for many new puppy owners. However, biting does not mean you have an aggressive puppy. Most of the time, a puppy biting hard is just a sign that your puppy has bad bite inhibition.

All small puppies bite. It’s important to realize that puppies do not realize the strength of their jaws and how much those needle-like teeth hurt.

Here’s how you can tell the difference between play biting and aggressive snapping: Play biting can easily be redirected towards a toy, and your dog shows signs of happiness like a bouncy, upright tail.

On the other hand, aggressive snapping will be paired with aggressive or defensive body language, like rigidness, baring teeth, or lunging.

Baring Teeth

Aggressive Puppy Baring Teeth

Baring teeth is one of the biggest signs of aggression. When your puppy bares his teeth at you or another dog, he’s saying, “Back off!”

Teeth baring often is a sign of aggression based on apprehension. For example, if he’s asleep in your chair and when you go to move him, he bares his teeth and you back off, he’ll be in the dominant role.

It’s easy for a puppy to fall into the bad habit of showing its teeth to get his own way if you react wrongly to the situation. To reassert your control and stop him from showing his teeth, you might want to consider some sessions with a professional dog trainer.

Excessive Barking

Puppy Barking

If you have a puppy that barks excessively without a good reason, know that you are likely to have an aggressive dog.

It’s natural for dogs to bark when attacked, threatened, or even when a stranger approaches, but when it is excessive, and you cannot find a good reason for such actions, you need to seek expert advice.


Dominating Puppy

Dominant puppies are often the boldest puppies, exploring their surroundings and pushing their boundaries with both litter-mates and humans.

When your puppy sees himself at the top of the family hierarchy, it’s a warning signal that requires quick and effective action. This behavioral display can lead to domineering behavior which, when challenged, results in aggression.

Begin training a dominant puppy as soon as you get him home from the breeder or shelter. The first few weeks of a dog’s life are extremely formative and these early lessons will help shape his future behaviors.

If the puppy is not going to be a show dog and is not intended to have puppies, spay or neuter them as soon as possible. Spaying and neutering remove excess hormones from the dog’s body that may contribute to dominant behavior.

Resource Guarding

Aggressive Puppy Guarding Resource

Resource guarding is normal dog behavior, but it can become dangerous if left unchecked.

Early signs of aggression in puppies include being possessive over toys, food, space, furniture, or other things that provide comfort and pleasure. Typically, a puppy with aggressive guarding tendencies may stiffen, raise its hackles, or growl when another dog or person approaches him.

This is more likely done out of fear that he will lose access to those resources and not because he wants to be ‘above’ everyone else in the household.

Fear Aggression

Scarred Puppy

When dogs fear something, it triggers the instinctive “fight or flight” response, and when your puppy can’t escape whatever scares it, it lashes out with teeth. 

Aggression in young puppies is most often fear- or anxiety-related. If you find your puppy cowering under a chair and not wanting to be touched, you can be sure that someone or something has really frightened him.

Luckily, with some professional help and lots of patience, you might be able to improve your puppy’s behavior and help them feel more relaxed. The key is to stay consistent with the process and reward your dog’s progress with their favorite treats.

How to Stop a Puppy from Being Aggressive

Okay, you know the signs of an aggressive puppy. Now, let’s look at what you can do to stop this behavior.

First, you should manage situations during which your puppy becomes aggressive. A lot of the time, aggression comes from a dog’s fear or anxiety about something.

Once you know his triggers, interrupt the behavior by getting your dog to look at you as soon as he sees his trigger and give him a treat. Over time, your dog will learn that his triggers aren’t scary and that they’ll actually get him some tasty rewards.

Making a loud noise to startle him and get him to notice you is also a way you can interrupt the behavior. This way you can redirect his attention to a better behavior. 

Physical punishment like alpha rolls, tapping the puppy on the nose, or holding the puppy’s muzzle shut only causes fear and distrust and may lead to defensive aggression.


Keep an eye on your puppy’s behavior as he’s growing up. If you notice any behaviors in your puppy that are signs of aggression, it’s important to nip them in the bud right away. This will prevent your puppy from growing up into an aggressive dog when the behavior will be much more difficult to manage.

Depending on the severity of your pup’s aggression issues, the solution can be anything from a simple change in routine to working with a certified dog behavior consultant. With patience, you can discourage and correct this behavior so your dog and the rest of the family can live in harmony.