Choose your dog wisely. Don’t acquire your pet on impulse. Check into her background, if available, talk to those who have cared for her and spend time with her and your family to see how she will fit in before you adopt her. Watch for signs of potential problems such as extreme fears, serious medical conditions, possessiveness of objects and protectiveness of people.

• Spay or neuter your dog at your veterinarian’s recommended age. This may reduce the chances of certain kinds of aggressiveness as well as other unwanted behavior.

• Socialize, acclimate and train your dog. Providing pleasant experiences with new people, animals, things and places can help prevent fears and may prevent some aggression problems from developing. Providing basic manners or obedience training focusing on positive reinforcement can improve communication between you and your dog and may prevent some kinds of aggression.

• Avoid training and management practices that use harsh or physically confrontational methods such as jerking on leash and collars,
scruff-shaking and extended social isolation. These can create pain or induce fear that may result in aggression.

• Make your dog part of your family. Don’t leave her unsupervised for long periods of time and don’t keep her socially isolated from the rest of the family. If she is fearful or threatening and can’t be trusted not to bite, seek behavioral help.

• Learn to recognize the early signs of illness, pain or fear from your dog that could lead to aggression. Don’t ignore early signs of
protectiveness of people, of other family pets, of personal space, of your home and property, or of possessiveness of food, toys and other objects.

• Educate yourself about the subtle signs of uncertainty, distress, fear and threats dogs can show to people and animals. Most people are not aware of many of the behaviors that can lead to aggression. Meet with a trainer, animal behavior consultant or even your veterinarian to help you better recognize these signs.

• Never leave dogs and young children alone together. Accidents can happen in the blink of an eye.

• Be prepared to help if your dog does bite someone. Carry homeowners or renters insurance that provides liability coverage for injuries caused by your dog.

• Ensure that your fence is in good repair and repair it IMMEDIATELY if it isn’t. Many bites occur when dogs get out of their yards and are
loose in the neighborhood. Only tether your dog for short time periods and if you are there to watch her. Tethering is not an acceptable method of containment.

• Be a good citizen of your community. Obey all animal laws including leash laws and those for licensing and registering your dog. Do NOT take your dog off leash except in approved off leash areas. Leash laws are for everyone’s safety.

• Get help sooner rather than later from your veterinarian, trainer,behaviorist or animal behavior consultant.

Have a great rest of your week!