There are many reasons that a dog may feel cause to show aggression. The most common causes tend to be fear, anxiety or when a dog is startled. Unfortunately, there are times where the aggression that a dog may show becomes a problem. Fortunately, there are a myriad of things that can be done to help a dog suffering from bouts of aggression, starting naturally and leading in to more serious medication.
Usually a dog will show aggression due to a stressor, hence why the first step should be identification of any possible stimulus which may be causing the aggression. This may not always be possible, and in some cases, a dog may be so far in to a habit that behavioral therapy or training is ineffective. But training should still always be tried as a first point of call.
If attempting to retrain the behavior is not an effective strategy, there are natural therapies that may help, many of which are recommended for dogs suffering from anxiety. Some examples of these include a pheromone diffuser which plugs in to the power point and secretes a calming scent that is not detectable by us. Pheromones can also be secreted by collars and sometimes sprays. Lavender essential oils can be lightly applied to your dog’s bedding (never directly to their body) which induces relaxation. Controversially, Cannabis oil has been used more recently as a calming supplement for dogs and the results seem fairly positive. Massage and in some opinions acupuncture can be very beneficial to the mood and general demeanor of a dog, after all, they are not so different from us.
Sometimes aggression or anxiety may be too severe for the treatment of holistic approaches and there for, a vet needs to be consulted before the administration of any dog aggression medications. Vets may prescribe a variant of dog aggression medications for your dog, however the anti-anxiety medications for dogs are not so different to those of humans. The safest and most common options are often serotonin re-uptake inhibitors (SSRIs). Vets will often start with medications such as Prozac, Zoloft and Xanax. But there is a myriad of different categories, all effecting mood in different ways.
Sometimes an anti-depressant medication, such as the ones above will be prescribed instead of or in addition to a sedative. Sedatives may be more effective in calming an attack of undesirable behavior, where the anti-depressant is more of a long term treatment. Both are considered very helpful in the right circumstances.
It is incredibly important to liaise with your vet and/or a behaviorist when aggression becomes a concern. Often there are common stressors which are the cause of undesirable behavior. The best options to take are the natural ones first, like pheromone diffusers and massage to help ease anxiety. Unfortunately, in the circumstances that those aren’t effective, dog aggression medication may be required. In the instance of aggression and anxiety, anti-depressants are a long term option, much like with humans. Additionally, sedatives may help with one off instances, aiding your dog in calming them down.