9 Energy Outlets for Your Aggressive Dog

Anxious Dogs

9 Energy Outlets for Your Aggressive Dog

Owning a dog-aggressive dog is a challenge. Enriching and exercising a dog-aggressive dog without uncomfortable encounters with other dogs is even more of a challenge, and can seem a daunting and impossible task.
Here are some ideas to keep you and your dog entertained and safe.

1. Play fetch
If you have not done so yet, teach your dog to play fetch. Use it in all kinds of variations: fetching different toys and objects (how about even fetching a cold drink from the fridge?), fetching in different places (your yard, different rooms of your house, in water, sand, snow…), fetching challenging things (how about fetching a coin?).
Combine your fetching game with little exercises, such as having your dog sit before you throw his toy, having your dog sit and wait while you throw his toy, trying to call him off of his toy etc.

2. Teach him the names of objects
Pick a bunch of toys and start learning! Begin like you would start teaching a child a new word. Pick up an object and repeat its name, then play with it with your dog. Be patient and trust that he will learn – it will likely take a few weeks, but once he has his “learning breakthrough”, he won’t be stopped!

3. Take him on micro-adventures to friends and neighbors
Dogs are social animals, and even if they exhibit dog-directed aggression, many will enjoy meeting and hanging out with old and new friends. No reason to leave your dog at home when you visit with others – as long as you make sure the place will be free of other dogs, take your dog along to the party!

4. Try nose-work games
Nose-work is increasingly popular in canine enrichment. It’s fun, it requires high concentration on your dog’s part and sniffing is a naturally calming activity, therefore perfect for a dog that tends to have high-anxiety episodes.
Start by hiding food or toys within a small radius of your dog, over time increasing distance and difficulty. Branch out up into the third dimension as well – try hiding them on a shelf or a window sill!

5. Teach him tricks
Make your dog a little superstar by teaching him how to wave, roll over, shake, bark on cue, turn left and right and more.
Youtube offers thousands of instructional videos, or you can try out our tricks and games online classes!

6. Scatter-feed
Make meal-times a fun scavenger hunt! Similar to the nose-work games, let your dog search for his food. Instead of serving it in a bowl, scatter it throughout the house and yard to let your dog work for every piece of kibble.

7. Build an indoor obstacle course
Challenge your dog’s coordination and fitness with a living room obstacle course. Use pillows, cardboard boxes, chairs, pool noodles etc. to step on, walk over, crawl under and go around. Be creative and change it up often.

8. Turn your dog into a bathtub-pro
Make your dog look forward to bath-time by building high value for being in and around the bathtub. Feed him his meals or special treats next to the tub, in the tub, in the tub with the water running lightly – slowly build up to having your dog stand in a full bathtub.

9. Make him your co-pilot
As long as it’s not too hot outside to be safe in the car, take your dog along! To the dinner drive-through, to the bank, to get gas or the car wash – he will enjoy the new sights, sounds and smells, he will enjoy hanging out with you and he will have a new little adventure several times a week.

It’s never easy owning a dog-aggressive dog – that’s why it is important to find ways for you and him to just have fun and enjoy each other. Try out the above for good times without worrying about aggressive encounters.

As always, happy training!