Why Does Your Dog Get Aggressive When Told No?

Does your dog seem to get aggressive whenever you tell him not to do something? Is he really behaving that way because of that one tiny little word, or is there something else going on?

When you say no to your dog, are you screaming at him? Raising a hand? Throwing something in his general direction? Bending over and getting in his face? Your dog isn’t getting aggressive because you’ve said the word no, but because he’s afraid or anxious about his safety, he wants to do something you’re not letting him, or is guarding something he sees as valuable. Immediately stop what you’re doing so the aggression does not get worse.

Are you sure you’re seeing aggression? What does his behavior look like? Is it just a case of barking, or is it more severe than that? If it’s always barking and it’s never escalated past that, it’s possible you’ve been unintentionally rewarding him for doing it. Let me explain. Your dog barks, it’s annoying, you tell him to be quiet and he keeps doing it. You tell him again, you raise your voice, and he still does it.

If he’s barking for attention and you give it to him (yes yelling is attention!) he just learned how effective it is, so next time he barks louder.

Now you’ve decided to ignore him. He barks louder and longer because you’ve caved before, he has no reason to think it won’t happen again.

If this is what you’re dealing with, ignoring him will eventually pay off, but if you’re sure it’s aggression then keep reading.

Why Your Dog is Aggressive

Aggression is normal, and part of a range of behaviors dogs use to deal with life. When we hear the word “aggressive” we automatically picture a dog with teeth bared, barking and straining at the end of a leash. Sadly some people only start seeking help when their dog reaches, or almost reaches that point.

Dogs usually start off with very subtle signs, or they try and remove themselves from the uncomfortable situation. If that had no effect, the next time they will increase the signals they’re giving off. Each time this happens and no one reads the signs the dog is sending, they have to express themselves more overtly. It will get to the point where they’ll stop warning and move straight to very aggressive, and sometimes dangerous behavior.

This is when people often say their dog became aggressive all of a sudden.

Why your dog gets aggressive when told no

Are Some Dogs Naturally Aggressive?

Some dogs have been bred to be guard dogs for example, so while that doesn’t mean they will be aggressive, they do have a tendency. If that puppy isn’t raised well and properly trained, it makes it more likely to occur.

Signs a Dog is Displaying Aggressive Behavior

You will see different signs depending on the level of aggression a dog is showing, but here are some examples in no particular order:

  • Yawing
  • Turning his head
  • Licking his lips
  • Looks away and you see a lot of the whites of his eyes
  • Low growl
  • Baring teeth
  • Barking
  • Lunging
  • Gives a quick nip
  • Lots of bites, one after the other

What NOT To Do If Your Dog is Acting Aggressively

• Don’t escalate the situation by continuing to do what’s upsetting him.

• Don’t yell at him. It won’t help, and can make things worse.

• Never leave your kids alone with your dog, even if he only reacts in a particular situation that will be avoided.

What To Do if Your Dog is Aggressive

• The first step is to stop whatever you’re doing that’s causing the behavior, and walk away.

• Next step is to sit down and make a list of the situation(s) where your dog is aggressive. It could be it only happens when you approach to pet him while he’s lying on his bed, or eating a meal. Maybe he doesn’t like you sitting on the couch next to him. It could happen in a variety of circumstances so Include details like:

  • How close you were to him/object?
  • Were you just standing, walking by or reaching down to take something?
  • How did he react? Did he snap right away?

• It’s also possible the aggressive behavior is because your dog isn’t feeling well. We often see aggression in senior dogs with health issues. Vision and/or hearing loss is frightening, particularly if they come on suddenly, and this reduction in their senses means they often don’t hear or see someone until they’re very close and it scares them. Pain often causes aggression, as can confusion that comes with dementia, so I recommend a visit to your vet.

• It is very important that you start dealing with this behavior as soon as possible. Ignore it and it WILL get worse.

Why dogs get aggressive when you say no

How to Punish an Aggressive Dog

You don’t. As a matter of fact, you don’t punish any dog. You teach your dog how to behave using reward based training. Putting them in the “naughty corner” or heaven forbid raising a hand don’t work, in fact they will make the problem worse.

Dealing with Dog Aggression

You have two options – avoid the situation that triggers your dog, or come up with a training plan to manage or resolve it.

Let’s say your dog is triggered when someone walks too close to his food bowl. He’s afraid it will be taken away, you react, it scares him more so his aggression increases in order to drive the threat (in this case you) away. In this situation you could start feeding your dog in a separate room or area where no one will walk by, then pick the bowl up after he’s left the room. Alternatively, you could train him to be less reactive.

It’s less straight forward if your dog reacts to multiple “threats,” but managing the environment and having a training program can help.

How to Deal with a Food Aggressive Dog

Following on the example of a dog that reacts when near his food bowl, here is an article that will help you, help your dog.

The Do’s and Don’ts of Dealing with Food Aggressive Dogs https://www.dogparenting101.com/how-to-deal-with-a-food-aggressive-dog

What situations cause your dog to become aggressive? How do you handle it? Sharing helps others, so please leave your helpful tips below.


I’m a dog trainer specializing in helping shy, fearful and aggressive dogs.

Does your dog go after other dogs and people while on a walk? Is he or she petrified of fireworks and thunderstorms? Does he growl or even nip when someone goes near his food bowl or treats? Is he scared of the vet? Men? Children? Visitors to your home?

All sessions are conducted via Zoom, at a time convenient for you.

Get in touch today to book your FREE 15 minute, no obligation call. It will give you the chance to let me know what’s going on, and we’ll talk about how I can help. I can be reached via my FB page or website.




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