For an aggressive whippet, it is important to start positive socialisation as soon as possible, to show your whippet that there is no reason for his aggressive behaviour.
Introduce him to different dogs on a leash, approaching the stranger from the side rather than the front. If your whippet tends to bite, try the socialisation process while he wears a muzzle, and then without one.
Reward calm, friendly behaviour, and tug on the leash every time he shows any hint of aggression. While meeting any dog, continue the socialisation until your whippet is comfortable with the other animal.
As for people, the stranger must show friendliness to make for a positive experience and build your whippet’s trust.
A positive encounter can include the stranger offering your whippet treats, allowing him to sniff their hand, and then petting him.
Some breeds are more predisposed to aggressiveness than others, but a well-trained and properly socialised dog will never show unnecessary aggression toward people or animals.
What if you find that you have an aggressive Whippet? Aggression in your dog could lead to a number of problematic situations.
It can even come to the point where you can’t invite visitors over, or have to make your Whippet wear a muzzle at all times for the fear that he may bite.
Even small traces of aggression can quickly turn into bigger and more serious issues.
This article will cover everything you need to know about aggressive Whippets, including the reasons behind aggression, what to do about it, and how to choose the right breeder and a happy puppy when planning on a new addition to your family.
Why Can Some Whippets Be Aggressive?
They Were Abandoned
If you have adopted a Whippet from a shelter or rescue facility, it is a possibility that your dog may have been abandoned in the past.
Abandoned dogs may have lost any trust they have had, and therefore show aloofness and aggression toward people.
For that reason, you may need to take a lot of patience, time, and consistent socialisation before your Whippet learns to trust others.
A previously abandoned Whippet may also show aggression due to finding himself in new surroundings.
He may have been a stray for a long time and lived on the road, and finding himself in a home with humans may cause him to be fearful.
They Were Previously Mistreated
If your aggressive Whippet is an adoption dog, there is a chance that he may have been mistreated in the past.
Just as with a formerly abandoned dog, a Whippet that had been mistreated may have lost their trust toward humans.
They may be aggressive toward you or other people, and display anger through growling, showing teeth, or snapping.
They may use this as a defence mechanism, especially if they had been beaten or abused before.
Not Taught Proper Manners
Not being taught proper manners as a puppy may also lead to an aggressive Whippet, along with a number of other behavioural problems.
During puppyhood when your Whippet puppy is developing, it is important to socialise him and teach him acceptable and unacceptable behaviours. If he doesn’t learn proper behaviour, it may lead to issues in the future.
Your Whippet may become aggressive when told not to do something, when facing new situations, or when meeting new people.
If your Whippet puppy had not been socialised, he may become an aggressive Whippet as an adult.
Other Possible Causes Of Aggression
If you have an aggressive Whippet whom you have had since a puppy, and he had been properly trained and socialised, he may have aggression in his genetic make-up.
His parents may have had an aggression-related gene that had been passed down to your dog.
However, this is very rare, as not many Whippets carry any aggression-related genes.
More likely, a Whippet may be aggressive if they are very possessive of their owners, territorial, or as a way of telling other dogs to keep away.
Whatever the reason is behind an aggressive Whippet, this sort of behaviour can lead to serious problems if it is not dealt with as soon as possible.
What are some techniques that you can use to train the aggression out?
Techniques To Train The Aggression Out
The most important aspect of training the aggression out of an aggressive Whippet is to form positive experiences with both people and dogs.
Here are some tips you can follow to help your Whippet to see that not everyone poses a danger to him:
Aggression Toward Other Dogs
When dealing with an aggressive Whippet who acts out around other dogs, he will need to be introduced to various dogs gradually and allowed to socialise with them.
Ensure your Whippet is on a leash and is wearing a muzzle, otherwise, the socialisation might potentially turn into a fight.
First of all, walk your Whippet parallel with the other dog and its owner, coming closer and closer to them.
This way, it is much more likely that your Whippet won’t feel threatened, because a dog approaching him from the front can imply a predatory attack for your Whippet, especially if the dog is larger than him.
Allow the two dogs to sniff each other and socialise. The other dog must be a friendly individual, or the socialisation process could go in the wrong direction.
Reward your Whippet for staying calm and peaceful toward the other dog. Any time he shows signs of aggression, tug on the leash as a way of negative reinforcement.
If ten minutes pass and your Whippet remains calm and friendly, allow him to socialise without a muzzle.
Try this process with many different dogs until your Whippet no longer shows aggression toward every dog he meets.
Aggression Toward People
The key to training your aggressive Whippet to be calm and friendly around people is to help him gain trust in them.
First of all, bring him to places where there are people, keeping a leash and muzzle on him for safety reasons.
If he can walk calmly in public, praise him, but if he snaps at any passersby, tug on the leash and say, ‘No,’ in a firm voice.
When he is able to be in a public scenario and remain calm, it is now time to introduce your Whippet directly to other people. Get a stranger (this could be a friend or relative) to approach your Whippet slowly while he is on a leash.
If your Whippet snaps or tries to bite, tug on the leash and put him in another room for five minutes. This should be enough for him to calm down.
Try this again, repeating the same process every time he snaps.
Get the stranger to toss a treat in front of your Whippet as a way of showing friendliness and goodwill. Next, get the stranger to hold out a treat from their hand.
Once your Whippet sees that the stranger is friendly, get the stranger to hold out their hand for the dog to sniff.
If your Whippet is fine with this, the stranger can try to pet him. He could also command the Whippet to do a trick or two.
A dog that obeys or listens to a person shows that he trusts that person. Therefore, if your Whippet does the trick that the stranger has commanded, it can be a sure indication that he has gained their trust.
Allow the socialisation of your Whippet to take place with a number of different people to build his trust and give him a good perception of others.
Whippets Are Calm And Not Aggressive By Nature
In spite of there being a number of circumstances that might be the reason behind an aggressive Whippet, this breed is generally not prone to aggression. It is very rare to see a Whippet show hostility to other dogs and people.
Whippets are very friendly, incredibly affectionate, and loving dogs toward their owners or friends, and good-natured toward the general public.
An aggressive temperament toward people usually only occurs due to previous bad experiences.
Choosing The Right Breeder & A Happy Puppy
When choosing a Whippet breeder to get your new puppy, it is important to meet with them beforehand to see the puppies and their mother. The puppies should have plenty of space to play and be kept in a clean, safe environment.
A good breeder will not rush into selling a puppy but instead will be happy to arrange a meeting and discuss any questions or concerns. He may also ask you questions about how big your home is, whether you have a yard, and how much time do you intend to spend with your dog.
This will show that he cares about his puppy going to a good home. An irresponsible breeder will want to get rid of their puppies as soon as possible and may keep the mother and her puppies in bad conditions.
A good breeder will also have made sure their puppies have been dewormed and had received necessary vaccinations prior to leaving for their new homes.
A happy puppy in good health will usually be friendly and playful in disposition, active, and lively. A withdrawn puppy that hides away or shows aggression may indicate that he has not been treated well.
A healthy puppy will also not show any ribs, he will not limp or cower when walking, and his eyes will be clear. He will also not have any distinct smell which may indicate an infection, such as in the ear.
When To See A Professional
You may need to see a professional with your aggressive Whippet under a number of circumstances:
- Your Whippet shows aggression when touching him in a certain place on his body. This may indicate he is in pain
- When you are unable to approach him and have no control over him
- He continues to show aggression despite consistent training
- He regularly bites other people and dogs
- if your Whippet was always friendly and well-behaved, and suddenly becomes aggressive without explanation
Despite Whippets not being prone to aggression, there is a possibility that their high prey drive and sighthound instincts may impel them to chase other animals. This can include smaller dogs, cats, squirrels, and rabbits.
While such behaviour does not occur due to aggression, it can cause trouble. Your dog may try to escape the yard, run off on walks, and may even nip or bite their ‘prey’.
For this reason, your Whippet may need to be kept on a leash during walks in places with cats or small dogs. A fence extension may need to be installed if your Whippet regularly jumps over to chase animals.
Socialisation is also very important in this situation, to help your Whippet learn how to stay calm around smaller dogs, cats, and other animals.
Whippets are not a breed generally prone to aggressive behaviour. However, any breed of dog can become aggressive for a number of different reasons.
Aggression present in your Whippet can cause much frustration and concern. It may at times seem like your dog is out of control or unmanageable.
However, by following the right steps and introducing positive socialisation, this aggression can be managed, and an aggressive Whippet can be trained to stay calm and maintain trust around other dogs or people.
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Hello. I’m Luke- the founder of WhippetCentral. I’m somewhat of a whippet nut and have been for most of my life. In that time, I’ve owned and raised numerous whippets. Bonnie is my latest girl; she is currently eight years old and keeps me very busy! Understanding the need for whippet-specific content, I decided to create this blog to share what I have learned and to share my expertise regarding owning and raising whippets – the right way!