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Dog Training and Behavior Modification For Aggression

 

Aggression, defined as an appropriate or inappropriate threat or challenge that is ultimately resolved by combat or submission, is one of the most common behavioral problems in companion dogs. Aggression can occur in any breed, age or gender of dog and can be directed towards people or other animals. It is potentially very destructive, and very dangerous. Aggression can take a number of forms and be caused by a number of things. Common signs include biting, growling, snarling, curling lips, barking, snapping, head and tail up with direct stare, head and tail down with body withdrawn, frantic tail waving, posturing and lunging. 

 Aggressive behavioral problems are difficult to resolve without the assistance of a specialized trainer.  The goals of treating canine aggression are to eliminate the aggressive behaviors and render the dog safer, to enhance human safety and the human-animal bond, to alleviate the anxiety causing the dog’s aggressive behavior and to make the dog and its people happier and calmer. Treatment for aggression involves desensitizing the dog to the eliciting stimulus (other dogs, threatening people, children approaching their food, etc.) and counter-conditioning or rewarding the dog for calm or good behavior. Complete control over the dog, by either the owner or the trainer, is essential for this to work. 

 Understanding the cause of canine aggression is essential to assessing and helping a dog and its owner in any given situation.  While this condition can be extremely frustrating for owners (and no doubt for affected animals as well), there are steps that can be taken to address the situation. Euthanasia should never be an automatic “treatment” or “solution” for behavioral disorders in our pets. 

 

The aggression doesn't have to be directed toward a person either. Some dogs become aggressive around other animals, only specific animals (cats but not other dogs), or toward inanimate objects, such as wheels on vehicles or yard equipment.

Additionally, some dogs are bred for traits that actually promote aggressive behavior. For instance, terriers are bred to attack rodents and other small animals, while "guard dogs," like Dobermans and Rottweilers, are bred to protect property and people. These are natural instincts that require owners to ensure that these types of dogs display aggression only in the appropriate situations through proper training.

 

The key thing to keep in mind is that you can't come up with a plan to modify your dog's behavior until you know the reason behind it. The most common types of dog aggression include:

  • Territorial aggression: The dog defends its space or your home from what it deems to be an intruder.
  • Protective aggression: The dog protects members of its pack against another animal or a person. Mother dogs are also extremely protective of their puppies and may become hostile toward anyone who goes near them.
  • Possessive aggression: The dog protects food, chew toys, bones, or another object of value to it.

 

  • Frustration-elicited aggression: The dog behaves aggressively when it's restricted on a leash or in a fenced yard. Sometimes a dog may become overly excited, such as before a walk, and nip its handler.
  • Redirected aggression: The dog might become aggressive toward a person who attempts to break up a dog fight. It may also happen when the dog can't reach the target of its hostility, such as a neighboring dog on the other side of a fence.
  • Pain-elicited aggression: The dog shows aggression when it's injured or in pain.
  • Sex-related aggression: Two male dogs become aggressive when vying for the attention of a female dog.
  • Predatory aggression: The dog behaves aggressively without much warning when exhibiting predatory behavior, such as when chasing wildlife. This instinct may become a serious danger when a child is playing chase with the dog. It may start out as an innocent game, but some dogs may quickly turn on and possibly bite the child.

 

  • Fear aggression: The dog tries to retreat in a scary situation but then attacks when cornered.
  • Defensive aggression: Similar to fear aggression—the dog attacks in defense of something rather than trying to retreat first.
  • Social aggression: The dog attempts to earn the alpha spot in a group. Dogs that are not socialized properly with other dogs and people may also exhibit aggression.

Contact Us For Help

When it comes to Aggression there are a million different variables as to why your dogs is exhibiting aggressive behaviors. There is NEVER a cookie cutter approach to this, due to the fact that each dog is showing this for a different reason. Our approach when handling aggression differs from dog to dog, with the end goal being to create a balance and happy dog that can be a productive member of your family for ever. We get our pets to become beloved members of our family but it doesn't always work out the way we planned. As with all of our training packages we offer a free evaluation, we will come to your home and develop a game plan on how to treat and train your dog to become the Beloved Family Member you wanted when it came home.

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