In dealing with dog aggression, it is important to bear in mind that the domesticated dog is not a domesticated dog until he is properly socialized. In aggression cases, the dog is responding forcefully based on either instinct or a learned association. To resolve the problem, the dog has to become comfortable with other dogs, people, and small animals. And he also has to learn new, positive associations with the item that has offended him.
Truth be told, an aggressive dog is more dangerous than a wild animal because the domestic dog is more familiar with humans. While this familiarity can be in a form of abuse and neglect, dogs are less startled by a human in their environment. Being slightly less likely to flee, they can become more likely to fight.
Leash Aggression Is Not The Same As Leash Pulling
Leash aggression should be differentiated from leash excitement. Untrained dogs are likely to pull on the leash, bark, maybe even growl a little at other dogs they see when they are out on a walk. The straining and jumping can be simply a sign of poor discipline. On the other hand, growling may be a sign of a more significant problem.
In many ways, humans are responsible for aggression in dogs. Unsound rearing practices (puppy mills that raise puppies in unnatural, harmful ways), abuse, and neglect are common background factors. Another cause is when people get a dog of a dominant breed and are not prepared to handle this powerful creature. Either situation can be remedied by learning to train your dog properly.
To resolve the problem of leash aggression, one has to change a dog's perceptions at the root level. The catch is that new associations have to be formed involving the very items that trigger the dog.
First, you will need to examine your dog's behavior and determine what items (people, dogs, animals, etc.) upset him and bring out the aggressive response. Compile a list of things that upset your dog.
Additionally, the behavioral threshold has to be identified. The behavioral threshold is the distance that a dog can be from a trigger without responding to it. If your dog becomes aggressive when she is 10 feet away from another dog, but can maintain his calmness at 20 feet, then the magic line is in between these two.
The goal is to reduce that distance to the point where the dog can be comfortable next to the offending object. To reach this goal, the dog has to be counter-conditioned to the object. This is achieved by giving positive rewards, such as attention and treats, when he is near the object, but far enough away to keep his cool.
In addition to counter conditioning exercises, you will also need to work on the relationship exercises to ensure that your dog is properly motivated and sees you in a leadership position.
You Must Be In Control At All Times
While working with your dog, it is essential that you have full control over him and the environment. A simple collar can slip off. So take steps such as muzzling your dog, using a harness in addition to a regular collar, employing a head collar or prong collar to ensure "power steering." Although you do not want to form further negative associations between your dog and the object in question, the first priority is to make sure nothing terrible occurs.
If you have an aggressive dog, you should look into dog obedience classes and training. For severe cases of aggression, consult with a certified behaviorist as well. Dog Academy can help by teaching you leadership exercises and dog training guidelines. This may be all you need but, if not, we can help you find the right professional to turn the dog you have into the dog you have always wanted.
Caution: Do not be violent or use too much force with an aggressive dog. If triggered, an aggressive dog is likely to attack and you could be injured. Do not leave children or other animals unattended with a dog showing signs of aggression.
Dogs That Exhibit Leash Aggression Are Also Likely To...