No one can deny the fact that dogs are a man’s best friend because they are loyal to the core and are very sociable to have around. They always make us feel special but this bond can be threatened because of aggressive behaviors. Aggressive behavior is a part of a dog’s behavior so don’t think it is out of place when your dog gets aggressive. However, there are times when you need to step in to tame aggressive behavior before they spiral out of control.
It’s not right to label dogs as been mean or evil just because they display aggressive behaviors. To throw more light on this let’s have a look at why dogs display aggressive behaviors:
- Territorial aggression: Dogs can display aggression when he or she suspects that an intruder is about to invade his space or your home.
- Protective aggression: Dogs who move in packs can display aggression to protect members of the pack. You should expect a nursing mother dog to display some level of aggression if her puppies are threatened.
- Possessive aggression: Possessive aggression occurs if the dog feels the need to protect what it sees as his/her own. Food aggression in dogs is a good example of possessive aggression.
- Fear aggression: Dogs are a little fearful and may display aggression before retreating to a more protective environment
- Defensive aggression: The saying that the best form of defense is to attack is true with dogs. More often than not, they opt to attack rather than trying to retreat when they are threatened.
The reasons for aggression might be peculiar to a situation so there are many other reasons why a dog gets aggressive. Sometimes understanding the underlying message is more important than aggression. They could feel some level of discomfort, be going through stress, fear or guarding their resources. Let’s decipher how to reduce not eliminate aggression in dogs through training:
To cub anticipated overly aggressive behavior in dogs its best that you pay attention to the socialization phase of the dog. This phase usually starts when the dog is about three weeks old and last till it is about 12 weeks old. Expose the puppy to a variety of stimuli in a controlled and guarded way to prevent it from developing overly aggressive behavior.
Treat the dog with love and compassion because a fearful dog will more likely become aggressive in the future. Play and yummy pets are also very helpful in preventing aggressive behavior.
Dog training to prevent aggression
There is no arguing the fact that all dogs should be trained irrespective of how the owner is. In fact, I’m of the opinion that they pass a law that requires owners to at least give some basic obedience training to dogs. Basic obedient training can play a major role in solving behavioral problems in dogs. However, some owners are titled to the use of aversive methods to train their pets. This can backfire because it has been shown to increase aggressive responses in dogs.
Dominance training techniques such as forcing the dog to lie down, yelling at the dog or hitting the dog with an object are not recommended and should be avoided at all costs. Only use positive reinforcement to train and discipline the dog because they are emotional creatures and can sense love and affection.
If your dog is already displaying overly aggressive behavior here are a few training tips you can imbibe to solve this wrong behavioral pattern:
- Counterconditioning the dog
Counterconditioning the dog is a technique that is used to change the dog’s emotional responses to certain stimuli. If for example your dog is afraid of people who carry umbrellas you can counter condition the emotional response of the dog by preparing the umbrella with a positive stimulus in an effort to gradually bring a change in aggressive behavior. You can do this for anything that frightens the dog and in no time the aggressive nature would have been conditioned with something positive.
Desensitization is used to reduce a dog’s emotional response to things by reducing the intensity. Reduce the intensity or the exposure of the dog to whatever frightens it and the dog will gradually get used to it. In the case of an umbrella, you can gradually present this object to the dog afar then gradually take it near the dog until he is comfortable around the object.
- Behavior adjustment training for dogs
Behavior adjustment training for dogs also known as BAT is a training technique that is based on changing or modifying the emotional response of dogs to certain stimuli. In the case of whatever frightens or makes the dog aggressive it can either choose to bark and growl or simply walk away or sniff the ground around the object. The calm response of quietly moving away is rewarded. The reward-based behavior will gently modify the dog’s emotional responses to things that frighten it.