Jessica Baker asked:
One of the most common queries we get from subscribers to our newsletter is how to curb and eliminate their dog’s aggressive behaviour.
Quite recently in the UK there have been two highly publicized cases of very young children being attacked by dogs (the same breed in both cases) and one sadly led to the death of the child in question and resulted in the aggressive dogs being put down by the authorities not long after.
In response to this I’ve put these 6 pointers together to show you what is normally responsible for aggressive behaviour in dogs.
Dogs that bite or show aggression toward people outside the family group usually feel insecure about their relationship with their owners and/or their property, or have been frustrated relative to people at barriers, on leashes, etc.
Some of these dogs may have been mistreated by strangers or former family members, often not known to the owners.
Pack (family) and property protection tendencies naturally begin to appear at about 6 months of age.
At this time the dog may show slight signs of hostility toward outsiders who threaten the integrity of its property or group.
This sort of aggressive behavior may become extreme under the following circumstances:
1. The dog’s owners do not have a uniform leader relationship with the pet (dog is submissive to some, dominant toward others).
2. The family has very few visitors.
3. Fear, hostility or aggression is commonly shown toward outsiders by family members (often by the children).
4. At the dog’s first signs of hostility toward outsiders, the owners encourage rather than discourage such behavior.
5. The dog has been frightened or teased by outsiders.
6. The dog has been shut away from the family when guests visit often because of other types of misbehavior…
One way of training your dog to stop an annoying behavior pattern is to use substitution.
One kind of substitution is to put an activity you approve of in the place of one you do not.
For example, teach the dog who jumps up on people that sitting, not jumping, gets her the attention she’s looking for. And importantly, you have to be consistent.
If you don’t want your dog to jump up in greeting, as much as possible don’t ever allow her to.
If you have a dog that has a bad habit of snapping at people, especially children, then you should first understand what this behavior means and why your dog may be doing it.
Snapping is usually thought of as being a signal that dogs use to drive other dogs or people away, without biting them or inflicting serious injury.
Often considered an expression of irritability, snapping is also a form of communication that females use to keep their puppies from pestering them.
It is natural to expect dogs to use snapping as a form of communication with people. Dogs will usually not snap at adults to, whom they are subordinate.
And with adults who are snapped at, it is usually only their hands that are at risk. With children, however, snapping can be dangerous, because a child’s face is often level with the dog’s head.
Regarding a dog’s tendency to snap at children, the experts say: “This question deals with a dog’s tolerance for being poked, pulled, and handled by children, not always as kindly as we might like.
Snapping is a characteristic that differs in prevalence from males to females, at least to a minor extent.
In general male dogs are more predisposed to snap than their females counterparts.