How To Dog Training is the method used in recognizing, preventing, and handling dog aggression and is one of the most important things we need to understand when owning a dog.
A dog is by nature an instinctively aggressive creature, what we do in its early years will have a great reflection on how they grow into an older dog.
In this article on How To Dog Training, everything you need to know and more I am going to discuss two types of aggression and what we can do as owners to make sure this doesn’t happen in our dogs.
For Dogs In The Wild, An Aggressive Nature Was Natural
Dogs had to be aggressive to hunt, to protect themselves from other animals in the wild, and to defend things like food, where they were sleeping, and their pack or mate.
Selective breeding over time has reduced and refined this trait significantly, but there’s still no question dogs are physically capable of inflicting serious harm (all you need to do is check out their teeth and jaws!) It is how they’ve survived and evolved.
But hey, that doesn’t mean that you or me, as dog lovers and owners, are entirely helpless when it comes to handling our dogs.
In the dog and training world today, there is a lot we can do as owners to stop aggression from ever starting in the first place – and even if prevention hasn’t been possible (for whatever reason), there are still steps that we can take to fix this.
Different Aggression Types
There is many different types of dog aggression, however the two main ones I will discuss here are:
– Aggression towards strangers.
– Aggression towards members of the family and close friends.
You may be wondering why I have put this into two different categories, correct? I mean aggression is aggression, and we want to eliminate this behavior right now, not get into all the finer details – right?
Well … Not really. The two types of aggression arise from quite different causes, and because of this will require different training or treatment methods.
Aggression Towards Strangers
What is it?
It’s pretty easy to tell when a dog gets a little nervous or on edge around strange people.
They can be jumpy and will seem very alert, or maybe they can’t sit still and are fidgeting, possibly they could be jumping at the tiniest sound, and pacing around barking and whining.
Another good sign is that they will be very still, not moving at all staring directly at what they feel could be a threat. It could be someone visiting, the mailman or even someone approach them while you have them tied up while you are in getting some shopping.
Why Does It Happen?
There are a few reasons this happens, however the main one is they have not yet had the chance to feel comfortable next to them.
Firstly you must understand that your dog relies completely on you.
To them you are the pack leader. So without being taken out to socialize and see the new things that are around they don’t know that the unknown is sometimes not all that bad. If they are not getting this then how can they realistically be expected to relax in that situation. Could you?
What Can I Do About It?
The process of getting your dog to the world and all the strange things it holds is what we call socialization.
This is the single most important part of your dog’s upbringing.
I really can’t stress enough just how important this is to ensure you have a sound and stable dog.
Socializing your dog means that from a very young age you need to be introducing them to a variety of new people, experiences and other dogs, and this must start as soon as they have had their vaccinations.
How does socialization prevent aggression toward strangers?
When you are consistently socializing your dog, you’re getting them to find out through their own experience that new sights and sounds can be interesting, fun, and not necessarily scary.
You can’t expect to take a dog to a crowd of unfamiliar people and tell him to “Settle down, it’s OK”
They have to learn that it’s OK for themselves. And that MUST be done from the time they are a puppy for it to sink in early.
The more people, places they go and animals they meet (babies, toddlers, teenagers, old people, men, women, people wearing uniforms, people wearing motorcycle helmets, people carrying umbrellas, etc) in a fun and relaxed way, the more relaxed, happy and non-aggressive they will be around strangers.
How Can I Socialize My Dog So They Dont Fear Strangers?
Socializing your dog can be, and should be a lot of fun not only for them but also for you.
Make it fun, rather than a dedicated training regimen.
The best starting platform in my opinion is Puppy School.
Puppy School is normally a fun group of sessions for puppies which are usually held at your local vets and has the added advantage of not only socialising but also getting them used to their vet, someone they will see a bit of in their early stages for their vaccinations etc.
So what is a puppy preschool? It is a class of normally about 8 – 10 puppies and owners along with a trainer/vet and depending on where you usually live at a ratio of 1 vet/trainer per 2 puppies – obviously the more there are, the better, as this means you get more one-on-one time with a professional.
In these classes you will start teaching your puppies the essential obedience commands like sit, stay, come and basic lead and collar association and training.
The obedience work is incredibly helpful and may be a good way to start out your puppy on the road to being a trustworthy and confident adult dog.
What I love the most and it is the simplest part of puppy preschool is that the play sessions, and these happen a lot throughout schooling, is that the puppies are encouraged to play off-leash and play among themselves.
This is a perfect place for them to find some great social skills.
Here there will be lots of unfamiliar puppies around (which teaches them the way to interact with strange dogs), there is an entire bunch of unfamiliar people present (which teaches them that new faces are nothing to be afraid of), and also the environment is safe and controlled (there’s a minimum of one certified trainer present make sure that things don’t get out of hand).
Socialization must not stop with puppy preschool though.
Socializing is ongoing training that will continue throughout the lifetime of your puppy and dog
They must be taken to a lot of new spots and environments. Remember though to never overwhelm them. Start off slowly, and then gradually build up their tolerance.
Aggression Toward Family & Friends
There are two common reasons why a dog can be aggressive toward members of their human family;
- Firstly, they are truing to defend something they think of as a potential threat to them, which is you.
This is often referred to as resource guarding, and though sounds innocuous, there is actually plenty more occurring here than your dog simply trying to keep you away from their food.
- Secondly, they are not comfortable with the treatment or handling they are getting from you or one of the other family members.
What Is Resource Guarding?
Resource guarding is common among dogs. The term refers to overly-possessive behavior from of your dog.
An example of resource guarding could be snarling at you if you approach them when they are eating, or giving you a direct stare while blinking rapidly if you try to remove their bowl or take a toy away.
Some dogs may be guarding from time to time – it’s just in their nature.
Sometimes they’re possessive over things that you and I see no value in. that could be inedible rubbish, balled up pieces of paper or tissue, old socks.
More frequently, however, resource-guarding becomes a problem over items with a real and understandable value to them and that 9 times out of 10 is food and toys.
Why Does It Happen?
It all boils down to dominance.
Let me take a minute to help you understand this.
Dogs are pack animals so this implies that they’re accustomed to a really structured environment.
So, while in a dog-pack, each individual dog is ranked in a hierarchy of position and dominance in regard to every other dog.
Each dog is extremely aware of the rank of each other dog, which suggests they know exactly the way to act in any given situation (whether to back down, should they push the problem, whether to move in or not to another dogs ground, etc).
To your dog, the family environment is not any different to the dog-pack environment.
Your dog has ranked each member of the family, and has their own idea of where they rank within this family.
This is often where it gets interesting, if your dog perceives themselves as someone who is in a higher place on the social totem-pole than others within the family, they are going to get a little get cheeky.
They now start to get an over inflated sense of their own importance, and will start to act aggressively.
Why? Because in the wild being a dominant dog and showing aggression are what makes this dog the highest ranking in their pack or in our case, family.
Think of the human world, no underdog would ever show aggression or act dominantly to a higher-ranked person (the consequences would be dire, and we knows it!)
Resource guarding may be a classic example of dominant behavior: only a higher-ranked dog (a “dominant” dog) would act aggressively in defense of resources.
Simply explained if it was absolutely clear to your dog that they are not actually the leader of the family, they would never even dream of trying to stop you from taking their food or toys. Why? Because in the wild a dog that ranks lower in the pack will never challenge the higher ranking dogs, which in their life now is you, the family.
Can How To Dog Training Help? What To Do About It
The best treatment for dominant, aggressive behavior is consistent, frequent obedience work, which is how you will gain your authority over your dog and something How To Dog Training will show you.
Just two fifteen-minute sessions on a daily basis will make it perfectly clear to your dog that you’re the boss, and that it is probably wise to do as you ask.
And just how do I do that? You’ll be able to make this fact very clear to them by rewarding them (with treats and lots of praise) for obeying a command:
- If the command is not obeyed you will put them in what I like to call time out (either outside the house or in a room by themselves) for misbehaviour.
- If you’re not entirely confident doing this yourself, you may want to think about getting the help of a certified dog-trainer.
- It would be a good thing to start and try to understand canine psychology and communication, so you understand what they are trying to say – this can facilitate to help nip any dominant behavior’s quickly, and to speak your own authority more effectively.
- Train regularly: keep obedience sessions short and productive. Aim for 10 – 15 minutes a session and try to get 2 – 3 of these sessions daily.
Why Doesnt My Dog Wish To Be Handled?
All dogs have different handling thresholds.
Some dogs like plenty of cuddles, and are perfectly content to be hugged, kissed, and have arms slung over their shoulders (that to a dog is the ultimate “I’m the boss” gesture, which is why many of them won’t tolerate it.)
Others, usually those not familiar with a good deal of physical contact from a really young age – aren’t comfortable with an excessive amount of full-body contact and can get nervous and un-easy if someone continues in trying to hug them.
Another common explanation for handling-induced aggression may be a bad grooming experience: nail-clipping and bathing are the 2 common culprits.
Once you clip a dog’s nails, it’s very easy to “quick” him – that’s, cutting the blood vessels that runs inside the nail.
This can be extremely painful to a dog, and could be a cause to a long-lasting hate to those clippers.
Being washed is something that many dogs have difficulty addressing. Many dog owners, when confronted with a wild-eyed, half-washed, upset dog, feel that in order to complete the wash they need to forcibly restrain them.
This will only add to the dog’s sense of panic, and reinforces their understanding of a wash as something to be avoided at any cost. This could be done by way of raising their hackles or showing their teeth.
Can My Older Dog Be Trained To Enjoy Being Groomed?
In a word: yes. It is a lot easier if you begin from a young age – handle your puppy lots, get him wanting to being touched and rubbed everywhere.
Young dogs generally enjoy being handled – it’s only older ones who haven’t had plenty of physical contact throughout their lives that sometimes find physical affection difficult to simply accept as something loving and fun.
Practice studying his paws and touching them with the clipper; practice taking him into the tub (or outside, under the tap – whatever works for you, but warm water is far more pleasant for a dog than a freezing spray of ice-water!, and reward the method throughout with, lots and lots of praise and also the occasional small treat.
For an older dog, that will have already had several unpleasant handling/grooming experiences, things are a bit tougher.
With this situation you will need to undo the damage already caused by those bad experiences.
You will be able to do this by taking things very slowly – with a real focus on keeping your dog calm and making it seem more like a game.
The moment they start to indicate signs of stress, stop immediately and let them relax.
Try to make this time into a game, give them plenty of praise, pats, and treats.
Take things slowly, and never push it too far, if you get nervous, stop.
Dogs show aggression for a reason, they are warning you to get out of their space!
If your dog just can’t get used to being groomed, regardless of the amount of time you have put in, it is probably best to get a professional dog trainer or behaviorist.
Your vet will clip his nails for you (make sure you tell him first that he gets aggressive when the clippers start off, so your vet can take the mandatory precautions!
As far as washing and grooming goes, the dog-grooming business is something that is growing every year and a lot of these owners have years of experience with handling dogs.
For a tiny low fee, you will get your dog washed, clipped, brushed, and whatever else you need by experienced professionals (again, confirm to them about your dog’s reaction to the experience first!
How To Dog Training – For A Well Balanced Friendly Dog
For more information on handling aggressive and dominant behavior’s, along with a great deal of detailed information on a number of other common dog behavior problems, try How to Dog Training.
How to Dog Training is an entire owner’s guide to owning, rearing, and training your dog, and it deals with all aspects of dog ownership.
So, if you are looking at ways to cope with and learn about
problem behaviors like aggression and dominance in your dog, then Secrets to Dog Training is well worth a glance.
You will be able to visit the Secrets to Dog Training site by clicking on the link below:
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I sincerely hope you enjoyed my article on How To Dog Training and what it could bring to you and your puppy.
If you have any questions on this article or would like to leave your own personal tips or reviews on this please leave your comments below and I will respond to them as soon as possible.
Here is to training your puppy and teaching old dogs new tricks.
Always remember “May Your Home Be Filled With Love And Dog Hair”
Founder of Our Dogs World 101