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Steps to Control Dog Aggression

Apr 20, 2012

Something that we don’t often consider about dogs is that we don’t necessarily know what they’re thinking. One minute, they’ll be running, jumping, and licking your hand. But in a split second, they can decide that they want to fight a fellow playmate, or even worse, a person.

For instance, my border collie often fights with my friend’s basset hound (separating them is a challenge of its own). At first, I couldn’t figure out why, but then it struck me. The two dogs played wonderfully together when no one was around (I was watching through the window). They often sleep next to each other, and even chase one another through the yard while they play. But, when my friend or I approach to pet one or the other, they get mad at each other: A hint of jealousy perhaps, but it is difficult to understand exactly what they were thinking. Regardless, it has made interaction between the two decline to a very limited basis.

This raises the question of dogs and their aggression. Whether you’re visiting the local dog park or just over at a friend’s house to enjoy some company, dogs can sporadically become aggressive, and the worst part is that you may not even know when it will happen.

Protecting you

One of the most common stimuli of aggression is when a dog senses danger. Now, keep in mind that many owners have their dogs for that exact reason- to protect. They have the instinctive nature to love you and the unbreakable desire to protect you from harm. When out and about, another dog may want to simply explore or even meet you. But, to your dog, they may appear to be trying to do harm to you. They don’t always know the difference.

This is why socialization is imperative to a dog’s development. When you meet new dogs, familiarize yourself with both dogs at the same time. Pet them both, while restraining them both, along with your fellow dog owner. This definitely needs to be a group effort.

Mine! Mine! Mine!

Now, that brings about another important topic for dog aggression. Who’s in my space? Bedding, food, and even toys are all “mine” to a dog. The den, as a dog would know, is a private sanctuary where they have the desire and need to feel safe at all times. When another dog intrudes, even if they are harmless, it can raise aggression to dangerous levels.

Keep in mind that your dogs need to meet on neutral grounds. Territorial invasion is amongst your dog’s dislikes. So, it is in your dog’s best interests to always be introduced to another away from their own territory, such as in a park.

Unfortunately, aggression can be difficult to spot until it’s too late, which brings about the subject of spreading the aggressors apart. NEVER get between them. That is a definite “don’t do” interaction. You can be bitten or injured in the attempt. One of the safest and possibly best ways to stop a fight is to utilize water. It’s harmless to anybody, and definitely cools down a situation. How you dispense it is up to your intuitive thoughts.

Dog aggression and people

An uncommon, but dangerous issue is when a dog shows aggression to others. This can be dangerous, but it’s also important for any dog owner to be able to tell the difference between wanting to play (such as chasing a jogger or playing child) and attempts to intimidate or attack another person.

Do keep in mind that dogs are very protective of you, their loving owner, but it is also your job to protect those around you from your dog’s protective instincts. Perhaps the best way to introduce a new person is to positively interact with them. You may find your dog barking at first, attempting to scare an intruder away (especially when they ring the doorbell), but if you simply shake hands and act in a friendly manner, your dog can pick up on your attitude in the situation. A friendly handshake is always good. You may avoid hugging, though, since it may be taken as an attack. Instead, restrain your dog and allow them to watch while you interact with another person. Keep in mind that sniffing and inspecting are important before acceptance.

With small children, this can be difficult. Many times, youngsters may pull hair, ears, or even tails, causing pain to a dog. They may correct the child as they would their own pup, by nipping or biting. Because of the extreme danger that can present, if you have young children in the presence of your dog, avoid unsupervised situations where this can happen. Dogs are very curious creatures (even more so than cats), but children are much more, so take preventative measures to ensure that curiosity doesn’t get the better of either.

Dogs are very protective creatures. Some are aggressive, while others are passive, but we must always remember that they are our friends. So, it is up to us dog lovers and owners to help teach and prevent situations in which a dog might feel obligated to become aggressive. When you do this, you construct a happy, perfect home for your beloved pet.

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