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Dr Platzhund
3 minute read
31 Aug 2013
8:00 am

Dealing with canine aggression

Dr Platzhund

In the approach to canine competitive aggression to owners and visitors the situations that elicit an aggressive response needs to be avoided at all costs thereby minimising danger and prevents repetitive problems from reinforcement.

The owner needs to be taught by a reputable professional how to train the dog with the idea of the dog assuming a gradually more submissive position in the family. If the risk analysis is too high euthanasia must be considered. When a dog first growls the manner in which the person acts will determine the future. If people withdraw, scream and run the dog will rapidly realise its power and that snarling allows it to reinforce its dominance over its owners.

Confrontation by hitting the dog can worsen the situation in certain instances. Aggression can cause aggression. The timing has to be immediate and effective as one would do with an eight-week-old pup wanting to bite a human hand. At the same time the people being bitten must realise that they may be inadvertently and ignorantly hectoring the little animal to defend itself against human teasing and laying the foundation for serious aggression.

The best alternative is to not punish an aggressive dog. Make the dog hanker for food by feeding it at unpredictable intervals. The dog will show more respect if it learns that it depends on you for food. Encourage the dog to eat its food with the bowl placed between your feet on the floor. Learn to be calm around the dog instead of noisy, reactive and hyped up. Stop giving the dog too much attention. Stop staring at it all the time. Be consistent.


Image courtesy stock.xchnge

Image courtesy stock.xchnge


The entire family needs to cooperate in this regard as a cohesive team so that confusion is avoided such as one person allowing the dog to sleep on the bed when another chases it off. Never feed the dog from the table. Teach the dog that it must earn everything.

It must learn to sit and stay while relaxing in a variety of circumstances. Ignore all attention-soliciting behaviours by walking away, ignoring it with negative body language which includes folding of arms, turning one’s body and making no eye contact.

The dog will rapidly realise that the demands are not being responded to so they aren’t worth repeating. It will then, with owner modification behaviour, associate calm behaviour as more rewar-ding and will want to repeat it for the benefits that are derived. Always reward the good behaviour and teach the dog to earn a salary of desirable behaviours. The dog must defer to its owners in order to have the pleasures of life which will be training, exercise, food, discipline and then affection when appropriate.

This entire article and concept is a problem created by pet owners not having done the basics at the time of acquiring a puppy. This includes the selection of a pup of desirable temperament from a trainable, reliable breed then subscribing to puppy socialisation, early castration or spaying, obedience training, then continual compliance of all the learnt principles for the rest of the dog’s life. The dog must learn to earn. People who give their dogs too much privilege without the pet having earned or deserved it can easily create a monster whose life may be prematurely cut short by having to be euthanased for biting or killing a person.

Most aggression problems are created by pet owners who fail to lay down the correct foundation for a meaningful dog-human relationship. The tragedy of it all is that the dog doesn’t choose its owners.

An alarming percentage of dogs are euthanased annually due to aggression.

Many people are resistant to changing their ways towards animals, most aggressive problems are inflicted on the family members and all the problems could have been avoided instead of having to consult professionals when the damage is done and the law is having to take its course.

When a dog turns on its own family it is beyond a doubt the adults that are to blame.