Animal Motel Blog
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|Posted on June 3, 2017 at 12:55 AM||comments (8)|
So you're having a family cook out, everyone's coming into town, siblings reunite once again, children are all having fun, everyone's having a good time. That is, until someone's cousin wanted to bring their new dog to meet with your dog. Barking and aggression ensues, and next thing you know, you have to stop a dog fight.
It always sounds like a fun idea, bringing dogs together and letting them play, however not everyone's dogs are that free spirited. There are times in which dogs just do not like the presence of another dog, and there are many reasons to that. Just as there are many reasons, there are also many ways in which an owner can correct this behavior. Here we will breakdown different reasons why your dog might be aggressive and conclude with different tips on how you can train and correct this behavior.
Why is my dog aggressive?
There are two main topics to think about when trying to pinpoint the cause(s) of your dog's aggression; dog stressors, and imbalances in dog hierarchy.
Everyone knows this feeling, someone won't stop clicking their pen, your peer is tapping their foot, the person driving in front of you is too slow. A bunch of small inconveniences irritating you to the point where you just snap. What you don't know is that your dog may be going through the same exact thing! When we talk about dog stressors, however, the difference is it's usually something that can be easily fixed, such as a window being left open or perhaps you live on a busy street that's very distracting. When it comes to dogs, you have to understand that they can become overwhelmed due to over stimulation. Things such as an opened window can leave way for many disturbances throughout the day, and perhaps your dog is easily stimulated. Just as we can get annoyed with tapping and clicking, there might be a pesky squirrel storing food nearby or perhaps a nest of birds. With stressors, all it takes is simple observations to find what exactly is stressing your dog, and depending on the problem, you can easily stop it. Back to the example of the window, you can just keep that window closed and perhaps open one in a room where your dog doesn't go to. Or maybe put some blinds or curtains to cover up the view. Stressors are have quick fixes but the problems are stil underlying, and over stimulation could be the effect of a bigger issue in which your dog might need specific training for.
Imbalances in Dog Hierarchy
A more common problem between dog aggression would be imbalances in something known as a dog hierarchy. Dogs are pack animals, as descendants of wolves, they feel the need to establish pack leaders and other roles within a pack, therefore when a new dog is randomly brought in, it causes a rift in the already fixed hierarchy. Your dog may feel threatened by other dogs because it does not know them or their role with themself or their owner. It's very similar to something along the lines of having a small family gathering and a complete stranger waltzing right in. No one else seems to be reacting but it makes you uneasy and would put you on alert.
And just the same, one of the many ways to get a dog over it would be to have them socialize and properly meet the dog first. One of the foremost things to do before having a second dog be a part of the household with an aggressive dog is to have them meet at a neutral place, something along the lines of a new park, somewhere new to both dogs would be ideal. Have them meet on a walk, allow them to smell each other, scope each other out. This allows them to become aquaintances and lowers the stress your dog might have with a strange dog around them. You might want to do this a couple times, depending on their reactions with each other, and in case of a dog fight breaking, we urge you to remain calm as dogs are very reactive to emotions, touch the dog, and grab up not away. It's also encouraged you don't yell or make quick movements as this may make the dog react negatively towards you, the other dog, or the other person. Once you feel as both dogs are pretty comfortable with each other, you may bring them home after another walk (and perhaps some playtime), enter your house with you going in first, then the original dog, followed by the new dog. This way it introduces the way your dog's hierarchy works in it's home. Perhaps after introducing it to an unknown dog and it learning that not all unknown dogs are bad, you can continue with more socialization until it's no longer outwardly aggressive.
Of course, every dog's behavior is vastly different, and this shoe might not fit for yours, so here are a couple more ways to train this behavior out of your dog:
- Shaping: This means to reinforce every action; rewarding your dog for every little step towards your goal.
- Desensitization: try presenting dogs from far at first, gradually shortening the distance between the two until goal is reached.
- Counter Conditioning: Pair the other dog(s) with pleasant things, making it more of a pavlov-esque reaction.
- Use other commands: Before your dog reacts negatively, make it do the sit-stay routine. This will only work for the most obedient dogs.
In the case of you trying to bring in a puppy to an aggressive dog, the adult dog, no matter how aggressive, understands what being a puppy means, but this does not mean you should ever leave the two alone. The adult dog may snarl or growl at your new puppy but this is quite normal as it is teaching the puppy boundaries, just as you would teach your own children certain things, dogs will train puppies themselves. It is also highly suggested to feed them seperately, maybe even seperate places, so that it will not cause any potential territory aggressions or stressors. Also reccomended is to allow the adult dog some alone time, not only with itself but with you as well, as it may get stressed from the puppy and act out on others or yourself, and some one-on-one time with you will just reassure your not replacing them.
In due time your aggressive pup will learn how to behave around other dogs, even new household dogs. It all depends on their training level and what kind of behavior your dog has. As always, make sure to assert your dominance and stay standing as the pack leader, reward good behavior, and remember to always look out for things that might stress your dog out.
Of course, if this is not something you think you can handle, have tried everything here and your dog still won't behave, or you just simply don't have the time for it, you can always reach out to us for a free consultation! Feel free to stop by our Dog Training Services and call or email us about your situation or any questions you have!
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