Aggression and Biting Behaviors
Canine Path trainers have been working with aggressive/over-reactive for several years. We have helped many owners and their dogs to better understand their dog’s aggressive tendencies and implement solutions to help them both by reducing, managing or in some cases extinguishing the aggression. In our experience most dogs that act aggressively can be helped by implementing proper management and training techniques. Safety is our top priority, and at the same time, just because a dog has bitten someone or another dog does not mean the dog cannot be helped or should be euthanized.
Ideally, we want to prevent aggression from developing, however, once an incident involving aggression has occurred, it is vital that an honest assessment of the severity of the problem be made. To do so requires an awareness of the signs that a dog is becoming aggressive.
Many people tell us ‘the dog bit out of nowhere’ or they mistakenly assume aggression is only when a dog bites. In the vast majority of cases aggression is usually prefaced by early warning signals that went unrecognized or were punished so as to extinguish the dogs ability to warn with a growl or bark rather than biting.
The subtlety or severity of aggressive displays or behaviors in response to a real or perceived threat can vary on a wide scale and include some or all of the following:
- Freezing when approached
- Stiff, frozen body
- Hard stare-glassy eyes
- Lifting of the lips/bearing teeth
- Tight mouth/tight lips
- Tail that is very upright, tucked under or wagging (a wagging tail does not mean a dog is happy)!
- Cowering, Hiding
- Biting, Nipping
When we are evaluating a dog to identify aggression/anxiety/fear, etc., we look at the whole dog – when he’s triggered – what signals does he exhibit?
It is advisable to retain the assistance of an experienced professional who takes a humane, motivation-based approach who can assist you with implementing a behavior modification plan. At Canine Path our training plans include:
- Identifying your dog’s triggers preceding aggression.
- Implementing management and supervision to prevent triggering aggressive displays.
- Obedience training to provide a foundation for a cooperative relationship.
- Adhering to a Nothing in Life for Free program to help your dog better understand the basis of the canine-human relationship (e.g., you control all of the good stuff in life).
- Systematic desensitization and counter-conditioning to aggression triggers.
- Developing a program incorporating plenty of physical and mental exercise to prevent boredom and related stress.
- A nutritionally balanced diet designed specifically for dogs with aggression issues (talk to your vet about the potential use of a lower protein food).
- Discussing any potential underlying medical issues with your veterinarian.
When dealing with aggression issues our primary concern is maintaining the safety of all who come in contact with the dog. This is best achieved by pinpointing to the best of your ability (and help from trained professionals) what specific situations elicit the dog’s aggressive response. This will help you avoid possible triggers, and by doing so you can help prevent injury to yourself or others. It’s important to understand your dog’s triggers and limit the opportunity for your dog to rehearse aggressive behaviors.
Whether your dog is beginning to act aggressively, has been aggressive for a while or has bitten a person or another animal – Canine Path can help! Contact us today at: