Dog aggression: what to do and how to get rid of
This is an instinctive feeling, with the help of which the animal divides all representatives of the fauna into opponents and allies. Brothers in this case are considered friends, other specimens of the animal world are enemies, towards which the dog shows aggression. At the same time, the aggression of a predator can manifest itself even if the dog does not belong to the hunting breed, and the owner has never developed this instinct.
Factors Causing Aggression in Dogs
There are quite a few reasons why a beloved pet suddenly became aggressive, but they can all be divided into several key groups:
- Selection errors. There are special breeds that are bred to protect and guard houses or people. Certainly, such specimens will be more aggressive during puberty than classic domestic breeds.
- Improper training. Dogs are pack animals that need a leader. the leader of the pack. If there is none, the dog will independently assert itself in this place, and over time will show the aggression of the leader. That is why it is very important from the very appearance of the puppy in the family to point him to the leader of the pack and to train.
- Upbringing mistakes. Experienced breeders know firsthand that the character of a pet depends on the behavior of the owner and family members. Depending on what attitude is shown to the dog in the first few weeks of life in the new home, the character is determined. If the owner is aggressive, hits the dog or deliberately causes him discomfort, do not expect affection from the pet in the future.
In addition, dog handlers talk about such a concept as a kind or type of aggression. It is very good if the owner himself is able to determine why the animal is showing aggression and understand what type it belongs to, otherwise you will have to seek advice from more experienced dog breeders or dog handlers.
Most often develops in good-natured dogs. Labradors, Newfoundlands, Kurzhaars. It is vaccinated even at puppyhood due to games with the hands of the owner. At first, the gums of the animals itch, and soft biting seems to the owner something funny. However, in the future, during the game moments, the dog can bite without knowing it and not considering it a crime.
In the world of dog handlers, it is known as reflex aggression. The natural reaction of a living being to pain. Occurs most often during painful medical procedures, harsh parenting, or accidentally inflicting pain on an animal.
These are the main types of aggression, if you managed to find out what type the pet has, you can try to correct the dog’s behavior on your own.
How to identify animal aggression
Any dog breeder should understand that a dog is, first of all, a predator, respectively, aggression is a way to protect against the negative effects of the surrounding world.
This is an instinct, and it is laid down by nature in every dog, because it must initially protect itself, its puppies and its owner. Otherwise, guard breeds simply would not cope with their task.
Many dog owners note that the pet became aggressive at a certain stage of life. If earlier the dog did not cause trouble, then with age it became more vicious and shows unmotivated aggression towards other people or dogs during a walk.
There are many reasons for this behavior, and the most common is puberty. The degree of aggressiveness here depends on several criteria: breed, character, living conditions, for each dog it happens in different ways.
But the owner, who closely and carefully watched the pet all his life, can easily identify unmotivated aggression and deviations in habits. Experienced dog breeders talk about several signs:
- frequent barking for no apparent reason;
- aggression and anger when the owner or family members try to pet or caress the animal;
- the dog guards its bed and does not allow anyone to approach it;
- the dog behaves unusually during a walk, shows irritability and nervousness.
In addition, aggression can be detected by the appearance of the dog: as a rule, when a stranger or other animal approaches, the dog arch its back, the coat stands on end, and the paws are widely spaced.
This position does not always indicate that the animal is about to attack. But it is important not to miss this moment in order to take action in time. If it is noticed that the ears are erect, and the eyes are “wild” and wide open, this means that the dog intends to rush at the enemy, and it is unlikely that something will interfere with it.
It is necessary to immediately eliminate the source of irritation of the dog, otherwise everything may end in dire consequences.
If at least one of the listed symptoms is noted in the dog’s behavior, this indicates that the dog is aggressive, which means that urgent measures must be taken.
- the dog protects a specific person, does not allow other people and animals to approach him;
- the dog stands between the protected object and others;
- the animal reacts sharply to sudden movements, handshakes, hugs.
A characteristic feature of defensive aggression is its absence if the owner is not around.
This type of unwanted behavior is easier to prevent. The measures are:
- socialization of a pet with puppyhood;
- introducing him to adults and children, other animals;
- suppression of malicious behavior towards others.
Appears in bitches during pregnancy and feeding puppies. She will not allow people and animals to approach the corral where the kids are, worry or rush if someone touches the puppies, bark and growl as soon as another person or pet appears on the horizon.
In severe cases, the bitch may crush or eat the puppy. Some tailed mothers start devouring toys.
Maternal aggression cannot be controlled or suppressed. It will disappear by itself when the hormonal background returns to normal. All actions boil down to not provoking a bitch.
- do not take puppies and do not approach them if the bitch is aggressive;
- change bedding, water, clean up in the aviary when the dog is walking or eating;
- give sedatives if recommended by your veterinarian.
It appears during puberty and social maturation. at 1.5. 3 years. Mostly typical for males. Only 10% of bitches show it. A characteristic sign. the dog becomes even more embittered when punished.
- establish a clear hierarchy in the family, in which the dog will take last place;
- determine the rules of conduct for the dog and adhere to them unswervingly;
- prohibit the pet from sleeping on the bed, eating from the table;
- to ensure that the animal obeys from the first, maximum. the second time.
The main causes of aggression in dogs
There is nothing wrong with aggression as such. It is an instinct that helps animals to protect themselves, territory and offspring.
In some breeds, anger is more pronounced. These include service, guard, fighting and hunting dogs. In such pets, aggression against strangers and suspicious people is deliberately caused and brought up.
But in any case, the behavior of the dog must be controlled. He can be angry when needed. And in no case throw yourself at the owner, household members, other dogs, pets and passers-by.
Unmotivated, unwanted aggression is another matter. It develops due to:
- breeding rules violations. when animals are thoughtlessly crossed without taking into account breed and genetic characteristics and the result is a dog with unpredictable behavior;
- poor content. insufficient nutrition, constant presence in an aviary or on a leash negatively affect the psyche;
- improper upbringing. lack of socialization, training, established rules of behavior.
The lack of upbringing also includes permissiveness, when the owner indulges all the whims of the pet and automatically takes a lower place on the hierarchical ladder.
Sometimes the causes of sudden aggression are systemic pathologies. The dog is in pain, and it transfers anger to others.
It is important to understand that behavioral problems in dogs develop through the fault of the owner. Only in 1% of cases, aggression can be conditionally attributed to genetic and congenital mental abnormalities.
Driven by fear and pain
It is inherent in weak, cowardly, insecure animals. It can occur during or after an anticipated situation. for example, when visiting a veterinary clinic or when children or adults who have previously offended the dog are approaching.
- growling and grinning, the dog’s attempts to grab his hands with his teeth, at the same time he turns over on his back;
- the desire to run away, hide in a corner;
It is important to calm your pet right away. If the dog is cornered or threatened, he will lash out.
Removing fear is difficult, sometimes impossible. To rectify the situation, you must:
- socialize the dog;
- as often as possible find yourself in situations that the animal perceives as threatening, but make sure that nothing dangerous happens;
- at the first sign of anxiety, calm the dog down, switch his attention, give treats or toys.
Associated with the ancient instinct of dogs. “catch up and kill”. Therefore, it is most pronounced in hunting breeds. The dog begins to chase game (small birds and animals) or moving objects (cars, cyclists, skaters).
This type of bitterness is dangerous. In addition to the risk of a dog getting hit by wheels in pursuit of a car, there is a danger to children.
Sometimes the dog, due to high-pitched sounds and chaotic movements, perceives the baby as prey. He begins to constantly monitor the child, drooling, trying to grab him.
This behavior can only be partially corrected with:
- obedience courses;
- establishing leadership;
- suppression of attempts at pursuit by the commands “fu”, “sit”, “lie down”, “towards me”, at the same time it is necessary to sharply pull on the leash.
It is easily identified by the following features:
- when eating, the dog bares his teeth at suitable dogs, cats, people;
- bites when trying to pick up a bowl;
- at the same time growls and greedily swallows food, can drop it;
- sometimes attacks of food aggression appear if the dog receives a special treat.
It develops quite often due to indulgence in food habits: feeding from the table, frequent undeserved treats, encouraging begging. Also, food aggression appears if the animal eats before or at the same time with family members.
- give the command “sit” before feeding;
- put a bowl in front of the dog and command “wait”;
- to pause and allow to eat with the command “you can”;
- interrupt the meal with the commands “fu”, “no”, “wait”, wait a little and again allow to eat;
- repeat several times.
Types of aggression and how to correct them
There are 10 main types of angry behavior. Each of them has characteristic features and requires special methods of correction.
How to reeducate a dominant dog, what to do if the dog shows aggression
When dealing with a dominant individual, you must, first of all, adequately assess your own strength. Sometimes it happens that the dog simply has a higher level of energy and inner strength than its owner. In this case, the latter is unlikely to be able to convince the dog of his leadership. Remember. it is better not to enter into confrontation and open conflict with the dog if you are not sure that you can win. Do not compete with the dog in what it is really stronger than you (for example, in the strength of the jaws and speed of running). Choose areas for pressure in which you can fully maintain control: first of all, it is food, affection, attention in order to reward the desired behavior (and deprivation of all this in case of disobedience). It also works well to punish by restricting the dog’s freedom by using a leash, muzzle, strict collar, or by putting it in a cage if it tries to impose its own behavior. If “soft” methods do not help, you can apply a physical effect to the dog: grab it firmly by the scruff (you can even lift it into the air, if the size allows it) and rub it well. In some cases, a bite on the withers helps. this is how the “leader” puts other members of the pack in place. In no case do not retreat despite growling and resistance until the dog assumes a “submission posture”. the tail is drawn in, the growling is stopped, the dog fins, sometimes even lies on its back with its belly up. If, in the course of sorting out the relationship with the dog, in response to its resistance, growls and bites, the owner retreats (even going into another room for some object to punish the dog can be taken as a retreat). thus he only once again convinces the dog that that she is the leader. That is why it is necessary to sensibly assess your strengths, choosing the way to influence the dominant dog.
If the dog’s energy level significantly exceeds the strength of the owner, the best solution for both is separation. However, in most cases, it is quite possible to cope with dominant behavior.
Dominant Aggression in Dogs: Causes and Correction of Aggressive Behavior
Demonstrative non-observance of commands, barking, growling and attack on people and other animals, inadequate “protection” of food, bowls, toys and one’s place, expression of displeasure or resistance when cutting, bathing and other hygiene procedures, “sudden deafness” while walking when prompted to the owner. this is just an incomplete list of problems faced by owners of dogs showing dominant aggression. When faced with this behavior for the first time, most owners feel confused and angry. As a rule, a dog’s aggression is perceived as a surprise, and when talking about their problem, people often use the words “suddenly”, “out of the blue”, “for no reason”.
However, even if it seems to you that the dog bites, growls, attacks the owner, rushes at other people, dogs and cats for no apparent reason, in fact, the reasons for the dog’s dominant behavior always exist, and most often these are the owner’s mistakes made long ago. before the dog first showed aggression and disobedience. In other words, the dominant behavior of the dog is those “flowers” that grow from the “seeds” sown by the owner, who has a wrong idea of what a healthy relationship with a dog is.
Fortunately, in most cases, dog dominance and associated aggression can be corrected and corrected. However, it is much easier to prevent dominant aggression in a dog. To do this, it is necessary, first of all, to understand the essence and roots of the problem itself.
Important! Before you begin to correct aggressive dominant behavior, make sure that the aggression in the dog is not caused by any other reasons: physical ailments, fears, changes in the environment and the family where the dog lives. To exclude these factors, take the dog for examination to the veterinary clinic and consult with a specialist dog handler.
What is the reason for the dominant behavior of the dog
Domestic dogs, having lost quite a lot of the qualities of their wild fellows, nevertheless, remained pack animals, only now the families where they live are becoming their flocks. The dominant behavior of a dog is based on its ideas about the hierarchy in this pack and its own status in it. And if the ideas of “equality and brotherhood” are quite acceptable for a person, then the dog is distinguished by strictly hierarchical thinking. In order to feel confident and protected, it is vital for a dog to know what place in the hierarchy of the pack it occupies and who is the “leader”. And she has only two ways to find out: either the owner determines the place of the dog in the pack, or she will determine it herself. Guess what place the dog will try to take on its own, if it has such an opportunity? Of course, the place of the leader, who decides for himself when and what to eat, where to sleep, how to behave with strangers, etc. Thus, dominance is the behavior of the leader, and it is not necessarily expressed in open aggression.
Most often, the first manifestations of this behavior are quite harmless, and that is why the owners ignore them, preparing the ground for serious collisions with the dominant dog in the future. As already mentioned, “dominance”, “dominant behavior” often does not give the impression of being aggressive. In contrast, aggression is the attack of a dog in order to defend its dominant position. This includes growling, biting, defiance, and escaping. A dog shows aggression when, through an oversight and inattention of the owner, it ALREADY decided that it occupies a dominant position in the pack, and the owner and other family members, in the dog’s opinion, are trying to challenge this position. Thus, it is necessary to separate the concept of “dominance” and “dominant aggression” of the dog. In order to prevent manifestations of dominant aggression, it is necessary from the first days of the puppy’s appearance in the house to suppress any manifestations of dominant behavior, no matter how harmless and even cute they may seem to you.
Ways to prevent and correct the dominant behavior of the dog
As with any problem, dominant aggression is easier to prevent than correct. Prevention of dominance is especially important when raising dogs of large breeds, as well as males and bitches, who are prone to fighting for the place of “leader” due to their temperament. Nevertheless, even a tiny Chihuahua, with the wrong upbringing, can become a real tyrant, no less dangerous than a pit bull or a Caucasian shepherd dog. In fact, the phrase “dominant dog breeds” is meaningless. most often we ourselves make out of sane animals uncontrollable monsters.
How to become a “leader” for a dog? Consider the areas of puppy-owner interaction in which you can demonstrate leadership to the dog.
Place to rest and sleep: the dog should have its own clearly defined place in the house (it is better that it was not an ordinary rag-bedding, but a comfortable bed for dogs), and from early childhood be accustomed to return and stay on it at the command “Place ! “. Many owners allow their dogs to lie where they want. This is not a problem if in general the dog behaves obediently and does not show a strong desire to dominate, but in case of difficulties with dominant aggression, it is necessary to categorically suppress all attempts of the dog to perch in the place that belongs to the leader, that is, you. It is also useful to periodically sit in the dog’s place for a while, first driving it out of there. Also, the dog can show dominant behavior in this way: it simply lies down across the corridor or in the doorway and does not give way when it is necessary to walk past it. In order to demonstrate the behavior of the leader in this situation, you do not need to go around or step over the dog. just push it out of the way. Growling? So there is a problem with dominance).
Food: Train the dominant dog to start eating only on the command “You can!” This is how you consolidate your leadership position. If your puppy is trying to defend the food by keeping you out of the bowl, try feeding him holding the bowl with your hand. Then say “No” and take the bowl, then put it back and do not allow touching the food until the command “You can” is heard.
Play: To avoid the dog showing signs of dominance, follow a few simple rules:
1) the owner, not the dog, starts and ends the game;
2) toys must be given to the owner unquestioningly;
3) if you play tug-of-war with the dog. in no case give the toy if it starts to growl and show aggression: this will reinforce the idea in the dog’s mind that it is worth roaring. and he will get what he wants.
Weasel: it is unacceptable to caress the dog excessively, or to “console” the dog in any way in the event of undesirable behavior, for example, aggression, cowardice or hysteria. Weasel should be dosed out and mainly as a reward for good behavior. It is difficult for humans to believe this, but setting clear boundaries and tough, reasonable discipline makes a dog happier than continuous whispers and vague rules of behavior that do not give him a clear idea of the hierarchy in the pack.
Walking: dominant walking behavior is most often manifested in unwillingness to approach on command, as well as growling, barking and aggression towards people and animals without the permission of the owner. Many intelligent dogs, to consolidate their dominant position, use the trick with “sudden deafness” or when giving the command “Come to me!” sit in the bushes “on business”, which gives them an “iron alibi” and the opportunity not to carry out the command. Such behavior is “treated” by methodical daily practice of the commands “Come to me!”, “Nearby”, “You cannot”, “Sit”, “Lie down”. Walking can also be used to release excess energy from the dominant pet: a dog who has spent a couple of hours working on the site or after an intense run will not have much strength left for the battle for leadership at home.
Hygiene procedures: it is necessary to accustom the puppy as early as possible to the fact that the owner can do whatever he wants with him (within the framework of common sense, of course). The dog should unquestioningly allow cutting its nails and fur, washing its paws, examining its teeth, cleaning its ears, not resisting when it is necessary to give an injection or carry out other unpleasant medical manipulations. This not only reinforces the owner’s leadership, but can also save your dog’s life in an emergency.
“Why is my dog SUDDENLY aggressive towards me?” – Dog Trainer Explains
Obedience training, command execution: in addition to the obvious practical benefits of teaching commands, training as a form of interaction between a dog and a person in itself helps to avoid the dominant behavior of the pet, since in the process of working out commands, the dog learns to FOLLOW the owner’s orders, that is, to get used to obedience and obedience Also, with the help of commands, you can suppress unwanted forms of behavior: for example, it will be quite difficult for a dog who has been commanded to lie down to rush at passing cyclists in this position. Regardless of what breed your dog is and how small and harmless it is, do not neglect the training of basic OKD commands. this will greatly facilitate life in the future for the dog, for yourself, and for those around you.
Examples of dominant dog behavior:
As mentioned above, dominant behavior is the behavior of a leader who makes decisions himself, who leads the whole flock, who gets all the best! Typically, different dogs show different signs of dominance, but in general terms, the behavior of the leader is manifested as follows:
Also, there are often cases when there is no problem with obedience to the owner, but the dog growls at the child and other family members. Most likely, she recognizes the leader in the owner, but considers herself “the second person in the state.” It is unacceptable for a dog to consider someone in the family “lower” of itself.
Algorithm for correcting aggressive behavior
Determine how your dog is exhibiting dominant behavior. You can even make a list, for example:
-does not allow you to take your bowl while eating;
-on a walk he misses the command “Come to me”;
The next point is rather difficult. You need to observe your behavior, and understand what actions contribute to the fact that the dog does not recognize you as a leader. Here, too, you can make a list, for example:
-if the dog does not approach me, I repeat the command many times, or simply ignore its behavior, agreeing that it does not listen to the command;
-I praise the dog just like that, even if she just did something bad.
Ask other family members and friends for their perspective on what you are doing wrong with your dominant dog.
Write down how you plan to change your behavior in relation to each manifestation of the dog’s dominant behavior:
-I will start practicing commands with the dog that it does not follow;
-I will stop giving the dog pieces from the table and feed him first;
-I will punish the dog when dominant aggression is shown and not back down when growling and other manifestations of discontent on its part.
Start working with the dog as soon as possible according to the chosen scheme. Practice the commands methodically and consistently and stop all attempts of the dog to dominate. Explain to loved ones that the dog has problems with dominant aggression, and ask them not to reward it. If you find it difficult to isolate your mistakes on your own, seek help from an instructor who will help you develop the correct line of behavior. There is also a wealth of literature available today on dog training and behavioral management to help you address aggressive dog dominance problems. Remember. in order for something to change in the behavior of the dog, first of all, it is necessary to change the behavior of its owner.
Dog aggression towards other dogs: causes, ways to solve the problem
Dog aggression towards other dogs or intraspecific aggression is very common. And making life a lot more difficult for dog owners.
Meanwhile, it is they who are often to blame for the reason for this aggression, the loving owners of their beloved pets.
The most common causes of dog aggression towards other dogs are:
Insufficient or absent socialization
Often dogs that do not know how to communicate in another way show aggression towards other animals. Their aggression often hides a very strong self-doubt. Not having learned in childhood to get to know each other, make friends, dominate, obey. such dogs, feeling fear, attack first. Their behavior from the outside may seem confident and dominant, but if you look closely, it all looks like a tantrum.
If you don’t want to raise a canine Mowgli out of your pet, don’t be lazy to find a suitable company for your puppy. Cheerful puppy fuss is not only physical education, but also lessons of interaction in a team. a pack. Do not avoid communication between the puppy and adult dogs. such contacts create the necessary foundation for healthy relationships between your dog and other animals in the future.
My Dog is Aggressive, What do I do?. How to Handle Aggressive Dog Behavior
For an adult dog with such a problem, there is only one recipe. walking with other animals. Under your strict control. It is advisable that there are already several dogs on the walk before you. so it will be more difficult for your dog to identify one for an aggressive lunge. Regular communication in a relaxed environment will pay off. Maybe your dog will not become the soul of the company, but at least it will stop shaking at the sight of relatives.
Insufficient physical and mental stress
Modern city dogs are deprived of the need to think about HOW to survive, and to be in constant motion to survive. If the absence of such a load does not threaten calm phlegmatic dogs, then the character of an active, strong, temperamental dog may deteriorate. Not finding an outlet for its energy, such a dog can send it into aggression: against other dogs, and if the owners turn out to be weaker than their pet, then they themselves.
Always weigh your options before taking your dog into your home. Do not grab the breed you like in appearance or fashion without first knowing the peculiarities of its behavior and content. If you lead a sedentary lifestyle, and every exit from the house is a whole story, do not start, for example, a Doberman. Problems can not be avoided.
I would especially like to say about the so-called “working dogs”. a separate article will be devoted to them. We remind you that “working”. from the word “work”. Lying on the couch does not in any way apply to this action. Do not torture yourself and the dog if you do not plan to deal with it seriously, as required by its “working” status.
Everything is clear here. A male, seeing a competitor, rarely refrains from an aggressive attack. Especially if there is a hot bitch nearby.
The same goes for bitches in heat, some pregnant and lactating bitches. In an impulse to protect her offspring (existing or only planned), the bitch can be very dangerous. By the way, fights between bitches rarely end in a demonstration of superiority, as is usually the case with males. If girls are “serious”, they may injure or even kill each other.
Always be attentive to your pet. Do not bring a dog in heat to a general walk, do not let a newly untied dog off the leash where other dogs are walking. Fighting is better prevented than separating grappling dogs.
Dogs with a pronounced territorial instinct can protect “their land” from the invasion of strangers. We are not talking about the courtyard of a private house or the closed territory of an enterprise. everything is clear here. The dog will be right, no matter how aggressively it is set up. But some especially zealous individuals extend the boundaries of such a site far beyond their “legal” territory, considering, for example, their site intended for walking and the adjacent territory.
The dog behaves aggressively, because he feels himself the ruler of this land. Change the place of walking. Come to a place unfamiliar to the dog, let the dog walk with other animals in neutral territory. where it will not feel too confident.
Difficulty communicating with other dogs can also occur in dogs with pronounced dominant behavior. Such dogs, with the connivance of their owners, seize power in the family, becoming a leader, along the way trying to take leadership positions in each canine collective. The difficulty of correcting such aggression lies in the fact that dogs obey their ancient instinct, according to which decisions about the choice of the “enemy” and the mowing line of behavior with him are made by the leader, that is, your dog.
If your dog shows signs of dominant behavior, reeducate him first, otherwise you will not be able to correct the aggressive behavior of your dog on the street. Eliminate the root cause. Consult a training instructor if necessary.
Direct encouragement of aggression by the host
This is a clinical case, unfortunately, quite common. Here we can already talk about the lack of socialization and lack of self-confidence in the owner himself. Hiding behind “cool” dogs, such a public seeks satisfaction in causing pain or other suffering to other living beings, setting their dogs on other animals.
It is treated with an administrative protocol or the institution of a criminal case. Dogs of such would-be owners, unfortunately, often end up in shelters or are put to sleep. But if they are lucky enough to fall into the hands of a real enthusiast who knows and understands canine psychology, it can still be fixed.
Inadvertent encouragement of aggression by the host
Absolutely normal people can also encourage their dog to aggression, without knowing it. Each of the dog breeders has probably seen a similar picture more than once. The dog throws itself at another dog passing by it, the owner, instead of shouting or pulling on the leash, begins to scold the guilty pet in an affectionate voice “Well Barsik, well, no shame, well, you just can’t” It seems to him that he is switching the dog’s attention. And the dog thinks that they say to it: “You are a great guy! Keep up the good work, well done! “
Unwanted behavior becomes entrenched. To prevent this from happening, be able to properly punish the dog. If necessary, be tough (not violent!). No semitones: guilty means guilty. The dog should know that this is bad, and not be in the dark or make its own, wrong, conclusions.
Existing experience of successful manifestation of aggression
A dog that has won a victory in a skirmish with another dog at least once becomes much more confident in its abilities. If your pet has more than a dozen “stars on the fuselage” behind it, you will have to make an effort to control it.
Moving, changing owners, abrupt climate change, new environment are serious stressors for any dog. Nervous, the dog can show absolutely unreasonable and unreasonable aggression towards other animals.
Let the dog calm down, get to know each other, sniff, and only then lead the dog “into people”, not forgetting to put a collar on the dog and take it on a leash.
Severe physical discomfort or pain
A dog can be outwardly unreasonably aggressive also because it is tormented by something. For example, severe colic or pain in a sore ear. If your dog suddenly begins to show unfriendliness towards other animals (and most likely, in this case, and not only towards animals), take him to the veterinarian just in case. Not all canine diseases manifest themselves vividly and noticeably to the human eye. Sometimes your dog gets sick even when you see no signs of illness.
Defense aggression. the dog attacks with a defensive purpose
Group defensive aggression can also take more personal forms. This is caused by frequent encounters with some neighbors who regularly pass by the house or children living on the same street, dog owners who constantly meet on walks, or people who regularly come to the house (postman). A hostile relationship between a dog and certain people can take such a serious form that the dog will react more viciously to them than to strangers. This problem can develop in different ways. Victims of aggression can lose their temper when they hear barking, and in response to it, wave their arms, make threatening gestures, shout, throw various objects. This will only increase the dog’s aggressive behavior.
Children teasing a dog provoke a similar reaction. The barking of a dog arouses the attention of children and gradually the provocation of barking becomes a kind of sport for children, which they practice on the way home. The fear of a person who is used to being afraid of dogs can, at each new meeting, cause an aggressive reaction of the dog, and in a stronger form. It is unclear why shy people are very often the subject of group defense aggression by dogs. As already mentioned, such people look especially closely at dogs or behave strangely from the point of view of an animal. The last example relates to nearby dog owners with whom the dog has had problems in the past. It is possible that in an effort to stop or prevent the fight, these people scolded the dog. It is possible that the behavior of the owner of another dog, who tried to separate the fighting animals, was perceived by the dog as a threat.
To understand and solve problems of this kind, it is necessary to act in the same way as when showing aggression towards strangers. However, in this case, there is another potentially important element of therapy. it is possible to modify the behavior of the victim of aggression. You can talk to parents of children who tease the dog. You can also reach out to people who regularly walk by the house and react to the dog in a fearful or aggressive way, and ask them to simply ignore its behavior. Ignoring the dog’s behavior can lead to the elimination of initiating or rewarding stimuli that were the cause of the animal’s deviant behavior.
Aggression during the game
Aggressive play by young dogs can be a problem for some owners. Dogs playing aggressive games can be dangerous, especially for small children and the elderly or weak. Sometimes dog owners and veterinarians assume more severe forms of aggression in such cases and seek the advice of ethologists.
Aggression outside the group
The biological function of aggression outside the group is self-defense, protection of other members of the group and the protection of food supplies that guarantee the survival of the group in conditions of competition with other groups of congeners. At the same time, for dogs that had contact with relatives in the past, and living in a human family starting from the age of several weeks, both dogs and people can act as groups of relatives.
Other Common Signs of Aggressive Leadership Struggle
Often the owners claim that the attack of the dogs was not provoked by anything, while the dogs themselves, who suddenly showed aggression in situations that they perceived normally the day before, are called “capricious” or unpredictable.
Attacks are often more vicious than other aggressive behaviors and can lead to skin damage. Dog bites can be very deep and leave scars. Often the owners have to see a doctor or even go to the hospital.
During the attack, the dog does not look like itself, grins, growls, rushes. Almost all owners note a strange shine in the eyes of dogs. In addition, other aggressive gestures may be observed, for example, raised ears and tail, tousled hair on the nape and back, gaze directed at the target of the attack.
Immediately after the attack, the dog can again fondle the owner, which he happily perceives as an “apology”.
Often, the dog exhibits species-typical behavior close to the struggle for leadership, for example, gazes at family members until they look away, or “puts itself higher” by placing its front paws or muzzle on the knees or shoulders of the person. Such dogs are most often friendly and harmless to strangers, so veterinarians have the opinion that the problem is not in the dog, but in people. However, this problem only manifests itself in the relationship between the dog and family members and becomes apparent to outsiders only if their stay in the house lasts more than one day.
People with extensive experience with dogs, such as trainers or veterinarians, almost never have problems with such dogs. However, among dogs, there are also real “tough nuts” who behave aggressively in pursuit of leadership (they end up in dog shelters), who are not impressed by the demonstration of superiority on the part of experienced professionals. Such dogs can be aggressive for the most minor reason, for example, when trying to lead them in a direction where they do not want to go.
Dogs are not necessarily aggressive towards all family members. Much more often it happens that they are more likely to show aggression and / or behave more aggressively towards certain people living in the house.
With the exception of the situations of competition and confrontation described above, which are typical causes of aggression in the struggle for leadership, dogs, in general, behave friendly towards family members. They tend to be obedient, and like all other dogs, they ask for food and a little attention. However, almost without exception, the owners of such dogs call them stubborn, headstrong and not obedient enough. When a dog really wants to do something different, such as play with or fight another dog, he is likely to completely ignore the commands of family members. Owners understand that the dog lacks respect for them.
Many owners are able to recognize the first symptoms of incipient aggression, for example, when the animal tenses up and begins to look at the owner sideways and with a strange look. In this case, the owner knows that he must immediately stop his actions in order to avoid the manifestation of aggression on the part of the dog. In general, family members are aware of the need to be careful with the dog in certain situations. It often turns out that the problem of the dog’s aggressiveness had existed long before the meeting with the specialist, but the owners have so far avoided the dog’s attacks, fulfilling its wishes.
These dogs should not be physically punished or severely scolded for their aggressive behavior. this inevitably causes an even stronger manifestation of aggression. Most often, quite a long time after the problem arises, the owners try to respond with force to force in order to restrain the dog’s aggression, but the angry reaction of the animal overwhelms them. Basically, the owners are not prepared to complete the fight with their dog, as an instructor who trains police dogs could do. They don’t know how to fight a dog so that it doesn’t bite you. After one or two bites, such people give up and stop fighting, which further strengthens the dog’s confidence in his superiority over the owner.
Family members admit they have fear of the dog. However, according to them, this was not always the case, the dog became aggressive towards the owner and other family members.
Some of these dogs set completely arbitrary and rather unusual rules of behavior for their owners:
- For example, the owner is not allowed to open a certain drawer in the kitchen cabinet, or the hostess is not allowed to go to bed before the owner. The examples given are taken by the author from his practice. In the case of a woman who was only allowed to go to bed after her husband, it ended up being forced to sleep on the sofa every time her husband worked the night shift.
- In another case, the German Shepherd “ordering” the owner’s daughter to release her through the back door into the garden, each time uttered a deep guttural growl. Two deep bite wounds for “disobedience convinced the girl of the dog’s serious intentions, and she did not try to contradict her.
Shocked by the evil behavior of the dog and completely not understanding his pet, in all other respects such a cute and playful animal, the owners of the frequencies begin to assume that he has a serious brain disease. In many of the most severe cases, correcting deviant behavior can bring only partial success. Many dogs with pronounced aggressive behavior in the struggle for leadership, even though the owner meticulously fulfills all the recommendations of an ethologist, continue to threaten or attack family members, and ultimately it becomes too dangerous to leave such a dog in the house.
Dominant dog aggression. causes and symptoms
than half of the cases of aggressive behavior of animals directed against humans are related to aggression towards family members, i.e. aggression within a social group. over, in 72% of cases it was about the aggression of rivalry or the so-called aggression of the struggle for leadership. In 56 dogs (approximately 38%), the degree of aggression ranged from moderate to strong.
Leadership aggression against family members always occurs in one of the two situations described below. The dog and the family member compete for possession of something:
- When a family member tries to take food or objects from the dog (for example, bones, toys, napkins) or approaches it while it is holding any of these objects next to it.
- When one family member approaches or touches another family member who is a “favorite” of the dog, or another dog (for example, a female in heat).
- When a family member approaches the dog lying in its place, or interferes with its rest or sleep (usually, it is considered that this is a competition in the struggle for a place to rest or sleep).
- When a family member enters an area occupied by a dog or in a narrow corridor wants to walk past the dog in the opposite direction.
The owner demonstrates his superiority over the dog by his behavior. This behavior includes:
- scratching, brushing, bathing the dog, carrying out various medical procedures, wiping;
- touching the paws or face of an animal;
- situations where the owner lifts, pushes or pulls the dog;
- puts on a collar, tugs or pulls on the leash;
- stares at her or threatens her, swears or shouts at her, constantly commands, hits;
- grabs her or leans over her.
Many of these actions are not perceived by the people themselves as a demonstration of superiority. However, it is this behavior that often provokes on the part of the dog the aggressiveness of the struggle for leadership or the aggression of self-assertion, because it is very similar to the demonstration of superiority among dogs.
Protecting offspring is commonly referred to as maternal aggression. This defensive reaction is also observed in males when a person or other animal living in the family approaches the puppies or the place where the canine family lives. This is one of the most understandable and simple problems that a veterinarian, as a rule, solves himself without involving an ethologist.
Behavior correction. how to wean a dog from biting its owner
In simple cases, when the dog growls, but does not pose a potential danger:
- Show your dog “who is more important.” Whenever she growls at you, scold her or punish her in other ways enough to stop her growling immediately.
- Regular obedience exercises and generally stricter handling of the dog are recommended. Never reward your dog for his annoying or demanding behavior, or give him what he wants.
If the dog bites family members or presents a potential hazard:
- Temporarily avoid any situations of aggressive confrontation, do not do anything that regularly provokes aggression, and / or immediately stop all actions as soon as the dog becomes aggressive.
- Completely ignore the dog when it comes up without a command and requires attention, contact from the owner, begs to be stroked, given food, etc.
- Never give your dog what it wants if it begs or demands it.
- “Nothing in life is given for free.” Before receiving anything (for example, food, petting, walking), the dog must execute commands such as “sit”, “stand”, “to me” or “place”.
- For the execution of commands, the dog can only be stroked a little as a reward. No caresses.
- Do not allow your dog to climb on chairs and couches or enter the bedroom.
- Make the dog stand up and let the owner pass if it lies in its path.
- The dog should not have toys, rubber bones, etc.
- The owner should not enthusiastically greet the dog when it returns home. He must behave with restraint and indifference, as if “accepting” the dog’s greeting.
- Competitive, aggressive and power play should be avoided. It is best not to play with the dog at all, but instead go to the park with it every day, where it can play with other dogs.
- rigor in all situations where the dog tolerates it.
- Walk the dog on a leash for at least half an hour every day, often change the direction and speed of movement, do it without warning and until the animal starts to obey you without the slightest sign of aggression.
- Train your dog to run up to the owner faster and more confidently when he is on the street without a leash. To do this, regularly use a reward with a treat or change direction without looking back at the dog or waiting for it.
- Never let your dog walk through the door first. Teach her to be the first to let her pass through the master’s door.
- Family members who do not have any relationship problems with the dog should completely ignore it for some time, not feed, pet, talk or play with it.
Many owners find the theory of the pack quite convincing, and they immediately accept it. And while you can see from the owners’ facial expressions that they have doubts about whether they will be able (or willing) to comply with the strict recommendations of specialists, they, by and large, are convinced that the problem is as it is presented by a medical specialist. and the methods of treatment are reasonable and logical. However, often the problem is how to withstand this kind of competitive situation with your dog for the time required for treatment. In essence, owners perceive themselves to be parents in relation to their dogs and do not consider themselves to be their rivals. Therefore, they do not feel very well when they are forced to ignore the friendly treatment of the dog, push it out of the way and generally treat it, from their point of view, heartless, cruel and selfish.
How can you increase the owners’ willingness to cooperate in such cases? Sometimes it is enough to slightly change the logic of the experts’ recommendations. Below we will look at this modified “concept pack”. This does not mean that there should be more truth in your explanations than in the explanations of other consultants, or that you should come up with something else. Rather, it is an alternative approach to the problem that may increase the willingness of some pet owners to cooperate.
An example of a behavioral modification technique to train a dog to respond calmly to brushing.
- Use your dog’s favorite treats to teach him how to come, sit, place, and stand when he is to be brushed. Don’t give your dog any treats in other situations.
- Determine how you can touch the dog with your hands or a brush to avoid provoking aggression. Find out exactly what kind of brushing the dog is taking without growling (for example, 3-4 light touches with the brush are not dangerous, but prolonged and intensive brushing with the brush can already be dangerous).
- Encourage your dog to sit quietly or stand while brushing and not growl when you brush or touch it during the day when doing these exercises.
- As soon as the dog gets used to this “game”, begin to be very careful to expand the limits of what is permitted (for example, try to use the brush longer and more vigorously).
- Once the dog gets used to it, change the rules again so that it gets accustomed to tolerate brushing even longer if it wants to be rewarded.
- If the dog begins to growl at some point during this procedure, do not reward it with a treat; wait a few minutes and start again from the previous exercise (for example, lighter brush strokes). Stay at this level for a while before starting to gradually increase the intensity / duration of the neck touch again. this time, act more slowly than on the last attempt.
The classic approach to the problem is to explain to the client that he should behave like an alpha animal, or the leader of the pack. An alternative approach, on the contrary, suggests that the owner should change his attitude towards the dog and treat it in the same way as an adult animal treats a puppy. In such a relationship, the question of leadership never really arises. It should be made clear to dog owners that behavioral interventions are effective because they in principle reduce the dog’s tendency to regard family members as “equal” to itself and at the same time encourage its willingness to treat them the way a young puppy treats adult pack members.
This alternative approach opens up new opportunities for convincing clients to apply recommended behavioral interventions that they find unnatural and unpleasant. Below are some suggestions on how to educate dog owners about the purpose of specialist advice.
- Most dogs behave like puppies or young animals towards family members throughout their lives. They would never threaten them in situations in which they might threaten other dogs to show them their superior position or claim their rights to certain objects or bones.
- However, dogs that exhibit leadership aggression do not seem to fully understand how to behave towards family members. In some situations, they do not react to them as adults of a higher rank, but rather as equals to other dogs with whom they play together in the park for walks. As a result, they threaten or bite family members in situations in which this type of aggression occurs regularly between dogs.
- For a successful solution to the problem, it is necessary that the owner changes the nature of his attitude towards the animal and begins to treat him, rather, as an adult dog treats young members of the pack, while avoiding certain actions that induce the dog to look at him as an equal.
Some of these recommendations may seem rude and unpleasant to dog owners. In this case, they should be reminded that ignoring the dog’s attempts at communication or forcing it to give up is an imitation of the normal behavior of an adult animal in relation to a young one. This will teach the dog to treat its owners differently.