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In today’s newsletter, we’re going to look at how to deal with aggression and biting.
Aggression in a dog is frightening. The first time your once-cute-and-cuddly puppy decides to snap or lunge at someone in your home, you likely break out in a cold sweat and start worrying about how much further it could go.
But dealing with those aggressive tendencies doesn’t always have to be the stressful, nearly untenable situation you fear.
More than 99 percent of all dogs with aggression and biting tendencies can be trained and handled safely. You just need to know where to start.
* Getting Past the Fear
A dog that likes to snap at people is scary, and you’re forgiven for being afraid the first time. But don’t forget that this is your dog. If you show fear to him, you’re only going to further those bad behaviors and make it worse.
So, step one in overcoming these bad habits is to take control of your household and banish fear. You don’t just need to tell your dog you’re in charge, you need to believe it and show it.
Much of what a dog communicates is through body language, and if yours says, “I’m afraid,” he’ll respond accordingly.
Once you’ve gotten past this point, things can get a lot easier, but the actual actions you’ll take depend largely on what specific aggression problems you’re seeing.
* The Aggression and Its Roots
Aggression comes in many forms. A dog doesn’t just wake up one day and decide he wants to attack anything that moves (unless there’s something physically or mentally wrong with him). So you need to pinpoint where all the growling and snapping are coming from.
* Dog-to-Dog Aggression – A dog aggressive toward other dogs in your home likely does not know his role in the house. He is trying to protect you and his perceived space. Take control as the alpha leader, and show him that neither dog has the right to be aggressive.
* Leash Aggression – Leash aggression comes from being restrained from a target. Teach a dog to overcome this by forcing him to sit while on a leash within viewing distance of his source of aggression. Treats and clickers can help here.
* Stranger Aggression – If your dog is aggressive with strangers, he might be anxious or unsure of himself. This comes down to providing a strong, leadership presence and showing him his place in the house.
* Food Bowl Aggression – Feed your dog in a separate room from other dogs, and try to reassure him when he is eating. Food aggression can be hard to solve and is very dangerous, even with very well-behaved dogs.
If your dog shows food bowl aggression, consider changing meal times, shifting locations and providing reassurance. If that doesn’t work, contact a vet to rule out any health issues that can lead to heightened aggression.
* Random Aggression – A dog that grows aggressive with minimal notice and without any provocation is extremely dangerous. It could be a result of sickness or mental instability, so you’ll want to see your vet immediately.
Each of these is a completely different situation that requires a different approach, and you need to remember if your dog’s aggression leads to biting that you cannot control and it doesn’t fall into any category, you need to seek out an expert.
A dog is a very dangerous animal if he cannot be controlled, and local law enforcement will treat him as such.
Do what you can, but be responsible. If you’re one of the 99 percent of people whose dogs just needs a little discipline and a clear role in the house, you should be A-OK.
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