Training aggressive dog behaviors is not an aspect of pet education for which most owners prepare. People choose the dog based on those adorable eyes or that heart-capturing demeanor. The notion that the animal may be aggressive never enters the equation. Then, during the puppy phase, the warning signs are ignored, or chalked up to frivolity. When the dog owner eventually faces the truth about their dog, the animal is well past that stage of being adorable.
Never Too Late to Teach an Old Dog New Tricks
Training aggressive dog behaviors is increasingly difficult as the dog ages, but it is a surmountable problem at all ages. First, we have to commit ourselves to overcoming it. Secondly, all owners should speak with their veterinarian immediately because not all aggression is behavioral. There is the very real possibility that there is an underlying medical condition. For instance, aggression often manifests itself in dogs afflicted with seizures.
The second stage is identification and analysis of the aggression triggers, or what and when sets the dog off. Often, there is a pattern among aggression triggers, and the owner can use that pattern to determine the proper approach for training aggressive dog behaviors. When the pet owner has identified the triggers, it is best to isolate the dog from those triggers except in controlled environments used for training purposes.
Forms of Aggression
Dog owners must be aware that no form of aggression is alike, but with subtle differences in approach, training aggressive dog behaviors is possible with each form. Behavioral aggression may manifest due to dominance, fear, a predatory nature, for territorial reasons, or due to redirected aggression. It is also quite possible for a dog to be manifesting multiple forms of aggression.
Aggression can manifest in dogs seeking to elevate themselves to pack leader status. Aggression toward humans may be evident, but the dog generally focuses this energy towards other animals.
Fear in dogs is one the most common, dangerous, and misunderstood causes of aggression. In fact, most owners with “aggressive” dogs have fearful dogs reacting to environment stimuli.
Some dogs have strong hunter instincts, and they may want to chase squirrels and even cats. However, an elevated predatory nature is dangerous if the pet owner cannot control it.
Redirected or displace aggression occurs when a dog releases the anxiety energy somewhere other than the source. This is a very difficult form of aggression to deal with for the average pet owner because they are inclined to focus on the target rather than the source.
Territorial aggression is one of the most common forms of aggression, but like fear, the general populace misunderstands it. While many of us admire this trait in dogs, it is less admirable when that aggression elevates beyond a warning signal.
If a dog displays multiple forms of aggression, the trainer should isolate that which is the most dominant behavior. While training aggressive dog behaviors, as the trainer manipulates the primary aggression into balance, the other forms will often come into balance as well. Training our own aggressive dogs is not generally a dangerous process. It is vital that the owner display the same level of confidence that they would while training the dog to fetch. If the owner finds training aggressive dog behaviors too emotional of an experience, they should turn to help from a trained professional.