dog aggression 101

Dog Aggression 101

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Despite being man’s greatest and most trusted animal companions, understanding dog behavior is not always a walk in the park.

Issues like health complications might be easier to detect due to the symptoms relayed, while behavioral problems, like aggression, can prove a tad difficult to handle.

How do you deal with increased aggression from your canine friend? An aggressive pet can land you in plenty of legal trouble, especially if he takes out his anger on that annoying neighbor he knows you hate or the mailman that appears as a threat. As a dog owner, you should understand how to handle, manage, and banish your dog’s aggression. 

What is dog aggression? Although aggression can be described as normal dog behavior because they are territorial, understanding dog aggression is the first step to knowing when aggressive behavior is becoming out of hand.

Your dog barking at other animals isn’t aggressive behavior, but when it takes things up a notch and starts growling, baring teeth, snarling and barking incessantly, and threatening to bite, then your dog has a problem.

Luckily, aggression in dogs is a behavioral problem, easily solvable once you understand the various triggers and how to approach treatment.

Concept of Dominance 

Here’s something dog owners need to keep in mind: never apply the concept of dominance to tame or control your dog’s aggression.

Some dog owners are often misled into thinking that showing your dog that you’re the boss, in control, is the best way to control your pet’s aggression. It’s A fallacy.

Forcing your dog into submission will only make him more aggressive in the long run. It might be temporarily conditioned to respect your harsh authority, but what will happen when you are not around? It will pounce on one of your guests or your neighbor’s cat without hesitation.

Human Stress Concerning Dog Stress (Stress-Induced Aggression)

Many experienced vets will tell you that dog aggression usually stems from stress points or disruptions to their comfort zone. Our canine companions don’t have the same ability as we do to communicate or tell us what is disturbing or distressing them. It is up to you, the owner, and their best friend, to dig deeper and find out more about your pet’s triggers.

Similar to the human emotional condition, stressors come in different forms for dogs. A simple change in routine or a noisy weekend party at your neighbors’ home can be enough to place stress on your dog. Dogs have different personalities, depending on the breed, and it could be useful to understand how your dog likes its play and mealtimes and what piques its anger.

Cortisol is a useful hormone that helps dogs respond to stress, fight infections, and control weight. Although cortisol is integral to your dog’s health, it can stay in the system for more than two days, meaning that stressors that occurred several days ago could still influence aggressive behavior today.

Stress is a physiological and emotional response to different types of stimuli. Your dog can react aggressively when exposed to strong emotions like fear, anger, and pain. Humans also find it challenging to control their emotional responses, which explains why people shout, storm out of rooms, or come to blows during intense arguments.

If humans can respond to emotional distress in overly aggressive ways, then what else might we expect from dogs who only know how to act on instinct?

Since dogs operate on conditioning, its aggressive behavior can easily become a habit, especially if it notices that the response helps him fight off threats. It might develop the bad habit of negative reinforcement, which shows it that barking, snarling, and growling make stressors disappear.

What to Do When Your Dog Starts to Act Aggressive

Get Rid of Stressors

Some stressors can be eliminated from your dog’s surroundings, like physical pain or discomfort. If you notice your dog doesn’t fancy his new prong collar or feeding bowl, then it would be wise to throw it out.

Depending on the breed, some pets might require more time to adjust to new toys, training tools, and feeding bowls. Consider introducing change gradually to avoid unnecessary stress.

Manage Stressors

Not all stressors can be eliminated, though, like guests, the mailman, or your annoying neighbor. If your dog is antisocial toward strangers, then try keeping it away from people that it doesn’t recognize.

You can also train your dog to become more social by introducing treats for good behavior. You also don’t want to make your dog too dependent on you, or it may spell disaster when you are not around.

Convince Your Dog Gradually

Dogs often become aggressive when their daily schedules change. As animals who thrive on conditioning, you should introduce your dog to new routines as gradually as possible.

If you have a new leash that can accommodate their weight better, don’t forcibly ditch the old favorite. Try using treats to make it grow fonder of the new one while allowing him to use the old one without reinforcement.

Consider introducing new feeding or drinking bowls through positive reinforcement techniques. Place a favorite treat in the new bowl and the least favorite food inside the old feeder. The dog will soon grow fond of the new bowl. 

Avoid Aggression 

Dogs become aggressive due to emotional stress and physical pain or discomfort. Consider taking the time to learn about what makes your pet uncomfortable. You want to be a source of peace.

Luckily, with dogs, you can discover most stressors within a day or two of keen observation.

Conclusion

Aggression is a normal canine trait. It is a conditioned behavior that must be tamed and controlled early before your dog makes a bad habit out of it. If left to run amok, your dog will become more of a liability than your companion, and it won’t be healthy for them, either.

Aggression often stems from stress or discomfort, and we recommend spending time with your dog to determine some of these stressors. Understanding the cause of distress will help you to determine the best ways to banish the aggression and get your canine companion back to his best behavior. To get more insights on aggression on dogs, visit Growl Snarl Snap.

This post is contributed by Marife. If you would like to share some unique content with my lovely audience, click on my guest posting guidelines.

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