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Curing Aggressive Behavior in Dogs – A Primer For New and Old Dog Owners
Nobody likes aggression in a pet. Aggressive behavior in a dog should be addressed as soon as possible, especially if it is a family pet. Even if you’re training a guard dog, misplaced aggression is a big problem. The older the dog, the bigger the problem, but aggressive behavior even in a small dog is still a significant problem.
There are many reasons why your dog may show aggression. Maybe there was a domain issue or something wasn’t handled properly when he was a puppy. Perhaps the puppy was attacked by a different dog, or treated unfairly by a human. Whatever the cause, it needs to be addressed immediately. The result can be scary or even dangerous if the behavior is allowed to continue.
Why is my dog aggressive?
As mentioned above, there are numerous reasons why a dog may show aggression. Often, the behavior begins in the child. During the period of 6 to 14 weeks of age, your dog should be socialized with people and other dogs, and you should start his training. A puppy loses important socialization if it is removed from the litter before it is at least 8 weeks old. Also, always use gentle treatment until he’s at least a few months old, as hitting, yelling, and other harsh punishment during this time can lead to seemingly inexplicable aggressive behavior later in life.
Aggression can be caused by many different factors. Certainly heredity and genetics can be factors, some breeds are known to be more aggressive than others, but there are always exceptions to the typical behavior of each breed. Also, spaying or neutering your dog will usually tend to make him more docile than others. The environment is probably the most important factor in causing aggression in dogs. Poor living conditions, lack of socialization, abuse or attack by another dog can all be factors that cause a dog to become more aggressive as it ages.
In a pack, the pecking order can be determined by aggressive behavior such as biting or standing as a dog tests its dominance. If you are not the alpha dog in your home, your dog may try to establish a position as the alpha dog through aggression of one kind or another. Establishing yourself as the alpha dog while the dog is young and maintaining that position through his teenage years will ensure that the dog does not have the opportunity to take control of the household then, nor will he likely try to later unless abused.
How to stop aggression, or at least control it
If your dog shows aggressive tendencies after the socialization stage, especially if he has been disturbed, you need to address the problem immediately. Again, you have to be the alpha dog and not let the dog take over, even if he’s scared, which may actually be the reason he’s misbehaving. If you’ve trained your dog to respond to your commands and control your walking and feeding times, you’ll maintain your position as the alpha dog and be able to avoid aggression without incident. On the other hand, if you let the dog take charge or misbehave in the home, it will learn that it can show stronger aggression towards others. As with many other live issues, it’s much easier to control if it’s a small problem or trend than if it’s allowed to grow into a large problem or entrenched behavior.
If a dog feels threatened, it may develop defensive-aggressive behavior and may strike a person or even another dog out of fear. This is more likely to happen if your dog was not properly socialized. If you notice defensive-aggressive behavior, be sure to keep the dog away from small children, who the dog may see as more direct threats (and who may also react with fear, reinforcing the dog’s bad behavior). As soon as possible, contact a dog trainer or behaviorist who can help correct the bad behavior through praise or resocialization.
Aggressive behavior in dogs can be a big problem and dangerous or even expensive if someone gets hurt and your dog is responsible for helping. Remember that a dog is just like any other member of your family and you are responsible for its actions.
Dog aggression can be controlled or corrected, even as your dog ages. Early action can prevent it from progressing and return your dog to the calm, obedient pet you desire.
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