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May 07

Dog Aggression – Understanding Why?

Aggression is one of the primary reasons that dogs are euthanized or re-homed; a minimum of 30% of all dogs in rescue centers are there because of the incidence of aggressive behavior in one form or another. It is actually unusual to have a dog that is aggressive to have just 1 type of aggression; most dogs have much more than certainly one of the following types of behavior.

It could be prudent, before embarking on a program of aggressive behavior modification, to rule out any medical reasons for that behavior, particularly if there is a sudden alter within the dog’s temperament. Their are some fifty-odd different medical factors why a dog might be displaying aggressive tendencies, these range from Discomfort to Thyroid Dysfunction, Epilepsy to Hypoglycemia and Diabetes.

The following is a list of the more common aggressions and why they may be occurring. This is only a component of the total kinds. Due to the constraints of space it could only be a fleeting reference.

1. Fear / Nervous Aggression (Interdog)

Fairly often, this behavior has its roots directly towards the pup’s mother. Breeders that breed from fearful and timid bitches will often make excuses as to why you can’t see the dam. In the event you do view a litter of puppies and also the mother is fearful, then do not even consider purchasing the puppy. It’ll be nearly a certainty that the pups will inherit some of the mother’s traits, through both genetics and socialization, genetically the pups might inherit her timidity and through the time they’re with her will observe her fear and adhere to suit.

Scientific study has shown that even the pups which are born to a solid and stable mother that are then put having a bitch that’s fearful, they’ll choose up a few of the unstable habits from the fearful dog. Other factors for this fear kind of issue is when the puppy or adult dog is attacked by another dog, particularly whilst on the lead, with no means of escape and restricted from showing submissive body language towards the attacker.

Lack of early socialization can also have an impact on this kind of behavior, If the young pup, especially in between the age of seven and sixteen weeks, is not cautiously socialized with each adult and pups alike, then they don’t discover to “meet and greet”. The complex physique language dogs learn at this age is crucial to their later behavior when approaching unknown dogs. If they’re unable to either perform or comprehend the greeting rituals, then they’re immediately viewed with suspicion by the approaching dog, and conflict may arise

How can you tell if it’s fear?

With nervous and worry aggressive dogs, you will find that they will react aggressively to any dog, no matter whether it’s male or female. The behavior is frequently worse if the dog is on the lead or is cornered, particularly if close to the owner, who backs up the behavior, (though unwittingly) by becoming nervous and agitated because the other dog approaches.

This manifests itself inside a tightening up on the lead and shoulders. Nervous owners also kick out a cloud of adrenaline that the dog immediately detects, this causes it to appear for what’s causing the concern. It sees the dog approaching and reacts accordingly. This kind of dog is also normally a barker, it’ll lunge and bark in the approaching dog but generally won’t snap unless all its choices have run out. ie flight or freeze and following all its threat posturing the other dog has nonetheless got as well close.

This issue can often be diagnosed if somebody who is confident about dogs (that the dog does not know nicely) takes it out on the lead. It will not get exactly the same fearful vibes from the owner, therefore the reaction to another dogs approaching will be much less intense. It is a good way of finding out in case your dog suffers worry aggression, as the behavior will either not be exhibited or will probably be less pronounced. The owner can then use a desensitization plan for each the dog and themselves.

2. Worry / Nervous Aggression (Inter-human)

As soon as again, this can be brought on through lack of early socialization, bad breeding and sometimes lack of handling at an early age, beginning as young as two weeks old. Pups which are not handled gently and often by the breeder do not get a strong olfactory and tactile bond with humans. This is often the case with puppy farmed dogs and dogs born to large breeders. This handling at such an early age causes a mild stress response in the tiny pup, which benefits its ability to cope with many situations which includes individuals and dogs in later life

Nervous and worry aggression is usually defensive in nature, occasionally it is related to the sex of the individual. When the breeder was female, and extremely few males visited or handled the puppies, then the timidity and fear may be worse with males. This particular problem like interdog hostility, will manifest itself primarily with individuals instead of crowds.

You will find that the dog will bark a great deal but will be below a table or behind a settee. The tail will be down and although it may appear overtly aggressive, the dogs balance and weight will be on the back foot not over the front feet. This demonstrates that the dog desires you to go away and isn’t initially attempting to bite or attack you. A gradual and careful introduction towards the stimulus that is causing the worry with positive reinforcement for calm behavior will be the way to overcome this kind of problem although the dog will rarely make a total and full recovery and will by no means be life and soul of the park and greeting parties.

3. Frustration Aggression

Research has shown that dogs who’re not allowed to interact “normally” with individuals and dogs who had been prone to displays of bad temper and behaviour that was overtly aggressive are dogs that are usually restrained or restricted from normal interactions (interactions with individuals, other dogs, and the outside globe). The dog develops an intense desire to gain access to all of these issues he desires.

This want can escalate into escape and roaming behavior, agitation, biting and unprovoked attacks. It is often observed in dogs that are left tied up in flats, left in gardens, or close to a window where they are able to see the issues they wish to interact with, but can’t get to them therefore display unprovoked aggression. To some extent, the aggression shown to the postman is according to frustration. I’ve noticed dogs attack their owner or perhaps a second dog in the home simply because it can’t get to the deliveryman.

As with most aggressive behaviors early socialization and an understanding of how dogs learn and communicate are important.

4. Sexual aggression.

This type of aggression is generally restricted to male dogs. They will mount both people as well as other dogs. Mounting activity directed towards humans might reflect a lack of opportunity for the dog to play with other dogs, or an over-attachment to people in early life, mounting on other dogs particularly if they initially try to place their heads more than the other dog’s necks may be associated to rank and control complex behavior. Castration and behavior modification can help with this problem. Permitting the dog to mate might often be recommended by the amateur dog professional, this normally makes the issue far worse.

5 Territorial Aggression

This may be towards other dogs, individuals or both. By definition, territorial aggression ought to be directed toward members of the same species ie other dogs. Domestic dogs, nevertheless, seem to regard humans in this regard as conspecific, and consequently might direct territorial aggression toward us When dogs display aggression to strangers only on the home property garden, home, or yard, but do not respond aggressively to strangers on neutral territory, then territorial aggression is the likely diagnosis. You will find two main motivations for territorial behavior, control complex behavior ie dominance or fear/anxiety. It might be worse inside a little space like a car than in an open area. Some dogs like this may be fine in the house, but not so great within the garden.

The only answer to this problem would be to work on the dominant/territorial problem inside a way in which a dog understands its position through a behavior modification programme utilizing position reinforcement techniques. Keep in mind not to praise for the cessation of poor behavior rather praise for that bad behavior not happening within the initial location. In other words, say the dog jumps up on somebody and also you say “OFF” if the dogs get off then don’t praise as you’ll be praising for the inappropriate behavior, which was the jumping.

6. Control Complicated / Dominant Aggression

The word dominant is a dirty word in dog behavioral circles at present nevertheless if we comprehend the word means position and is far more complicated that just aggression, then to ignore this area of conflict would be remiss. The initial approach to other dogs is often cautionary and contains numerous status signals, like tail carriage held high and quickly moving from side to side, standing on tiptoe and so on. If the other dog submits, then all is generally fine, if not the fighting can be very noisy and in some instances quite serious. In both the final two examples, dominant and territorial aggression, I usually discover the dog will pull quite badly on the lead. These dogs may also display aggressive tendency towards members from the family members this could result in an attack if not controlled in their early stages. By working on a programme which will give the dog a purpose and a position in life, almost a job and teaching the dog to walk on a loose leash can occasionally overcome the problem. The type of plan I’d use is the NILIF plan, which stands for “Nothing in Life is Free”, See my website under dominance

7. Chase or Predatory aggression

This may be directed at numerous things including dogs, cats, or anything that stimulates a chase response. Squirrels are a favorite, as their fast jerky movements seem to stimulate even the most placid of dogs. I see lots of predatory chase aggression in for instance Border Collies, in specific stimulants like bikes, skateboards joggers and vehicles.

One of the key elements that distinguish predatory aggression from other types of aggression is the fact that movement frequently is the trigger . In the wild, this movement is in the form of running and escape attempts of a little animals. Predatory behavior may be seen in dogs of any sex and age.

Dogs that show intense interest and turn out to be aroused or anxious by the movement or noise of children or other pets should be closely monitored at all times. Prognosis is not good for this kind of aggression. Reward based obedience training can help, nevertheless this really is only any use when the owner/trainer is in a position to continuously monitor the dog all the time.

It is simpler to control the chase stimulus when it is directed at vehicles, joggers, or bikes. Two kinds of typical treatment’s consist of counter-conditioning used to alter the dogs’ perception of the falsely identified prey. Numerous also think punishment functions ie noise aversion when the behavior is initial stimulated. Throwing water from a car window or sounding a rape alarm or air horn at the precise time the dog takes off, throwing down a plastic bottle of stones from a passing bike or vehicle can occasionally alter this behavior.

Nevertheless. To become effective, punishment must be seen as aversive and the timing of the punishment should be exact so that the dog associates the punishment using the behavior. Electric shock collars have also been recommended but aren’t part of treatment applications I would ever recommend.

As talked about aggression often has its origins in poor breeding, lack of socialization, high prey drive, and poor fundamental coaching may also exacerbate the scenario. However, as stated before it could be related to medical circumstances and prior to embarking on a course of behavioral therapy have your dog checked more than to see if you will find any underlying medical circumstances.

Learned aggression can normally be cured however, hereditary aggression can’t, it can only be controlled and hopefully contained. Castration occasionally helps, and ought to be regarded as in an general aggression reduction plan. With all aggression instances, you should think about a behaviorist or a dog trainer skilled in these issues, before the problems becomes life threatening either to the dog or the person they’re aggressive against.