By David Beart
…. continued from part I:
You know him as your sweet and lovable friend. Your friends and neighbors know him as the terror on your doorstep who wants to eat them. Aggression is not a nice quality in your dog. Aggression comes from the desire to protect, and anything perceived as a threat is going to be treated like one. For some dogs this means anyone and anything that doesn’t belong. He is only trying to defend his home and his human family, but aggression is a serious behavioral problem that needs to be nipped in the bud.
Check your own behavior. How are you reacting to him when he is growling and carrying on at the neighbor as she walks by your house? Make sure the words “good boy” are the last thing your dog hears. “Be a good boy,” or “That’s not a good boy,” are not deterrents. Neither is “Shh.”
Mild mannered people tend to have more aggressive dogs because their tones are not consistent with command. If your dog doesn’t believe you enough to listen to you, he certainly isn’t going to believe you can take care of yourself. I can’t tell you how many times our pups have been accosted on the street with an owner telling their dog that it’s ok. It’s not okay. The words you are looking for are firm and sharp and sound like “Sit” and “No.” One word firm commands are much more effective than reasoning. Aggression is a serious offense and it must be treated as one. We have one dog who got a little out of control. When sitting wasn’t getting him under control on his nightly walk we actually went to making him lie down. Right there on the street or sidewalk we commanded our German Shepard to lie down to get his attention and then added a “Quiet” command to get our point across. His aggression quieted down in a week.
Some dogs do better if they can at least see what’s going on even if they can’t be a part of the process. Aggressive dogs are really protective dogs. The delivery man might not want your growling, snarling beloved pet to join you on the porch, but he might do better if he has a place he can be directed to sit and watch provided he stays quiet. Constantly sequestering him does nothing to solve the problem.
The Overbearing Overgrown Puppy
He is happy to see you. You are his toy and his best friend and he will pummel you over in an attempt to play with you. He has run over the children and covered the cat with his doggie saliva. You love him, but wow does his energy get annoying sometimes. It’s hard to talk to someone one the phone when he’s jumping on you and wrapping his big paws around you and forget leaving the house looking presentable.
He is the puppy who never grew up. His body got big, but he seems intellectually stuck at four months old. Most of the time this behavior is a matter of dominance. When a dog views you as his alpha leader, he gives you respect. When you are his peer, you are his play mate. Alpha leaders are by nature a food related dominance. Of course other factors play into it as well, but to a dog food is leadership. If you are not already the dog’s food source, consider taking on that responsibility.
Establish yourself as a leader. This isn’t all that hard to do and you don’t even have to stop playing with him in order to do it. Start by giving him random commands, especially around feeding time. With his food in your hand tell him to sit. With the food in the bowl and the bowl on the floor tell him to wait, and then make sure he follows through. When he has looked to you for permission, allow him to commence eating.
Slowly add random commands throughout the day and rebuke rough playing immediately. If he wants to play, he has to sit and wait for things rather than tackle you. You can just as easily give him commands with playtime as you can any other time. A few commands before you throw the ball is usually enough to get the right message across as you are establishing dominance.
Interpreting Your Dog
Understanding your dog’s behavior isn’t quite as mystifying as it seems. He really is doing his best to tell you. Watching his communication with other people and animals in the household can really open your eyes to how he expresses himself.
A dog wags his tail to express happiness, yawns when he is content, and growls when he is threatened. With over one hundred facial expressions, he is constantly telling you something. The more you get to know your dog the more you will learn what he is telling you.
Owning a dog is a wonderfully joyous experience. They bring so much into our world which is why so many people have them. They look to us to tend to their needs. We owe it to them to give them at least our very best shot at keeping them safe, healthy, and happy.
About The Author
David Beart is the owner of http://www.professorshouse.com. Our site covers pets, dog training, finances, family, cooking and other household issues.