CANINE AGGRESSION HAS DIFFERENT ROOT CAUSES
Although dogs are non-conflict oriented creatures, there are a number of reasons why a dog may show signs of aggression. Most aggression is guarding-related and rooted in fear, protectiveness or possessiveness and can be considered a sign of your dog’s effort to communicate how they feel about a situation. Often, dogs that lack confidence and have not been socialized properly will show signs of fear or aggression around novel stimulus, meaning anything new or unknown may provoke the behavior. When aggression does surface, it’s a sign that a dog’s primal survival instincts have been activated, and understanding this is part of the process for learning how to change this behavior around. If your dog is showing signs of fear and guarding-related aggression, we can help! We use science-based training techniques matched with a good behavioral management plan to help you change the way your dog responds to situations that provoke aggression.
Dogs that claim food, toys, and areas/spots are called “resource guarders.” They will offer a threat display if you go near their food or try to take a favorite toy or bone away, and they often guard their owners from approach by other people or dogs. Resource guarding is a survival instinct that serves a dog well if they are fending for themselves. In the home, however, it can wreak havoc if your dog has decided to guard his prized possessions from you or other dogs. The good news is this behavior can be modified with science-based techniques and a good behavioral management plan!
If your dog barks a lot and gets upset when the mailman comes or when guests enter the home, they have a highly developed feeling of protectiveness about their “den” and are making attempts to ward off the “intruders.” It’s a little known fact, however, that how you respond to your dog in these situations has a very big impact on how they continue to act towards visitors coming to the house. Understanding your dog’s desire to protect their den and how you can help them distinguish between threatening and non-threatening stimulus is part of how you can start to turn this behavior around.
PEOPLE OR DOG AGGRESSION
The socialization window for dogs to accept new stimulus as non-threatening is very brief (between the age of 8-16 weeks). A dog that has not been socialized properly as a young puppy will either react fearfully (hiding and escape behaviors) or offer warnings such as barking and threat displays (like growling and the flashing of teeth) when presented with the “unknown.” Understanding that your dog is uncomfortable in situations when these behaviors show up, and then taking the necessary steps to modify how they feel, helps them learn to accept “unknown” people, dogs, and new experiences more readily.
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