There is one characteristic that prevails with canine aggression and that is people lack the knowledge and ability to communicate effectively with dogs. The constant miscommunication is unfortunate considering that man has lived alongside their canine companions for more than twelve thousand years. Although humans are regarded having superior intellect, this concept falls completely by the wayside when you observe the state of dog behaviour in any form of human society.
People not only lack the ability of preventing aggression but are also deficient of character ingredients to modify dog behaviour when aggression has already manifested itself. Most people will not make the time or effort to learn from experts how to understand the dog as an animal. Amongst the male gender of the human species there are a wide range of arrogant, immature and irresponsible approaches to their pet dogs. While some obtain an adrenaline rush and frisson owning a dangerous dog there are others who know-it-all and can never be convinced that being aggressive towards their pets incites aggression from them. Those that anthropomorphize canine behaviour and treat their dogs as humans blatantly expose their ignorance by failing to be assertive and consistent mentors for their pets and through this rife weakness of modern people the canine pets become fearful, insecure, dysfunctional and aggressive.
Dogs left unsupervised within the confines of an enclosed property may develop a variety of opportunities to become aggressive. Allowing the dogs to bark, lunge, snarl and chase passers-by along the perimeter fencing engenders a strong feeling of power play and the dog is conditioned that its aggressive attitude is making people in the street flee from its actions. Every time this happens the dog is practicing unsavoury habits and making instinctive decisions as to who is allowed on its territory. Without pet owners being informed about what is normal and acceptable your untrained dog may be rehearsing risky behaviour which will escalate with time. The fence or wall may keep your dog in but what are you insured for if it inadvertently gets out or people visit?! The dog practices this territorial aggression on a daily basis if not trained, socialized and supervised to the point of it becoming unmanageable and life-threatening. The latter refers to other dogs and people getting killed as well as the aggressive pet being euthanased for having caused injury or death.
All dogs should be supervised around children, friends, family and other animals especially during the impressionable period of puppy-hood ranging from eight to twenty weeks of age.
Pet owners are too lazy and unwary to realize how important it is to create structures at the outset and to follow it through, throughout life. This is the best chance for any dog to learn to cope effectively with the frustrations that people impose on the animal on a daily basis.
Dogs need to learn that everything it sees does not belong to it. They have to learn to be crated so that they tolerate confinement and this is done at random not associated with any wrong-doing.
Dogs must learn to walk on a lead alongside its owner without pulling or lunging. Dogs must learn to be quiet and people must learn to do nothing around their dogs. Everything the dog wants it must work for including food, affection, walks, toys and treats. Teaching the dog that he sometimes has to do things that he would rather not do is a vital part of providing the pet with structure. Too many dogs rule their owners’ lives! Offering structures and rules teaches cooperation reliability and security – life-long benefits!
Pet owners do not spend enough meaningful time mentoring their puppies or acquired adult dogs and allow them too much freedom to create bad habits. Good management is directly related to planning ahead and the work involved is a time-consuming commitment but if you want a successful outcome you need to set up situations so the dog can achieve the desired behaviour.
People and events need to be properly managed. Dogs must never be teased directly by someone badgering its face or by kids in the street. You must never ever play rough games because the dog does not understand it to be fun but rather uses defensive techniques in attempts to defend itself against teasing and rough play by running, attacking, barking and biting.
Children, and an amazing amount of adults, do not have good judgment in this arena. People think it’s a game. Dogs do not play games – everything they do is on the basis of exercising survival skills. If they could play games I am certain someone would have come up with snakes-and-ladders or video games for dogs.
Some of the antics displayed by pet owners are poking and prodding at the dog until it retaliates or constantly offering food or a toy and not allowing the dog to ever be able to gain possession of it. This may frustrate the dog to a point of frenzy.
There must some sort of genetic and hormonal factor which most young, immature men inherently display by roughing up the puppy’s face until it mouths their hands. What these thoughtless macho guys will never understand is that when the puppy reaches adulthood it will express this same behaviour with powerful jaws, large teeth and increased intention. The recipient may not be capable of withstanding the bite.
Dogs of certain temperaments become highly aggressive when allowed to bark constantly at pedestrians or people who come to the gate or door. Uncontrollable undesirable behaviours will guarantee problems later on.
Puppies through to adult dogs need tremendous amounts of exercise and positive stimulation every day of their lives but the vast majority of pet owners fail to appreciate this natural desire. Obviously, failure to stimulate the dog’s mind, emotions and physical energy will create problems most pet owners live to regret. Lack of exercise can promote aggression in numerous forms such as territoriality, resource and food possession, instinctive fearfulness and status related, to mention a few. If the confined dog is not getting a wide variety of positive experiences on a regular basis it will be devoid of coping skills, reasoning and ability for tolerance.
It is a very common human reaction to comfort and reassure an animal that is uncertain of circumstances or is frightened. When this occurs, the handler validates the dog’s fearful state by reinforcing the inappropriate behaviour. Repetitive contact, offering human sympathy and talking to the dog in panic rewards the dog for being neurotic. Fear is the first step toward some form of defensive aggression in certain dogs.
In general, people must never reinforce fearful or aggressive behaviour – think what you are doing when the dog exhibits this type of behaviour. You cannot punish aggression because it induces canine distrust and confusion and contributes to arousal and anxiety levels pushing the fear aggression even higher.
Calm and appropriate behaviour must always be rewarded. Pet owners must be committed, responsible, aware and proactive. Never assume, at puberty and beyond, which is usually around eighteen months of age, that your dog is going to be friendly and trustworthy with every dog and person it meets.
The genetic fault of bad temperament always exists in every breed. It is always an advantage to witness the behaviour of both parents before purchasing a puppy. Under these circumstances one has to trust that the breeders are honest about the puppies’ parentage. In many instances puppies are acquired where the dog and bitch are unknown. In these common scenarios the advice of an animal behaviourist, reputable dog trainer and resident veterinarian will help evaluate the nature of the pup at the time of intended purchase. Take it on approval terms if one wishes to be extra cautious. If the initial test is passed the rest is your doing, or undoing.