Why is aggression in dogs on such a steep incline?

It’s no secret that we deal with a LOT of aggression here at K9Pro. We get referrals from every state, other trainers, vets, councils, and other dog owners whom we have worked with.

This includes possession aggression, resource guarding, territorial behaviour, predation, fear aggression and dogs that simply do not listen to owners when it counts.

Know that, these are “symptoms” of more deep seeded problems that many people just do not want to accept or, simply don’t see or know about.

Queensland State Government for one, recently banned the Prong Collar, now, they have a high number of dog attacks spiralling out of control…

They have formed a “Task Force” to deal with these dog attacks. Divulging that they will be applying bigger fines, imprisonment, seizing and killing dogs, banning breeds etc.

All of these “penalties” will be applied after a dog attacks a person, so not preventative at all.

If I put a post on our Facebook page about people letting their “It’s Ok He’s friendly” dog wanting to approach your dog, we get tons of comments from angry dog owners who suffer the same thing.

Of course, the people that do this have no control over their dog, so they just accept he will run up to your dog whenever he or she likes and do whatever they feel like.

It’s not like they can call the dog away…right?

Then, one day, there is a fight, because the dog ran up to a dog that is not comfortable around other dogs.

Who could have seen that coming? Blind Freddy could have.

You love your dog; you give as much positive reinforcement as your dog can take and maybe even more than that.

But try call your dog away from something he or she finds stimulating and where are you? Standing alone with a handful of treats in most cases…

Call your dog away from a guest arriving at your front gate or door, and find yourself talking to yourself.

“Just need to train more”, right?

“Needs more yummy treats”! right?

“It’s just how he or she is”, right?

“It doesn’t matter”, right?

Great relationships are not made on one good event or one bad event, unlike your being told.

Let’s explore this question first, Why does your dog find other things more valuable than you? You have the yummy treats right?

Next, What is the cost or consequence to your dog of ignoring you?

Well, the answer to that is simple, your dog is not concerned with any cost or consequence, that’s why he or she ignores you.

Of course, we must remember that all training must be positive, warm and fuzzy and not in any way include anything other than handfuls of food, right?

Never mind that it has not worked so far, never mind that your dog is rehearsing the unwanted behaviour…

Let me tell you this, the biggest training problem is that “you don’t mind”! Your acceptance is your dog’s freedom to do what ever he or she likes.

The second biggest problem is that you are going to be told that you must ensure that we avoid all stress, unpleasant outcomes, pressure or punishment when training dogs, “all you need is patience and love”.

Aggressive dogs, especially fear aggressive dogs cannot deal with stress or pressure, we know this, no one argues this.

As soon as they experience any stress or pressure they become emotional and explode with aggression.

Why can’t these dogs deal with any pressure or stress?

Well, the answer is that in their lives, they are shielded from it because their training has not prepared them for the real world, only a world where nothing can go wrong.

You will hear some trainers saying, “my dog doesn’t ignore recalls off Kangaroos as I don’t put him in that situation“.

Loosely translated, no off leash freedom for this dog, ever.

Management is a short-term solution until training is reliable, if your dog is to have any true fulfillment, enrichment and freedom, you need effective training.

Ignore the unwanted behaviour and reward reward reward the good is the motto. Sounds great, but is that how you were raised as a child?

Dogs, and people need to learn to deal with stress. To do this, we learn and develop resources by having measured stress applied to us and us working our way through it.

When you were at school and had an exam coming up, if you played a team sport and your team was up against a strong team.

When your boss asks you to do a challenging task which is normally outside of your purview.

These all teach us to deal with stress and find useful resources so we can regulate our emotions and be effective.

But dogs are being shielded from any chance of loss of food, any chance of being told no, any chance there may be some unpleasantness attached to a behaviour and in doing so, they have absolutely no experience or resources to deal with stress.

They have only Fight – Flight – Freeze instinct.

This is done as a puppy and when they are adolescents, they become aggressive as soon as the world doesn’t give them what they want or puts stress on them.

Whilst you may think shielding your dog is kind, What happens when the stress comes from something within their environment, not you?

What happens when you cannot control things that enter your dog’s life?

That’s called “reality”.

Why can’t so many dogs deal with reality these days?

Why are there so many anxious dogs?

I will save you some time here and tell you.

It is because the loudest voices in the dog training and behaviour world are guiding pet dogs to extinction.

Let me prove it to you!!!

  1. We are told, all dog training should be reward based, stress free! Leaving your dog with no ability to deal with stress.
  2. Dogs at some point will encounter something that will cause them stress. The “don’t put them in those situations” advice your given is a joke.
  3. When they do find themselves in this situation, they become emotional.
  4. Emotional dogs bite.
  5. You are being told the is a BREED thing. And that certain breeds need to be banned.
  6. So, we will ban those breeds and people will get other breeds instead.
  7. They will follow the same idiotic principles and get bitten again.
  8. Ban those breeds…

See?

Whilst you may think this is only Rottweilers, German Shepherd etc, know that in actual fact, we see ALL breeds, yes even your little fur baby, displaying these same traits.

What about when your dog is aggressive to you or your family?

We have many dogs that come to us that are biting / attacking the people they live with. Here is a list of some significant patterns we see.

  • The dog is on the couch and you try and squeeze in, the dog growls or bites.
  • The dog picks something up, like a sock and when you try and get it back, they bite you, or threaten to.
  • You try and approach your partner and your dog pushes between you, or worse.
  • Your kids go to your dogs bed to pat him or her, this is ok but after 5 or so seconds, the dog snaps at your son or daughter.
  • Or the dog comes up for a pat, when you start patting, after a little while, they growl at you to stop.
  • Your dog has some food left in his or her bowl they have not eaten, you go near the bowl and your dog becomes aggressive.
  • Your dog displays aggression at your door when guests arrive, when you try and move your dog away, he or she displays aggression to you.
  • Your dog wants your attention, so you give it, but now and again when your hands are full you don’t, this makes your dog grab your wrist with his or her mouth (gently perhaps) and physically manipulate you into what they want.
  • Your partner is in the lounge room and so is your dog. You walk in and the dog growls and or is aggressive.
  • You cheer at the Football and clap and your dog nips or bites at you.
  • You roll over in bed and your dog growls or shows aggression because you disturbed them.

Here is a FACT for you, out of the worst dog attacks on owners we have seen, the above have been the exact situations that triggered the attack.

Not the first time, not even the twentieth time.

In all the previous times the dog has displayed these behaviours, at any level of intensity, the owner backed off and redirected their attention.

At some point, the owner did not respond in the time frame the dog expected them to and attacked. The owner badly hurt, hospitalised, in some cases killed.

In most cases the dog is then killed.

I have also watched a person go through 4 different breeds of dogs.

All far removed from the other. And all ended up aggressive to the owner before 18 months of age.

You know it was not the dogs, right?

Forget genetics, breed, or mental issues. The common denominator was the person and their views on how to raise a dog.

If your dog is displaying any level of the behaviours listed above, I suggest you get a very experienced person on your team NOW.

You love your dog. I KNOW that. I love my dogs too. I love All Dogs.

But it really saddens me to see dogs biting their owners. Ignoring all direction and generally being very hard to live with, but impossible to let go of…

The heart ache I see these people endure is gut wrenching, and it is almost always on the back of bad advice. Looking at ideologies, methods, reward only programs, Force Free ideals rather than the dog in front of them.

It simply in these cases produced a dog that has no respect for the owners and bullies them.

Raising dogs correctly does not mean being harsh, rough, mean or not loving your dog, but it certainly does mean that relationships must contain a leader and a follower.

The dog must know benefits (rewards) and costs (punishers) for responding and ignoring cues from the owner.

Us as dog owners are responsible for our dogs, their behaviour and the effect they have on the community around them.

They behave badly and it is on you. LEGALLY.

Therefore, your training must be effective enough to produce a well-mannered, responsive dog that follows your advice, or working toward that goal.

This will never be achieved with any dog by simply burying them with food treats.

Here are some tips to help those who really want the best outcomes.

  1. Focus on “if” the dog gets trained, rather than “how” the dog gets trained. If you feel the need to question the trainer you chose, you have not researched their results thoroughly enough, or they can’t show you any.

2. Train the dog in front of you, use what the dog responds the best to. Not what the trainer or the internet says is best.

3. If you seriously care about your dogs well being, behaviour, life span and mental health, stop asking for specific advice on the internet. Why would you trust such an important aspect of your life to someone on Facebook that has never met your dog, nor you have never met? Free, cheap, convenient does not equal value, expertise or in the end, cheap.

4. Invest in learning from the trainer or behaviourist so you know these things.

  1. What to do
  2. When to do it
  3. Why you’re doing it
  4. What it will do for you and your dog.

5. When you hire a trainer, know the difference between an experienced, professional trainer and a “Social Media Influencer”. Find one that can show you results with Clients with the same breed or problem as you have.

6. Avoid asking your vet for help with behaviour problems, if there is a need for a vet, a competent / experienced trainer will advise when and if. 

I have worked with countless, and if you actually want a number, it would probably be over the 100 000 dog mark in my life time.

I see people asking: –

  • What food is that
  • What collar is that
  • What leash is that
  • What brand of harness is that
  • What was that marker word you used

Anyone attempting to learn these things is hoping simply “copying” what someone does will get them that person’s success.

Here is a fact, it won’t.

But,

  • Timing
  • Feel
  • Intuition
  • Instinct
  • Experience

These are what I use, learn these concepts and you will be able to train any dog.

Take care of yourselves and your dogs, but understand what that means.

Steve

About SteveK9Pro

Steve Courtney is a Nationally Accredited Canine Behaviour Specialist, Obedience Trainer, Law Enforcement Dog Trainer and ANKC Breeder. Steve has been training dogs all his life and in these articles he shares with you his experience...

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