Since dog aggression can be a major problem for owners, we want to help you understand the causes of aggression so you can overcome this problem. This first article will address the understanding and reasons for aggression in dogs. Parts Two and Three will deal with food, people and dog-on-dog aggression.
Being possessive is a natural behavior for dogs. In the wild, a canine’s ability to protect his possessions (e.g., food, den, mate, etc.) is essential to survival. Being possessive can be relatively harmless, for example, a dog who immediately runs off to their crate or bed with a favorite snack or a new toy.
However, when the dog who lives in your home becomes very possessive, it very quickly could become a problem. Possessiveness can also be threatening, such as when a dog growls at other family members who approach their favorite human. On the flip side, being overly possessive can take the form of full-blown aggression, such as biting, fighting or chasing the person or animal away.
Some dogs are only possessive around certain people, typically strangers, while others consider all people a threat to their possessions. They also differ in what types of things they guard. Some guard recreational chew bones, others guard toys or stolen treasures and still others guard their favorite human.
The primary source of dog aggression stems from the dog’s frustration and dominance.
Frustration equals lack of exercise. For many fear-aggressive dogs, it is a lack of adequate exercise that is the root of the problem behavior. Exercise burns the dog’s excess energy and helps maintain the dog’s healthy state of mind.
Dominance equals lack of leadership. With dog-on-dog aggression, your dogs are asking you to step up as the pack leader. Animals select pack leaders because they instinctually know who is strong and who can best lead them. A pack leader (you) is concerned for the pack, not for himself, and natural instincts are protection and direction for the entire pack. In return, the pack completely trusts (you) the pack leader. You need to earn your dog’s trust, loyalty and respect before the dog will look to you as their leader, and you do this by giving them rules, boundaries and limitations.
Can Aggression Behavior Be Cured? Taking into account the behavior modification techniques that affect aggression, the current understanding is that the incidence and frequency of some types of aggression can be reduced and sometimes eliminated. However, there’s no guarantee that an aggressive dog can be completely cured.
Next month we will explore what triggers aggression and ways to eliminate or manage the behavior.
Thank you to all who have supported Rover’s Kids. We plan on seeing you at all the events this year, too! Remember us for adoption, pet sitting, rehoming and emergency assistance. We would love to have you be an Ambassador! See you January 12, 2019! For more information, call 480-600-2828.