In this article about dog aggression training we will learn how dogs think and their temperament, why do they bite, and especially how to avoid dog aggression and what to do if a dog attacks us.
Some people rely too much on wireless dog fences like the pif 300 to avoid their dogs to bite someone passing by. But this is a wrong way of doing things. In the first place, your dog should not have the will to bite, and secondly, your wireless dog fence won’t stop a determined dog of crossing over and bite a dog or person if he really wants too.
How do dogs think?
# DOGS HAVE A NATURAL INSTINCT TO BE VERY PROTECTIVE.
All dogs have a protective instinct in them. It’s a “by-product” of living in a social group (pack) where all members have to look out for each other. This can be a good thing when a dog lives in a family, but it can also be a bad thing if the dog misinterprets some action and bites someone by mistake.
# EACH DOG BORN HAS ITS OWN TEMPERAMENT
All dogs have their own “personality”, and as people, can be changed and molded to our purposes by using consistent training (education).
# DOG AND OWNER DEVELOP A VERY CLOSE RELATIONSHIP VERY EARLY
The owner and his dog develop a very strong bond since the beginning of their relationship. Sometimes we say “the dog is the mirror of his owner”. Well, yes he is.
Dogs tend to know their owners likes and dislikes to the point that, if an owner is nervous and shaky, his dog will be too. On the other hand, if an owner is calm and patient, the dog will be too.
# DOGS ALWAYS FOLLOW THEIR PACK LEADER
A dog will always follow his pack leader, unless…he thinks he’s the leader. That’s one of the main reasons dog attack people when they think they are the leaders of a pack, and do whatever they want, because according to their rules, they can.
# DOGS MAKE MISTAKES TOO
Yes, like people, dogs make mistakes too. They can misinterpret some action or not recognize someone and attack out of nothing.
Why is my dog aggressive?
To understand why our dog is aggressive we must understand what aggression is from a dog’s perspective. Aggression can be defined as snarling, growling, nipping, biting and lunging.
All these behaviors are normal to be present in a pack, but unacceptable in a “family pack” because you don’t want your dog to be doing these kinds of behaviors to you or any member of your family. So, we have to train him not to do that, through consistent methods and practices.
So, why is my dog aggressive if I never thought him to be? Well, maybe you did. Let me tell you a little story that ended very badly to both the dog and the family, just because they trained the dog every day to be aggressive, without knowing it.
A family in the U.S. had a very nice Rottweiler, loved by all the family, and very gentle to people. They had a little daughter that loved the dog and every day when she got home, she would go straight to the dog and shake his head with both hands, slapping is head gently.
The family didn’t do obedience training every day because the dog was always so gentle, and they also didn’t supervise the child’s play with the dog. One day, the dog bitted the child’s face without warning, she had to go to the hospital immediately, had to make plastic surgery, and the dog was put to sleep.
“So what went wrong?“
“No one ever harmed the dog or trained him to be aggressive, right?”
- In the first place, a Rottweiler is a very dominant breed, so obedience training should have never been overlooked, ever.
- In the second place, no child should ever play with a dog unsupervised, ever.
- In third place, and probably the most important one, never, ever slap a dog in the head, even if it’s very gentle because that’s a bite training technique that will make the dog very aggressive.
So, have we can see, this family did train the dog to be aggressive without knowing it…every day. This might have never happened with another breed, true, but we are the thinking animal here, we must understand the breed’s genetics and tendencies, and a Rottweiler can be a fantastic family dog, as long as you’re aware of the dominance techniques that you must apply, every day, with no exceptions.
How to avoid dog aggression?
To avoid dog aggression we must understand the types of aggression a dog might demonstrate:
# DOMINANCE of AGGRESSION
This type of aggression will usually be directed to the pack members (your family), in the dog’s attempt to achieve a better position inside his pack. This is also the type of aggression that you can totally prevent if you follow the dominance techniques.
This type of aggression usually doesn’t involve serious biting unless it’s a very dominant dog, and usually consists of snarling, growling and heavy nipping.
# FEAR AGGRESSION
This type of dog aggression is usually more difficult to overcome because most of the time it’s trauma or genetic related. When this happens, you must redirect the dog’s attention to something not fearful to him.
Something to alleviate the pressure, or back away. Fearful dogs will make serious injuries because, in their head, they are fighting for their lives.
# KILLER INSTINCT
This is a rare behavior, mostly because dogs aren’t wolfed anymore, they have been domesticated a few thousand years ago. Nevertheless, this might happen anyway, because dogs still have very active instincts
This happens when, for example, a dog is hungry and sees a prey running (can be a person), and goes for it for the kill. Although it’s a rare situation, it can happen and it will be very dangerous. This can only happen to very unbalanced and abused dogs, and even then they usually become fearful, not killers.
# PACK ATTACK
A pack attack is very dangerous, and usually responsible for most attacks that result in fatal injuries. As we know, dogs will follow the leader, and if the leader runs towards someone, for example, the other dogs will run with him, that’s when the instincts kick in and all the other dogs will start thinking they are in a hunting/attack situation that happens so many times in the wild.
They will attack if the pack leader shows an aggressive move towards the “target”, and after the first bite, there’s no turning back, all members of the pack are committed to bringing the prey down.
So, now that we know the types of aggression a dog can display, how can we avoid it?
Well, dominance aggression can easily be prevented by following dominance techniques. By becoming yourself the pack leader, all dogs in your pack will follow and obey.
Fear aggression it’s a lot more complicated because it’s very difficult to simply remove trauma from an abused dog, or overcome its genetics. If you have such a dog, that growls at everything it moves and bites anything that approaches him, then please seek professional help. Only after a detailed analysis from a professional can you know if the dog can be saved or not.
The killer instinct can be easily prevented with a dog you own, just don’t abuse the dog, and make him feel he is part of your pack (family), always the last member of course, but still a part of it. With obedience training, it’s impossible a dog will develop killer instincts.
Pack attacks can be prevented completely if you’re the leader of the pack. Remember, they will follow the leader only, and if the leader is not present, they will follow the second in command.
When you’re not present there might be a problem because the second in command will be in charge. In that case, don’t leave multiple dogs together without the supervision of someone of your pack (family).
What to do if a dog attacks me?
Everything that runs away is meant to be caught. At least that’s the way dogs think, so, if one ever attacks you…don’t run. Speak casually and very calm to the dog, don’t do sudden movements and especially don’t panic, dogs know when their prey is afraid.
If you have any object in your hand or have an object near you, try to grab it slowly and place it between you and the dog. Don’t look at the dog’s eyes, that’s a dominance demonstration, and you don’t want to do that to a dog you don’t know, or that is about to bite you.