Fixing Your Dog’s Aggression
Fixing Your Dog’s Aggression
“Fixing” your dog’s aggression is often impossible.
But you can learn to control it.
And, you can learn to avoid it…completely! And if you’d like to see how I’d do that, I made these videos.
So the best way to “fix” your dog’s aggression issue is to become the “apple of his eye” and to gain his focus.
Anyone who knows me and knows my programs or is familiar with my writing knows I am a proponent of Eye Contact and Focus.
I like teaching my dogs to stare into my pupils.
This shows me exactly what my dog is looking at and when he sees it.
Believe me if you are looking into your dog’s eyes and vice versa, you can see the exact moment he looks away to pay attention to another dog, another person or say, perhaps a squirrel.
Knowing what your dog is looking at, and the moment he notices it, is crucial when you have a dog with aggression problems.
If you are not paying attention to what he is seeing and his behavioral signs the moment they happen, you are left to noticing when he is already in the throws of an aggressive tantrum.
Once your dog is lunging, growling, baring teeth and pulling on the leash it is often too late to make any changes to his behavior or even control him.
You are left to embarrassingly dragging him away or trying to hurl yourself in front of him so that he can’t visualize his trigger any longer.
I want to stop my dog’s aggression from ever showing.
Don’t get me wrong, if I have a dog aggressive dog or a people aggressive dog, I still know they have an aggression issue; but I want to keep him from showing an aggressive display or showing everyone around us that he has an aggression issue.
I teach him eye contact and focus on me!
The reason is two-fold.
First off check out the above video, I learned all of my heeling skills from those involved in Schutzhund or IPO sports.
They require such a high level of obedience! I find it simply awe inspiring.
Look at how focused her dog is on her and everything she is doing.
Yes, in the beginning you look down at your dog to see where he is looking and to condition the behavior. But once the behavior is conditioned, you can look forward and only glance down at your dog if you notice changes in his behaviors that denote stress or that he is looking at something else.
In this shot it is clear to see the addition of another dog as a stressor that they have to heel past. Although we can’t exactly see her dog’s face from this angle we can see that he is still in perfect heel position and we can assume he is still focused on his master.
Here we see the addition of speed and a dog that is still only focused on his master. And, if you watch the video you will watch them run right past the dog on the down stay without ever missing a beat.
As she walks through the crowd of people her dog is still happily prancing and heeling and engaged only with what the two of them are doing; together!
He has a JOB! He is happy and he is too busy working to pay attention or notice anything else going on around them.
A dog with a job is happier than a dog left to his own devices.
A job simply means we have taught him what our expectations are and we have taught him what we want him to do instead of leaving him on his own to figure it out.
I mean, just look at his happy tail as he wags next to her. We get the impression that he would not rather be doing anything else.
We see both dogs happily doing their jobs. There was one glance back and forth but they know they have jobs to do, and dogs are very job oriented when the job results in something positive that they want (treat, toy, game).
Again, I will point out what a happy dog is on this screen.
At about 8 minutes and 40 seconds or so we see the dog that was on a long down being released and he and his owner celebrating in the background, all while the dog in the video holds focus for his owner and ignores everything else going on around him.
You see not only does eye contact and focus give your dog a job, but it also allows you to notice the moment there is a change in what he is looking at (say he glances away at another dog) so that you can make a change in your training.
At first everyone is amazed by this video.
Then, the average dog owner is overwhelmed and feels that such a behavior is unattainable.
To ask him to strive for this kind of obedience is ridiculous.
Nothing is Farther From the Truth
But, nothing is farther from the truth!
Is it difficult?
Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes!
This kind of training with added distractions will take months of hard work and dedication. And, it usually takes a bit longer when you have to deal with aggression issues with dogs.
But no one will benefit more from this kind of training and focus work than a dog with aggressive behaviors.
The goal is to be the most exciting thing in his environment and to be able to control what he sees, if you have this ability you can change both yours and your dog’s life!
I have been a professional dog trainer and pet sitter for over 20 years. I am a Certified Professional Dog Trainer, through the international Certification Counsel of Professional Dog Trainers. I have trained and worked with police, Schutzhund and personal protection dogs. I trained Assistance Dogs in a men’s prison and ran my own nonprofit organization to take adult dogs from shelters and to train them to assist children and adults with disabilities, at no charge to my clients. My nonprofit organization and I were nominated for several awards of merit and even made the front page of the Denver Post. I was a veterinary technician for many years, where I learned about all aspects of health and preventative medicine. I have trained and worked with exotic animals and cheetahs. I introduced a temperament testing program in my local shelter and sat on the board of directors. I volunteered with my dog “Mr. Snitch” and helped local children learn to read. I have attained obedience titles and several blue ribbons. I am constantly in search of ways to continue my education and excellence when it comes to animals, their behavior and their health.