Aggression: Find Someone to Help
If your dog is showing aggression, a well-planned program of obedience training and behavior modification can help you manage, control and save your relationship with your dog.
It’s important to take action when assertive behaviors appear. Look for defensive, fearful or reactive responses. A dog may stare, growl or show teeth. A stiff body posture, raised hackles and a raised, slow tail sweep are warning signs, too. Dogs may be protective of food or objects, snap or growl when pushed or handled or chase fast-moving objects.
Find a qualified trainer or behaviorist if your dog is showing any of these signs. Ask the following questions before making your decision:
• How much experience do you have dealing with aggression?
• What techniques do you use?
• Have you written or lectured on the subject?
• Do you have client or veterinary references*?
There are many ways to handle aggression. A skilled and reputable trainer should acknowledge this and never promise a sure-fire “cure” for your dog’s condition. There are no guaranteed, permanent fixes but many dogs can be safely managed and controlled.
Avoid trainers who use dominance to control aggression. While a highly skilled handler may be able to restrain an aggressive dog, few dog owners can do so safely. A frightening additional warning: if a child attempts to mimic these dominance-based techniques, he or she could be severely injured.
* Some forms of aggression respond well to medication. Find a trainer willing or experienced to work with your veterinarian.
A skilled trainer will identify the type of aggression your dog is showing, work with you to identify the triggers and design a multi-faceted plan to manage and rehabilitate your dog.
Usually, canine aggression can be managed but it cannot always be “cured.” Ultimately, you are responsible for the safety of your dog and the people he comes in contact with.