DESIGNER PUPPYS: Everything you wanted to know about raising designer or mixed breed dogs,
featuring The BOYZ: Prince Alvin His Cuteness (on left) and Sir Simon The Sad, Cockapoo pups.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Are YOU Training Your Dog or Is HE Training You (5 of 6)?

Victoria Stilwell is the
Queen of Overcoming Aggressive Behavior in Dogs

This is the fifth in a series of blogs about dog training:

Training Foundation
Obedience Commands
Overcoming Aggressive Behavior (you are here)
Advanced Commands/Tricks

Overcoming Aggressive Behavior

First question under this topic - just what is aggressive behavior?

Here's a sampling of what's considered aggressive behavior in Kingdom of Pets Secrets to Dog Training:

  • Dominance
  • Dog-on-Dog Agresssion
  • Biting
  • Chewing
  • Jumping
  • Digging
  • Disobedience
  • Leash-Pulling
  • Whining
  • Barking
  • Thieving

Each of these sections in the Secrets to Dog Training guide explains why the behavior is exhibited and what you need to do to overcome it.

An Example -Whining

Whining is a common problem that humans reinforce by responding to the whining. So the dog gets a payoff - over and over again. Once you start ignoring the behavior, the payoff is gone.

Easier said than done, especially when someone just can't handle the whining and always responds to it. Now the dog has trained that someone to cater to his slightest whimper.

Puppies are notorious for whining. Simon has developed whining into an art form. Alvin (who is now Alvin the Patient because he's a liver shunt suspect) makes one little whimper and a family member is at his side petting and cooing. As soon as we begin to ignore their whimpering, it will disappear.

The Secrets to Dog Training guide gives you insights into how to address each of these forms of aggression and case studies as examples. And the ones I tried seem to work. Alvin pulls on the leash and frankly, I really did not know how to stop it until I read the section in the guide on leash-pulling. It details the step-by-step procedure to train the dog to respond to where you are going versus deciding where to go on his own. It does work and requires effort, but the ease in walking Alvin was worth it.

When Your Training is Not Working

What do you do if no amount of effort redirects the dog's aggressive behavior? Here are three suggestions:

Dog Forums
Although people on dog forums may sometimes act out their own aggressions in the forums (it's easier when you're not talking face-to-face), you still may get valuable advice from people who are actual dog trainers or have a lot of experience with dogs. A dog forum versus a pet forum is the best way to go.

Your Vet
Some vets (like mine) are knowledgeable about dog behavior and will spend the time to explain how to address an issue.

A Certified Dog Trainer
Sometimes you need to bring in an expert. I hired a trainer to observe Simon and Alvin in action in one of their dog playfights. To me, it seemed the dogs were trying to kill each other in what looked like growling, snarling, attacking, and biting battles. What was the point of giving Alvin a companion if they appeared to be attacking each other?

The trainer explained each action from the puppy perspective and concluded their "battles" were play. I just need to make sure I stop the playing when it's clear the smaller puppy is to tired to continue. And he gives plenty of clues when he tires out.

These aggression issues need to be addressed sooner or later. Make it sooner - YOU need to train Your Dog and quit letting him train you.


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