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Dog Aggression

Whether your dog is large or small, aggression is a problem. The greatest problem is sooner or later aggression escalates to biting.

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Aggression is the one behavior that needs to be addressed immediately. For a lot of dogs it begins in puberty (7 to 14 months old) and owners wonder why it’s suddenly started. A lot of times owners expect it to stop and their dog return to the dog they used to know. This can happen, but seldom without professional intervention.


Unfortunately, for owners who don’t address aggression immediately it usually escalates. The latter stages of escalation usually ends up with an unexpected bite, or worse, an injury. That’s when this beloved family member becomes a liability.

Reactivity (Aggression) Towards People and Other Dogs

We have extraordinary success in dealing with both aggression towards people as well as towards other dogs.


Aggression Towards People


There are many different types of aggression towards people. They include resource guarding (protecting food, toys, beds), being territorial (protecting home, yard, car or crate) and aggression used to communicate stop. This latter one could be to stop a stranger from approaching, children coming near or the owner doing something the dogs wants him or her to stop.


Aggression Towards Dogs


There are different reasons for dogs being aggressive towards other dogs. The most common are to establish dominance, to defend themselves from being dominated or as a way to communicate “stop” or “get away”.

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Aggression Has One Thing in Common

In our field we often refer to aggression as “defense” or their “defense drive”. It’s a natural and important drive for a dog. The purpose of it is to scare away a potential threat. A very essential drive for survival. The problem is most dogs today who are aggressive aren’t actually being threatened. Nevertheless their experience is feeling threatened and in turn defending themselves.


When you understand what they are going through it’s really unfortunate. Seeing others (dogs or people) as a threat is not a very pleasant way for a dog to experience life. Fortunately, there are solutions.

Solutions for Dog Aggression

The solutions are dependent on a dog’s individual makeup. That makeup includes the dog’s nervous system. Think of the nervous system as your dog's command center. While originating in the brain, it controls their movements, thoughts and automatic responses to the world around them. In other words, your dog's nervous system determines their natural experience of life.


We look at the intensity of their aggression, what are their triggers? Also, what is their makeup when not showing aggression? This begins to help us to understand how much of their aggression is the result of their nervous system, and how much is learned behavior (feeling a little insecure, showing aggression and getting a positive reaction). As we understand this blend we can start to predict the outcome we’ll have through training. That, in turn, becomes the foundation of our training plan.

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Rehabilitation of Aggressive Dogs

At the very least we can almost always control the aggression. However, this is our least favored outcome. If all we do is control the aggression then it means a dog still wants to show it but isn’t acting on it. The state of feeling the need to show aggression means the dog feels threatened. This feeling of being threatened by people or dogs is an awful way to go though life.


Fortunately, for most dogs once we control the aggression we can begin changing their experience of people and/or other dogs. They can begin to experience intrigue where there once was only fear. This work is truly rehabilitation for an aggressive dog, and changes lives. It's a priviledge to us to be a part of it. 

"I thought I had more time."

Seldom ever do dogs grow out of aggression. It almost always needs to be addressed. The problem is each time your dog shows aggression to you, another person or dog the behavior becomes more solidified. Most dogs start by "only growling". That is until the day comes when suddenly aggression turns into biting a person or attacking a dog. Most people think they have more time before it escalates. In that respect, we are usually further into the problem than we realize.

The two most common complaints we hear are "I thought I had more time before it would get to this" and "this could have been avoided". The ideal time to address aggression is at the very first sign of it. The second best time; as soon as possible. 

The first step is so easy. Just schedule a free evaluation. 

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a blog article

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If you want to understand more about dog aggression, more detail on what drives the behavior, different approaches to addressing it and the ability to create deep and lasting change visit our blog or click the blog article. 

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