When we get calls on dog behavior, the percentage of calls on dog aggression seems to be rising. Despite the overwhelming amount of information “out there” on puppy training or dog behavior problems, folks still have problems deciding how to approach fixing the dog behavior problem. Maybe that’s it – the amount of information is so overwhelming, determining what information is the best information to go by is confusing. Some folks may also need a visual and hands-on trainer and their personal dog for the training to be meaningful for them. Of course, the best time to start is with your puppy training and then progress to more formal dog obedience training around other dogs and people. To do this you can join a dog obedience group class to get the distraction work you need.
With dogs that are aggressive (reactive) it takes the hands-on work with your dog to a completely new level, as dog aggression can be very scary and intimidating for many to attempt to work their aggressive dog by themselves. The first thing that you should do to begin the process of fixing your dog aggression problem is to prevent it from happening as you begin your program of rehabilitation. What I mean by this is, as you are working on your dog’s aggressive behavior, do not continue to set your dog up to fail by putting him in situations he is not ready for and you are not ready to deal with. Each time your dog gets to aggress without you understanding how to re-direct, your dog has again rehearsed the bad behavior.
The next thing is to work on obedience training which will be a big factor in assisting you on leadership and redirecting your dog’s bad behavior. In other words, getting your dog to sit is better than having your dog behave badly or show aggression.
Once your dog is good on sits, down, stay, off and come, work your dog in the environment or place where your dog’s behavior problem occurs. It is hard to fix dog aggression because you really can’t go up to a friend and say, “excuse me, my dog is dog aggressive and I’d like to use your dog as bait so I can work on my dog’s behavior.” I’m pretty sure you’ll get a no thanks!
One thing I do for my clients with dog aggression issues is to hold a growl class. Everyone is there for the same reason, the fear factor for the owners is greatly reduced because it’s a controlled environment and since everyone there has the same problem, the “shame” factor is greatly reduced.
One thing to remember with dog behavior, dog’s feed off your energy so be aware of how tense, scared or angry you are—those feelings travel right down the leash to your dog!