REASONS YOUR DOG MAY BE SHOWING SIGNS OF AGGRESSION – Poughkeepsie Dog Trainer

IMAG0070Sometimes dog behavior is easy to understand: they stand by the door when they need to go out, or they bark at other dogs as a sign of greeting, or the way they always know that its time to be fed. Other times it is much harder to understand what it is that they are trying to tell you when they are panting and pacing or barking for what seems like not reason or especially when they show signs of aggression when that is not their normal behavior.

There are quite a few reasons that dogs show aggression, even unwarranted aggression, and understanding why your dog is acting aggressively even towards you, his owner, can help further your relationship and help you solve the problem.

Your dog might be sick

Like a child who is incapable of telling you what they need until they develop the capacity to communicate, your dog might be confused as to why they are not feeling well and since they are incapable of telling you why, they often respond with aggression. Sickness and illness are also signs of weakness in nature and combative behavior is a natural reaction and form of protection for a dog. They aren’t mad at you, and they haven’t forgotten who you are; they are simply acting on their natural impulses to protect themselves.

Leash aggression and protecting their owners

Some breeds of dog are extremely loyal and when you have them on a leash on a walk they can be in the mindset that they are protecting you. Instead of you taking them for a walk, they are walking with you as your companion and because of this they are on alert for anything that might threaten you and them. Some smaller dogs are especially protective, and that inspires them to be very aggressive towards large breeds of dog, for instance when they are caught off guard.

Fear

People can also react with aggression when they are afraid, and, again, this is a natural reaction for a dog. When they feel threatened, or your dog is presented with a situation that they have never found themselves in before, they can think that they are being threatened and react aggressively.

Territory

Dogs can be territorial, especially if they are not used to other dogs or animals. Socializing a dog is important if you want them to not react aggressively towards other dogs, humans, or animals. Once a dog has established a territory, it can be extremely hard to stop them from acting aggressively towards anything that threatens their territory.

Toys and possessions

If you have given your dog a toy, treat, bed, blanket, or anything that they can think of as their own, they can become aggressive when those things are threatened. Like territory, once a dog establishes something as its own, it can be hard to stop it from becoming aggressive when it sees anything else try to take or impinge on what the dog thinks of as its possession.

Dominance

Dogs are pack animals and as such there are established hierarchies within a pack, but domesticated dogs do not always travel in packs and why your dog that is not in a pack is acting aggressively towards other dogs can be attributed to this. Like the breeds that tend to be very loyal, there are also dogs within breeds that can be alpha or dominant. This can depend on birth order, upbringing, or if you have adopted a stray, how they established themselves when they were on the street. They may snap, growl, or bite when they establish dominance.

HOW TO INTRODUCE DOGS TO EACH OTHER

THREE TOGETHER CROPPED

Three dogs gets introduced to each other

Whether you are bringing another dog into your home permanently or temporarily, it is important to know the correct way to introduce the dogs to one another. Brining other dogs into your home can be difficult, especially if your dog is territorial or protective of you, your family and your home.

The key to a successful introduction is to do it slowly. Simply throwing another dog into your home can be seen as an intrusion by your dog and it will be treated accordingly. Imagine if another human you did not know came into your house and decided they were going to live there permanently! Handling the introduction in this manner will only cause a hostile relationship in the long run because the new dog will not have a chance to learn what pack rules and boundaries have already been established in your home.

To bring in another dog, you will also need another adult to assist you. This adult should be known and liked by your current dog so there is no additional stress or tension on them. Having both dogs on leashes, bring them to a mutually neutral territory (your current dog’s favorite park or regular walk route will not work) and simply go for a long walk. While walking, make sure the leashes remain loose, any pulling or tension could cause the dogs feel anxious or fearful. The walk will allow both dogs to burn off some excess energy and also give them a chance to become acquainted with each other’s scents.

At the start of the walk, your current dog should be in front with you and the new dog following behind with the trusted adult. After some time, you and your dog should drop back and let the others take the lead. This will give your dog a chance to sniff out the new dog before meeting face-to-face.

As the walk progresses, you can lessen the distance between the two dogs, keeping the dogs towards the outside with the two humans in-between. Pay close attention to the dogs’ behavior as they get closer together, making sure to keep an eye out for snarling, teeth bearing, or unbreakable eye contact. If any of these behaviors take place, increase the distance between the dogs and try again in a few minutes. It is also important to remember that some friendly dog behaviors may seem aggressive, such as pawing, bowing, and being verbal. You should be careful not to discourage this kind of behavior.

Once the dogs can tolerate each other without any threatening behaviors you can now being the process of entering the home. You should always let the original dog enter the home first and then allow the new dog to enter. This lets the original dog feel as if they welcomed the new dog into their home and pack. Once they have formed a pack, they will begin to determine the hierarchy amongst themselves. Do not force a role upon the dogs; they will determine who is dominant and who is submissive on their own. Always remember that you are the pack leader and ensure they know that, too.

PUPPY BEHAVIOR 101

Puppy Behavior 101A new puppy is a wonderful thing. Puppy breath, clumsy paws, and endearing licks and romping make the early days with a new puppy a memorable and joyous experience. Bringing home a new addition to the family can come with its own set of challenges though. Many love their canine companions like children, but puppies are not children, they are dogs, and should be expected to behave as such. Puppy behavior can be adorable, but it can also be baffling and even vexing at times.

All puppy behaviors serve some purpose in canine communication. Whether it’s playfully nipping or growling, jumping up on people, or chewing and whining, everything your puppy does is something that its canine siblings and mother would understand and respond to appropriately. Unfortunately humans don’t always understand what these cues mean, or how to address them in a way that your puppy understands. Like children, puppies are curious and love to explore their environment, they’re also eager to learn how things work and anxious to please you and fit in as a member of the family ‘pack.’ They don’t realize that their troublesome behaviors are an annoyance to you. Gentle reinforcement, consistency, and Here’s a guide to understanding common puppy behaviors with some tips for curbing the undesirable ones.

What it is: Nipping/Biting

Why They Do It: A puppy’s nip is a very different thing from an aggressive bite. A dog’s mouth is a powerful sensory organ, almost like an extra hand, providing the puppy with all kinds of exciting information about the world around it. A puppy also plays with its siblings by nipping, it’s a great way to communicate and learn about the personality of your fellow pups. Some breeds are nippier than others but regardless of breed or size, it’s a trait that needs to be nipped in the bud. Small puppy teeth playfully grazing your skin may be one thing now, but can turn into a much bigger problem down the road with a bigger dog.

How To Control It: Puppies learn a lot from nipping by the reaction they get from those around them. A puppies litter mate with thick fur and skin will react very differently from a person with tender skin and no fur. The most important thing with any training method is to be consistent; every member of the family must use the same technique and use it every time. Some dogs will take more time and a sterner approach than others. Start out with a simple, but firm “No bite!” every time. If puppy starts to respond, continue with that every time. If not, use a sharp, high-pitched yelp, as if the nip really hurt you. Make sure that everyone uses the same sharp yelp. This way the puppy will understand that humans are not to be mouthed and nipped at, ever.

What it is: Chewing

Why They Do It: Just like with nipping, chewing offers a lot of sensory experience to the growing puppy. Chewing is a behavior that tends to peak during the teething phase at 16 weeks but can start earlier and last much longer. Puppies get a lot of satisfaction from chewing on something: it relieves stress, strengthens their growing jaw, alleviates teething pain, cleans their teeth, and just plain feels good. Stopping a puppy from chewing is impossible, the key here is to give them the right things to chew on so they don’t go after those expensive shoes or dining chairs.

How To Control It: Chewing can take a bit more work than other habits to break and control. Puppies feel a strong need to chew and don’t understand that to you there’s a big difference between a shoe and a rawhide bone. Therefore the most successful technique here is puppy proofing. The best way to puppy proof is to start with a small and easily closed off area (such as a kitchen or bathroom) or use a puppy gate to keep your dog confined to an area. Clear this area of dangerous items (like electrical cords or poisonous plants) and be sure to stock it with plenty of acceptable, chewable items like chew toys and rawhide bones.

What It Is: Crying/Whining/Excessive Barking

Why They Do It: Man’s best friend gets along with us so well because we’re both social animals. Your puppy needs to be around you all the time. If puppy has a sleeping place that is out of sight or smell of you, she might cry and whine incessantly all night long. When you leave for work, it might not bother you, but your neighbors may become tired of hearing your puppy whine and cry all day.

How To Control It: The good news is that most puppies will outgrow this annoying behavior with time as they develop confidence in being alone and come to learn that you always come back, but you can save your ears (and good relations with your neighbors) in the mean time with these few simple tricks. Leave something with your puppy that smells like you: an old sweatshirt that you don’t mind if it gets chewed up or some old socks work great. Leave some quiet and soothing music or the TV on to provide comforting background noise. There are even some channels today that cater to dogs with images of dogs playing and noises that puppies find soothing.

Bringing home a new puppy should be a joyous occasion, not a stressful time. Hopefully these tips will help smooth your beloved canine companion’s transition from playful and troublesome pet to model dog citizen and ideal housemate.