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Understand that given the right circumstances, any dog can be aggressive. For instance, a dog that is chained or tethered can become aggressive, because of a dog’s natural “flee or flight” instincts. A dog that is not spayed or neutered can also have aggressive tendencies.

Because dog aggression is so dangerous it’s important that dog owners seek the help of a professional dog trainer. Aggression can be dangerous – whether it’s aimed at you, other dogs or guests visiting your home.

Bark Busters is often called in by veterinarians and even other trainers to deal with dog aggression, because many training systems aren’t designed to overcome this behavior. Fortunately for Bark Busters, our training methods can help dog owners STOP aggression, in addition to other challenging behaviors such as separation anxiety, incessant barking, sibling rivalry, etc.

Aggression is one of the key reasons dogs are abandoned to shelters. Most shelters will not release a dog for adoption that displays aggression, so its future usually involves euthanasia. That’s why it’s so important for dog owners to try everything they can to improve and manage the situation before a dog is considered for surrendering.

Many dog owners are fearful their dog’s aggression can’t be curbed. Don’t despair … this is a  myth!

Types of aggression

There are many different forms of aggression in dogs. Dogs can be aggressive towards:

  • Food
  • Humans
  • Possessions
  • Predators
  • Other Dogs
  • You

Dogs are often fearful of:

  • Abuse or pinning
  • Being left alone
  • Cats
  • Change
  • Children
  • Fireworks
  • Going up and down stairs
  • Loud noises
  • Riding in the car
  • Strangers
  • Thunder
  • Veterinarians

Fear-Based Aggression
If medical conditions are ruled out, the root of most dog aggression lies in fear. Dogs fear pain, other dogs and even you!

Here are some signs that your dog could be fearful:

  • Staring
  • Panting
  • Barking, snarling, growling
  • Ears pinned to head standing straight up
  • Fur on back raised
  • Tail high moving back and forth stiffly (a wagging tail does not always mean a happy dog)

Fearful dogs will often “snap and retreat” because they’re trying to get the thing, person, or dog away rather than trying to inflict damage. Too often fear aggression occurs on the dog’s home turf when the dog doesn’t have the option to leave.

Does your dog feel like he has to protect you, your home and your turf? His aggression might stem from his need to keep you safe, feeling permanently on edge, adrenalized and always on alert. If dogs rest on the couch all day, bark at outside noises or anything passing by the window, and charge the door when visitors come, it’s a sign they feel they must be the “head of security. Bark Busters will show you how to be the “pack leader”.  Once your dog no longer has to feel in control, much of his fear will go away.

Puppies are not born aggressive. Don’t confuse mouthing or play biting with aggression. Some normal social behaviors can look aggressive (some growling, biting, jumping, and barking) when they are not. It’s important to socialize your dog right from the start, exposing him to new people, sights and things.

Dogs should be taught to walk calmly by your side – not in front. An adrenalized dog should not be out in front making the decisions.  Even when your dog is on a leash, he needs to know you are the “top dog”, protecting him from other dogs or harm.

Nutrition can affect dog aggression. Some dog foods contain high levels of carbohydrates and preservatives which can cause a dog to be over adrenalized.

The worst thing you can do with a fear-based dog is to use punishment-based techniques that can make the situation worse. Bark Busters only uses positive training techniques, based on the way dogs naturally communicate.

Can Aggression Be Overcome?
Although there is no magic wand for dogs when it comes to aggression, with patience and perseverance, you can overcome 99.9% of fearful behaviors. The good news is that all dogs are trainable and if you have an aggressive dog, there is always a way to train and manage the dog successfully.

A few last words of advice. If you think your dog is aggressive, do not run a “test” at the dog park where there are too many uncontrollable factors particularly if you don’t know the other dogs. Aggressive dogs can hurt innocent bystanders or other dogs and could cause a lawsuit. Instead, call in a professional dog trainer to test and address any aggressive behaviors.

Whatever you do, call me – Harvey Kaplan — before you think about surrendering your due to aggression.

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