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Taming the Beast

Managing an aggressive dog is a permanent commitment but it is most definitely possible, says Diane Garrod

wning an aggressive dog creates immediate liability. It is critical to use prevention and management whether your dog is at home, in the car or out on a walk. Managing an aggressive dog should be taken very seriously. It means making a clear commitment which involves never putting him in a situation where he will aggress again. This sounds easier than it is to implement, nevertheless it is the key to change. Managing an aggressive dog includes: * changing the dog’s environment * providing exercise where aggression is not practiced * providing mental stimulation * training * giving the dog a job Dog gates are a useful tool for creating boundaries within the home

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It should also include getting behavioral help to desensitize and counter condition the dog to his triggers, but this article will focus on prevention and management. Managing an aggressive dog also means stopping all aversive punishment as aggression simply begets aggression. Positive reward-based methods should always be used to re-train the dog. There are many so-called categories of aggression, from territorial to resource guarding and fear-based aggression. Each has its own set of protocols to change the behavior. However, aggression can also be genetic or created by health issues. Mostly though, it is exhibited especially to humans - by a dog that is fearful and lacks self-confidence. Dogs tend to do what works and, if aggressive behavior has worked in the past, the dog will continue to aggress and the behavior often gets stronger and stronger.

Environment

The first step is to change the dog's environment and set clear rules and boundaries, which is part of the process. Take a good look at your dog's environment. What rules and boundaries have you created? Set up baby gates and create ‘no go’ areas in the house. Your dog should work his way into the household by showing he can follow the rules and boundaries you have set up. This is important in interactions with family members, just as it is with any visitors. You must educate your dog how to interact, teach him what is acceptable and help him learn that visitors are allowed to be there. Reward your dog for what he is doing right and do not take him past his threshold. This means that when a visitor arrives you must know what your dog's comfort level is with each individual person. Safety is the primary concern where people are involved. Manage the interacBARKS from the Guild/July 2014

Profile for The Pet Professional Guild

BARKS from the Guild Summer 2014  

Your BARKS summer edition. The quarterly publication from The Pet Professional Guild

BARKS from the Guild Summer 2014  

Your BARKS summer edition. The quarterly publication from The Pet Professional Guild