Stop Dog Aggression – Aggressive dogs – Canine Behaviour
If your dog is aggressive towards other dogs
or people it can be very worrying. Lottie
is a 5 year old chocolate Labrador. She’s
a very loving dog and great with children.
The only problem is she’s not very keen on
Lottie’s owner Helen got her when she was
just eight weeks old. Helen’s a widow so Lottie
hasn’t mixed with many men- and her aggression
is becoming a real problem. Dog Behaviour
Expert Jane Hanshaw has come along to offer
It sounds like when she’s doing the growling
she’s saying, ‘I am not comfortable with the
situation’.So really it’s up to you as the
owner to take control of it at that level
before it escalates to the bouncing and the
rearing and all of that. You have to take
control and give her some alternative strategy.
The first 16 weeks of a puppy”s life are
the most important part. It’s called the socialisation
period and it’s vital that you get your puppy
introduced to as many different types of people
as it’s ever going to meet, from tall me,
possibly wearing fluorescent jackets, to small
toddlers. If you don’t do that, then part
of your dog’s education is missing, and that
can lead to problems in later life.
Because Lottie hasn’t met many men in her
life she’s not confident around them. Her
way of dealing with this is to keep men away
– and it’s working. It’s time to see Lottie’s
behaviour in action
This is a perfect example of why Lottie feels
unsure about men. Her tail may be wagging
but in dogs this doesn’t necessarily mean
that they are happy to be approached. This
stranger is leaning over her and although
she is obviously not happy, he won’t take
no for an answer.
Jane wants Helen as the owner to take control
of the situation. For this exercise we’re
going to see how Lottie reacts to Steve a
fellow dog trainer.
If you see her, she’s glancing, she’s not
comfortable. That’s the first part. They eyes
are going, the ears are going, and then she
turns her head away, then she turns her body
away. So if you don’t take any notice of those,
Helen, then what happens is she has to start
that low growling, and that’s the next level
up, to actually turn her body and say, ”I’m
not very happy, I’m not very happy,” and
that just comes up and up and up and escalates
to the point that she feels she’s got to go
(bark) ‘I said I’m not very happy.’ By the
time she gets to that she’s given you lots
of body language before then.
Lots of dogs have been labelled as dominant,
but in actual fact what they are is fearful.
What’s vital if your dog’s behaving aggressively
is you find out just why it feels the need
to behave like that. You need to seek the
advice of a behaviour specialist who can unravel
the problem, find out what your dog is fearful
of and what’s keeping that behaviour going.
In Lottie’s case Jane’s going to give Helen
an alternative strategy so she knows how to
deal with her aggressive behaviour. Helen
will need to apply this strategy every time
a strange man approaches.
So the strategy we’re going to use is we’re
going to put her in a sit when a person comes
up, and then you’re going to just step between
the person and the dog, so that you’re just
taking control of the situation. Sit. And
she can have a little treat for that. So you
take control, you say, ‘stay there, sit,”
and just step in front.
Alright, so let’s walk round there. You can
just meet but then stop when Helen tells you.
Right, so setting off, you’re aware of your
dog, you see a man. Now what are you thinking?
I’m thinking I’m watching Lottie to see which
reaction she’s got. Right, could you just
wait there. Lottie, sit. Sit, Lottie.
Lovely. Right, so you’re just going to block
a little bit and you’re going to give her
something to do. Now, at that distance you
can have a conversation but you’re in charge
of your dog.
Okay. And look how relaxed she’s got, because
you’ve taken control of it. So that’s much,
much more comfortable from her point of view.
So the aim is, after all this training she
knows exactly what to do, she sees a stranger
approaching, she sits behind you, she gets
a treat and you keep her safe.
If you keep that strategy on for quite a few
weeks, what’ll happen is it’ll become automatic.
Less aggressive outbursts, more this is what
With Lottie ‘ Helen should now have a strategy
to cope with her nervous aggression. However
it’s important that she is consistent and
rewards Lottie for calm behaviour around strangers.
Equally she must not allow strangers, even
well meaning ones to invade Lottie’s space.
When you’re socialising your puppy it’s very
important to make it a positive experience.
Your puppy needs to enjoy meeting all the
different types of people, so don’t let them
prod them or poke them. Rather get them to
tickle them under the chin. Likewise, when
you’re introducing them to adult dogs, make
sure that that adult dog is friendly as well
as vaccinated, and therefore your puppy’s
not going to learnt to become fearful of other