Aggressive dog: understanding it all
What is an aggressive dog?
The behaviour of an aggressive dog is characterized by hostility, abruptness, a tendency to oppose and a readiness to attack. Aggression often occurs under frustration or pressure and can manifest itself with behaviours directed towards the dog or others.
The dog is not naturally aggressive. He is rather the opposite, naturally social. A dog learns to live in a pack, to defend himself and protect his own while respecting a certain hierarchy in order to avoid interminable struggles that could put all species in danger.
A canine is therefore basically a social animal. Dogs, like wolves, live in packs within an established social structure where anarchy is not allowed. The animal structure has generals as well as soldiers, commanders and subordinates.
Unfortunately, this completely natural behavior is often distorted by human beings. By selecting and sometimes destroying this part of the dog's education to exacerbate as much as possible the antagonism between subjects, often males, man thus pushes some specimens to fight to death because of the alteration of their ancestral genes.
Intense and continuous aggressiveness of dogs is unfortunately not the work of nature but of man.
Potential causes of aggressiveness
Certain situations can push the dog to protect and defend himself, his family, or to be ready for any eventuality, having sensed a potential danger.
An intense and rather sudden pain can make a dog more aggressive, for example in the case of an arthritis attack, an injury, being stepped on the tail, having his ears pulled, etc.
The male naturally pushes other males aside when he wants to reproduce. The strongest specimen that usually has the best genetic potential is the one that ensures the perpetuity of the species by winning the battles for determining the breeding male of the group.
An unneutered male is sometimes aggressive when a female in his entourage is in “heat” and he cannot reach her.
Naturally, the mother must defend her litter as long as the puppies are not autonomous. She defends them towards and against all. This includes the father of the litter, other dogs, other animals and sometimes even humans when necessary.
In nature, the pack defends his environment by barking, growling, fighting and marking the space with urine. The domesticated dog may do the same to protect his living space.
A dog that has lived in isolation most of the time without any contact with other dogs or humans will be very scared as soon as he is approached. If he can't run away, he may definitely attack, as his fear is too intense.
The master who does not impose himself as leader of the pack with his dog will allow him to eventually refuse submission. What will probably happen the day the master upsets him is that his dog will oppose him in order to establish himself as the leader of the house and then do as he pleases.
Proper training must be done for each individual specimen. A perfectly balanced and well-trained dog generally responds to commands without opposing them. If the rules of training are not applied and the dog is poorly trained, the dog may react quite differently to a command.
Stress or tension in the environment
When the master is stressed, the dog feels it. When the owner does not like someone or something, the dog feels it too. Both humans and pets give away certain signs that can alert the dog and put him in protection mode to be prepared for any eventuality.
Breeds mainly affected
Despite popular belief and all the aggressive dogs seen in the movies, like the Doberman or the Rottweiler, these dog breeds are no more aggressive than others when treated and trained properly.
No dog is born naturally aggressive. Unfortunately, they often become due to people's lack of understanding of how to handle them.
In reality, a Chihuahua, Great Dane, Mastiff, Yorkshire Terrier or Maltese can become aggressive dogs. None of these dogs are born with aggressiveness but all of them, without exception, can develop it.
A very small dog can become as aggressive as a large one. The only difference is that the damage is usually bigger in the presence of a very large dog because of his greater physical capacity.
All dog breeds can therefore become aggressive if humans do not respect their different nature.
How to prevent aggressiveness in dogs?
Since aggressiveness is a spontaneous and disproportionate reaction, it is often the case that the dog has not yet learned to control himself and attacks out of fear when there is no real danger to him.
Certain notions and decisions are essential to establish communication between man and dog in order to reduce and prevent the risk of aggressiveness in the dog once adult.
Socializing your dog
This is probably the most important part of dog training. It is socialization that determines the dog's relationship with his environment, allowing him to adapt or not to different situations that arise throughout his life.
Generally, puppy training can begin after the mother weaned the puppy. Since the puppies are often at the breeder's home at this time, the responsibility is first and foremost his. Already at this age, a puppy must be prepared for the role he will have to play during his life.
From this age, the puppy's entire life will be marked by his experiences. It is therefore very important that all the young dog's encounters and discoveries are pleasant and totally safe.
Socialization exercises must always be supervised and repeated many times.
Supervision of the exercises must be adequate to ensure that the dog does not have any adverse experiences that could harm him in the long term as an adult.
Successful puppy socialization requires exposure to many different elements and environments, such as:
- Car rides
- Walks in urban parks
- Strolls through the streets of the city
- Walks in the forest
- Running around lakes
- Visiting festivals
- Standing next to crowds of humans
The more varied the puppy's socialization is, the less fearful the dog will become as an adult, having already been around a lot of people and experienced different situations. For a dog that has to live with a family, the requirements are less demanding than for a guide dog or other type of working dog.
Without hierarchy, the survival of the canine species would be greatly threatened. It ensures his survival as a wild but as well as a domestic animal.
In the wild, the dog will not be able to live in a pack if he is not submissive. As a domestic dog, there is a good chance that the owner will not put up for very long with a dog who does what he wants.
In order to be balanced and live happily with the family, the dog must have his rightful place. His place among humans is one of a dominated member since the human must absolutely be the dominant figure in the family hierarchy in front of the dog.
If the master is not dominant, the dog will then try to establish himself as leader of the pack by dominating his master. A non defined hierarchy causes imbalance in the dog, easily leading to conflict and aggression.
The dominant attitude is very peculiar.
- Bust forward
- Standing up straight (giving the impression of wanting to grow)
- Watching the dog on the rump
- Never bend over when giving an order
The dog, despite his domestication, has hardly changed since his origins. Humans tend to dust the dog's education with human feelings and sometimes even use physical force in order to assert their authority over their dog.
This way of doing things is totally beyond the dog's life codes and can lead him to defiance rather than submission which can cause threatening and aggressive behaviour from the dog even towards his own master.
It is important that the hierarchy is clear and well established in a calm, appropriate and totally respectful manner for the dog. Too much leeway is totally destabilizing. The master's ability must be obvious as leader of the pack, otherwise the dog will continually challenge him.
Obviously, this option is not easily feasible for a breeder. However, for a family dog, the option of sterilization should be seriously considered in order to eliminate as much risk as possible of the dog developing some form of aggression.
An unneutered male dog can generally become aggressive more easily than a castrated one. An unspayed female will feed the sexual appetite of the males in her environment which can create situations where aggressiveness can easily set it.
Whether male or female, sterilization of the family dog is always preferable to avoid certain situations and even prevent the dog from developing certain diseases often caused by hormones in the absence of sterilization.
To educate the dog means to totally dominate him in order to set the markers governing his life on a daily basis. The family dog depends on his master all his life and never becomes autonomous like a human.
A dog is a predator that man must dominate if they want to live together in harmony. However, dominating your dog does not mean abusing him. The domination of the dog by humans must therefore be done within the rules of canine hierarchy, which favours total respect on both sides.
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