5 Kinds of Dog Aggression: #GetTough on Dog Fighting

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April 8th is DOG FIGHTING AWARENESS DAY, and I’ve written about this before. It’s a good time to review the 5 common kinds of dog aggression and what to do. According to the ASPCA, dog fighting happens all over the country and in all kinds of communities–rich, poor, middle class, it doesn’t matter, it’s there festering just beneath the surface. When fight rings are located, cases are built, offenders are prosecuted, and abuse survivors find loving homes.

Patrick Stewart lends his voice to the cause, seeking to help the ASPCA educate as many folks as possible about this cruel sport. Yep, can you believe it? it’s considered a SPORT by fight proponents. #GetTough on Dog Fighting campaign offers free information and ways for all animal lovers to get involved.

DOG FIGHTS AFFECT ALL PETS & PEOPLE

Hey, dog fighting isn’t just about one breed. It impacts ALL dog owners–and cat lovers, too, because dogs are trained to fight by “practicing” on other animal victims.

http://shojai.com/genre/thriller/Spectators even bring kids to the fights to introduce them to the sport. *wiping eyes* The thought makes me weep with anger. That’s why my 3rd pet-centric thriller SHOW AND TELL shines a light on this dirty practice (and for once, the bad guys get appropriate justice!).

While breed bans might suggest that “dog aggressive breeds” are at the heart of this issue, let’s get real here. All dogs, even the one snoozing on your lap, may from time to time act in an aggressive manner. The fight industry exploits and perverts canine behavior for its own ends. Still, it’s important for all dog lovers and even those who do NOT have dogs, to understand what’s going on with “aggression.”

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5 Kinds of Dog Aggression

Here’s the deal. Aggression is a NORMAL part of being a dog, and while dog-on-dog aggression is more prevalent in some breeds, ALL dogs have the potential to fight and bite. Aggression can arise out of pain or health issues. Growly dogs believe they have a good reason to aggress (they often do!) whether owners agree or not.

Aggression can be complicated and require professional help, but here’s how to recognize 5 common types and learn how to keep the peace.

dogs playingPlay Aggression looks scary but dogs tell each other it’s just pretend by using gestures like the play bow (butt up, front down). Puppies learn to inhibit bites when they play with other dogs, and owners also can teach limits.

If the mouthing hurts, YELP like another puppy. Whimper and say, “You hurt me.” Immediately after you yelp, give the dog a 10-minute time out—no mouthing allowed—to teach him that hard bites make the fun stop.

Predatory Aggression includes stalking, chasing, catching and biting like in play, but predatory dogs won’t play bow—they’re deadly serious. Joggers, bicyclist, and moving cars and cries of young children, babies and smaller pets can trigger prey drive.

Predatory behavior may go away as the youngster grows up, but keep targets safe with strict supervision. Identify triggers (like joggers) and avoid them. Teach dogs to control natural impulses with obedience drills. A “happy” word the dog can’t resist (ball, cookie, ride) can often change the dog’s attitude and interrupts the behavior.

FearChihuahua_1541404_originalFear Aggression results when a dog can’t escape a scary situation. Caged, chained or cornered dogs often bite out of fear. Snarls, growls or bites make the scary “thing” go away, which rewards the dog so she’ll repeat the behavior. Reaching for the scared dog’s collar almost always prompts a bite, because a hand descending toward the head looks threatening.

Avoid petting on the top of the head. Instead, pet the dog’s sides or chest. Don’t stare, which can intensify intimidation. Play builds confidence, so teach “fetch” while avoiding tug-games that can encourage fear biting behavior. Use pheromone therapy such as Comfort Zone with DAP to help calm fears.

Territorial aggression typically involves herding and protection breeds. Dogs bark, lunge and growl at the fence or doorway, and are rewarded when the mailman, new dog, or your fiancé goes away. Conspire with visitors so the outcome changes.

Have the mailman toss treats to the dog, but without making eye contact or saying anything. Once the dog quiets to munch the treat, the mailman can say, “Good Rex!” and walk away. He should NOT walk away as long as the dog barks and lunges. If Rex ignores the treat and continues to bark and lunge, then YOU call the dog and reward him with a treat or toy for coming. The mailman leaves as the dog retreats—so essentially neither won.

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Learn what to DO about dog-to-dog aggression here!

Guarding Food, Toys, Furniture are all part of dominance aggression. These dogs often object to being restrained—as for nail trims—and the aggression can gets worse with punishment or confrontation. They’re often young intact male dogs who want to call the shots with people, but then tremble or seem to act “remorseful” afterwards. An argument over toys or mealtime that prompts a first instinctive snarl teaches the dog that aggression keeps others a safe distance from important resources.

Dominance aggression can be complicated and dangerous to solve and usually requires a professional. Neutering the dog and managing resources can help. If the dog protects toys, remove them so he has nothing to guard. Require the dog to “earn” privileges by paying with good behavior. For instance, ask him to “sit” (he sits), which earns him what he wants (attention/food bowl/open door/verbal praise). He should get NOTHING unless he earns it by responding in a positive way to your command.

Are dog fights a problem in your community? Have you ever had an issue with aggression in your dogs or in a dog that belongs to someone else? How did you handle it?

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Comments

5 Kinds of Dog Aggression: #GetTough on Dog Fighting — 25 Comments

  1. It’s important to make these distinctions. I am the marketing director for a dog boarding facility and although I work from home, I still went through all of the training about how to differentiate between types of aggression. It’s proven to be helpful even at the dog park!

  2. Ugh my daughter is having to work on this so often with their 2 dogs. It doesn’t happen often that the 2 break out in a real fight but when they do it is so scary! I’ll forward this to her.

  3. It is very interesting to learn about the different types of aggression in dogs. They are similar to the ones in cats. I think it is important that pet owners become aware of these and learn to tell the difference so they can properly communicate with their pets.

  4. This is a great post – valuable information. Henry and Reese (and Ricky) change roles regularly and we joke about who is king or queen of the castle. Joking aside, this is a serious matter. Thanks for sharing!

    • Hi Sadie, well adjusted pets DO change roles, especially in play. Often the one “in charge” will take the subordinate role during play to entice others to engage in the game. Then once it’s over, the established roles resume.

  5. When I was walking to school one morning in the 1980s, a man and his dog came out of the house. While he was locking the door, the dog jumped up to say hi to me and scratched me. Which kind of aggression would you consider that, or is it just a case of a dog forgetting he’s not a cat (and as such cannot put his claws away)?

    • Actually, based on your description (jumping up to say “hi”) I would consider that a submissive signal. *s* Dogs show their deference to other dogs and to people by aiming licking at the face/mouth/eye area, and so often jump up to reach us. People get aggravated, yell, etc which tells the dog, “Oh, I need to be even MORE submissive, I’ll jump up even more!…” *s*

      Dogs can be taught to greet/show deference in other ways but they do need to be taught. Great question!

  6. Pingback: Observing Your Dog’s Behavior | Jack The Dog Trainer

  7. Yes, mostly these kind of aggression are seeing in dog fight and that is dangerous also. However, with proper training, we can reduce it. Pet trainers are teaching them how to behave and visit with new ones.

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