There are many solutions and several roads to follow.
When solving aggressive behaviour your first step is to assess the risk. Once the risk is clear, then you need to implement the solutions that will reduce the risk as your first priority.
But it’s also important that you determine the underlying reason for the aggression.
Not all aggressive behaviours are equal and the more accurately you determine the reason “Why is it so?” the better your solution will be.
So the three-step process you should follow is:-
When solving aggressive behaviour your first step is to assess the risk of the behaviour and once the risk is clear, then you need to implement the solutions that will reduce the risk as your first priority.
The risk of aggression that occurs when walking your dog or dogs on the street depends on the severity of the aggression, if injuries are occurring when the dogs fight and very importantly, if people are ‘offended’ by your dog’s reaction to their dogs or are threatening Council or legal action.
The risk of aggression that occurs when your dogs meet others includes:-
That’s not an easy question to answer on a website but we will try.
Firstly, it’s likely some well-meaning folk are telling you that one dog is just ‘being dominant’ over the other.
You need to discard any thoughts of dominance. It’s a non-scientific and simplistic view of domestic pet dogs and their interactions with each other and with us humans.
The most common causes of aggression your dogs shows to others met are:-
There are certainly other causes of inter-dog aggression and sometimes there is more than one cause.
Following is a useful key you can use to ensure you examine all aspects of your pet’s behaviour and the information below is gathered under the headings of this key.
Many medical conditions can make aggression worse.
For instance, pain-related aggression is a very common cause of aggression between dogs. A common scenario is where one dog is a bouncy young dog attempting to rise through the ranks. This dog may bounce at or tease a senior-age dog with, for instance, arthritis. The young dog hurts the older dog who responds by snapping – just like you would if you were suddenly hurt. The young dog sees that as a challenge and responds aggressively causing more pain to the older dog who in turn responds with more aggression. That creates a cascade of aggression which can be catastrophic.
So, if your dog is aged, simple things like arthritis can make aggression worse due to the pain of that condition.
Other pain-inducing conditions such as itchy skin and ear infections can make a pet ‘cranky’.
Now here’s a job for you. If you are intending to ask the team at Cam Day Consulting to assist with the solution, or are being referred by your own veterinarian, we prefer pets to have a health check and MBA blood test done before your consultation with us.
Ideally a thyroid function test is also useful especially if you feel the aggression is ‘abnormal’.
Please ask your vet to complete those tasks before attending your referral.
Teaching a dog to stop being aggressive to another dog is a complex matter.
Firstly consider this question:-
For a start, when they are immersed in the ’emotion of the moment’, they cannot learn to be non-aggressive .
That means, when your dog is lunging, growling and barking at a dog when you are out and about, no amount of yelling, screaming or hitting will prevent them being aggressive next time. Dogs don’t learn like that. It won’t work.
Also, punishing your dog or dogs AFTER THE EVENT is a total waste of time.
It is usually not helpful to concentrate on punishing the aggression because in most cases that makes the aggression worse, especially as so many aggressive dogs are anxious anyway and punishment makes them more anxious.
So, solving aggression is best done in incremental steps that are successfully achieved ‘before’ the dogs are aggressive.
The Leave Routine is like a speed-teaching system that’s created from reward-based cognitive therapies. It simple terms, it’s a fun-based game play routine where your dog learns that the human English word ‘leave’ means the dog-lish action of ‘don’t bite’. But there’s nothing magical about the word LEAVE unless you know how to use that to reward a targeted and defined outcome behaviour.
That’s way too detailed to be shared here so follow the links in the paragraph before.
Considering that your dog is aggressive to other dogs you meet, then you should also refer to this very important sheet Dreaded Walkies as it talks specifically about processes you can use to solve aggression while walking.
In that sheet you will read about the U Turn Technique and another precise process called the Perpendicular Pooch Routine.
You will find more details on the links above and from our team if you need to consult with us.
However, sometimes with aggression, teaching dogs to be non-aggressive is very difficult and extremely risky and particularly so because you don’t know how other dogs will respond to your dog when you are out and about.
If your dog’s problem is serious, we advise you to seek professional help from our team at Cam Day Consulting.
Management of a behaviour refers to those things you may do that won’t solve the underlying ’emotion’ that causes the problem but stops the problem from occurring usually by AVOIDING it.
This article talks about managing aggression in detail.
To give an example, with inter-dog aggression, management often means keeping your dog away from other dogs that you would normally meet on the street.
There are many ways of doing that but they include:-
That’s complex and you should contact us for more information on the advantages and disadvantages of that.
If your dog barks excessively at dogs that pass by your home, you may need better fences to stop your dog seeing passing dogs.
Sometimes an usual device called a calming cap is useful but caution is needed as to when and how they should be used.
Some aggressive dogs cannot be calmed by training alone and need other ‘agents’ to reduce their anxiety.
For low-level cases of anxiety that cause aggression the homeopathic preparation Homeopet anxiety relief may be beneficial.
Pheromones such as the Adaptil Spray can be useful for aggression on the street.
You will need to apply the Adaptil Spray to a bandana you place on your dog’s neck at least 15 minutes before you leave. If it works for your dog, the effect will last for about 1 – 2 hours.
While they are not always needed, for the right problem they can literally be life-saving.
Medications used for pet behavioural disorders are true mood-modifying medications and, when used correctly, should have minimal to no side effects.
However, all medications are prescription-only preparations and you will need to see your veterinarian or the vets at Cam Day Consulting for the supply of medications. Click here more information on medications for pet behavioural problems.
So, solving aggression between dogs that you meet while walking involves the following: