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Aggressive Behavior: Treat the Cause

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Yikes

Aggressive behaviors like growling, lunging, and snapping are serious warning signs that owners should heed.  In many situations, this behavior is a symptom of an underlying aggression issue.  Growling is just one of the warnings that dogs present to indicate something is very wrong.

There are oh so many causes of aggression: fear, territoriality, lack of socialization, pain, and more.  Owners of dogs showing aggressive behavior should consult a Certified Professional Dog Trainer to analyze the underlying cause(s).

Never try to surpress a behavior with aversives.  I have read tragic stories about owners that have hit their dogs to surpress growling; only to later receive a bite.  One owner spent a lifetime leading his dog places by pulling on the collar.  While this was not uncomfortable when the dog was young, as the dog got into its senior years, this type of handling became painful.  When the owner grabbed the dog’s collar in the dog’s older years, the dog began growling at the owner.  The owner responded by hitting the dog.  The dog stopped growling until one day the owner grabbed the dog’s collar and the dog inflicted a bite that punctured the skin. Unfortunately, the underlying cause was only discovered during a behavior interview with the owner after the dog had been euthanized.

I like to use the analogy of my really horrifically annoying boat engine alarm.  The alarm indicates that the engine is overheating.  To ease my nerves, it would be really easy to disconnect the alarm.  Sadly, that is not going to prevent the engine from overheating.  Similarly, surpressing a dog’s growling is not going to make him feel warm and fuzzy towards strangers.

If your dog is exhibiting agressive behaviors, your dog is telling you something is wrong.  Don’t supress the message.  Find the underlying cause and work with a behaviorist to resolve the problem, not the symptom.

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Written by dawnhanna

March 9, 2011 at 9:50 am

Posted in Dog Training

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