If you search the internet you will see there are three theories in dealing with aggressive behavior; all positive, a lot of corrections or a balance between the two. I feel I have some insight in aggression because I was a police canine trainer for a department with 4 K9’s for over 21 years. We did not control the dogs by offering them treats. Treats are great for teaching and introducing basic behavior or tricks. I use treats all the time, but when the dog is distracted, treats mean nothing to the dog.
I have seen people with aggression issues come to me with gentle leaders on their dogs. Gentle leaders don’t stop the dog from acting out. Gentle leaders merely turn the dog’s face away from the distraction and since there are no consequences for the dog, it turns into a tugging match. It’s the same for the flat nylon collars or harnesses which encourage the dog to pull towards the distraction. For those of you not familiar with training protection dogs, we use tension on the leash, (the dogs pulling) to build drive and aggression. So when your dog is lunging on the leash, barking, and dragging you, you are inadvertently building your dog’s drive and aggression.
If you are a weak handler with a strong dominant dog you will have issues. If you have a dominant, large, powerful dog, and you are weak, believe me your dog knows that and will take advantage of you. When I mention a weak handler or owner, I am not referring to strength. Weakness is about attitude. For example do you ask your dog to sit or tell them to sit? A strong handler tells there dog to sit. If you ask your dog to sit 4 times before they sit, you are a weak handler/owner.
The other extreme of dog aggression modification is correct the dog with a lot of force every time he/she shows aggression. The problem with compulsion training is that you will see it in the dog. The dog’s confidence will diminish. He will cower and become depressed. Some dogs will attack you if they feel you are being too rough on them. I see these dogs too.
I have seen compulsion trained dogs come to my facility. Usually the owners are concerned due to the nervousness of their once confident dog. The owner paid someone for help and now their dog shakes and paces when they see a dog. The owner wanted their dog under control but not a nervous wreck. Usually in a couple of lessons I can build the dog and owner’s confidence back up. It’s all about balance and proper training techniques.
The trick to aggression is to interrupt the behavior before the dog is lunging and barking. Next, give the dog something to do; come, heel, place, look. Dog’s don’t multi-task. Aggression does not go away overnight, it takes time. It’s all about taking baby steps.
My expertise is training with remote collars. We first condition the dog using the collar at very low levels of stimulation. The levels we use are usually lower than underground fence systems, no bark collar, abdominal energizers and muscle stimulation machines. Once the dog understands the collar we teach basic commands; follow me, sit, down, place. As the dog learns we introduce distractions. The ultimate distraction is dog or human whatever the dog feels they need to bark and lunge at. We don’t make dogs like other dogs or people we teach control. In some instances we recommend a muzzle. We want to save dogs. With a muzzle, if the dog cannot bite, they will live. Muzzle paired with control is a sure way of keeping your dog and preventing a visit from Animal Control.
Can I help all dog aggression cases? No. Sometimes I recommend the dog be euthanized. After recommending euthanizing a dog I follow up with, “What did you veterinarian suggest?” Every time they also said the vet recommended the dog be euthanized. I do have veterinarians refer dog cases to me. Usually I can help people get better control of their dogs.
So, whether you have aggression issues or just a dog that doesn’t listen so well, we can help.