Curbing Your Canine's Dominance Aggression

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Dogs are pack animals by nature. They are most comfortable when they know their place within the hierarchy of their pack. Occasionally, they'll become assertive to establish their place if there is any question regarding their authority. This dynamic sometimes occurs within their owner's home, which is a sign of dominance aggression.

Below, we'll take a closer look at this potentially dangerous behavioral problem so you'll have a better understanding regarding how to address it. You'll learn the ways in which dominance aggression emerges in canines and why it's important to begin modifying the behavior as soon as possible. We'll also provide tips that will help you curb your dog's aggression while reinforcing an appropriate response to you and others.

How Aggressive Behavior Manifests

It's important to further define this particular type of aggressive behavior. Many canines are merely showing they are strong-willed when they object to their owners' commands. Others may respond aggressively when attacked or threatened. These responses are rarely, if ever, signs of dominance aggression.

Dogs that display dominantly aggressive behavior do so in order to exert control over any given situation. For example, if reprimanded by their owners, they might react by barking and growling at that person. If someone is sitting in their preferred space, they might react in a similar manner.

The problem often begins sporadically and happens infrequently. This leads owners to mistakenly believe the issue is isolated and thus, not worth addressing. Over time, however, the problem grows as the canine attempts to exert increasing levels of control and authority over his owner, family, and other people. The behavior can eventually become dangerous.

Begin Behavioral Modification As Early As Possible

If your pooch responds aggressively to you or other people, it is important that you begin working to curb the behavior as soon as possible. The more time that passes, the more confident your dog will become in trying to exert dominance over others. Oftentimes, owners will dismiss the problem, hoping their canines are simply going through a phase that will be outgrown. This rarely happens. Instead, such dogs become increasingly confrontational.

By starting behavioral modification training early, you can address the issue before your pooch bites you or someone else. You will be less fearful of your dog and better able to shape his behavior.

Provide More Opportunities For Exercise

While physical activity alone is unlikely to eliminate dominance aggression, it's worth noting that canines that receive ample exercise rarely display aggressive tendencies. A lot of professional trainers and veterinarians suggest dogs should receive up to two hours of vigorous exercise each day.

Most owners are unable to meet this goal due to time constraints throughout the week. But try to at least take your pooch for a brisk walk each morning and evening. This will help him expend some of his pent up energy. A tired canine is less likely to exert his dominance.

A Few Last Suggestions

First, if there is any danger that your dog might react violently (to you or anyone else), hire a professional behavioral specialist to help curb his dominance aggression. Avoid taking unnecessary risks.

Second, if your canine has reacted aggressively in the past to specific actions, avoid doing them. For example, don't pet him while he's eating his meals; don't hug him without warning; don't stare directly into his eyes.

Third, make your dog earn anything you give to him with a display of compliance. This compliance might include sitting or merely remaining calm. When you make him earn something he wants, it communicates that you're the pack leader.

Canine dominance aggression seldom resolves itself. As an owner, you'll need to take an active hand in either curbing the problem on your own or hiring a professional for help. The benefit is that you'll help your pooch learn his place under your authority so he'll be a more loyal and loving companion.
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