March 10, 2010
Aggression is a dangerous behavior that can affect the safety of pets and people in the household. This problem should be addressed immediately and any trigger situations should be avoided at all cost. For instance, if your dog shows aggression to other dogs then walk in less-populated areas and avoid dog parks. My dog doesn’t really like other dogs, so I always keep a head-collar on her when I am walking her down the street. This makes it really easy to control her head and keep her walking forward even if another dog runs up to her. Never use retractable leashes with aggressive dogs, they just don’t provide the kind of control you need.
If your pet is sometimes aggressive to family members, the same principal of avoiding the trigger holds true. This is vital to the safety of the human family members and no aggressive dog should ever be allowed around children! Avoid disturbing the pet when it is asleep or eating. Lots of pets are aggressive when on “their” couch. Therefore, it is best not to allow aggressive animals on human furniture. They should have small dog or cat “furniture” of their own that is not shared with humans. Keeping a leash on such a dog when you are home might allow you to pull him or her away from a potential conflict without you getting near his or her jaws. When human safety is involved, it is imperative that conflicts be avoided until you are working with a highly experienced dog trainer. If this is not possible, then the pet may need to be housed elsewhere until his behavior is modified and keep in mind that no aggressive behavior is ever 100% controlled.
Some dogs are quite aggressive toward visitors. These dogs must be safely confined to a locked crate or special room before guests are allowed into the home. It is best to do this long before an expected guest arrives. If you cannot do this, it is a good idea to keep a leash by the door so you can immediately leash up the dog and move him to his secure area if the doorbell rings. He should be rewarded for going to his confinement and you should practice this several times a day whether you have visitors or not so that the dog is used to and may even like his confinement.
Pets who fight with each other must be separated or supervised at all times. They must be fed separately, toys must be used separately and once again, leashes can be used to help you intervene if necessary. Never try to separate fighting pets with your hands or feet. You will inevitably get bitten or scratched. There are techniques to help you teach your pets how to get along and experienced trainers are very good at this. However, if one of the fighting pets is much larger than the other, you could have a deadly situation on your hands and you must consider this before you commit to having both pets under one roof.
Once an aggressive dog, always an aggressive dog. This is a good policy for you to have if you are caring for biter. You are totally liable and will forever feel guilty if any injuries occur under your roof. The biggest mistake that I see people make is that they don’t admit that their dog is mean. Dogs are dogs and it is OK and imperative that you admit what your dog is like so that you can control his environment to keep everyone safe.