coaching for dog owners

Helping humans be their best for their dogs

You’re Having an Issue With  Aggression

You have finally come to the realization that you have a problem with your dog’s aggression.  When taking a walk becomes an exercise of planning and physical restraint, it’s time to seek help.  Dealing with your dog’s dog aggression is something that is not to be taken lightly and will require an experienced hand to assist.

Not everybody is dealing with a dog that has “dog aggression”, and some have dogs that show aggression at humans.  In some extreme cases, aggression is directed at the owners themselves.

Regardless of the target of the dog’s aggression, the consequences of leaving it unaddressed are never good.

Now what?

Where do you go?

Help Is Out There, Everywhere Apparently

The internet seems to be the first stop for most folks when they are seeking information.  I am not sure if that is a good thing anymore though.

With the amount of information on the internet it is very easy to get overwhelmed.  Using a search engine properly and efficiently has become a skill, and even an art form in some cases.  Making it all the more difficult, is the presence of limitless “experts”.

Putting a post on Facebook asking for help with aggression is about as dangerous as the aggression itself.  We are talking about something where the consequences for failure could result in severe injury of a human or animal.  In the cases of small children and other pets, the outcome could be even worse.

I have seen some very disturbing advise given in response to questions regarding aggression.  The wrong advise in a situation like this could be disastrous.  The margin for error in this type of a situation is not very big at all.

What qualifies somebody to give advise on social media?

A keyboard.

Seek Professional Help

When presented with a situation where somebody has a dog that is demonstrating potentially dangerous aggression my response is clear and simple.  Seeking professional, in person, face to face, assistance is the only responsible thing to say.

There is nothing I can say that I would feel even remotely comfortable prescribing via the internet without having seen the dog or the owners in person.  While giving advise and instruction on how to re-establish a healthy bond and relationship with your dog is easily described in a post or blo

Aggression needs to be dealt with by a trained professional

g article, how to proceed when a dog becomes aggressive is a different situation.

Finding the RIGHT Trainer

Just because somebody has a business card and a magnet on the side of their car doesn’t make them qualified in dealing with aggression.

Just like some personal trainers specialize in powerlifting while others are experienced at cutting to single digit bodyfat percentages, dog trainers are similar in some ways.  A trainer might be gifted at teaching dogs to be agility wizards and working with their owners at developing those abilities.  That does not mean they can come into your home and properly diagnose the source of your dog’s aggression and move forward to finding the right solution.  Is this ideal? No, however that is simply the reality we currently have.

When seeking a trainer, the first question to ask is if they are familiar with purely positive training.  If they get excited when you ask so they can inform you that’s how they deal with aggression, politely say thank you and move on.

Right now in western culture there is a huge movement to do things that make people “feel” good, regardless of whether that’s the right thing to do or if it will provide results.  While there have been huge strides made in dog training and the utilization in using the power of positive reinforcement to teach our dogs how to do what we WANT them to do, this is increasingly misapplied as a solution to stopping the things we do NOT want them to do.

A world with no consequences for undesirable behavior is a very scary place to live.  People subscribing to the ideology and fantasy of “purely positive” refuse to accept certain realities of the real world.  To further complicate things, fixing aggression is not as simple as “punishing them when they are showing aggression”.  Far from it.

Trainers who understand operant conditioning, and the EFFECTIVE use of punishment understand its easy to make mistakes in this process.  They also understand setting boundaries and rules, and enforcing those rules with the application of a moment of unpleasantry as a consequence is in the dog’s best interest to prevent even more tragic outcomes.

If a trainer’s solution to aggression is to give the dog a treat when they aren’t being aggressive, then you will be wasting every penny you give them as the problem will not be solved in the long run.

They will then suggest that you avoid anything that makes your dog display aggression.  For many dogs that means a life in prison at home.

That’s what’s best for the dog?

Never going anywhere because the trainer is unwilling to use any form of punishment that would result in the dog being calmer, stable, and able to appropriately enjoy the outside world with their owner?

I don’t think so.

Once that’s been established, ask for references of aggression clients.

Asking for references is HUGE.  Anybody can be good at selling themselves into your money.  That doesn’t mean it will help your situation at all.  If they are unwilling to provide references, then politely thank them and move on.

Aggression is NO JOKE

Please do not take your dog’s aggression lightly.  Little problems can become big problems faster than you realize.  It takes work to ensure your dog is in an calm and balanced state of mind 24/7.

Stay off of the internet with regards to seeking advice from complete strangers.

If you lacked the experience to prevent the aggression from occurring in the first place, then it’s safe to say you lack the experience to remedy the problem from simply reading somebody’s keyboard advice.

You need a professional, with experience, to be there, in person.

This really isn’t even up for debate.

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