Aggression in dogs can occur in many different situations for many diiferent reasons. See BestBehaviour's previous blog posts for more information and safety advice. Below are some key rules that you can follow to help prevent aggression in dogs:
1. Follow Basic Dog Safety Rules
Avoid provoking aggression by interacting with dogs in ways that can make them uncomfortable such as hugging them tightly around the neck or approaching dogs when they are sleeping or eating.
2. Recognise the Signs
Practice looking for behaviours that suggest a dog is anxious such as lip licks and head turns (see bestbehaviours previous blog posts). Remove dogs from situations where they are uncomfortable before aggression can occur.
3. Avoid Punishment in Training
Punishment for unwanted or aggressive behaviour can lead to less predictable aggression in the future. Instead direct your dog to the behaviours you do want to in order to avoid this. For example, if your dog jumps up at visitors, teach your dog to sit before allowing visitors to give the dog attention.
4. Teach Frustration Tolerance
Start with simple exercises within the home such as performing a 'wait' or a 'leave' in order to teach your dog to be patient. Ask your local dog trainer for additional exercises and advice.
5. Seek Help for Fears and Phobias
If your dog has a specific fear or phobia such as a fear of children, other dogs or strangers seek professional help to resolve the issue. Do not punish the dog as this will increase the fear which could increase the aggression. Punishment can also reduce warning signs prior to aggression.
6. Get a Vet Check
If your dog develops aggressive behaviours suddenly or after veterinary treatment consult your veterinarian to ensure aggression is not a result of pain or any other medical condition.
7. Don’t Ignore the Problem
In many cases aggressive behaviour becomes worse over time and then becomes much more difficult to resolve. Seek professional help at the earliest opportunity.
The APBC – The Association of Pet Behaviour Counsellors www.apbc.org.uk.
For information on pet behaviour and pet behaviour counsellors in your area within the UK.
The Blue Dog Scheme www.thebluedog.org/en. For information on dog safety for children, and adults.
For additional information and useful images of behaviours that can be seen prior to a dog bite, see also: www.doggonesafe.com/Speak_Dog.
Tamsin Peachey is a Clinical Animal Behaviourist living in Hurley, Atherstone. Tamsin is passionate about dog safety and debunking the current myths surrounding animal behaviour training.