Did you know that most dogs who bark and lunge at other dogs are acting fearfully as opposed to be dominant, confident and or truly aggressive?
Trust me, we’ve seen in hundreds, arguably thousands of times between myself and the rest of my training staff. To you, the dog owner, it looks (and is) very scary. As a professional dog trainer, I understand this. When your dog sees another dog it’s possible that he totally flies off the handle by lunging, barking, spinning, growling, air snapping, and in some cases may even redirect his aggression display away from the other dog onto his leash, and even you.
This type of behavior is a serious concern, yet, despite what most dog owners think this type of “aggression” towards other dogs is much easier (relatively speaking) to “fix” then other types of dog-dog aggression.
Dogs that are confident and non fearful don’t give us the all the displays of insecurity the way fearful dogs do. Dogs that are truly aggressive, with the intention to fight to kill, typically would (if given the opportunity) go silently, quickly, and straight to attack and kill another dog. There would likely be no noise from the aggressor, and little time for anyone to react and prevent the fight should this type of dog be off a leash.
Fearful doggies on the other hand, make as much noise as possible in the hopes that the other dog will go away, back off or learn to avoid interacting with him. This means that it’s easier for us dog trainers to teach you dog owners how to identify, treat, and prevent fearful aggressive behavior in dogs. If your dog doesn’t already have a bite history with other animals, meaning that your dog has not yet sent another dog to the vet as a result of a dog fight, then prognosis is actually very good for your dog! With the right introduction to other dogs, your fearful dog can successfully learn to ignore and/or feel confident around other dogs.
Now, wouldn’t that be nice? Not to have to take a walk without worrying you’re going to see another dog. Not to have to be in the midnight dog walkers club to avoid all contact with other dogs. Through behavior modification training your dog can learn to stay calm, stay focused on you and most importantly TRUST that you will take care of him so that he doesn’t feel like he has to defend himself.
Did you hear that? Let me make that very clear.
Your fearful dog likely aggresses because he doesn’t trust that you will protect him. He is fearful that if he doesn’t take matters into his own hands, the other dog might come attack him, or attack you. Your dog possibly feels like it’s his job to protect both of you. But the reality is — it’s not his job. Its YOUR job. And yes, you can do it. Everyone can learn to be a confident leader for their dog.
How long does rehabilitating a fearfully aggressive dog typically take? This all depends on how often you can train with your dog in controlled, positive settings. It’s extremely important that when you are training your dog to be comfortable around other dogs you have access to neutral, calm and non-reactive dogs. It may be a while before you can have your dog interact nose to nose (or nose to butt!) with other dogs, because with behavior modification of aggressive dogs slow and steady wins the race.
There is NO rushing this process. We’ve had dogs in our care who takes months before they are able to start engaging up close with new dogs. We treat some dogs who never want to engage but learn to be neutral after several weeks.
The goal with healing a fearfully aggressive dog should always be to make that dog feel comfortable and non stressed. That is the first, and sometimes only goal. This can be hard for some people to accept, but it’s a reality you have to recognize if you’re going to commit to working with your aggressive dog.
Reality: Your dog may never be able to interact off leash in a play sitting with other dogs
Reality: Your dog, and any dog, can learn to be neutral and non reactive to other dogs.
Trust me. There are very, very few dogs who are just downright “aggressive.” Mainly, they are scared. Really scared. Isn’t it time to get them a little relief?
This is Dee the Doggie Deeva reminding you that you CAN help your dog! And we can show you how.
Need help with your dog-aggressive dog in Miami-Dade or Broward? You can reach us at 786-529-7833. We have certified professional dog trainers who can come to your home for private lessons, as well as a board and train program doggie bootcamp where your dog can receive training everyday for faster results. Ask us about our reactive rover group class to see if your dog-aggressive dog may be a good candidate. You can also email as at firstname.lastname@example.org