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​Teaching Your Dog To Play Nice With Others

 by simone on 10 Jul 2014 |
1 Comment(s)
An aggressive dog can be frightening - not just to other dogs, but to people as well. There’s also a risk that the dog will seriously injure themselves or others if a fight occurs. Ultimately, we are responsible for our dog’s behaviour so it’s vital that any aggressive behaviour is stopped.
 
There are many reasons why dog's display aggression. Usually it arises from a perception that their territory or ‘pack’ (including their human family and offspring) is under threat. Also, agression may arise if your dog feels scared, if they are exhibiting instinctual predatory behaviour or feels possessive of a toy, object or food.
 
Both male and female dogs can be violent. Dogs that are not desexed or neutered tend to be more competitive and therefore inclined to fight.
 
Socialisation
You’ve probably heard or read it hundreds of times but we’ll say it again - socialising your dog is so important. It is the best way to ensure they lead happy, relaxed lives and mix well with children, adults and other dogs. Often aggression is the result of poor socialisation and insecurity when placed in new situations or with unfamilar people and dogs.  
 
You should begin socialisation early, ideally once your puppy is three weeks of age. Puppies need to spend time with well-socialised, calm dogs in order to learn communication skills, confidence, positive behaviours and how to play appropriately. Obedience classes and doggy day care are fantastic opportunities for your puppy to meet and socialise with others.
 
Friend or foe
When dogs play, they will often wrestle, nip, growl and bark at one another. If it is genuine play and not something more dangerous, the dogs will continually go back to one another and will appear relaxed, happy and with tails wagging. 
 
Identify aggressive behaviour
You need to be able to recognise signs of aggression so that you can act before your dog has the chance to attack a person or another dog. Typical body language that displays fear and hostility includes:
 
  • Dog freezes and becomes stiff
  • Dog adopts a dominant posture, often with their weight on their front legs so as to appear larger and be ready to lunge
  • Looking directly at the other dogs eyes
  • Ears up and forward
  • A low-sounding bark
  • Growling, showing teeth and snarling
  • Lunging forward or charging
  • Snapping
 
Stopping aggressive behaviour
If you notice your dog exhibiting signs of aggression you should immediately discourage them with a
quick tug on their lead and use a firm but calm voice command. By commanding them to sit and stay indicates that there is no danger and encourages them to relax. You should also remain calm as dogs sense your stress and nervousness.
 
If your dog is excitable or charges at dogs or people when on walks, keep their lead short so that you can keep them close and have control.
 
Remember, dogs respond best to positive reinforcement so reward and praise your dog when they behave correctly.
 
When fighting occurs
If your dog is involved in a fight, never grab the dogs by the collar or reach in near their mouths to pull them apart. They may redirect their aggression towards you as a reflex action when in their heightened state of fear, threat or hostility. 
 
Instead, try to attract their attention or interrupt the fight with a loud noise such as a whistle, clap or air horn. Use a hose or bucket to throw water on the dogs or spray a deterrent such as citronella at their snouts.
 
If these techniques do not work, you and the other owner should simultaneously separate the dogs by holding the dog’s back legs under the hips and lifting their legs off the ground. Move backwards and when at a safe distance, manoeuvre the dogs so that they are no longer facing each other.
 
Need help?
If nothing you do seems to be working then seek help from a professional trainer or dog behaviourist. Also, consult your vet as aggression and irritability could be caused by an underlying health condition or a side-effect from medication that is influencing your dog’s mood, comfort or lucidity.

 

Comment(s)1

Dorothy Harper - Comment
Dorothy Harper21 Jul 2014Reply
Can you make suggestion for dog who charges at people barking but is not aggressive. When I let my dog out to go potty if someone walks by he will charge after them but he would never bite just barks at them and will not come to me when I call him back. Yanks

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