Aggression is on the rise ? Why?

Why are more dogs exhibiting anxiety-related behaviors?

Why is aggression in dogs on the increase?

Well, my take is simple, we,  the dog owners are learning one thing with our dogs and doing another, to get the same behaviour . What do I mean by this?

An example, The Simple Sit. It is taught in all puppy classes and on YouTube with a simple food lure moving over the head.

But I see time and time again people

  • pulling the lead to make dogs sit,
  • pushing their dog’s bottom down to make their dog sit
  • standing in front of the dog and speaking louder and louder to make their dog sit.

None of this is taught by qualified professionals.

So why are people changing everything? Why does the average unqualified dog owner think they know best? Why do people think yelling, yanking and hurting are going to help build calm trustworthy dogs?!?

These actions infer that people think force, pain or intimidation/ fear is required to raise and train our dogs!!!!Whoa

But if you know me you know I believe in science so I  went in search of a study that had been done.

“What effect does using positive reinforcement training or a mixture of positive reinforcement and punishment training or punishment training on its own have in dogs and their behavior.”

And no surprise this study has been done.  Emily.J Blackwell. The relationship between training methods and the occurrence of behavior problems as reported by owners, in a population of domestic dogs. The  Journal of Veterinary Behaviour: Clinical Application and Research






In this study, 88% of the dogs studied had had formal training. That is high which is great.

  • 16% of  the dog owners studied only used positive reinforcement (adding something the dog desires, immediately after the behaviour asked for was achieved)
  • 12% of the dog owners studied used positive reinforcement and negative reinforcement (taking something the dog wanted away eg time out away from you or tethering)
  • 32% of the  dog owners studied used negative reinforcement and positive punishment ( adding something unpleasant force, fear or pain to their dog)
  • 40% of the dog owners studied used a balance of positive reinforcement for desired behaviours, negative reinforcement and or positive punishment for undesired behaviours.
  • Unbelievable 72% of the owners studied used some form of withdrawal of something pleasant or the addition of an aversive to the dog in their training!


The dog’s owners were surveyed and the dogs observed in regards to the number of

  • Attention seeking behaviours
  • Fear-related behaviours
  • Aggressive behaviours that the dogs displayed



Remembering that only 16% of the dogs in the study had positive reinforcement used 100% of the time.These dogs  displayed the least aggressive, fearful and attention seeking behaviours  of all groups

So who scored the most aggressive, fearful and attention seeking behaviours?

Those dogs, whose owners were using punishment on its own or in combination with positive reinforcement, were more likely to display a higher number of fear-related and aggressive behaviors.Wow

 A clear correlation; adding force, or withdrawing reinforcement is correlated to fear and aggression behaviours in dogs

           So a balanced approach is contributing to aggression and fear.

So there it is

Yes, we are contributing to our dogs fear and aggressive behaviours by mixing our training methods #Balanced training is not the way to go.

So let’s accept this and move on.No pointing fingers and finding faults. The data is in,

Positive reinforcement is correlated to less aggression, less fear and less attention seeking behaviours. Accept this, stick by it and enjoy the changes you see. So the next time you see a friend mixing up their training

Send this article, point them to the research. When you think about it-

Reinforcing behaviours you want, increases the likelihood of that behaviour happening again so why would you not reinforce the behaviour?

  • Reinforcement builds trust in the skill
  • Consistency builds trust, reduces frustration and anger
  • Trust leads to decreased anxiety

So please stop mixing your training methods.

For more support on how to train or having your techniques assessed don’t hesitate to contact or