How did this happen?
He has never been abused? He has never been in a fight? All of a sudden he is being aggressive towards puppies, other dogs that just come up to say “hello”.
Often we can feel that the aggressive behaviour we are seeing, has come out of the blue, when often our dog has been trying for a while to tell us ,their owners, that they are not coping, we just did not know this ;(
So how can we help?
First up, if we, as owners keep taking our dog to the same places, keep life, as usual, the aggressive behaviour, the reactivity is not going to go away, in fact, it is going to get worse.
You do need to get help from a positive reinforcement qualified trainer. BUT let’s get us started since most good trainers have a waiting time.
First up let’s get you comfortable in reading your dog’s body language so you can pick when they are going into the orange zone before the full-on reactivity (Red Zone). Check out this link
In regards to training
First up, start making the sound of their name … mean something fun is about to happen. be consistent 100% of the time you say their name = Party time
What does a party look like for your dog? Each dog is different. Most love food, catching it, chasing it on the floor, having it delivered to them (Uber-style ), and some love to seek the treat out, sniffing, to find it on the grass.
Why are we trying to make their name a party, a good thing, an instant response to drop everything and come and see what is happening?
Your dog’s name is the first word or cue, we think of, that we use when we need to move our dog away from an upcoming situation that may cause aggression.
If your dog does not like to eat when outside your property, this is already a sign of over-arousal and disengagement from you. This makes training really hard since the dog has already switched you off. If this is the case , let your trainer know and they will give your skills to do at home .x
WE can use toys to make a party but be aware that this could over arouse your dog and at this point, they are struggling to engage and respond to your suggestion to move away, come away from trouble.
If your dog is great at responding at home, take your training onto the pavement outside your home, on lead. If your pup is great on lead, outside then train it when you are walking.
Second Skill, A U-turn,
What? A manoeuvre, that gets you and your dog heading in the opposite direction before the other dog even has time to say ” Hi my name is ….”
This is not something you are just going to freestyle on walks, this is something you as the owner need to practice and be able to do in your sleep.
Now, you are a team with your dog again, teaching your dog how to turn with you, that turning with you, leads to feeling safer ( long term) but initially moving with you leads to food
Your trainer will be able to give you advice on how to do this and ask for videos to make sure you have got this right before heading out on walks together
These three factors ..being able to
- read your dog’s emotional state better from their body language
- consistently use their name to gain their attention
- consistently and calmly move with you dog away from trigger situations
Most importantly NOW you KNOW you can help your dog, and there is no need for force … no need to get cross, no need to panic.