Managing and Training the Aggressive Dog

agressive_dogs_2Aggression is often fixable. That's tremendously gratifying. Aggression is a major reason that dogs lose their homes. So to resolve it is to keep the family together.

Most of the aggressive dogs I see demonstrate confusion, bewilderment, or irrational fear. Sometimes aggression is a poorly chosen coping mechanism, but it can get the dog euthanized. My approach is to see if the aggression is a learned behavior, amenable to counter-conditioning, which is usually the case. This involves associating the previously scary or arousing thing with something good. This is not a fast process, and it requires a lot of homework on the part of the family, but it is successful because it is proactive. Trying to calm a dog who is in full roar is pretty useless. You cannot argue or intimidate a dog into not feeling threatened. Think about it.

No matter what motivates it, aggressive behavior requires specific skills in handling. How do I hold the leash? Do I move forward or back? I will teach you how to use your body language and your leash to keep yourself safe. Defensive handling is essential for liability issues, especially if there are children in the picture.

If you choose to have a powerful dog, you are taking some risks. I will make sure you can handle likely scenarios. We don't just "hope for the best."

If your dog is receiving medicine for anxiety under the supervision of a veterinarian, I am a good person to help you. Ideally, anxiety medication is used to buy you the time to install some new behaviors. Then you wean off as your veterinarian directs. I am recommended by a number of Rhode Island veterinarians for this support service. I am not a veterinarian, but I will gladly work closely with your vet to help you improve your dog's reactivity or other issue.