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A Man About A Dog: Aggression
9:32am Monday 26th March 2012 in Leisure
Each week in his A Man About A Dog column Peter Singh will give an insight into aspects of a dog’s behaviour. Whether your pooch is good, bad, happy or sad Peter explains why dogs display various behaviours and offers advice on how to make sure your pup stays man’s best friend...
Aggression is the most common problem I receive from people wishing to book a consultation with me. Being a dog behaviourist, people don’t tend to call me for problems such as pulling on the lead and poor recall. Sadly, in my opinion it is a problem that is on the increase and I think it is a reflection of the current mood of society.
Aggression is something I cure on a weekly basis. The great thing about dogs is that they live in the moment, so unlike a human, who may go to therapy for several months and only notice a small change, dogs can change from an aggressive state to a calm state in an instant, providing the owner or handler has the correct energy and is communicating the correct signals to the dog.
Aggression is caused by one of, or a mixture of the following:
:: Poor breeding, where one or both of the parents displayed aggression.
:: Lack of socialization, where a puppy was not introduced to people or other dogs during the first sixteen weeks.
:: The dog is unwell and suffering from an injury or illness.
:: Frustration, due to a lack of exercise and dominance, because the dog rules the people in the household.
Frustration and dominance is by far the most common cause of aggressive dogs.
There are so many people who adopt a dog or buy a puppy and fail to meet one of the most basic needs of a dog - exercise. There are many dogs getting little or no exercise, or only get to run around their garden. Dogs are well aware that the garden is an extension of the house, so this can never be a substitute for the walk.
If your dog does not get the correct amount of exercise and is also dominant over you and other family members, this is a recipe for aggression. A book from 1893 entitled, ‘Hints to Beginners Dogs’, stated the following: “The question of exercise is a point to which too much attention can scarcely be directed, as by neglecting this most important subject much evil will certainly befall the dogs”.
When I meet an aggressive dog on a consultation, my first mission is to gain the respect of the dog by instilling rules in the relationship and to drain their energy with a run alongside my electric bicycle. I clip them onto the fitted dog lead and away we go.
This is a wonderful moment, to see dogs previously denied one of their basic needs, blossom, as their frustrated energy drains away with each turn of the bicycle’s wheel. It is important to realize rules of nature and to remember what each species was put on this earth to do. Birds fly, fish swim and dogs walk.
Dogs have taught me to follow their network and live in the moment. This is a vital state of mind for me, as when I am with the dog, no part of me is thinking about what the dog did in the past. Because of this the dog picks up that my energy towards him is positive and not negative. I am not expecting the dog to bite or attack. I am with the dog and my feelings towards him are a mixture of joy and peace. In life you get back what you give out, so for me it is positive thoughts only.
I have been called out to consultations, where I am the dogs last hope. The dog has bitten someone and every other organization or behaviourist has advised that the dog be put to sleep. In my opinion the professionals who advise of this, should not be working with animals. As far as I am concerned, if a dog has a heartbeat then they can change for the better. Who are these people to advise of such an atrocity. If one of their human family members started to show aggressive behaviour, would they advise the same wickedness?
In every one of the cases where I am the last hope for the dog, each has been a result of a lack of exercise and dominance because the human has given the dog no rules to follow.
How many dogs have been put to sleep worldwide, simply because the owners didn’t provide these basic needs? The closest way of bonding with any dog is by walking them. Not by giving them treats, toys or their own sofa. Your dog is the best friend you will ever have in your entire life. So go and get the lead and begin to become your dog’s best friend.
Peter is a Dog Behaviourist based in Farnborough. He applies calm to the lives of dogs and dog owners in the UK and Spain. He also writes for English and Spanish newspapers, as well as working on TKO FM radio in Spain.