Some dogs are aggressive with strangers or even with their owners. Dog aggression biting at people is a very serious problem. In this post we will help you understand dog aggression biting and solution.
WHAT IS AN AGGRESSIVE DOG?
There are no aggressive dogs and non-aggressive dogs. Every dog can show aggressiveness at a certain moment and in a specific situation. All dogs can be aggressive at a certain time. Aggression is part of canine behavior and is an attack / defense strategy that allows survival.
WHY IS MY DOG GETTING MORE AGGRESSIVE?
Because he feels directly threatened – Aggressiveness out of fear
Because he considers that he must protect or earn something valuable for him (his bowl of food, a toy, the attention of his owner, his rest area, his puppy in the case of bitches that have just given birth, etc.)
However, classifying the different types of canine aggression is so difficult that ethologists and trainers have not yet agreed.
In fact, aggression (except in the case of predatory, linked to hunting) is a way of expressing or channeling an emotion. Therefore, we can find aggressive dogs out of fear, frustration and a host of emotions that are really at the origin of aggressive behavior.
- Signs of Canine Aggression
There is some confusion about the concept of aggressive dog and about the broad concept of canine aggressiveness.
Many people believe that a dog is aggressive when it bites but, in addition to the bite, there are multiple signs of aggressiveness that we all should know how to recognize because they are the warning signals that the dog throws before attacking.
A dog that shows aggressiveness is not just the one that bites. Aggression is, also, the set of signals that most dogs give as a warning to avoid getting to bite: growling, showing the teeth with the raised lips, bark, etc.
HOW DO YOU CALM AN AGGRESSIVE DOG?
A dog can show aggressiveness for multiple reasons. Aggression usually occurs in two situations: when we are preventing a dog from doing something it wants, or when the dog is forced to do something it does not want to do.
From this idea, we must be clear that there are two basic factors that affect canine aggression:
The genetic load of a dog determines to a large extent its predisposition to aggressiveness. There are dogs genetically predisposed to be more reactive than others. This is a fact.
The environment in which a dog lives, the way in which it is treated by its owners and its life experience influences in a decisive way the expression of aggressiveness.
If a dog learns that aggression is the strategy that helps him get what he wants, he will always use it, unless we give him an alternative.
- Dominance or frustration?
In the case of aggressive dogs towards people, there is a mistaken belief that the majority of aggressions or expressions of aggression are motivated by a conflict of dominance.
Popularly, it has been thought that dogs that attack people do so because they pretend to be dominant and that this problem is solved when the owner becomes the leader of the herd . However, the reality is not that.
The majority of dog attacks on people occur within the home and are directed at their owners. Most of the bites occur within the domestic environment and do not occur because the dog is dominant but because of a topic of inconsistency in education that gives the dog frustration in the face of possible punishment.
On the other hand, most dogs that bite outside the domestic environment, to unknown people, do so out of fear and not out of dominance.
- Aggression by fear?
Each dog has its character and some are more insecure than others, or less resilient.
Faced with a threatening situation that causes fear in a dog, it can react with aggression, flee or stay motionless. Many dogs choose the first option and, seeing that it works to ward off the threat, they continue to use it whenever they encounter a similar threat situation.
In the case of dogs that are afraid of strangers, some react by fleeing and others by attacking. However, in both cases, it is a response provoked by fear.
- Aggressive Dog or Sick Dog?
Another important issue is to remember that aggression can be linked to an illness. When this is the case, it is said that aggression has an organic cause.
The pain induces a stress response in the dog. And stress lowers the threshold of aggressive response.
As in people, pain and stress increase irritability in dogs and, therefore, facilitate aggressive response. In addition, a dog that hurts something can react with aggression simply to avoid being touched where it hurts.
On this subject, there is an interesting study carried out by ethnologists from the Autonomous University of Barcelona that explains that dogs that were not aggressive before the pain began, can become more and in a more impulsive way than those that already they were before.
When a dog with pain is manipulated, it can react aggressively quickly to avoid more pain, being difficult for its owner to foresee the attack since the animal will give very few warning signals.
SHOULD I GET RID OF MY FEAR AGGRESSIVE DOG?
Dog aggression directed at people is not a lesser evil and must be considered a public health problem. The bite of a dog can be very serious and it is important to be aware of the problem.
These are the guidelines to follow if your dog is aggressive with people:
CONTACT A CANINE ETHOLOGIST
Only a professional can really help solve a dog aggression problem directed at people. It is wrong to think that everything will improve if no means are put in place for it.
A canine ethologist will do the following:
- Risk Analysis
How is the dog and what potential does it have to do harm? Do you live with children, people with disabilities, the elderly or those at risk? How long has the problem started? Is the dog impulsive or throwing warning signals before biting? How do you stop a dog from being aggressive to other dogs? What was the true severity of the bite? Is it possible to start a treatment or will the necessary conditions not be met? Can security measures be implemented for the duration of the treatment or will it not be possible?
- Discard Organic Cause
Before beginning a behavior modification treatment, it must always be ruled out that there is an organic cause. If that were the case, the first thing would be to solve this organic cause.
- Making a Diagnosis
The ethologist must assess what is the target of the aggression (the dog attacks the strangers, or only a specific person, or only certain people in a very specific situation, etc.), what is the position of the dog when shows aggressive (offensive, defensive or ambivalent) and what is the context in which aggressiveness occurs.
- Schedule a Treatment
Each case is particular and only an expert can assess, for each dog, which is the most indicated treatment. However, the following section summarizes in a general way what is any treatment for canine aggression.
AVOID CONFRONTATION AND GIVE THE DOG AN ALTERNATIVE
The risk of a dog biting and hurting is so great that you should never tempt fate. Therefore, the basic idea when dealing with a case of canine aggression directed at people is:
- Avoid putting the dog in the situation that triggers the aggression: if we do not want the dog to learn to attack, we should not give him opportunities to do so.
- Offer an alternative: if the dog has learned to get what he wants or get away what he does not want through aggression, we will have to give him an alternative that works just as well.
TAKE SECURITY MEASURES
The muzzle is the main safety measure in cases of canine aggression.
If the right muzzle is chosen and the dog is taught to tolerate it without bothering him, this safety tool is ideal to avoid accidents.
The treatment guidelines mentioned above are very essential, with depth details. This is because an aggressive dog towards people is never the same as another. There are always multiple factors that affect the problem. For that reason, we have explained multiple treatment guidelines. With good treatment, problems of aggression can improve a lot and, consequently, also the life of the whole family that lives with the dog and the dog itself.