The best of dog training efforts can come to naught if your dog happens to be the aggressive kind. Logic, therefore, dictates that training an aggressive dog should follow a distinctive approach from the usual dog training process. Different training experts propose different reasons for dog aggression, and accordingly suggest different methods to tackle the problem.
Most trainers, however, agree that understanding the causes of the aggression in your dog will go a long way in helping you address the issue. Once you’ve understood why your dog is being aggressive, you’ll be able to better figure out the right way to train it.
Begin with yourself
According to well-known dog trainer Cesar Millan, a dog tends to get aggressive on account of either frustration or dominance. Digging deeper into this psychological logic, he goes on to explain that a dog gets frustrated due to lack of exercise and tends to become dominating in the absence of a calm but assertive leadership. Now, while I don’t necessarily agree with the ideology of “dominance” in dogs, I do agree that lack of exercise is the cause in the majority of behavioral problems.
That, then, is your first step to training your aggressive dog. Be calm with your problematic pet, but at the same time, continue to assert your authority. This does not mean use harsh punishments. In a nutshell, it’s all about starting with your own self. Be prepared to take on the responsibility of training your dog and be ready to spend some time on exercising them.
If your dog doesn’t seem to be getting enough exercise, make sure you give it as much as it wants. A lazy dog will soon begin to show symptoms of aggression, which can lead to serious obedience problems if not tackled at the outset. For those of you who are not really able to understand what exercise has to do with aggression, just look at it from a scientific perspective.
A dog burns excess energy through exercise, and this in turn helps keep its mind healthy and stable. So now you know where your dog’s aggression stems from? You’re definitely a part of the problem. At least that’s what Cesar and many other trainers believe.
Earn its trust and loyalty
Leadership, as we’ve seen, is an important part of training an aggressive dog. Now a leader is the one who has, in some manner, earned the trust and loyalty of his followers. This goes for dogs too. You just have to make the effort to earn your aggressive dog’s trust and loyalty. For that, you need to set the limitations, rules and boundaries within which your dog is allowed to function.
The establishment of such rules is particularly beneficial when there’s a pack of aggressive dogs to be trained. But it works equally well with a single aggressive dog. Without being physically aggressive, you’d do well to let a degree of aggression seep into your own behavior while training a difficult dog. Once your dog realizes and acknowledges your aggressive leadership, its own dominance and frustration will take a back seat.
Communicate and bond with your dog
Yes, as in humans, dogs too respond to communication. It’s all about how effective your communication is. You should start by teaching basic obedience skills to your dog. Easier said than done, you’d say. How does one do that with an aggressive creature, you’re wondering?
Well, you’ve to work with the dog as you would with a young and difficult child. Your dog’s psychology may not be the same as a human child’s psychology, but nevertheless, bonding works more or less in the same way. Your dog should see you not merely as a leader but as a mentor, to be trusted and feared at the same time.
Socializing, as well all know, is a great way of enhancing any kind of bonding. So it may be a good idea to socialize your troublesome dog with other dogs and people. At the same time, involve your dog in physically challenging activities, such as swimming. That’ll go a long way in improving its physical and emotional state.
Be sensitive and focused
All these techniques can be applied either on an individual, one-to-one basis, or in a kind of camp of dogs where a large number of them can be trained together. You can also opt for professional help if nothing else seems to work. There are many professional dog trainers who are skilled in tackling aggressive dogs and training them into submission.
Professional training centers provide a kind of conditioning to dogs, where they learn to associate certain sounds with food or with treats of some kind. Praise and play are also used as incentives to motivate difficult dogs to behave. Relating the presence of other dogs with something nice also seems to work well with aggressive dogs.
Other training techniques for such dogs include desensitization – keeping the dog at a safe distance from other dogs and then gradually reducing the distance. Your own sensitivity will eventually dictate your approach to handling a difficult pet. Stay focused on the goal and don’t get diverted by your pet’s actions. Once your dog realizes you understand things and are not an enemy, the task of training it will become much easier.
Modern training centers are a far cry from the traditional dog training schools, which depended on correction methods to punish aggressive reactions from dogs. Experts say the traditional approach failed to root out the basic cause of the aggression and only addressed the symptoms. As a result, that was a temporary solution at best. In fact, experts say, punishment actually has many detrimental side-effects, such as physiological stress. In many cases, such dogs learn to suppress their outward symptoms while the aggression and antagonism continues to simmer within them.
Dog trainers need to be sensitive to the moods of their aggressive pets and should try to use their own moods to drive a change in the dog. So if you’re dog seems upset, just try to laugh him out of it. If that’s a wee bit difficult, check out Danny Dog’s online video program for the best way to handle a difficult dog.