©2016 by Lisa Mullinax.  All rights reserved.

When our dogs exhibit aggressive behaviors, it is always upsetting. It is a rare person who knowingly buys or adopts a dog that exhibits aggression toward people or dogs. 

Gaining a better understanding of aggression in dogs will help you in preventing and addressing problems in your dog.

WHAT IS AGGRESSION?

Aggressio...

If you've tried distracting your dog with treats when he sees another dog (or bike, car, jogger, etc.), and he completely ignores the treat and you, here's why.

STRESS

When an animal (including humans) reaches a certain level of stress, an important change takes place in the brain, which starts the processes necessar...

Raise your hand if you walk into a post office and are flooded with warm, happy feelings.  No?  It's just me?  When I was growing up, my grandmother was the Postmaster for her town's post office and I spent many vacations watching her sort the mail and sell stamps and money orders while catching up on town gossip....

Early in my career, a common suggestion for dogs that exhibited fearful, reactive or aggressive behavior (“behavior problems”) toward strangers was to have strangers feed treats to the dog.  The idea was that the dog would form a positive associations to new people. Basic counter-conditioning.  

Fast forward fi...

WHAT TO DO IF YOUR DOG REACTS

Depending on the situation, the environment, the dog's history, the owner's physical abilities, etc., how to change behavior is going to vary for everyone. That said, this general advice applies to all behaviors that most dog owners consider "bad," whether it is on-leash reactivity, str...

By far, one of the most common behavior problems in pet dogs is reactivity. Your normally calm, enjoyable dog that turns into a quivering, snarling, white-hot ball of canine terror at the mere sight of another dog on a walk. 

It's frustrating and even embarrassing, and sometimes dangerous.  It certainly is not what...

Recently, a man was killed by the dog he had just adopted from the local shelter that day. The dog had been picked up as a stray and held at the shelter for 5 days before being placed for adoption.

The local paper reports:

"Tedford said the [dog] showed no signs of aggression while at Rabies Control and she...

First appeared at facebook.com/4pawsuniversity 

When my dog bit a neighborhood girl almost 20 years ago, I was told by more than one person that "once a dog tastes blood," there was no hope.  Fortunately, I found someone who knew otherwise and helped me make significant progress with my dog.

Since then, the pendulum...

I know it looks really impressive on television, but provoking a dog into exhibiting aggressive behavior and then "correcting" it is not behavior modification. It's behavior suppression.

This week, I spoke to someone who had worked with another trainer for help with their small dog's stranger-directed aggression.

The...

Whether you have a dog that exhibits reactivity to other dogs, aggression towards strangers, or predatory behavior towards cats, squirrels, and other small animals, chances are that you dog gives plenty of warnings before they growl, snarl, lunge, or snap.

I’m not talking about common signs of stress, displacement...

LOOK FOR THE LOOK AWAY.  A head turn, or "look away" can be an important signal to help you detect when your dog is uncomfortable, or help your dog communicate with other dogs.  It's subtle, it's simple, and it says a lot.

NON-THREATENING INTENT:  You know that moment when you're walking through the grocery sto...

Whether you are meeting a dog for the first time or you are introducing your own dog to a new person, look for signs of avoidance, including turning away, walking away, or even refusing to engage. 

Failing to respect these signs and forcing the interaction increases the risk that the dog could escalate to aggressi...

Here's one of those tricky nuances of behavior. Many people assume that a dog that isn't displaying aggressive behavior is safe to pet, introduce to their dog, take to the dog park, etc.

Aggressive displays - barking, growling, snarling, snapping - are all a dog's final attempt to put distance between them and the...

ANTECEDENT - A preceding occurrence, cause or event.

In the past, dog training was focused solely on consequences of behavior – reward the good, punish the bad.  Now we know that all behavior is triggered by something.  That trigger is called an antecedent.  

For example, you don’t typically pick up your mo...

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