One of my favorite sayings in dog training is “It’s not the size of the dog in the fight but rather the size of the fight in the dog.” There are some small toy breeds that have the personality and tenacity of a grizzly bear. Ankles be warned! On the other hand, there are some large menacing looking dogs with the personality of a teddy bear. Some aggression is inherited and some is brought about by environmental exposure. Either way, good communication skills via obedience training gives you the tools you need to better socialize your dog.
Some breeds have protective as well as dominating traits. Developing good behavior and setting boundaries are a great way to start off a puppy with such traits. Practicing a daily routine of obedience commands provides the communication tools needed to condition your dog. A good obedience program is the best investment in your dogs future.
Leader vs Follower vs personality
Sometimes when two dogs are simply arguing about which one should be in charge, it can be misread as dog aggression. In those situations, the dogs just need a minute to figure it out among themselves. This can be a quick conversation or it can be an ongoing one which could require a third party in the room. Once it seems an agreement has been reached things usually get back to normal. Some folks might find excuses to justify their dog’s aggression, “Well he was sleeping and it startled him” or ” He was mad because he got the smaller treat”. Nobody wants to admit their dog is a bully or even worse “dangerous”. It is not a good idea to ignore the red flags when they keep popping up. Call a professional for some good advice about your dogs personality.
Early developmental exposure to things such as rough play, tug-o-war, chase & bite games can sometimes encourage aggression . These games send the wrong signals that this type of behavior is allowed. I am quick to remind my clients, “What we allow our dogs to do, we are training them to do”. Avoid counterproductive rough play that could be problematic.
Positive interactions with other pets is key to helping your dog relax in new social encounters. We have heard the stories of dogs being bullied or attacked by another dog. Afterwards, they exhibit dog aggression because they no longer trust other dogs. They want to put up a force field to keep impending danger at bay. Self preservation is a strong motivation for either fight or flight. I have, unfortunately, met dogs who have never left their yard. As a result, new people, pets and even babies are alien to them. AAHHH! Bark! Bark! Stay away! I don’t know what you are! This is not the reaction we want from our dog at the family reunion. So let’s find some like minded furry friends and have some fun training and socializing together.