Category Archives: aggression in dogs

Common Misconceptions about Dog Behavior

By Linda Cole

The dictionary defines a misconception as “A false or mistaken view, opinion or attitude.” When someone believes something about dog behavior that isn’t true, it can put the dog at risk, and possibly damage a relationship with a pet. Unfounded misconceptions can even jeopardize the life of some dog breeds. Dog behavior isn’t always easy to figure out, though, and misconceptions are common. Here are six of them:

1. Aggression runs in some breeds 

Dog breeds were developed to do specific jobs for us. For some breeds, toughness, determination and a fighting spirit was essential for them to do their jobs. Dalmatians, for example, were used for centuries as guard dogs, war dogs, border security and sentinels. They ran with horse drawn carriages, protecting wealthy riders from robbers. When necessary, a Dalmatian can stand up to a foe with a determined defiance. Nevertherless, a well socialized and trained Dalmatian is a wonderful family pet and has a unique ability to calm horses.

At one time, Pit Bulls were used to bait bulls. When that was outlawed, irresponsible owners threw them into illegal dog fighting rings. Pit Bulls were once “America’s Nanny Dog.” In the care of a responsible pet owner who understands the needs of a particular breed and the importance of proper training, socializing and respect, no breed is more aggressive than others. However, there are harder to control breeds that should never be in the hands of someone who isn’t an expert in the breed and doesn’t know how to take the lead role. Dog experts harp about finding the right dog for your lifestyle for a good reason.

2. You can’t fix an aggressive or anti-social dog

Many dogs rescued from dog fighting operations have been successfully rehabilitated and placed in new homes, including ones with kids. Dogs live in the now, leave the past behind, and don’t hold grudges. Any bad behavior can be corrected, but it takes time, commitment, patience, understanding and leadership. Depending on the type of aggression, a professional may be needed. Aggression could be indicating an underlying medical issue, and pain can cause a dog to be aggressive. It’s important to recognize and take immediate steps to change unwanted behavior.

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How to Change a Possessive Dog’s Behavior

By Linda Cole

When I was a kid, a friend of my parents had a Chihuahua that would snarl and try to bite us if we got too close to her owner or her toys. One time when we were visiting, the dog bit me because I had gotten too close to a toy she had hidden under a bush outside. Possessive behavior in dogs can easily turn into aggression if it’s not corrected.

A possessive dog is trying to control and dominate people and other pets in the home by claiming things like his toys, sleeping area, food bowl, and even his owner. He sees threats all around him and it makes him uncomfortable, so he reacts in an aggressive way. The possessive dog is always on high alert and refuses to give up what he thinks is his and won’t back down.

Possessive behavior says your dog believes you can’t and won’t protect him, so he has to do it himself. He’s confused, stressed out and insecure from always being on guard. Small dogs that display possessive behavior are often laughed at by their owners who think their dog’s aggression is cute, but it’s not. He’s a very stressed out and extremely unhappy little dog.

The best way to keep your dog from developing a possessive behavior is to establish yourself as his leader from day one. Your interactions with your dog tell him where he stands in your pack, and you need to be the one holding the top spot. You don’t become the leader by trying to dominate a dog, you prove yourself as a fair, compassionate and understanding leader, and earn it. Most behavior problems can be avoided when the dog is allowed to be just a dog while you make all of the decisions and show him you will protect all members of your pack, including him.

Food aggression and guarding the food bowl

You are the one who controls the food, not him. Food aggression is a serious behavior that needs to be dealt with immediately. Growling at you, the kids or other pets that come too close to his bowl is food aggression. Instead of putting your dog’s full bowl on the floor, have him sit in front of you and keep his food up away from him. Hand feed him his meals for three or four days.

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How Trust and Love Can Change a Dog

By Linda Cole

I have to admit, I’m an advocate for any stray dog or cat – even the ones with aggression issues. I believe pets deserve a second chance when they’ve been lost or cast aside by their owners. Unfortunately, many aggressive shelter pets will never be adopted. But sometimes the right person comes along who makes a difference in an aggressive dog’s life. With trust, patience, respect and love, one person can create small miracles and move mountains. We can change the plight of stray pets, one animal at a time, as long as we don’t give up on them. It’s worth the time to unravel a troubled mind in order to save a soul. I have worked with both an aggressive dog and cat, and that’s one reason why I was drawn to the story I’m about to share with you.

When a stray dog shows up in a neighborhood or at a local shelter, we don’t know what they went through living on the streets. Their history is unknown and we have no idea if they were mistreated, abused or became aggressive while on the streets in order to survive. When a dog shows aggression, his behavior is often viewed as a lost cause and he’s put down. Most people won’t deal with an aggressive dog because they don’t know how to help him, or simply don’t want to deal with trying to change the dog’s behavior. A woman named Heike Munday saw something special in an aggressive dog and rescued her from certain death.

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How to Deal With Small Dog Syndrome

By Linda Cole

About a year and a half ago, my neighbor brought their new puppy over and begged me to take her off their hands. I took one look at the little wiggling Terrier pup tucked under my neighbor’s arm, and saw a bright eyed face I couldn’t say no to. Riley was 8 weeks old at the time. About a month after she came to live with us, she decided she was going to show our larger dogs who was boss. She went after my Lab mix who looked at her like she was an annoyance he could do without. It’s easy to mistake a little dog’s actions as being jealous, but she was a perfect example of a pup with small dog syndrome.

Regardless of a dog’s size, all dogs should be treated equally. We have a tendency to view small dogs as needing us more than a larger dog. We see things that small dogs do as cute, but if a big dog did the same thing, we would consider the dog’s actions as aggressive. A dog who growls at another dog, a cat or a person is saying they are the dominant dog. Growling is also a sign of aggression. It doesn’t matter what size the dog is, a small dog acting badly should not be tolerated any more than allowing a larger dog to act in an aggressive matter.

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What to Do if another Dog Attacks Your Dog

By Linda Cole

Walking your dog is a healthy activity for you and your dog. Going to dog parks provides a safe and enclosed area where you can let your dog run off leash and play with other dogs. Sometimes, however, a dog comes from out of nowhere and attacks your dog. Breaking up dog fights between your own dogs at home is one thing, but trying to break up a fight when you’re away from home is something completely different. How can you protect your dog and yourself if another dog attacks your dog?

It can be hard to figure out why another dog suddenly attacks your dog. A dog’s body language can be subtle, and signals from both dogs can be missed by the person holding the leash. However, whatever it was that caused the hostile reaction doesn’t really matter when two dogs are locked in battle, with you on the other end of your dog’s leash. Of course, it’s best to avoid a fight all together, but that’s not always possible and breaking up dog fights can be dangerous for dogs and people.

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How to Deal with Food Aggression in Pets

By Linda Cole

You may have a loving pet who would never do anything to hurt a family member – as long as no one touches his food. A food aggressive dog or cat is more apt to be given to a shelter or put down because their owner didn’t know how to deal with the problem. Food aggression doesn’t mean you can’t live with the pet; it simply means you need to change their behavior to one that’s acceptable to you. Here are some tips on what to do (and what not to do) when dealing with food aggression in pets.

Food aggression in dogs is a serious and potentially dangerous issue that needs to be stopped before it gets out of hand. When a dog growls at other pets or people while he eats, or even when his bowl is empty, he’s showing food aggression. It’s never cute, and a puppy who shows signs of food aggression needs his behavior changed before he grows into an adult.

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