Nervous aggression

By admin Posted in Problems /

When one studies the work of the Dog Listener (Jan Fennel) and the Dog Whisperer (Cesar Millan) we find that they do not so much train dogs with obedience issues, but mainly deal with temperament problems. Bad tempers, mood swings, lunging, barking, nipping etc. These “psychological” problems are what goes on in the head of the dog must be resolved before we can get to normal obedience training near to other dogs and their handlers.

Puppies do not grow up deciding to want to become the leader of a pack. As pack animals they know instinctively that their safety is reliant on being a member of a pack and that in order to survive there has to be a leader in that pack. When pack leaders are taken away, the next dominant dog will take over. However, puppies and dogs find themselves in households where the humans now refer to them as a member of “our family,” forgetting that the dog thinks  “you are a member of my pack” it is just that you walk funny.

Humans have an inborn need for love and by their actions of loving at the wrong time, often inadvertently give the dog the leadership position which they, the humans, should take. If after a few days in the new family the dog does not experience leadership he will begin to assume that role. But since it has no experience or guidance the dog tries to carry out the job it has been “given” by reacting with aggression to anyone it thinks may be a threat to the pack. This situation becomes worse if it is the only dog in that human pack.

The dog does not look at the owner for help because he has already, through his actions, shown that he is not a powerful leader. So, the owner is ignored and if too persistent, will be reminded with a growl or a nip of his subordinate role. The whole family now gets warned to be wary of the dog’s “moods.” Pretty soon the owners are powerless to help the dog and cannot understand why things have gone so wrong. All they wanted to do was to love the dog and help it.

What can be done to restore the owner’s authority?

Re-establishing the authority of the humans means that the dog must not be acknowledge in any way. A no touch, no talk and no eye contact routine is needed to prevent continuing the dog’s leadership position. When arriving home, don’t look at the dog, speak to it or touch it. Walk right past it, go into the house and close the door. Wait a while untill you can see that the dog is calm and relaxed, call it and reward for coming to you with a treat. This applies also when entering a room when the dog is inside the house.

Ignore the dog when it comes to you uninvited. All attempts by the dog to establish contact with you must be disregarded. This is difficult not to do especially if the dogs nudges you gently, but only positive responses to your instructions must be rewarded. I make a point of calling my dog to me soon after he has tried to make contact with me and then I initiate contact and play with him, on my terms.

Do not allow the dog to walk ahead of you through a door or narrow space. When you get to the door, claim the space in front of it and let the dog wait or sit behind you. Slowly open the door only to shut it again at the slightest attempt by the dog to want to go ahead of you. Once the dog realises that his efforts are not going to succeed, step out and get him to follow and sit next to you before proceeding. Repeat this ritual when entering the house.

At supper time get each member of the family to eat a biscuit over the dog’s food in order to pretend that he is getting the left overs after the family has “eaten” from his bowl. Offering some dried meat or food that you have actually had in your mouth will give the dog the same message.

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