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Behaviour / Dog Behaviour Solutions / Aggression / Aggression to dogs met when walking

  Solving aggression to dogs I meet when walking my dog

Dog-to-Dog Aggression is a risk when it occurs on the street

If your dog is snapping, snarling, biting and lunging at other dogs you meet when walking then I am sure you are concerned.

Solving
dog aggression on the street starts here

There are many solutions and several roads to follow.

Below you will find a step-wise, sensible and science-based approached to this complex problem.

Follow the links below but you really need to activate a membership to follow each link to the information that it points to.

When solving aggressive behaviour your first step is to assess the risk.  Once the risk is clear, then you need to implement the solutions that will reduce the risk as your first priority.

But it's also important that you determine the underlying reason for the aggression.  Not all aggressive behaviours are equal and the more accurately you determine the reason  "Why is it so?"  the better your solution will be.

So the process you should follow is:-  

  • Assess your dog's problem first and in particular assess the risk 
  • Then implement the solutions that target the risks you identify in your assessment as your first priority.  
  • Then re-assess your progress as times goes on to ensure you are getting to where you want to be.

Below you will find all the information you need.

Note – to get full access to the information that follows you need to activate a membership with PETHEALTH.COM.AU. 

  If you have already activated a membership be sure to login before you browse the links below.

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Table of Contents

  1. Assessing your dog's aggression
  2. Why is my dog aggressive?
  3. Are medical problems relevant?
  4. How can I teach my dog not to be aggressive to visitors?
  5. How can I best manage my dog's aggression?
  6. Will pheromones or medications help?
  7. Review of the process

Assessing your dog's aggression and the risk involved

Aggressive behaviour to other dogs you meet is risky particularly if that aggression is occurring when you are in the 'public arena'.  

When solving aggressive behaviour your first step is to assess the risk of the behaviour and once the risk is clear, then you need to implement the solutions that will reduce the risk as your first priority.

The risk of aggression that occurs when walking your dog or dogs on the street depends on the severity of the aggression, if injuries are occurring when the dogs fight and very importantly, if people are 'offended' by your dog's reaction to their dogs or are threatening Council or legal action.

The risk of aggression that occurs when your dogs meet others includes:-

  • the location where the aggression is occurring (on the street, in dogs parks when off lead, in dog shows etc)
  • age and size of the victim dogs (e.g. is a victim dog old and frail or is it a small dog or a vulnerable pup?)
  • the frequency of the aggression
  • the severity of the injuries, if any
  • whether people are 'offended' by your dog's reaction and thus if Council or legal action has been threatened

To start your solutions for your dog's aggression listen to this Podcast with Dr Cam answering a relevant question on his Pet Vet Show on 4BC in Brisbane.

Summary of solutions to aggression to dogs met

 

So with a big alert to the risk of aggression, let's get started

The first thing we need to do is to get you OFF this website.

The reason for that is you will need time: time to study and implement the solutions.  

You need to be working with your dog - not with your computer and mouse.

Your first job is to email this to yourself or a friend if you prefer (be sure you have their permission). Click on the adjacent graphic to do that. You will then get an email which is easy to store and gives you a permanent link to this page so you don't lose track of this valuable information.

If you are really concerned about your dog's welfare and Council action and legal risk, do either or all of the following:-

  1.  

     

    Complete this assessment form and we will review that and help you personally
  2. For urgent cases, 'jump the queue' by taking up a membership and then using that to pre-pay for your preferred service and thus ensuring a member's discount in fees.

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But why is my dog aggressive?

That's not an easy question to answer on a website but we will try.  A proper assessment will lead to a diagnosis and your own veterinarian can help with that or we can help if you prefer - to do that start with this assessment form.

Firstly, it's likely some well-meaning folk are telling you that one dog is just 'being dominant' over the other.

You need to discard any thoughts of dominance. It's a non-scientific and simplistic view of domestic pet dogs and their interactions with each other and with us humans.

We won't go into the perils of dominance here but this link discusses problems with the dominance principle in more detail.

The most common causes of aggression your dogs shows to others met are:-

  1. An anxiety disorder created from previous traumatic interactions with dogs (especially when your dog was a youngster). The concept of flight/fight response is relevant to this. Anxiety-based aggression often involves growling and barking vocalisations, lunging, your dog's hackles being raised and sometimes the 'showing of teeth'.
  2. Predatory aggression particularly if your dog's aggression is directed towards 'white fluffy' dogs or fast moving dogs. Predatory aggression is often silent in the early stages.
  3. Protective aggression where the dog feels the need to protect you or another dog you are walking with. However, protective aggression is just another form of anxiety. 

There are certainly other causes of inter-dog aggression and sometimes there is more than one cause.

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Following is a useful key you can use to ensure you examine all aspects of your pet's behaviour and the information below is gathered under the headings of this key.

Behaviour Key

To structure your solution to this problem, consider this useful key which will help you to ensure all aspects of your pet's behaviour are considered.

  1.  

    Are medical problems relevant? 
  2. Can your pet learn, and, if so, how can you teach it to behave? 
  3. How is the problem best managed to help with a solution? 
  4. Will medications or pheromones be needed for this problem?

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Are medical problems relevant?

Many medical conditions can make aggression worse.

For instance, pain-related aggression is a very common cause of aggression between dogs.  A common scenario is where one dog is a bouncy young dog attempting to rise through the ranks. This dog may bounce at or tease a senior-age dog with, for instance, arthritis. The young dog hurts the older dog who responds by snapping - just like you would if you were suddenly hurt. The young dog sees that as a challenge and responds aggressively causing more pain to the older dog who in turn responds with more aggression. That creates a cascade of aggression which can be catastrophic.

So, if your dog is aged, simple things like arthritis can make aggression worse due to the pain of that condition.

Changes in vision and hearing can also cause aggression between dogs because one dog becomes 'startled' by the approach of another and if one dog is losing its vigour that can cause a change in rank.

Other pain-inducing conditions such as itchy skin and ear infections can make a pet 'cranky'.

Your veterinarian can advise on treatments for all of these conditions.

 

Now here's a job for you. If you are intending to ask the team at Cam Day Consulting to assist with the solution, or are being referred by your own veterinarian, we prefer pets to have a  health check and MBA blood test done before your consultation with us.

Ideally a thyroid function test is also useful especially if you feel the aggression is 'abnormal'.

Please ask your vet to complete those tasks before attending your referral.

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How can you teach your dog(s) to be non-aggressive?  

Teaching a dog to stop being aggressive to another dog is a complex matter.

Firstly consider this question:-

Can your dog learn to be non-aggressive to other dogs?

For a start, when they are immersed in the 'emotion of the moment', they cannot learn to be non-aggressive .

That means, when your dog is lunging, growling and barking at a dog when you are out and about, no amount of yelling, screaming or hitting will prevent them being aggressive next time.  Dogs don't learn like that. It won't work.

Also, punishing your dog or dogs AFTER THE EVENT is a total waste of time.

It is usually not helpful to concentrate on punishing the aggression because in most cases that makes the aggression worse, especially as so many aggressive dogs are anxious anyway and punishment makes them more anxious.

So, solving aggression is best done in incremental steps that are successfully achieved 'before' the dogs are aggressive.

A well trained dog with a Laser Lock focus

To learn about using a reward-based technique you need to know about a process called the circle of commands and the leave routine (follow those links and watch the videos - they are member's files). 

The Leave Routine is like a speed-teaching system that's created from reward-based cognitive therapies. It simple terms, it's a fun-based game play routine where your dog learns that the human English word 'leave' means the dog-lish action of 'don't bite'.  But there's nothing magical about the word LEAVE unless you know how to use that to reward a targeted and defined outcome behaviour.

That's way too detailed to be shared here so follow the links in the paragraph before - they will take you to the member's section and will open up a whole world of advice on how to teach your dog to be well-behaved in many situations - not just for aggression

Considering that your dog is aggressive to other dogs you meet, then you should also refer to this very important sheet Dreaded Walkies as it talks specifically about processes you can use to solve aggression while walking.

In that sheet you will read about the U Turn Technique and another precise process called the Perpendicular Pooch Routine.

You will find more details on the links above and from our team if you need to consult with us.

However, sometimes with aggression, teaching dogs to be non-aggressive is very difficult and extremely risky and particularly so because you don't know how other dogs will respond to your dog when you are out and about.

If your dog's problem is serious, we advise you to seek professional help from our team at Cam Day Consulting.

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How is the aggression best managed to help with a solution?  

Management of a behaviour refers to those things you may do that won't solve the underlying 'emotion' that causes the problem but stops the problem from occurring usually by AVOIDING it.

This article talks about managing aggression in detail.

To give an example, with inter-dog aggression, management often means keeping your dog away from other dogs that you would normally meet on the street.

There are many ways of doing that but they include:-

  • walking in areas devoid of other dogs
  • walking at times when other dogs don't walk
  • avoiding areas where dogs accumulate such as dog parks

That's complex and you should contact us for more information on the advantages and disadvantages of that.

If your dog barks excessively at dogs that pass by your home, you may need better fences to stop your dog seeing passing dogs.

AttentTraining accessories help stop dog aggressionion to what you walk your dog on is also important. Some are better on head halters, some are better on collars and some are better on specially designed harness.

Sometimes an usual device called a calming cap is useful but caution is needed as to when and how they should be used.

Management of aggression is quite a complex manner and you will benefit from seeking personal advice from us on that.

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Will homeopathic preparations, pheromones, or medications be needed for his problem?  

Homeopet Anxiety Relief

 

Some aggressive dogs cannot be calmed by training alone and need other 'agents' to reduce their anxiety. 

For low-level cases of anxiety that cause aggression the homeopathic preparation Homeopet anxiety relief may be beneficial.


Pheromones such as the Adaptil Spray or Adaptil Collar can be useful for aggression on the street. adaptilcollars

You will need to apply the Adaptil Spray to a bandana you place on your dog's neck at least 15 minutes before you leave. If it works for your dog, the effect will last for about 1 - 2 hours. The Adaptil Collar can be used continuously for approximately one month's therapy.  

What about medications?

While they are not always needed, for the right problem they can literally be life-saving.

Medications used for pet behavioural disorders are true mood-modifying medications and, when used correctly, should have minimal to no side effects. 

However, all medications are prescription-only preparations and you will need to see your veterinarian or the vets at Cam Day Consulting for the supply of medications.  Click here to access a member's file for more information on medications for pet behavioural problems.


A summary of the process

 So, solving aggression between dogs that you meet while walking involves the following:  

  1. Being aware of the risk involved and avoiding aggression at all costs to minimise that risk. Remember, people are often injured when dogs fight with each other.
  2. Considering any medically-related problems such as painful conditions and having them treated as needed.
  3. Carefully teach your dog not to be aggressive by teaching your dog what he or she needs to know with the leave routine and then applying that sequentially to the problem
  4. Consider if your dog needs calming with homeopathic preparations, pheromones or medications.
  5. Reviewing your success honestly to ensure you are progressing
  6. And seeking professional attention if you can't do it on your own.

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DISCLAIMER Any form of aggression involves risk.  Your most important duty is to manage that risk effectively to protect other people, other dogs and other animals from risk. Risk is also manifest in that the Council could take action to declare your dog dangerous and there is the risk of litigation and injury claims if your dog hurts a person, another dog and another animal. Never presume an aggressive dog is cured and manage the dog for life to ensure that injuries do not occur. Be particularly careful and vigilant if aggression is directed towards children, elderly people or people who are convalescing from illness or who are on medications.

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