You’ve probably heard about dangerous dog breeds and the potential risk they pose to society, but before jumping to any conclusions it’s important to understand why some dogs may become aggressive. Is it bad genes or simply a misunderstanding. Most dogs will show aggression when exposed to certain circumstances, but how does that come into play when we consider breed, biology, and training? Understanding the contributing factors in dog aggression will help you debunk some of the most widespread perceptions and ideas. While certain types of dogs are bred for tasks that require aggressive behaviors, training is essential to keeping you and your doggie’s life happy.
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The Root of the Behavior
Just like in humans, hormones play a big role in birth, the formation of bonds, and social behavior. They control a dog’s temperament and the way he reacts when meeting other dogs or people. There are two hormones that directly impact the way your dog responds to social interaction: oxytocin and vasopressin. The role they have in affecting aggressive behavior in dogs has been studied and studied and the conclusions are not all black and white. This is because behavior involves a complex interaction of genetics, learned experiences and physiological responses. You can’t compare dogs who are bred to fight and encouraged to kill other animals, to dogs are bred for assistance and calm temperament. Which is why Pit Bulls, Rottweilers, and German Shepherds have such a bad rep compared to Golden Retrievers and Pomeranians, although many smaller breeds can also be responsible for aggressive behaviors. The difference is that some types of dogs are bred to be that way, given their body structure and natural strength. Truth is, all dogs are born with their own set of strengths and weaknesses, but training and early learning experiences are crucial for the development of your furry friend.
Apart from his natural born tendencies, your dog’s social behavior will change during the course of his adolescence and even adulthood. Think of it as an interwoven relationship between his early socialization, his genetic makeup, and the training and supervision he receives. Take time in observing his behavior at home and refer to your veterinarian about the possibility of a medical cause for the aggression. Once you understand the natural tendencies of your dog’s breed, you can develop a daily routine of reinforcing his calm behavior and properly exercising him when outside. Be mindful about leaving your dog home alone for extended periods of time because certain behaviors such as territorial aggression can never be solved this way.
Encouraging the Behavior
The most important thing for a healthy development is proper training. You need to talk with your vet if you notice any other symptoms accompanying this type of aggressive behavior. This includes increased body weight, hair loss, lethargy, and even convulsions. These may the results of partial seizures or a sign of hypothyroidism, in which case medical treatment is mandatory.
You can also discourage this type of concerning behavior by choosing quieter, less stressful venues next time you go out for a walk if you know your dog has the tendency of playing roughly. Walk him away from stressful situations, for example when your dog is showing signs of being overly excited when approaching a dog park or playgroup.
Remember that you shouldn’t allow him to rehearse the wrong type of behavior. It’s all about teaching your dog to calm himself down and practice this method on a regular basis. Connect with breed experts from your area and learn more about the way you need to take care of your friend and socialize him properly. And of course, the sooner you start the better. Training in the early stages of life can do wonders even for the most “vicious” breeds out there.
Other Solutions and Considerations
If your dog simply has too much energy to throw around, think about exercising him on a regular basis, to avoid the lack of impulse control. If you are not able to properly exercise him daily, consider hiring an experienced dog walker or a dog trainer, who will do the work for you. The way you usually walk your dog is also important in making sure he develops normally. So be sure that your dog is walked with a collar and leash that is tailored to him, as some dogs will have pulling issues and will be much more under control when walked with a head-halter.
The bottom line is that your dog can be as caring and loving as you train him to be. If you know your dog is more prone to developing an aggressive behavior, spend more time with him and allow him to rehearse only desirable behavior. After all, in most cases, an aggressive dog is the fault of the owner.