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Dogs + Behavior

  • Aggression between household dogs can be difficult to treat. You will need to identify the situations in which aggression arises and ensure that you are not encouraging a more subordinate dog to challenge the more confident dog. Similarly, you would not want to encourage the dog that is less interested in a resource to challenge the one with a higher motivation to hold on to that resource.

  • Aggression between unfamiliar dogs can be due to fear, hierarchal competition, possessive behavior or protective behavior over territory or owner. Aggression between dogs can result in injury to dogs and/or to the people trying to separate them.

  • Prevention starts with puppy training and socialization. Early and frequent association with other dogs will enable your pet to learn proper interactions and reactions to other dogs. This can be very helpful in prevention of aggression to other dogs. Socialization must occur with other dogs that are calm and able to communicate well with other dogs, and should progress to a variety of shapes, sizes and personalities of dogs.

  • Aggression is the most serious and dangerous behavior problem that dog owners may need to face. Since there are many different types of aggression, making a diagnosis, determining the prognosis (the chances of safe and effective correction) and developing an appropriate treatment plan are usually best handled with the help of a veterinary or applied animal behaviorist.

  • There are multiple reasons that a dog may exhibit aggression toward family members. The most common causes include conflict aggression, fear-based or defensive aggression, possessive aggression, food guarding aggression and redirected aggression. Fear-based, possessive and redirected aggressions are discussed in other handouts in this series.

  • For many dogs, jumping up on people is part of their greeting routine. Often, owners have tried to discourage this behavior using methods such as squeezing the front feet, stepping on the dog’s toes, or kneeing the dog in the chest.

  • Door charging and uncontrollable excitement when visitors arrive is extremely disconcerting and potentially dangerous. Without proper control of your dog he could charge out the door and into the street where he might get injured.

  • Most puppies and many adolescent dogs love to explore and chew, so it should be no surprise when they steal household objects. When you try to get these items back from your dog, a chase ensues because the game is fun, because the dog enjoys the attention and because the dog is reluctant to give up its new found “treasure”.

  • Dogs will be dogs. They’ll fetch, roll over, and beg. They’ll also chew, dig, and bark. Sometimes, they are cute, and sometimes, they are troublesome. Which canine behaviors are normal and which are problematic?

  • Dogs, especially puppies, are extremely playful and investigative. While play with people and other dogs is an important part of socialization and social development, exploration and object play are important ways for dogs to learn about their environment.

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