Being faced with an aggressive dog, in re-education, too often justifies the use of methodologies that end up worrying dog owners. Strangle collars used violently, collars with the points facing the dog’s neck, electric shock collars, kicks, screams, angry tugging.
These practices often betray the dog’s anger reaction, convinced that it is basically a matter of obedience: if the dog behaves differently than I wish, he is questioning my role.
Aggression is not answered by force, as some “educators” believe. According to many experts, if anything, coercion is not necessary and in many cases it is highly counterproductive.
1. FOR HIM IT IS A PROBLEMATIC SITUATION
In truth there are many factors that lead a dog to be aggressive.
Fear, competition, territoriality. protection, predation, for example. In these cases the four-legged simply tries to do his best to face a problematic situation (at least according to his point of view) and is so taken by the emotions that he “doesn’t listen”.
Daniel Colemann, author of “Emotional Intelligence”, would call it “Seizure of the amygdala”. In other words, a state of mind in which you cannot think or regulate behavior.
The insights in neuroscience to which he refers in his book, in fact, have their roots in the study of the brain of mammals, including the dog. In other words, when the dog is aggressive, he doesn’t understand anything anymore and that’s why he doesn’t listen.
The main intervention by the experts, in this case, is to re-educate the emotions, help him to make love and to change the way he knows the world.
But why, then, are there some who say that coercion can only be used with aggressive dogs? Lies that some “experts” end up believing.
2. AGGRESSIVITY STARTS “FROM INSIDE”
First of all, though, if we want to help our dog, we need to understand what aggression is.
According to the Einaudi dictionary of ethology, edited by Danilo Mainardi “Aggression is an internal or motivational state that influences an animal’s predisposition to attack. As is known in the human field, aggression does not always result in aggressive behavior and, therefore, it is good to keep this term distinct from that of aggression “.
This definition confirms that aggression starts “from within”.
If we want to do a good job with the dog, it is of little use to inhibit aggressive behavior with punishment: until it changes its internal state and what triggers it (motivations, emotions, abilities, beliefs) we will not get a decrease in aggression.
For the internal change to take place it is necessary to change what the dog thinks of the other dogs.
This is another reason why it is necessary not to tie the presence of other dogs to unpleasant or painful events, such as tugging, reproaches, collars with the tips facing inwards and the like.
The advice is also to avoid as much as possible the conflict between dog and owner, which occurs when the owner wants to subdue the dog, wanting to impose himself as a “pack leader”.
The reading of the book is highly recommended “Behavioral psychotherapy of dogs and cats” by Benjamin L. Hart and Lynette Hart.
3. Aggression is a manifestation of threat or anger
– Aggression is a manifestation of threat or anger
Always according to the dictionary of ethology, the term “aggression” refers to the manifestations of threat, anger and possibly attack against an animal of the same or different species or even any object. (…)
Animals make use of aggression both in interactions with conspecifics (for example, in territorial disputes) and in those with individuals of other species (for example, to defend themselves from predators).
– AGGRESSIVENESS BETWEEN MALES IS THE MOST STUDIED
According to our dictionary, the forms of aggression are different: for example, intraspecific (between dogs) and interspecific (between dog and humans) predatory, offensive, defensive etc.
In particular, aggression intrasexual (same-sex dog, male or female) is the most studied form of aggression and on the basis of which ethologists have built their motivational models of aggression.
The common aggression between males, therefore, not only technically falls into the different forms of aggression, but is even the most studied form of aggression by ethologists.
4. TRAINING 0 BEHAVIORAL REHABILITATION?
It is quite evident that the field here is represented by behavioral re-education which has little or nothing to do with training.
It will certainly not be teaching the dog the seated, the ground, the conduct to the foot, the carryover or the attack launched to modify its behavioral expressions. It is a necessary distinction.
Incidentally: doing behavioral rehabilitation does not mean “administering drugs”, but knowing how to act on more or less profound cognitive structures, such as social and emotional skills, or on other elements such as motivations and belief systems.
There are several behavioral veterinarians and dog trainers who make behavioral rehabilitation their job, often done in a superlative way.
That is, thanks to their intervention, dogs change for the better, become more adaptable, serene and happier together with their families. Yes, then, to training but without coercion.
There are many trainers engaged in different disciplines, from retrieving to obedience, from agility to rescue in water and between rubble. Their dogs are having a great time, they are full of health and enjoy joy from all the pores while they work.
There will also be those who compete in utility and defense without using violence and coercion. These people do useful and exceptional work.
Trainers, educators, behavioral rehabilitation instructors and behavioral veterinarians are not antithetical but complementary figures. None of them have more value than another.
5. Six points to better understand aggression
1. IT IS IN THE EOGRAM OF THE DOG
Aggression is perfectly contemplated in the dog’s histogram
2. IT IS NOT A PSYCHOSIS
This means that it is normal, it does not represent a psychosis, but nevertheless it could be a problem for a person who must bring the dog to the park every day
3. INTRASPECIFIC AGGRESSIVITY
If a dog growls or threatens another dog, it is “intraspecific aggression”, not “mere male hostility”
4. DIFFERENT LEVELS OF INTENSITY
There can certainly be different intensity levels, from simply barking and showing your teeth, to pouncing on other dogs, trying to bite them or cause serious harm.
5. DIFFERENT LEVELS OF DANGER
There are different hazard levels, depending on the size of the dog (the bite of a Jack Russell is different from that of a German Shepherd), the type of bite (scratches? Pliers? Holds? Shakes?), From the control exercised by the dog during the bite, by the target (who bites? children, the elderly, puppies or adults?) and other factors such as the predictability or unpredictability of aggressions
6. DEPENDS ON THE CONTEXT
Aggression can be considered a psychic problem when it is used out of context or in an inadequate way (it is normal for you to defend yourself by moving a dog away, it is not if you bite uncontrollably, causing great damage, in response to the only peaceful presence of another dog) and when there is no learning, that is, the behavior does not adapt, but remains in its rigid and maladaptive pattern, despite the exposure to experiences that in normal subjects would constitute a good learning environment.