DOG REACTIVITY

& AGGRESSION

Call Andrew at 604.866.0405 to book a FREE telephone consultation

In the past few years I have noticed a significant increase in the number of calls I receive for reactive and/or aggressive dog behaviour, so please know this: It's not just YOU... and it's not just YOUR dog!

 

BEHAVIOUR


Aggression is a very emotional topic so, regardless of who the aggressor is or who has been aggressed upon, there will always be a wide variety of emotions at play. Unfortunately, these emotions often get in the way because they tend to focus on 'what' happened at the expense of 'why' it happened. To be clear, aggression is a behaviour (not a character trait), so we must view the behaviour in terms of it being a response to a particular situation or stimulus. Using this mindset will allow us to avoid emotional obstacles, and deal with the situation properly.  

1. SAFETY

When dealing with reactive and/or aggressive beheaviours, safety is always of primary importance, so please do not undertake anything that you do not feel comfortable with or that you think might compromise the safety of you, your dog, or other humans and animals.

Research data consistently shows that attempting to 'correct', intimidate or otherwise phyiscally punish your dog for displaying reactive/aggressive behaviour significantly increases the risk of YOU being bitten by your dog. A much safer alternative is to de-escalate the situation and restore calm by either (a) removing the stimulus from your dog's presence, or (b) removing your dog from the presence of the stimulus, as quickly as possible. 

 

2. IS YOUR DOG HEALTHY?

Your dog's behaviour is directly affected by its health, so pain and illness should be ruled out prior to attempting a program of behaviour prevention and/or modification. Accordingly, you should have your dog examined by your veterinarian to ascertain if there is a medical reason for its behaviour.

3. BEHAVIOUR EVALUATION SESSION

A private session is required to evaluate your dog and the behaviour you are experiencing. Typically done in your dog’s home environment, the evaluation session can last anywhere from 1 to 3 hours depending on the complexity of the issue. In addition to evaluating the problem behaviour, the session includes:

 

  • Learning about your dog’s relationship with you and other members of your household.

  • Learning about your dog’s history, health, diet and general behaviour.

  • Interacting and working with your dog to better understand its temperament.

  • Ample opportunity for you to ask questions.

4. BEHAVIOUR MODIFICATION PROGRAM

No two dogs are exactly alike, nor are the circumstances and conditions that surround a problem behaviour. Not surprisingly then, there is no convenient “magic pill” solution to deal with behaviour issues, so a program comprised of behaviour prevention, management and/or modification must be developed to address your specific needs.

 

Depending on the issue, a program may contain a variety of strategies in order to provide an effective, safe and long-lasting solution. Recommendations may include the application of:

 

  • Environmental Management

  • Non-aversive quadrants of Operant Conditioning

  • Desensitization 

  • Classical Counter-Conditioning

  • Behaviour Adjustment Training

  • (among others)

 

Recommendations may also include your learning, understanding and/or use of:

 

  • Personal (benevolent) leadership skills

  • Creating and applying rules and boundaries

  • Canine Psychology

  • Canine Body Language 

  • (among others)

RESPONSIBILITIES OF THE CLIENT

While my purpose is to assist clients in successfully reaching their goals with their dogs, the success of a program is primarily influenced by the client’s willingness, level of effort and consistency. Due to this, and in order to assist clients to the best of my abilities, I have a “standard” in place regarding client willingness and participation in programs:

 

  • All members of the household must be willing participants.

  • The client(s) must provide the necessary ongoing effort.

  • There must be a consistent application of the program by all members of the household.

 

Questions? Comments? Please contact me to discuss the behavioural issue you are dealing with.

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