Dog owners want to do right by their dogs and make sure they have a joyful life. However, if your dog has been expressing aggressive behaviors toward other dogs and humans, that is cause for alarm. You may feel like you can't take your dog on walks, go to the dog park, etc. without fear of your dog being violent and causing harm to another creature, which could land you in a world of legal trouble. It is important to fix these aggressive behaviors with training techniques.
Technique #1: Resocialize Your Dog
A dog may feel a sense of negativity when in the presence of another dog because he or she may be punished a lot when around them. In this case, the dog needs to be resocialized and begin to see that there are treats and positive reinforcement when other dogs are around. This goes back to Pavlov's Classical Conditioning where dogs learned that the sound of a bell predicted food, much in the same way dog owners can give a treat when approaching other dogs.
Technique #2: Shaping
Shaping can also be used to mold your dog's behavior toward a desired goal, like not expressing aggression. Shaping is where you reinforce each small action the dog makes toward the goal, mostly by utilizing treats and praise. Most dog owners use this type of reward system in some form already. So, the next time you take your dog on a walk and you approach another dog, give yours a treat to associate goodness with seeing another dog. Then, your dog can behave his way into earning more treats if he stays calm and doesn't get aggressive.
Technique #3: Training for Opposition
Next, you should train your dog in behaviors that are incompatible with aggression on cue. At first, you will have to intercept your dog if he tries to lunge, bite, etc., and have him instead do some type of command, like “sit” or “stay." If he obeys, then he gets a treat. After awhile, when you see another dog, this behavior will become automatic, where your dog looks to you for a command upon seeing another dog.
Technique #4: Jolly Routine
The Jolly Routine is a cornerstone technique created by William Campbell, a behavior counselor. This is where you use your mood to affect your dog's mood. For instance, if your dog is fearful, try to pull him out of that mood by laughing, tickling, or anything that you think would help break the mood. For fearful dogs, you can make note of words, items, and expressions that make your dog happy and can broker mood changes. Pair this with treats and your dog's aggressive mood will change quickly!
You should be able to be free to walk and play with your dog without the fear of another animal or human getting hurt. If your dog is not trained in anti-aggression techniques, then he could cause serious damage and even death to other animals and humans. If the case arises, however, that your dog has seriously injured another dog, person or you’ve been hurt in a scuffle, be sure to call an injury lawyer, like an Appleton personal injury lawyer, to get your facts straight as to how you should move forward. No one wants an aggressive dog. By trying out these 4 training techniques, you should be on your way to a far less aggressive furry friend and a much happier you.