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The great majority of cases of aggression toward people can be stopped and controlled with good training and an owner who is dedicated and willing to properly and responsibly manage and continue training with their dog. Most aggressive behavior toward humans is caused by insecurity, fear, lack of rules and boundaries, lack of control, lack of training or bad training, and lack of firm leadership.
That being said, aggression towards people can be serious and dangerous. We will honestly assess and advise you regarding your dog’s behavior and ongoing associated risk. In many dogs, while the aggression can be managed and risks reduced, aggression toward humans is a liability that should not be taken lightly. For this reason, we may not tell some people what they want to hear nor make promises that should not be made. In cases of aggression, it is just as much our job to inform you of the risk level your dog may present and advise you accordingly. We take into account the dog’s size, strength, and the type of aggression the dog is displaying as well as the owner’s living situation, family dynamic, physical limitations, and skill level.
Lastly, many people who come to us concerned that their dog is aggressive actually have a reactive dog. Their dog is behaving in a seemingly aggressive manner, but has no real intent to cause harm and the behavior may stem from insecurity to over stimulation. We can evaluate your dog to determine if your dog has truly aggressive tendencies, what the motivation or cause of the behavior may be, and which program would be best suited for your dog.
A simple definition of a reactive is a dog that overreacts to a stimuli in its environment. The most common cause of reactivity is fear. The reactive behaviors most commonly develop from genetic weaknesses, lack of socialization, improper socialization and is often compounded by lack of training.
Reactive dogs are not driven by the intention to cause harm, rather they are reacting to keep away whatever is in the environment that makes them uncomfortable. This is often seen as out-of-control behavior, lunging, and barking. While this reactive behavior can easily escalate into a bite, it can be managed and controlled, and with consistency, often can be eliminated.
While reactive dogs will usually choose to escape from confrontation, if backed into a corner, or if they feel they have nowhere to go, they can certainly choose to bite. This is often seen as a dog that bites someone who tries to pet it. This scenario is often attributed to the owner being unaware of the dog’s needs and requires both owner and dog education to help.
Other reactive behaviors can be more dangerous. For example, some dogs become over stimulated by their environment and in their state of frenzy will redirect their frustration on the nearest thing or person, resulting in a bite. The dog may not have any intention to attack the person and is simply looking for an outlet to release its frustration. In these cases, the reason why doesn’t make the bite any less painful or dangerous.
Aggressive dogs may be perfectly stable companions in the correct hands, or very dangerous liabilities in the wrong hands. These dogs may seek out confrontations and are not afraid of a fight. Aggressive dogs have the intent and desire to bite and cause serious harm to humans or other dogs. Bites from this type of dog are also more dangerous. While reactive dogs are biting from fear, thus will most likely bite and release, an aggressive dog with the intent of causing harm can bite multiple times in an extended attack or bite and not let go, causing serious damage. The bite force involved is also greater as the dog may use the full force of its jaws with no bite inhibition.
Dogs that are aggressive toward humans are the most difficult and dangerous to handle and train. We will help you determine whether your dog is more reactive or aggressive, the level of risk associated with the dog, and honestly guide you through your options.
This is not as simple of an answer as it may seem. Aggression is always managed and controlled, however the good news is most dogs are not really looking for a fight and are usually behaving “reactively”. Before explaining this further, no matter what the cause of the aggressive behavior, a bite is a bite and it doesn’t matter what the reason is.
Aggression and how much can be done depends on many factors including the dog’s genetics, the dog’s living situation, and the owner’s ability to handle it. A dog can have aggressive tendencies and be safely kept, but aggression should always be respected and always be under control.
When looking for help with an aggressive dog, be very skeptical of anyone who tells you they can “fix” it. That is a very dangerous assertion and not one that should ever be made, especially without really knowing the particular dog.
Unlike the huge majority of trainers and training establishments, Cosmic Canine trainers have either participated in protection sports (bite sport) or are well exposed to it. This experience gives our trainers far greater understanding of aggression and biting behaviors than the average pet trainers who claim to work with aggressive dogs (but in fact only will deal with reactive or small aggressive dogs) and have never lived with or trained a truly powerful and aggressive dog.
Yes, as long as you are willing to be dedicated to proper management and training, or open to alternative resolutions depending on the risk level. We cannot help anyone who is not going to follow through with training and management. Dogs that have bitten people outside their family, but have not shown aggressive tendencies to their own family members are generally cases that can be greatly improved with proper training and management.
If your dog is biting you or your family members, we can still help, but we will be very honest with you about what it will take in management and training to make the situation better. As with anything, we are here to provide expert advice and give you our honest assessment whether or not it is what you want to hear. In these cases, the size of the dog, risk the dog poses to the owner and owner’s family, and the ability of the owner to handle the dog are critical.