3 Common Misconceptions About What Makes a Dog Aggressive

If you watch the news or read the paper, it’s likely that you’ve come across a story about someone getting attacked by a dog.

And I bet you that 9 out of 10 times, the dog in the story is some sort of large male dog—perhaps a specific breed, like a Pitbull or German Shepherd.

While I don’t doubt that these stories are true, the media seems to have a way of twisting around facts and creating misconceptions about why attacks like these occur. Even worse, these types of stories often stigmatized various dog breeds, dog sizes, gender, etc., with an unfair reputation.

As a dog trainer, I’ve worked with thousands of different types of dogs (check out how I’ve trained over 37,000 dogs here!), and I know that there are a lot more factors associated with dog aggression than the usual ones that keep coming up

So, today I wanted to talk about three of the biggest misconceptions about what makes a dog aggressive. Do you believe any of the following myths?

Keep reading to find out…

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Misconception #1 – Aggressive Dogs are Mostly Males

As humans, we tend to think of females as a gentler, more nurturing sex. On the flip side, males tend to be classified as the more dominant, rough and tumble gender and yet here are the stats that I recently found during a survey that we carried out.

In a simple Quiz we ran of almost 30,000 aggressive dogs and puppies, we found that 56% of those aggressive dogs were male and 44% were female.

Now before you draw the conclusion that males are more aggressive…This result means that out of 30,000 dogs, close to half of them were female. With all the other factors that go into the mix such as people buying male dogs specifically for status, protection, and being guard dogs there is clearly more to this issue than it being a male dog issue.

In fact, a study from Psychology Today looked at male dog vs. female dog aggression and proved flat out that the idea that male dogs are more aggressive (despite testosterone levels) is not accurate at all.

Here’s a snippet from the study that explains why…

Science does not find that the issue of sex differences in aggression is simple and always predictable when it comes to dogs. Evidence suggesting that male dogs are more aggressive is consistent with the fact that aggressive behavior can be triggered by testosterone, the principal male sex hormone.

In dog versus dog aggression, it is true that male dogs do posture, threaten and challenge each other more than females, though this is largely ritualized display aimed at establishing social rankings. While it can be disturbing and embarrassing to the respective owners, serious injuries to the dogs are rare.

Female dogs threaten less frequently, but overall are more independent, stubborn, and territorial than their male counterparts.

The females are actually much more intent upon exercising their dominance and while males can forgive an occasional transgression of canine protocol or a failure to recognize their status, females do not.

This explains why actual fights are more likely to break out between two females and these often occur without much advance warning. These fights between females are more of a “no holds barred” affair rather than the male ritualistic fighting that includes snapping at the air in front of the opponent or using inhibited bites to threaten rather than to maim.”

In a nutshell, both male and female dogs have the potential to become aggressive, as the results from our survey showed.

It’s clear that aggression is much bigger than just a male dog issue.

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Misconception #2 – Large Dogs Are The Most Aggressive Dogs

The second misconception is that large dogs are more aggressive than small dogs.

The main reason this is, is because when a large dog attacks, they tend to do more damage (biting, scratching, etc.) than a small dog.

Because of this, attacks via large dogs that lead to severe injuries or even death are publicized more than smaller dog attacks that might only result in bruising or a few stitches.

See how easy it is for our perceptions to be skewed?

What might be even more shocking to you is the suggestion that smaller dogs actually tend to be more aggressive than larger ones.

In fact, a study from the University of Veterinary Medicine in Vienna surveyed 1,276 dog owners who owned dogs of various sizes and discovered that overall…

  • Small dogs were less obedient (for example, they are not as reliable in responding to common commands like “Sit,” “Down,” and “Come”).
  • Small dogs were more excitable and pugnacious (more likely to bark or growl at strangers, visitors, or other dogs).
  • Small dogs were more anxious and fearful (easily spooked in strange situations, or when exposed to loud noises like thunder and fireworks, and nervous in the presence of strangers).

Now, of course, all of these things could have something to do with the training that these little dogs received. However, it’s also true that all three of these factors can easily trigger aggression.

Personally, I haven’t come to any decision about the size of a dog and them being aggressive… I see it very much like people, there is not much correlation with aggression and a person’s size…As far as I am aware there are just as many aggressive big people as small!

When it comes to dogs, the good news…

With proper training these behavioral issues can be curbed, leaving you with a calm and relaxed pup—regardless of your dog’s size.

So if you have a dog that is struggling with any of the issues listed above, I highly recommend you check out this post about my program, The Dog Calming Code.

This program provides kind, gentle, and effective solutions for resolving behavioral issues that might lead your dog to act aggressively.

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Misconception #3 – Breed Determines How Aggressive a Dog May Be

Last, but not least, the BIGGEST misconception is that your dog’s breed determines how aggressive a dog will be.

Once again, this idea is falsely skewed based on stereotypes and a lack of information provided about a dogs background.

The breed is like the race of a person. There are calm, gentle and aggressive, violent people in every race. Think about it, can you really generalize an entire population of people? English, American, French, Italian, Egyptian, Chinese. There are so many variations within every nationality and so it is with the dog breeds.

For example, one of the most stereotyped breeds of dogs is the Pitbull. It’s assumed that this breed is aggressive and—to be fair—of course, there are cases out there that deal with injuries and even deaths related to PitBull attacks.

But here’s what the media isn’t always telling you…

Many of these attacks occur because this breed is often purposely treated poorly and are sometimes trained to fight and be aggressive.

The dog’s behavior has very little to do with the breed itself, and so much more about the way the owner treats the dog.

Take the same dog that was trained for dog fighting and put him in a different loving, nurturing environment as a puppy, and he’d be a totally different animal.

Not convinced? Here’s some enlightening information from a study conducted by Rachel Casey, a researcher at the University of Bristol’s School of Veterinary Sciences…

“Casey sent out 15,000 questionnaires to dog owners. About 4,000 people sent them back. Analyzing their responses, Casey found that certain traits of an owner said more about a dog’s aggression than the dog’s breed could.

For example, dogs with owners under 25 were almost twice as likely to be aggressive than dogs with owners over forty. Unsurprisingly, dogs who attended puppy-training classes were half as likely to be aggressive to strangers.

Owners who trained their dogs using punishment and negative reinforcement wound up with twice as likely to be aggressive towards strangers, and three times as likely to lunge at family members.

“These data suggest that although general characteristics of dogs and owners may be a factor at population level, it would be inappropriate to make assumptions about an individual animal’s risk of aggression to people based on characteristics such as breed,” the researchers write.

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What Actually Causes Dog Aggression…

We’ve just debunked some of the biggest misconceptions surrounding what makes a dog aggressive.

Now that we know it’s not breed, size, etc., that makes a dog aggressive.

So what is it?

Well, I want to leave you with a quick summary of what I believe to be the 3 biggest factors that lead to aggressive canine behavior.

Factor #1 – Lack of Guidance

Dog’s need guidance in order to learn what behavior is acceptable and what’s not going to be tolerated. This is especially true around other dogs.

This guidance should be given in the form of training as a puppy ideally—training that should continue to be carried out through the dog’s entire life.

However, even if you have missed out on this opportunity you can still implement it at a later stage when your dog is older. Ensuring that they know you are in charge is a crucial part of dog ownership, from this position you can gently guide them and show them the way.

To do so check out my foundation program: THE DOG CALMING CODE

(If you have a puppy, my Puppy Coach training program might be a better fit for you!)

Factor #2 – Lack of Boundaries

Dogs need boundaries.

Without these boundaries, it’s easy for dogs to become anxious and overwhelmed—behavioral characteristics that often lead to aggressive outbreaks.

Furthermore, it’s vital that the boundaries you put in place teach your dog that you are the provider or leader.

Once these boundaries are established, it’s much easier for your dog to follow your lead, listen to your direction, and not feel like he/she has to be in control.

Factor #3 – Lack of exercise and stimulation

Finally, pent up energy and a lack of stimulation can easily lead a dog to become aggressive.

After all, if your dog has no outlet to release his tension, all the energy can build up, causing him to behave in ways he normally wouldn’t.

Don’t let excess energy cause your pup to become frustrated and aggressive. Make sure you provide him with at least 30 minutes of exercise per day.

Do you need help with your dog’s aggressive behavioral issues?

If so, I invite you to check out my foundation program: THE DOG CALMING CODE

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Cheers,

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Doggy Dan Signature
~Doggy Dan 🙂

Doggy Dan’s Guide to Safe Muzzle Use for Dogs

If you have an aggressive dog—or a dog who has the potential to be aggressive—you may have to consider using a muzzle.

That being said, a lot of people don’t understand when it’s appropriate to use a muzzle or what type of muzzle is the safest choice for their dog.

For that reason, I want to talk about different types of muzzles, the pros and cons of using muzzles, and how to pick a muzzle that will keep both you and your dog safe.

Of course, muzzling your dog isn’t a long term solution. If you have a dog that is aggressive, I encourage you to check out my program The Dog Calming Code to see how I’ve helped countless dogs overcome aggressive tendencies.

Check out the program here.

Or, if you have a puppy, check out my Puppy Coach training program to see how you can set a solid foundation for your pup and prevent him from developing aggressive behaviors.

But, in the short term, keep reading to discover my suggestions on how to pick and use a muzzle that’s appropriate for your dog…

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Common Muzzle Usage Misconceptions

To begin, I want to discuss one of the biggest mistakes that people make when it comes to muzzles.

That mistake is that people think using a muzzle will train a dog not to be aggressive.

This is certainly not the case.

A muzzle is not a training device. It should only act as a safety device or safety net!

It is a great tool that you can use while you are training your dog. But, it does not really deal with the cause of the problem.

So, if you start using a muzzle, you also need to do some actual dog training to help resolve your dog’s aggressive tendencies.

Stressed dogs are NOT happy dog’s.

Another misconception is that people think it’s OK to bring a very aggressive dog who’s showing serious signs of aggression out in public places (park, cafe, etc.) as long as the dog wears a muzzle.

This isn’t fair to your dog or other dogs and dog owners.

Sure, your dog may not be able to bite with a muzzle on, but he’s likely going to still be stressed out.

This stress can attract unwanted attention from other dogs and comments from other owners!

The bottom line is this…

A muzzle isn’t going to correct your dog’s aggressive tendencies. You still need to implement training to see positive changes and results.

Until your dog begins making progress with aggression training, it’s not fair to put a muzzle on him and take him out to places where he might be anxious and/or upset other dogs.

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Which Is the Right Muzzle for Your Dog?

As you can imagine, there are many different types of muzzles.

However, you can group the majority of them into two groups.

1. Basket Muzzles

First, there are what we call basket muzzles.

These muzzles look a bit like a woven basket and are designed to allow dogs to open their mouths a bit, breath, drink, and even eat without any problems.

A basket muzzle…

2. Sausage Sleeve Muzzles

The other type of muzzle is what I call a Sausage Sleeve Muzzle. It’s a funny name, but it reminds me of the way a sausage skin contains meat.

The problem with this muzzle is that it’s tight and is very fitted to the dog’s muzzle. For this reason, dogs who wear them struggle to drink, can’t eat, and have a hard time breathing.

The reason is simple.

A sausage muzzle wraps around a dog’s nose like a sleeve as in the picture below.

This forces the mouth closed and prevents the dog from opening his mouth and breathing properly.

This type of muzzle is very effective at keeping a dog’s mouth closed so he can’t bite.

However, this design forces a dog to breathe through the nose and can cause big issues…

For instance, if it’s hot outside, your dog needs to be able to pant to stay cool. With the sausage muzzle on, a dog can’t pant, which can lead him to overheat, get really sick, or even die.

It’s also true that most dogs need to breathe a lot when outside because, by default, they are being exercised, running, and are excited…so getting lots of oxygen in is super important!

On top of it all, the dog wearing the muzzle might be stressed (hence the need for the muzzle), and the contact stress can lead to more aggression, putting your dog in a vicious aggression circle.

Exceptions to the Rule

Despite the fact that I don’t recommend sausage muzzles for when a dog is being exercised outside, there is a place for them.

They are very secure and safe, which makes them ideal for some people like veterinarians.

When a vet uses this type of muzzle, he or she is often indoors in an air-conditioned facility, and the muzzle is only kept on for a short time.

In this type of situation, using a sausage muzzle is safe for both the human and the dog.

So, as you can see, there are exceptions to the rules.

If you see a vet or other similar animal care provider using one, I wouldn’t worry too much.

The Halti Head Collar

Finally, there is one more type of device that looks like a muzzle that I want to mention, even though it’s not actually a muzzle.

The reason: I see a lot of people often confuse it with a muzzle so I wanted to clarify its purpose.

The Halti is a head collar…

It fits over a dog’s nose and uses pressure to gently prevent dogs from pulling on the leash.

That being said, dogs can still bite while wearing a Halti, so it shouldn’t be used for aggressive dogs.

A Halti head collar is NOT a muzzle!

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My Muzzle Recommendation

If you’ve made the decision that you need to use a muzzle, you might be wondering what type you should use—especially because some are dangerous in certain situations like the one I mentioned above.

If you have an aggressive dog, the actual muzzle style I recommend is a specific brand of basket muzzle, known as a Baskerville muzzle.

The Baskerville Muzzle

This type of muzzle is a basket-shaped device that goes on the front of the dog’s face. It’s open enough that it allows a dog’s jaw to open so he can breathe, drink, and even eat!

This muzzle also has a number of safety features, which make it incredibly strong and secure.

Best of all, they are wellsized and wellfitted so they are comfortable for dogs.

I have used them for over a decade now, and they are absolutely brilliant.

If you’re interested, here’s the link to the one I use!

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The Best Time to Use a Muzzle

So far, we’ve covered common muzzle-using mistakes as well as what type of muzzle you should use.

Now, I want to talk about when it’s appropriate to use a muzzle.

Use a Muzzle as a Safety Net

You may have put a lot of time in at home working to get rid of your dog’s aggressive tendencies. And now, you may be ready to try taking your dog to the park or in a public place.

Although you’ve put in the training, you might still worry about your dog biting.

That is a great time to say, “Well, let’s put the muzzle on just in case.”

You’re not saying, “I think my dog is gonna bite, but he won’t be able to bite because he has a muzzle on.”

You are saying, “I really don’t think he’s gonna bite. However, let’s not take any chances.”

It’s like a safety net—it’s not that you expect to use it; however, it’s there on the off chance that you will. And that is how you should be viewing the muzzle.

Use a Muzzle When You Can’t Avoid a Dangerous Situation

The next time that you should use a muzzle is when you have to put your aggressive dog in a situation that you cannot avoid, like going to the vet.

Doing this will keep both you, your dog, and the person handling your dog safe so no accidents happen.

Use a Muzzle When You Are Super Stressed

Lastly, a muzzle is brilliant if you are the one that is very stressed and worried that your dog will bite someone.

The reason is that dogs pick up on our energy. If your dog senses you are stressed, he will be more likely to feel stressed as well and bite.

If you’re able to relax knowing a muzzle is on your dog, your dog will be able to relax, too.

Muzzle Sizing

Before we finish up, it is important to point out that the size of the muzzle is very important.

If it is too tight, it can rub on your dog’s nose, create sores, and put pressure around the face and push on the end of the dog’s nose.

Improperly fitted muzzles can also block a dog’s vision or become unsecured when it is too loose.

You need to make sure you get the right size muzzle.

Here’s a quick video of me replacing a sausage muzzle with a Baskerville muzzle.

Check out the fitting and how the dog has more room to open her mouth and breathe..

Choosing the right dog muzzle

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Oh, and in case you have trouble with getting your dog to wear a muzzle, I put together some tips that will hopefully make it easier for you.

Grab my FREE guide on Tips for Training Your Dog to Wear a Muzzle…

➜ Access your FREE guide here.

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How to Find Success with Using a Muzzle

As I said earlier, a muzzle will not get rid of aggressive behavior.

For that reason, you must work on training your dog to get rid of his aggressive tendencies.

I know that the idea of training an aggressive dog might feel overwhelming to you.

You may not even know where to begin, and that’s ok. I’m here to help!

First, if you are really worried about your dog’s behavior outside, I recommend purchasing a Baskerville muzzle for your safety.

Don’t forget to download my FREE guide on Tips for Training Your Dog to Wear a Muzzle, too!

↓ Download the FREE guide here ↓

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And while you are waiting for your muzzle to arrive, I suggest you check out my online training program and get started with the training —The Dog Calming Code.

In this program, I will teach you proven and effective methods that are essential for calming your dog down and helping him put an end to his aggressive behavior.

Find out more about The Dog Calming Code here!

Best of luck!

Cheers,
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Doggy Dan Signature
~Doggy Dan

How to Overcome Your Fear of Aggressive Dogs to Become a Dog Trainer

If you’re somebody who’s thought about becoming a dog trainer, but you’ve been put off because you’re concerned about the dangers of working with aggressive dogs, you’re not alone.

In fact, I encounter people every day who absolutely love dogs, but who also have fears about working with them–especially if they have aggressive tendencies. If you’re that person, this blog is definitely for you.

Inside my Dog Trainer Academy, I’m currently working with lots of people who are training to become dog trainers. And believe it or not, dog aggression is one of the key concerns this group worries about as they are pursuing a career in dog training.

Crazy, right? But it makes sense.

As a dog trainer, it’s likely that you’re going to encounter an aggressive dog from time to time, so it’s really important to be prepared and know how to handle the situation.

For that reason, dog aggression is an issue that we’ve spent a lot of time going over. And we’re constantly having conversations on how to keep yourself safe, the owner safe, the dog safe, and the public safe while working with aggressive dogs.

The last thing anybody wants is anything going wrong.

Here’s what I want you to understand though…

Chances are that your thoughts about the dangers of becoming a dog trainer are far worse than the reality of the risks you’ll actually encounter while working with dogs.

Let me just give you an example of what I’m talking about. If somebody told you to cross a very busy road, it may seem dangerous at first.

But, after a little thought, you realize it’s really not that dangerous as long as you take all the safety precautions like using a crosswalk, stopping in the meridian if cars are coming or waiting until traffic quiets down before you attempt to walk across.

However, if you’re told to just run across it blindfolded, that’s crazy dangerous.

It’s the same with dog training.

When you’re working with an aggressive dog, depending on the safety measures you take, it can be as dangerous as you want.

As you’re going to see in this blog post, it’s possible to make working with aggressive dogs incredibly safe. That’s why, even after working with several thousand dogs, I’ve only ever had a couple of tiny nips despite the fact that many of the dogs I was working with were very aggressive to humans.

So, here’s what you need to know so you can overcome your fear of aggressive dogs and become a dog trainer…

First of all, it’s important to put appropriate safety precautions in place for any dog you’re working with–even if he doesn’t have aggressive tendencies. Any dog, regardless of whether he is big, small, old, young, aggressive or even happy, can bite.

If you make mistakes and you put a dog in the wrong situations, it’s possible for any dog with teeth to nip.

So, you always want to take safety measures and play it safe. Usually this involves keeping the dog at a distance where they feel safe and can relax. So it may be that they are out in the garden or they are inside but on a leash away from you. Ensuring you set this up before you even enter the property will keep you safe.

The next thing is that you want to show people exactly how they should be working with their dog when a new situation arises.

In other words, when you turn up as a visitor, you’re a great example of how they should handle their dog and work with every visitor. You don’t want to be saying, ‘Oh, I’m special so I’m going to do this, but don’t ever let your visitors do this!’

You want to be showing them exactly what it is that they should do when people turn up. For example, this may mean that you instruct the dog owner to put the dog outside or on a short line, until the visitors come in and the dog settles down.

It’s all about playing it very, very safe. People appreciate this sort of sensible approach, the dog calms down, you can relax and everyone is happy. Remember you are not on a reality T.V show here trying to impress and entertain the viewers!

The third thing, is the concept that you really don’t want to take any chances because if a dog does bite, everybody loses. The dog loses because now he’s got a black mark against his name.

The dog owners are disappointed. They paid money and now the dog has bitten. And you’re all feeling bad or not happy because you’ve got a bite mark, and everybody loses.

How do you play it very safe? Once again, if it’s a very aggressive dog things are going to take time and perhaps the solution is to use a muzzle in certain unavoidable situations and until you start making progress with the dog. It’s ok to take it slow and use aids that ensure everyone stays safe.

If you have even the slightest bit of worry that a dog is going to bite or attack, protect yourself by setting the situation up safely before the consult even begins. It’s that simple, and everyone wins that way.

The three things we just talked about are important when you’re heading into a consult with people that truly have an aggressive dog.

But, want to know a little secret? A lot of times people classify their dog as aggressive, and it’s simply not true.

It’s very possible that you’ll get to your client’s home, sit down, have a cup of tea, chat with the client and then realize the dog they need your help with is a beautiful dog who is friendly with 99% of people.

The reason they need your help and have classified the dog as aggressive might be as silly as the dog growled at someone who was antagonizing the dog. In which case, the dog isn’t really aggressive and has every right to be a little peeved at being teased.

At this point, it’s all about educating the human about overstepping boundaries with the dog…and not so much about needing to ‘fix’ an aggressive dog.

Other times, though, a dog may be very aggressive and the owner may say, ‘Oh, he would never bite.’ It’s important that in this situation you go with your gut feeling and not just the owner’s word!

It’s up to you to set expectations and call the shots. If the dog is barking and jumping at the window trying to get at you, it’s totally acceptable to ask the owner to put a muzzle and a line on the dog.

You make the decisions, which in turn will keep you safe.

Dog-on-Dog and Dog-on-Human Aggression

As we move on, I think it’s important that we talk about the two main types of dog aggression.

The first type of aggression is dog-on-dog aggression. The other is dog-on-human aggression, where the dogs are aggressive to humans for some reason.

For the purposes of this post today, I want to focus mainly on dog-on-human aggression. This is generally the type of aggression which scares people away from wanting to work with dogs for a living.

The main type of aggression when it comes to dog on humans is what I call fear‑based aggression, where the dogs are actually scared and nervous.

I’m generalizing here because typically this type of aggression is caused by a mix between a dog being fearful and a dog being a little bit dominant. But mostly, this type of aggression is caused by a dog that is fearful.

Dogs that fall in this category are not looking for a fight. They’re not looking for trouble. However, if they’re put in a corner or if you approach them, they may become so scared that they will snap at you.

If you give dogs with this type of aggression a bit of space, they’re going to back off and back away.

That’s the good news.

Those dogs primarily are going to stay away from you, which means that when you get into their home. if they’re on a leash. you can put them in time out or you can move into the back garden…that sort of thing. They generally calm down once they see that you’re not a threat and then you can bring them back into the room to work with them.

Generally, that’s the way I like to work with these dogs.

The other types of dogs are what I call dominant dogs.

They’re usually very confident dogs who want to be the boss, who want be in charge and who want to control everything. They are certainly more pushy and are more likely to move towards you.

This might sound scary at first, but it’s actually good to know. This means you can prepare ahead of time to keep things safe by asking the owner to put the dog on a line so the dog doesn’t charge at you or try to dominate you.

How My Dog Training Methods Keep People Safe

So, how do my dog training methods actually help these dogs?

Well, first of all, I think it’s very important to understand that, as a dog trainer, I don’t ever say I’m going to come and magically train a dog. I don’t take a client’s dog away. I don’t say I’m going to wave a wand and sprinkle some magic dust into the food bowl.

Every technique I use is an understanding of how the dog’s mind works. I explain to the dog owners how a dog’s mind works. And then, when the owner understands what’s going on with their dog, they are then able to put some training in place that will transform their dog’s behaviour.

It all begins with training, or should I say, educating the owner of the dog. Not so much being hands-on with the actual dog from the get-go.

At the end of the day, dogs have a hierarchy, which is very important to understand. Most times, an aggressive dog (whether they are dominant or fearful) is aggressive because they are making the decisions and they are trying to protect the property or protect their pack.

So, my training method begins by teaching dog owners to let their dog know, ‘Hey, I’m in charge. I’m going to protect the property. I’ll make the big decisions. You can switch off and relax.’

When you do this, the dog’s mind calms right down. It’s almost like you’re saying to them, ‘You can take the back seat. You don’t have to be this decision maker.’

That’s very powerful because, a lot of the time, aggression occurs because the dog’s mind flicks into this overexcited, over reactive state. Once they’re in that very excited and reactive state, it’s very hard to get through to them. This occurs because they believe they’ve got a job to do–they’ve got to protect the property and protect their owner.

So, if you can remove that role, they become far, far more relaxed, and working with the dog becomes far safer.

The foolproof way to keep yourself safe during a consult is to ring the client’s bell or make a phone call to ensure all the safety precautions are in place.

Once the owner puts your precautions in place, then you can turn up at the front door, and do another check before you come in.

It’s possible that you might work with an aggressive dog and never touch him once over the course of the training. And that’s perfectly ok.

Very often, I have said to a person, ‘I’m not going to end up touching this dog today, but I’ll give you the skills and the understanding of how you can transform the dog.’

I’ve rung people after a couple of weeks later and asked, ‘How’s it all going?’ and they said, ‘Absolutely, brilliant! The dog is nowhere near as reactive as he was.’

The amazing thing is most owners are very happy with this approach.

They don’t want high risk. They don’t want you seeing if you can kind of pat their dog on the head just so that you feel like you touched their dog.

They expect you to be the professional. So, when you provide logical, sensible, safe information, they’re very happy. They’re very grateful and you explain that not only are you dealing with the symptoms of the aggression but you’re also going to give them these exercises to help the dog’s mind control, which will deal with the cause of the problem.

That’s reversing this hierarchy, where the dog thinks he’s going to make all these decisions and protect you.

Hopefully, that has given you an idea of how much safer it is to work with these dogs than you probably thought. There are dogs where I’ve turned up and they are meant to be aggressive, and we’ve sat and played and had cuddles, and the person has been amazed.

There have also been consults where I know a dog is aggressive and make it clear that, for my own safety, I won’t be touching the dog. Nothing wrong with that.

The last thing I want to mention is that you are allowed to be choosy about your consults.

When you’re starting up, you may not feel good about taking on a very aggressive dog. That’s absolutely fine. There’s no rule that says you have to accept clients with aggressive dogs.

It’s okay to pass on a consult and say, ‘Hey, I don’t think I’m the right person for this job right now.’

There’s nothing wrong with starting with easier dogs…dogs who are only a little bit aggressive maybe, or smaller, younger puppies.

At the end of the day, the idea that dog trainers are constantly working with aggressive dogs who are lunging and barking and trying to bite savagely isn’t the reality.

Perhaps one in every hundred dogs I come across is actually what I would call aggressive, and with those dogs, I play it incredibly safe. And when I play it safe, the owner can also relax, the dog relaxes and I relax.

When this is done, people can see how you can actually move forward using this slow, patient, logical and sensible approach.

So, don’t let aggressive dogs put you off from pursuing your passion to become a dog trainer.

If you’re still interested in becoming a dog trainer, I’d love to share more with you about my Dog Trainer Academy program.

If you’re not ready to take the leap to become a dog trainer yet, I advise that you take a different route and check out my program, The Dog Calming Code.

This program will give you all the training tools you need to learn the best way to train dogs to remain calm and listen to you when it matters most!

See how I’ve trained over 37,000 dogs here!

Have a great day and thanks for reading this post.

Cheers,

Doggy Dan Signature
~Doggy Dan

The Ultimate Guide to Dealing with Dangerous Dog Aggression Issues

Dog aggression. It’s one of the biggest reasons that people…

  1. Dump their dogs on the side of the road.
  2. Send their dogs to shelters.
  3. Have their dogs euthanized.

It’s heartbreaking and tragic, but it happens every day.

Why? Because people truly don’t believe that there is hope to change the behaviour of a dog. And they fear that a dog’s aggressive tendencies may put themselves or the people they love in danger.

Before we go any further, I want to say that I get it. And I don’t blame anyone who takes preventative measures to ensure they stay safe.

I myself have a family. And I would do anything in my power to ensure my beautiful wife and children were kept safe from any harm that could come their way.

That being said, I also know that dog aggression is an issue that can be fixed. And with a little time and training, any aggressive dog can be given a second chance at living a safe, happy and healthy life.

In fact, if you’re looking for a quality program to help get you started, I highly recommend you check out The Dog Calming Code.

Or, if you have a puppy, I recommend starting with my Puppy Coach training program.

These training programs will give you all the training tools you need to help get your dog to calm down and relax so that aggression isn’t an issue.

In just a minute, I’m going to share a collection of articles I wrote that address the topic of dog aggression (both dog-on-dog aggression and human aggression). Read everything from start to finish, and I guarantee that you’ll be a lot closer to understanding how to help your dog (or a family member/friend’s dog) that has aggressive tendencies.

But there’s one more thing I want to make clear…

There are many ways you can help a dog get over aggressive issues. In some cases, you’ll be able to use the tips I give you and find success. In other cases, it might be necessary to rehome a dog–especially if you have small children or other animals that are at risk.

Example: You may have a dog who is loving toward people, but hates cats. If you can’t curb this behaviour, the cat’s life is at risk. This might mean you need to find a new loving home for the dog with someone who does not own cats.

Certainly, the goal is to find a solution so the dog and cat can live peacefully side by side–and it can be done! But, if after using my training techniques and consulting with a dog trainer, the behavior isn’t changing, you may have to reevaluate your situation.

It’s your responsibility to do both what’s best for your dog and what’s best for your family. And if you’re currently in a situation where lives (of both humans or animals) are at risk, you need to take that into consideration.

With a little work, it is possible to find a happy ending for both you and your dog. So, without further ado, let’s jump into it!

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Fear Aggression Training: The Amazing Ability for Dogs to Change

I remember my mum telling me when I was young…

‘You know what I love about you, Dan? You always look after the kids that are weak and need help.’ She wasn’t talking about dogs at the time, but it’s true.

And I guess I haven’t changed!

My heart always wants to reach out and help. This morning I was able to help a sea bird injured on the beach, and I often rescue honey bees I find lying exhausted around the property. All they need is a little sugar solution and a place to rest before heading off in the morning back to their hive.

I’ve always loved the underdog.

Buck, a dog I’ve had the privilege of working with, is one of those ‘underdogs’ who totally captured my heart. He’s a dog I learned a lot from…and I think you will too.

So, before you continue, check out this quick video clip of me working with Buck.

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Now that you’ve watched the video, I thought I’d share with you a few things that come to mind as I look back at my time with Buck about dog aggression, fear and the ability that dogs have to change.

Read the rest of Buck’s story here.

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Training Aggressive Dogs: Understanding Dominant and Fearful Aggression

Over the years, I’ve worked with thousands of unruly and aggressive dogs who were hostile to other dogs. And that’s what this is about…understanding dog-on-dog aggression.

One encounter that sticks in my memory is a Great Dane Border Collie cross who weighed close to 80 kg and was so aggressive that when I brought him out of the car on a double leash my dogs hid in the bushes on the far side of the park.

On the other end of the spectrum, I’ve also seen tiny little dogs snap away at my biggest dog, Jack, whilst he calmly ignored them and carried on smelling the flowers!

And from these experiences, I’ve learned that size, breed, color, etc., tend to have nothing to do with why a dog is aggressive.

With that in mind, I know that when working with an aggressive dog, I have to answer a few questions…

‘Why did they do what they did?’

‘What was the goal of their aggression?’

‘What made them do it?’

If we can answer those questions, then we get a better understanding of where a dog is coming from and then can form an approach that will help him start to relax and overcome his aggression.

Clearly, there are many different reasons why a dog may be aggressive. He may have a fear of something happening. His aggression may be linked to some previous abuse. Or he may feel threatened of somebody or simply have a serious lack of confidence.

If I tried to go into all of those problems, we’d be here for days.

So, today my focus is going to be on how to better understand the difference between dominant and fearful aggression–two of the most common types of aggression. Then you’ll be able to get an idea of what you can do to help aggressive dogs.

Keep reading to discover more about the different types of aggression.

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Stop Dog-on-Dog Aggression At Home

Dog aggression between dogs living in the same home is an interesting topic for a number of reasons. The main one has to be the question ‘Why would two dogs who have lived together, often for many years, suddenly attack each other?’

Let’s explore: Why are my dogs fighting?

Now, I should mention here that I am not talking about little squabbles, growls and minor disagreements. This sort of behavior is commonplace and usually over in a matter of seconds with absolutely no damage or injuries to speak of.

Over the years you become used to hearing loud eruptions of noise in another room, and sprint to the scene of the crime only to find all the dogs lying around quite happily looking at you as if to say, ‘What’s the problem? No drama, we’ve sorted it out.’

Serious fighting

The serious fighting that I am talking about is very different–where the dogs are out to injure, dominate or hurt the other dog. It leads to puncture wounds, visits to the vet and can end up very serious.

In this situation, it is clear that the dogs are not scared of each other, like they may be of an unknown dog that happens to pass by the property. And, after a fight, the dogs may be wary and display some signs of fear for one another, which generally subsides until the next flare-up. But, this behavior still doesn’t explain why, after years of playing together, they have suddenly become arch-enemies.

Triggers are not the key

Even though there may be an obvious trigger that has set the dogs off, do not be fooled into thinking this is the cause of the problem. A bone, a ball, trying to receive pats or cuddles from an owner or increased stress levels in a home can all add to the chance of dogs fighting–but it’s not the cause. The real long-term solution does not lie in the trigger.

Power of the pack

To understand a dog, you need to recognize the power of the pack and the need to have strong pack leaders who are lovingly showing them the way to behave. When they are not present, the dogs will do their best to fill the vacant position.

With two dogs present and no human filling the role of decision maker or leader, it is often a case that they will simply fight it out between them to see who will be in charge.

Of course, every situation is different in the details, but in a nutshell, this is how the dogs see it, and the solution is no different. You need to become the pack leader. The solution is that simple.

In-home fighting is not something that can be solved using pats, cuddles, positive reinforcement and treats alone. You need something more. I often say it’s about understanding dog psychology and where the dog is coming from rather than just ‘training the dog’.

Continue reading to learn more about becoming the pack leader here.

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When Dogs Bite Their Owners – Why It Happens and How to Prevent It

Ever wondered why on earth a dog would bite his owner? Or maybe your question is even closer to home, such as, ‘why did my dog bite ME?’

Why did they do it? Was it random? Have they tasted blood? Is this the end? Can anyone help now? Is it too late?

When dogs bite it can be extremely stressful for all involved. The good news is that there is a solution, and it’s not rocket science.

To get a better understanding of why dogs bite and how to prevent it, listen to this audio I created just for you.

After you’ve listened to the audio, read the rest of the post here.

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Excited and Aggressive Dog Greetings

Excitement or Aggression?

‘So, is my dog being aggressive, or is he just excited?’ This is the big question that many people are asking themselves (and often me) as their dogs race up bounding and barking at dogs that they meet.

The answer is not simply one or the other, and in most cases, I would suggest it is a bit of both. As I explain in the podcast, the more excited your dog is, the more chance that his behaviour may be interpreted as aggressive or threatening. The calmer your dog is, the better your chances of a calm encounter.

What should you do when your dog is pulling and lunging?

Listen to my podcast to find out…

The trick of calming an over-excited dog is training him to be calm. This is a very subtle point but is crucial for success and often overlooked.

For my tips and tools on how to do this, read the rest of the article here.

I really hope that these tips and tools will help you help your dog overcome his aggression issues. Remember, there is always hope, no matter how bad the situation is.

Best of luck!

Doggy Dan Signature
~Doggy Dan 🙂