My Dog & I: No Fighting or Biting

We are going to talk about aggression again… And when I stop getting calls about “aggressive” dogs, we can stop talking about it!! It is understood that your kids are going to argue.

It is understood that you will have moments of discord with your loved ones. It is understood that there will be disputes and disagreements in your life…BUT we are taught from very early on that physical violence is not to be condoned. Not in our kids, not between partners and not amongst our dogs.

Of course, there will be slip-ups and mistakes; we expect to have to remind our kids frequently that they are to exercise restraint and if we are good dog owners, we will start to show our puppies from an early age that they should not use teeth or body slamming to get attention or their own way. But the relationship between the adult and the child, and the dog and its owner must sit on the solid foundation of respect. We so often confuse our “loving” role with our “teaching” role.

It is easy to show a puppy early and clearly how to behave appropriately with its humans and other dog friends but what happens when we adopt an older dog who has already formed the habit of using his teeth? What happens when our normally “good” dog suddenly snaps or attacks another dog or a human? How do we handle this and move forward to a better space? I often hear that these incidents occur “out of nowhere” and that there was “no warning”.

They leave the humans shaken and sad, even sometimes afraid of their own dogs. If a person outside the family is involved, there can be legal and medical repercussions, not to mention guilt and embarrassment. Let’s all calm down and try to get these events in perspective.

If you have a dog that has exhibited this side of her personality before, it should come as no great surprise when she does it bigger and better each time.

It is your responsibility to control your animal when they are in company.

If you have a dog that has never shown any aggression and suddenly reacts badly; look for the moments leading up to the event and try to treat the incident with calm and enquiry. There is perhaps an underlying issue that has been building…Pain or confusion? Do not assume that this will happen again but be vigilant until an explanation or diagnosis has been discovered.

If you have a dog that has never spent much time around other dogs, do not expect it to know how to interact pleasantly with them or know how to “share” toys or space.

If you are having trouble in your home with a dog that is uncontrolled with you or your family…GET HELP. Many trainers will be able to help you structure a new pattern and enlighten you about underlying miscommunications but be aware that your family dynamic may have to change…sometimes quite dramatically.

There is often confusion about pack position in a house with unstable dogs and this must be recognized in order to achieve balance again. If you are in the middle of a noisy, messy, conflict…do NOT reach down between the dogs to try to separate them.

Once they have broken apart, do NOT let them re-engage as this is when some of the worst damage is done, and if you have to get physically involved, go for the non-pointy end!

Dog aggression is scary and often permanently changes our feelings about our dogs.

In this county we have a two bite rule. So, by being a responsible owner you are not only saving yourself vet bills and possible legal action but also protecting your dog’s life.

And remember, that in the dog’s world, he cannot “discuss” his preferences so it is up to us to be aware of the scenery from his point of view as well and the triggers for aggression are often perpetrated by unseen provocations…Yes, it may be that the Yorkie has been causing all the trouble!!!

Janine Lazarus. HashtagWV #115. July 2019. Follow Janine on facebook and instagram @goodladddogtraining and hire her at!

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