Now we have a better understanding of how and why some dogs behave in an aggressive manner toward people, we need to adopt a program to demote the problem dog psychologically, and at the same time implement practical training routines that quickly teach the dog that it will have to change if it wants our time and attention.
If you implement the training program that is outlined below, remember not to slack off when you see signs of improvement. This is a mistake and only teaches the dog to wait patiently to reestablish its alpha, or near alpha, position in the pack as far as dominance is concerned.
The main aim is to:
- Remove endlessly repeated commands of “Stop it”, “No”, and excited voice tones.
- Use silence effectively to increase the impact of commands delivered that are clearly heard.
- Stop owners from panicking or becoming upset by their dog’s aggressive responses.
- Take complete control of all situations.
- Train the dog to accept you as leader at all times.
The following programs, either pursued individually or in combination, will improve your dog’s behavior. The more methods you implement, the better the result is likely to be.
Redefining Who’s The Pack Leader
Psychological demotion is the key to all the behavioral changes we wish to achieve – it sets the ground for the practical training lessons to follow. Whatever the type of aggression you are dealing with, fearful or dominant, this program should be implemented for at least one week before you attempt to deal with the specific type of aggression. Safety is paramount in all retraining programs.
Get the whole family together and agree upon a consistent approach. This speeds up the behavior change and reduces your chances of failure. All the adults and older children should occupy the top dog positions in the pack. The person whom the dog already respects most should implement parts of the program to which the dog is very resistant, until all family members can join in.
The dog has to be psychologically demoted; this is a non-confrontational approach and is safe even with children. Most people who follow this program notice a change within days. As you begin to implement the changes, some dog’s bad or boisterous behavior may worsen due to changes in routine, but this is a temporary blip and as the week progresses the dog should begin to respond positively.
Other dogs appear sad or miserable. Don’t misinterpret these visual signs. This is simply the dog taking the cautious approach while the pack is rearranged. So now let’s follow the program.
Days 1-7 Begin to deprive your dog of attention on its own terms. Take away every contact with you that he takes for granted or that you may have inadvertently given him. For instance, when you are reading a book or watching TV, the dog may nudge your hand and most people automatically respond with a stroke. Don’t! That’s now history. This means no more petting or free treats.
From now on, every treat or reward your dog receives will be for doing something that you want. We call this the reward link training. Every reward is attached to slink or training exercise. No longer will the dog receive any attention from you on demand.
These methods are not punishments. They are ways of initiating a new regimen in which you are the leader and your dog is led so that it can learn how to behave. We find that even fear-driven dogs become more obedient and less aggressive when this program is implemented without dilution. It is best to introduce the program over a two-week period.
Firstly, embark on a strict obedience course at a reputable club or preferably with a one-on-one trainer in the neighborhood. This has an enormous effect on your dog’s perception of who is boss and your future relationship. All members of the family should take part.
Here’s a recap of psychological demotion:
- Ban the dog from your bedroom.
- Around the house, make the dog get out of your way – do not walk around him.
- Give no unearned treats.
- Remove all toys and balls. You decide when the dog has them.
- Stop petting your dog “for free”. Petting is now earned.
- Ban the dog from any rooms/areas of the house that he treats as his own territory.
- Don’t let your dog through a doorway ahead of you.
- Teach your dog that he will only get his food when you are ready.
- Ignore any nudges or solicitations while you are reading or watching TV. Leaders ignore lower pack members.
- Only let the dog into the living room by invitation, and make sure that he leaves the room when commanded to do so.
For more tips on how to stop your dog’s aggression click below!