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Aggressive Dogs! More every day! What to do?

Do you know what the most common behavioral problem among dogs is? Aggressiveness or reactivity problems.

Some time ago, the most common behavioral problem in dogs was Separation Anxiety. However, nowadays, dogs suffering from aggressive or reactive behaviors have surpassed cases of Separation Anxiety.

In my daily life, out of every ten patients I see, seven are cases with aggressive or reactive dogs. A sad, difficult, but very real reality.

But why? Very soon, I will write another article where I will talk about the reasons why I think this is happening. But I can tell you now, it's closely linked to dog humanization. Accept it or not but treating dogs like people and going against thousands of years of evolution, is ruining our dogs. I'll talk more about this soon.

But what to do if you have an aggressive dog at home? A dog that behaves reactively towards people or other dogs. The best thing to do first and foremost is to talk to a professional. Your veterinarian, a dog trainer, or an animal behaviorist.

Look for someone who is interested in helping you, and not somebody who will just prescribe a magic pill promising you everything is going to be fine. In some cases, medication is necessary, but most of the time they are not! And they should never be the first way to approach the problem. If the professional's first action is to prescribe medication, be suspicious immediately!

The first approach should be to try to discover where the trigger for the behavior is. In other words, what leads or led the dog to learn to behave reactively. With this trigger found, desensitization techniques must be applied, exposing the dog to the trigger at a level that it can handle. After that, exposure should increase gradually, until the dog learns a different behavior to deal with that.

Corrections can be applied sometimes, however, they must be used with caution as in some cases they can lead to a worsening of the condition, causing redirected aggression towards someone nearby, such as the owner himself.

Teaching basic obedience techniques is mandatory for all dogs. Dogs that understand simple commands such as SIT, DOWN, STAY, COME, and walking correctly on a leash, significantly reduce reactive tendencies in adulthood.

But the best way to prevent your dog from becoming reactive or aggressive is to work on socialization from a young age. Learning to deal with life's stressors from a young age is very important. It doesn't matter how much you enrich your dog's environment at home, it doesn't matter if you live on a property with a huge yard, it doesn't matter if you have other pets at home! It does not matter! Absolutely nothing resembles interactions with what I call the outside world! Dealing with different people, animals, sounds, visual stimulation, and all the countless factors that we cannot replicate at home.

Think about that!

Marco Magiolo is a bestselling author, trainer, and speaker. Connect with Marco on social media and subscribe to future newsletters and updates.

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