I’ll point something basic out right off the bat. You’ve probably heard it hundreds of times before, but your dog is not human. Too many dog owners make the mistake of thinking that their dog sees the world in the same way they do: He doesn’t.
Dogs learn differently than humans. Specifically, they are very context focused. What I mean by this is that if you teach your dog to sit on your command in the kitchen, he won’t necessarily follow the same command when you’re in the park. You haven’t taught him to. Your dog learned to respond to your instruction in the kitchen, not anywhere else. So, until you start to show your dog that you expect him to sit on command in additional settings, he simply won’t understand what’s expected of him.
Many people try to address the issues they are experiencing with their dogs by sending them away for training with a dog behavior expert. This approach is fundamentally flawed.
Similarly, if you have been the only person to issue commands to your dog, he has associations with you, but not necessarily anyone else. So what does all this mean for aggressive dogs?
If your dog behaves aggressively toward you or members of your family, it is highly likely that he is exhibiting a form of dominance aggression. This simply means that there is a problem between the dog and the person he is behaving aggressively toward. You need to solve this problem as quickly as possible.
Many people try to address the issues they are experiencing with their dogs by sending them away for training with a dog behavior expert. This approach is fundamentally flawed. Here are five reasons why:
- As I described above, dogs are contextual learners. As such, if you send your dog for training outside the home, he may learn not to behave aggressively in the training setting; however, it is highly likely that his behavior will remain unchanged at home.
- Dealing with an aggressive dog can be a stressful experience. If your dog has exhibited aggression around you, it may take you quite some time to trust the dog again. As such, it won’t be enough for your trainer to simply tell you that your dog’s behavior has fundamentally transformed; you’ll need to witness that for yourself. Helping your dog to overcome his aggressive behaviors is a process that you need to engage in together. It’s not something one can do without the other.
- Dogs learn through associations. Your dog’s aggressive behavior at home may be part of a well-established routine. As soon as he returns home from his training experience, he’ll likely just return to old habits. To break these habits, you need to be inextricably linked with the dog’s rehabilitation process.
- Some dogs behave aggressively because they are scared, territorial, or seeking a position of dominance. The training approach that is appropriate for your dog will depend on the cause of the behavior. However, you and the home environment are standard features in all cases. For example, if your dog is territorial, training him to control his aggression anywhere else but in the home won’t make a bit of difference. Likewise, if your dog is aggressive because he’s seeking to dominate you, this is something you can’t work on if he is being trained solely by someone else.
- Training your dog is not something you achieve within a set period of time. It is an ongoing process, and you need to maintain good habits throughout. You need to know the steps the trainer has used to manage the behavior and need to practice them yourself on an ongoing basis. Otherwise, all the good training will gradually unravel, and you’ll find yourself back where you started.
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