A good three-quarters of the clients in my canine behavior practice are seeing me because of their dogs’ aggressive behaviors. Canine aggression can be heartbreaking – when someone is injured, when the bond between the dog and her human is damaged or broken, and especially when the potential outcome is euthanasia for the biting dog. The vast majority of the time when the human is committed to implementing the management and modification protocols presented in this book, their dogs are successful at learning how to live in their world without resorting to aggression. There are several important things I consistently tell my clients as they work with their dogs:
• There is no magic wand. Your dog’s behavior will only change if you invest the time and effort into making it happen.
• Behavior modification is not linear. Don’t despair if you seem to be making progress and then experience an apparent backslide. Keep working – it will get better.
• If you think you are going too slow… slow down. Behavior modification takes time – if you rush it you will likely make things worse. Make haste slowly.
• Management is critically important to a successful modification program. You must create an environment where your dog isn’t allowed and doesn’t feel compelled to bite someone. Dogs who bite people tend to have short lives.
• If anything in your management/modification protocol seems to be making your dog’s behavior worse instead of better, stop doing it, figure out what’s going wrong, and make necessary changes.
(Of course I tell my clients to contact me immediately so I can help them make changes to the program.) This session is intended to give the attendee a better understanding of canine aggression, what it is, and what causes it, along with a review of science-based, force-free protocols for successful management and modification of aggression.