A dog that is aggressive with its congeners is certainly the most delicate problem to solve in terms of canine rehabilitation. Indeed, delicate simply because you have to know how to be patient, sometimes even know how to question yourself, rework your attitude or even your lifestyle. Re-educating a dog that is aggressive towards its congeners means doing work on his dog but also on himself.
Why is my dog aggressive towards other dogs?
Many causes can explain why a dog is or becomes unsociable with its congeners, here are a few (the most common shall we say):
- When he was a puppy, he was not sufficiently put in regular and positive contact with other balanced adult dogs during his socialization period, the dog in question was therefore unable to develop his canine codes and learn to speak dog.
- Socialization was done when he was a puppy but then, meetings were made more and more rare, the dog in question therefore “lost” his canine codes.
- The puppy or dog has had many bad experiences with his congeners or only one very traumatic.
- The puppy has a genetic problem which influences its ability to tolerate other dogs: in this case it will be necessary to consult a veterinarian and possibly offer the dog treatment against hyperthyroidism.
- The dog was adopted in a refuge / association and arrives in town after several years in the countryside without having ever met other dogs.
- You, as the owner (often small dogs), are afraid that your dog will be injured and therefore you avoid encounters between fellow dogs.
- The dog (if it is a male) is not neutered, it then produces testosterone which is a steroid hormone which can then cause a behavior of competition between several male dogs, not neutered.
Is my dog dominant?
As a dog trainer, I often hear the owners say to me: “my dog attacks his fellows because he is dominant”. It is a somewhat dangerous shortcut and above all completely meaningless.
Let me explain: the status of “dominant” is a fluctuating status. This means that a dog can seek to impose itself against dog A and completely submit to dog B. Dominance should absolutely not be seen as a trait in your dog !
The 7 tips when you have an aggressive dog with other dogs
Tip # 1 : If your dog is less than 1 year old, you can consider castration to limit the rise in testosterone which, for some dogs, will accentuate the spirit of competition with other males.
Be careful though, castration will not necessarily have an effect on your dog’s behavior. A study by Dr. Joël Duhasse even shows certain effects that can worsen the “bad” behavior of the dog in question. Do not hesitate to speak to your veterinarian.
Tip n ° 2 : favor controlled meetings! If you are not sure whether it will be alright, there is no need to take the risk. It is also not a question of taking a dog “at random” during one of your walks and hoping that it will go well. So, to put the odds on your side and to really control the situation, favor meetings:
- with a dog of the opposite sex,
- with a tolerant and balanced dog (which has dog codes),
- with a dog of similar size,
- in a neutral and secure place where dogs can move freely.
Tip # 3 : Be consistent and reassuring for your dog. It’s easy to say, I agree, but if you are scared or upset as soon as your dog starts to be aggressive, he will take your discomfort as a valid reason to attack. So, be sure of yourself: either you let the dogs meet and in this case, respect advice n ° 2, and do not influence the behavior of your dog, or you do not consider it opportune to proceed with the meeting and you go your way as if nothing had happened.
Similarly, if you decide to set up a meeting, and grunts begin to be heard, do not intervene right away, except to say possibly in a very calm voice: “it’s coooool”. If you get upset and / or interrupt the exchange between the two dogs, it will only make the situation worse.
So, it is always best to let two dogs communicate together, and grunting is a form of communication.
Tip n ° 4 : accustom your dog positively to wearing a muzzle so that there is no physical damage during a possible violent confrontation. The muzzle is a safety tool, which will allow you, in addition, to be much more relaxed during the exchange.
Tip # 5 : Strengthen your dog’s obedience so you can have control over him. When a dog becomes aggressive, for whatever reason, it often becomes unmanageable. Reinforcement of obedience can then allow you to recover your dog’s attention in moments of great reactivity.
Often, the owners of aggressive dogs tell me: “I don’t understand, at home he listens to me though”. And this is quite normal, at home there is no such great stimulation … So we must strengthen basic obedience, first in the living room, then in the garden, then on a stroll in a quiet place, then in a park, etc.
The important thing in training a dog is to go step by step and not try to go too fast at the risk of destroying all the work done upstream.
Tip n ° 6 : call on a professional dog trainer who offers both individual lessons but also group educational lessons through collective walks for example. This can be a good exercise for your dog, because it will thus integrate an already formed group. And an aggressive dog will go less “attacking” within an already consisted group simply because it will not have the shoulders to attack all the dogs.
In addition, a male dog for example which attacks mainly males, will be less tempted to do so within a large group because it will generally prefer to play with females.
However, this advice is only valid if you choose a professional club with an already present community. Let me explain, for this kind of work to be relevant and effective, do not go to see a canine trainer who offers group lessons only from time to time and rarely with the same dogs. For example, myself a dog trainer, I offer group lessons but it is very rare that it is the same people who participate because I do not function at all as a “club”.
Then prefer professional clubs (if possible) where you will be supervised by a professional dog trainer and where you will regularly meet the same dogs.
Please note, an assessment and an individual follow-up must be done in order to know if this activity will really suit your dog and will be really relevant in solving your problems.
Tip # 7 : Be aware that your dog may not be able to get along with all dogs. It is inconsistent to say that a dog can accept all contact with its congeners. Do you appreciate everyone?
Without this becoming problematic and binding on a daily basis, it must be admitted that a dog remains a dog. For example, I have a 5 year old Border Collie, not neutered, who, at the age of 2 years started to attack the males. It is clearly due to testosterone but also due to some bad uncontrolled experiences (like what, it happens to everyone). Well I take my dog as he is and will not make him meet with other males if I know that it will not go well. I prefer to further strengthen my relationship with him, the fact that he “leaves” when I ask him and that he manages to drop the case on indication.
No dog is perfect, and no master either. Do not be too harsh with your dog, or be too harsh with yourself. It is sometimes necessary to adapt to the character and “reflexes” of his dog. However, all the advice set out above will have to be put in place to still allow a harmonious cohabitation and a serene daily life.