Posts Tagged ‘aggressive dogs’

Did you know? One of the leading causes of pet abandonment is poor behavior. Few dogs are always perfect, but strongly negative behavior should be addressed right away.

Destructive or aggressive behavior by dogs has been linked to:

  • health problems (pain, disease or disorder), especially in older dogs
  • a traumatic event (abuse, house burglary, dog fight)
  • lack of proper social training
  • a lack of proper obedience training
  • fear
  • neglect

After medical reasons have been ruled out by your pet’s doctor, the next step is to consult with a professional dog trainer.

To determine whether a problem exists and the severity of it, compare your pet’s behavior to this list of behavior standards. Is there room for improvement?

  1. Friendly toward people, including well-behaved children.
  2. Friendly toward other friendly dogs.
  3. Does not become anxious if left alone for a reasonable period.
  4. Eliminates appropriately.
  5. Readily gives up control of food, toys, and other objects to owner.
  6. Relaxed during normal handling and touching.
  7. Calms down quickly after being startled or getting excited.
  8. Not overly fearful of normal events.
  9. Barks when appropriate, but not excessively.
  10. Plays well with people, without becoming too rough.
  11. Plays well with other dogs.
  12. Plays with its own toys and doesn’t damage owner’s possessions often.
  13. Affectionate without being needy.
  14. Adapts to change with minimal problems.
  15. Usually responds to owner’s requests and commands, such as sit, stay, come.

(From JAVMA 2004; 255(4): 506-513 and Veterinary Forum, June 2008, P. 28)

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Repost from June 14, 2011.

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Did you know?

  • Each year, more than 4.5 million people in the U.S. are bitten by dogs.
  • Almost 1 in 5 people bitten by dogs require medical attention. 
  • Every year, more than 800,000 Americans receive medical attention for dog bites; at least half of them are children.
  • Children are, by far, the most common victims of dog bites and are far more likely to be severely injured.
  • Most dog bites affecting young children occur during everyday activities and while interacting with familiar dogs.
  • Senior citizens are the second most common dog bite victims. ¹
Any dog, any age, any breed, can bite.

Any dog, any age, any breed, can bite.

Every year, thousands of people seek emergency medical treatment for dog bites. How can you avoid being one of them? Follow these tips from State Farm Insurance and the American Veterinary Medical Association:

Be cautious around strange dogs and treat your own pet with respect. Because children are the most frequent victims of dog bites, parents and caregivers should:

  • NEVER leave a baby or small child alone with a dog.
  • Be on the lookout for potentially dangerous situations.
  • Start teaching young children — including toddlers — to be careful around pets.
Children must be taught NOT to approach strange dogs. Children should be taught to ask permission from a dog’s owner before petting the dog.
Other tips that may prevent or stop a dog attack:
  • Don’t run past a dog. Dogs naturally love to chase and catch things. Don’t give them a reason to become excited or aggressive.
  • Never disturb a dog that’s caring for puppies, sleeping or eating.
  • If a dog approaches to sniff you — stay still. In most cases, the dog will go away when it determines you are not a threat.
  • If you’re threatened by a dog, remain calm. Don’t scream. If you say anything, speak calmly and firmly. Avoid eye contact. Try to stay still until the dog leaves, or back away slowly until the dog is out of sight. Don’t turn and run.
  • If you fall or are knocked to the ground, curl into a ball with your hands over your head and neck. Protect your face.
     These tips and more are available in a brochure at our office.
Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

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Every year, thousands of people seek emergency medical treatment for dog bites. How can you avoid being one of them? Follow these tips from State Farm Insurance and the American Veterinary Medical Association:

“Be cautious around strange dogs and treat your own pet with respect. Because children are the most frequent victims of dog bites, parents and caregivers should:

  • NEVER leave a baby or small child alone with a dog.
  • Be on the lookout for potentially dangerous situations.
  • Start teaching young children — including toddlers — to be careful around pets.
     “Children must be taught NOT to approach strange dogs. Children should be taught to ask permission from a dog’s owner before petting the dog.”
     “Other tips that may prevent or stop a dog attack:
  • Don’t run past a dog. Dogs naturally love to chase and catch things. Don’t give them a reason to become excited or aggressive.
  • Never disturb a dog that’s caring for puppies, sleeping or eating.
  • If a dog approaches to sniff you — stay still. In most cases, the dog will go away when it determines you are not a threat.
  • If you’re threatened by a dog, remain calm. Don’t scream. If you say anything, speak calmly and firmly. Avoid eye contact. Try to stay still until the dog leaves, or back away slowly until the dog is out of sight. Don’t turn and run.
  • If you fall or are knocked to the ground, curl into a ball with your hands over your head and neck. Protect your face.”
     These tips and more are available in a brochure at our office.

When he’s this close, can you tell if he’s smiling or snarling? Luckily, this guy was happy to meet me. Photo by Jennifer Miele

     I love big dogs.  We have some real doozies come through here:  French, Italian, and English mastiffs, gargantuan Great Danes, supersized German Shepherds, daunting Dobermans, Rottweilers built like a brick house, even a Saint Bernard or two. Large dogs are huggable, squeezable drool machines, and with the proper training they are great company. But any dog, any size, any breed can bite. While a small pooch can deliver a nasty injury, large dogs hold a greater potential for harm. For that reason, I believe owners of large dogs have a serious responsibility to train and control their pets at all times, but especially in public.
     Even though I’ve worked in a veterinary clinic for a couple of decades, I have no secret weapon for fending off aggressive dogs. I have had my share of scares while hiking through state parks and other public places where dog owners keep their pets on a long leash or no leash at all.  Admittedly, it is quite difficult to keep cool when approached by a hostile animal. The worst part is how the owners seem to move in slow-motion to stop the dog, as if they are absolutely certain their pet won’t bite. But who wants to be on the receiving end of their incorrect assumption?
     Luckily, I was never bitten in those encounters, although the dogs certainly got close enough. My usual response is to turn sideways to the approaching animal (rather than face it head-on), arms at my sides, and staring straight ahead as if ignoring it. I’ve managed to hold this stance even while the dog tries to intimidate me with its growling, snarling, and bared teeth.
     Eventually, the pet owner catches up and calls off Fluffy, the raging Golden Retriever (scarier even than my encounter with a couple of roving German Shepherds), and all is well. Except I can never seem to look those people in the eye, because if I do, it might end with me growling, snarling, and baring my teeth at them. That’s how I feel about folks who insist on walking large dogs off-leash in public parks.  ~~  Jen
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What’s your opinion on walking dogs off-leash in public areas? Do you love it? Hate it? Don’t care? Have you ever had a scary encounter with a dog? Tell me about it in the comments section.

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Few dogs are always perfect, but aggressiveness or destructive activity, especially on a regular basis, should be addressed with a professional trainer or animal behaviorist.

     A leading cause of pet abandonment is poor behavior. 

  • Negative behavior may be due to medical causes such as pain or organic dysfunction. 
  • Or the cause may be a traumatic event the pet has suffered, such as abuse, house burglary, dog fight, etc. 
  • Some dogs are not properly socialized during early puppyhood; this, combined with a lack of proper obedience training, can cause it to act aggressively in adulthood. 
  • A dog’s breed should also be considered, as many working-breed dogs require a job or some sort of activity to keep them occupied (see next bullet point.) 
  • All dogs require human companionship, to feel they are a part of the “pack.”  Left to its own devices, a dog that is bored or ignored can become destructive.

Medical causes of poor behavior should be ruled out first.  The pet owner may wish to then contact a professional trainer or implement an at-home behavior modification program.  Some veterinary companies have introduced medications that are meant to be used as training aids for dogs that suffer separation anxiety.  Two of the most commonly used drugs are Clomicalm and Reconcile.  Both drugs come with training instructions which should be followed on a consistent basis by each member of the family.  Neither drug is meant to control aggression in dogs.

     Owners who are considering euthanizing an aggressive or destructive pet may first try placing the pet in a boarding kennel or other temporary home for two to four weeks.*  The owner should then gauge his feelings during the pet’s absence.  Does the owner feel relieved the pet is gone?  Does he or she long for the pet’s return?  Does the dog’s absence inspire the owner to continue searching for a solution?  Or is the household better off without the pet?  The answers to these questions can help determine whether the pet should be returned to its household or placed with a new family. 

     *The act of kenneling the dog is not meant to modify its behavior.  Rather, the purpose of kenneling is to allow the owner to experience and examine his or her feelings about living without the pet.

     In the case of aggressive dogs, care should always be taken so that no one in the former home or foster home is injured.  Owners are urged to contact a professional trainer who has a record of success and humane methods of working with aggressive pets.   

     Finally, how does your pet compare to the following list of behavior standards?  Is there room for improvement?

  1. Friendly toward people, including well-behaved children.
  2. Friendly toward other friendly dogs.
  3. Does not become anxious if left alone for a reasonable period.
  4. Eliminates appropriately.
  5. Readily gives up control of food, toys, and other objects to owner.
  6. Relaxed during normal handling and touching.
  7. Calms down quickly after being startled or getting excited.
  8. Not overly fearful of normal events.
  9. Barks when appropriate, but not excessively.
  10. Plays well with people, without becoming too rough.
  11. Plays well with other dogs.
  12. Plays with its own toys and doesn’t damage owner’s possessions often.
  13. Affectionate without being needy.
  14. Adapts to change with minimal problems.
  15. Usually responds to owner’s requests and commands, such as sit, stay, come.

(From JAVMA 2004; 255(4): 506-513 and Veterinary Forum, June 2008, P. 28)

Read Full Post »