By the time you finish reading this article, you’ll have a better understanding of fear aggression in dogs. Plus you’ll also know several dog training behavior modification techniques to use when dealing with this problem in your dog.
What Causes Dog Behavior Problems Like This One?
Fear aggression in dogs can have many causes. Certain dog breeds, like the herding breeds, are more prone to this problem than others. Neglecting to socialize your dog when he’s a puppy can contribute to canine aggression towards strangers. Past abuse may also be a factor.
Even if puppy socialization isn’t an issue, many dogs go through a “shy” period when they hit adolescence at around six months. It’s important to keep exposing your pup to lots of situations to avoid him becoming wary of new people and new animals.
Dog Behavior Modification Techniques
If your dog is already displaying fear aggression, here are six steps for dog training behavior modification you can use to desensitize your dog to strangers. What you’ll be doing is teaching your dog that strangers are great!
To start, you’ll need a few volunteers to act as strangers. You dog also needs to be on a leash so he’s under your control at all times.
First, you need to identify your dog’s favorite treat. It shouldn’t be something he gets on a regular basis. Steak, liver, chicken, cheese, hot dogs, whatever it is, it should be something he absolutely loves.
Second, the only time he gets this favorite treat is when a stranger is present. You’re training your dog to associate this wonderful treat with a stranger being around.
Third, figure out what is triggering your dog to show canine aggression. He may be OK if strangers are outside, but not in the home. He may be scared of all men, certain men, or kids. Do sudden movements, or somebody getting too close agitate him? Observe him carefully to see what sets him off.
The fourth step is to expose your dog to a stranger. Stay inside your dog’s comfort zone. You want to move slowly so you don’t provoke him to an aggressive display. Your dog should know a stranger is around, but he shouldn’t be overly concerned about it.
Fifth, as soon as your dog is aware of the stranger, start feeding him treats. Sixth, before the dog starts getting aggressive toward the stranger, you either have the stranger leave, or your and your dog will leave.
It’s very important that your dog is continuing to eat the treats. If he won’t eat, then the stranger is too close. If the dog isn’t relaxed enough to eat, you’re moving too quickly with the dog training behavior modification.
Remember that you aren’t rewarding your dog for doing something right. What you’re doing is changing his emotional state.
More Tips For Dog Behavior Modification
You’ll continue to work within your dog’s comfort zone, varying the distance the stranger is from your dog. The stranger may be six feet away one day, eight the next, seven after that. As long as aggressive dog behavior isn’t seen, you’re doing fine.
Continue these steps for several weeks. Now you’re going to start working outside your dog’s comfort zone by having the stranger come a little closer, maybe five feet away. Keep working to reduce the distance your dog is from the stranger.
You can see that this is a long, slow process. It can be tempting to try to move along faster, but if you push too hard, you can undo all your hard work. Keep the training sessions short, and end the session if your dog is getting nervous.