Force- Free Dog Training, LLC
by Jeff Holmes

Dog Aggression

Dog Aggression is the fastest growing problem in the world of pet dogs.  Lack of early socialization, suspect breeding practices and failure to detect early signs of what can become a problem have led  many unsuspecting dog owners to be left with a dog they don't know how to handle.

Jeff Holmes has been leading the way in the rehabilitation of aggressive dogs for over a decade. Without the use of harsh, pain-inducing corrections, and using gentle, Force-Free methods that anyone can perform, Jeff  has rehabilitated thousands of aggressive dogs, many of whom had been deemed vicious and hopeless by other trainers and even veterinarians.

Aggression in Dogs can take many forms. Some only guard their bones. Some will clear a room to eat dinner. Some go after anything that moves. Others go after only other dogs. For some, it's people they don't like.  Whatever is behind the mystery of why little Bentley doesn't like Uncle Fred, we can solve it.

Food guarding aggression is about possessing something. The problem with this is that food is everywhere. It doesn't have to be the dog's to be guarded, it just has to be valuable to him. Once it's on the floor, he's competing for it. Once it's in his mouth, it's his. At this point, it is often too late to get the item back. Dogs are opportunists, and they are fast. Reaching for the dropped item may get you bitten. You might know that. Your neighbor doesn't. Neither does your 4-year-old daughter.

Aggression toward other dogs has been on the rise for the past generation. There are various contributing factors. Bad breeding practices contribute significantly. Early removal of puppies from the litter is another factor. In the critical period of early development between about 12 days old (when puppies open their eyes) and 7 weeks, puppies begin to develop social skills. Romping and playing with each other, they begin to learn to love others of their kind, the rules of play and bite-inhibition (knowing how hard to bite in play, and what is too hard a bite). When we remove puppies from the litter early, say at 6 weeks, they lose a significant amount of that development time in a very small window of early development.

Aggression toward small animals is very common in a multitude of dog types. It is not just the Terriers and Northern Breeds that still have this instinct. All dogs have it (that's why they chase balls). This can become a problem in the home, the yard and on leash. At Force-Free Dog Training, LLC, we will get your dog to stop chasing the cat and lunging for squirrels in the park.

When puppies are removed from the litter late (16 weeks or later), they miss a critical period of the most important socialization time. They are already late in beginning to meet the world beyond the litter and home, and they may have trouble adjusting. Fear-responses to new things are often not taken seriously because of the pup's young age. This often leads to a naturally occurring increase in fear over time. It is common for these fears to reach phobic levels and can lead to Fear-Aggression responses.

Aggression toward people is the most insidious of dog aggression issues. Thousands of dogs are euthanized every year in the U.S. for aggression. When an unsuspecting owner sees their sweet, lovely dog turn momentarily into something they don't recognize, it is a disheartening shock. 

                  Professional help is always needed to eliminate this problem.

Putting the dog out when guests arrive is not a solution, it's the avoidance of dealing with the issue. It is akin to skipping a meeting you are unprepared for. It's not neutralizing the problem, it's making it worse. The longer you avoid the boss, the worse it gets. The longer a dog goes without the opportunity to improve, the more ingrained his mindset gets. These issues must be addressed immediately. 

Dominance Aggression in dogs is often misread. Sometimes the aggression is directed at the owner. This is particularly shocking and always unexpected. Dominance Aggression often takes the form (early on) of a dog refusing to let you do something the dog doesn't like. Don't be fooled - that gentle mouthing is not playful or harmless - it's a early warning sign. The sign reads: "if you keep doing this to me, I will eventually bite you".

Whether your dog goes after all strangers, or just the seemingly random 1 in 50 passers-by, it becomes a huge liability, in home or out in public. A growl should not be considered incidental or an isolated incident. 

            Left unchecked, aggression of any form ALWAYS increases over time.

You cannot love the aggression out of a dog. It's not about you. It's about his breeding, temperament and rearing. It's about his early development and experiences (or lack thereof) in his environment.

It's not just those that fit the tough dog stereotype. Aggressive dogs are small & large, intimidating or adorable-looking, young and old. Any type, breed or age can have aggressive issues.

Don't be surprised when your adorable Bichon Frise displays possession (like a toy, or you) guarding behaviors that are a hallmark of the breed. Don't be shocked when your gentle Golden Retriever shows food bowl aggression -that's typical of Goldens.

Using tools and techniques that you will be able to effectively use yourself every day, Jeff Holmes will help you to retrain your aggressive dog so that he can fulfill his potential and be enjoyed by everyone.

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