No genuine animal lover would want an aggressive dog, as aggression can often be a sign of stress or trauma on the animal’s part. A Finnish study on aggressive dog behavior concluded that demographic, environmental and behavioral factors affect an animal’s inclination towards aggression. This can include their daily time spent alone, experiences during their weaning age, and whether they get daily exercise.
As we mentioned previously in our article on ‘Dog Owner Responsibilities’, dog owners have a role to play in their pets’ behaviors, and aggression is one of them. So, here are some tips for dealing with an anxious or aggressive dog:
Get a cage
The common misconception is that cages cause barriers and frustration in dogs because they limit their space against their will. However, an article by The Nest on cages explains that this only tends to happen when dogs are forced into their cages for long hours by owners as punishment, whether deliberately or out of neglect.
Properly introducing a cage to your aggressive dog can provide them with an outlet to cope with any stress and satisfy their desire for territory. The cage then becomes their sanctuary amidst potentially anxiety-inducing scenarios. This conditions a dog to learn how to calm down on its own. Start by encouraging them to respond to simple verbal commands like “cage” or “kennel,” before guiding them into the cage using treats.
Opt for dog liability insurance
During the long process of counter-conditioning aggression, it’s important to have a safety net. While some homeowner insurance policies cover damages, the coverage may be limited. For potentially more serious cases, a Sound Dollar breakdown of dog liability insurance discusses that compensation for medical bills, costs to repair or replace property, and legal expenses in case of a lawsuit can be covered as “third party” insurance.
Even dogs that have never exhibited anxiety or aggression can benefit from liability insurance. After all, even friendly behaviors like jumping up can unintentionally cause harm. Experts thus recommend a minimum coverage of $100,000 for liability and $1,000 for medical payments, which can cost as little as $10 per month to up to $125 per month.
Consider behavior training
Liability insurance only covers “third parties,” and most dog bites come from the family dog. Focusing on preventive measures is therefore still important. You can start by consulting dog behavior experts, who can help you train the aggression out over time.
Veterinarian Dr. Mark discusses safety words as necessary for behavior training. Special commands like “come” or “touch” allow dogs to drop everything and follow, even in cases of potential aggression.
You can use this command when walking outside with your dog and you spot the moment that they see another animal or human. In this case, you can pre-emptively stop them if they’re going to lunge, and redirect their attention elsewhere. This slowly counter-conditions their aggressive behavior and trains them to seek rewards by following instead.
Exercise releases endorphins in the brain and helps relieve symptoms of anxiety which can make people irritable, and the same goes for dogs.
Studies show that dogs can actually mirror their owner’s stress levels, which could prompt a change in lifestyle. Try running or jogging with your canine every morning — make sure to study up on safety words beforehand — and see how this affects your lifestyles for the better.
Mutual welfare is a partnership, and it’s important to build this on trust and genuine care for your furry pal. Dogs don’t deserve to live with stress and trauma, and you can do your part by helping correct their behaviors and providing them with safe, secure alternatives.