I’m sure I’ll be addressing this issue again and again, as I have so many times in the past. Countless times I’ve been asked to evaluate a dog that has been labelled “aggressive” that actually just exhibited some aggressive behavior.
So.. what’s the difference? Simple, If I upset you, slap you, taunt you or annoy you, you might act aggressive, even if you are not an aggressive person. A person who is a bully, is violent or abusive is aggressive in nature.
Often times, even in play, a dogs actions may be misconstrued as aggressive, when they in fact are nothing less than just a dog acting like a dog. A dog might snap when he is handled in a certain way because of an injury or a memory of upbringing or history of abuse. Each dog needs to be seen as an individual. Some dogs love their ears rubbed, others may snap if you touch their heads.
To label a dog as aggressive, is a strong statement, this assessment should only be made by a qualified trainer and after much research. The reason I say this is because aggressive dogs have little hope for survival. If a dog is labeled aggressive in a shelter, they are likely to be killed right away. I’ve rehabilitated plenty of “aggressive dogs” from shelters, that needed extra attention, some others that were labelled aggressive, just had issues that I was able to work with for one session and completely turn them around with an evaluation, these dogs were just a bit timid or shy. Often shy dogs and dogs with a skittish personality will appear aggressive, when they are just scared. Dogs don’t act scared like humans do, so it requires a deeper look by a person who understands the behavior of a dog. Just because a dog has a strong personality and doesn’t want to do what you want him to do, does not mean he is aggressive.
If a dog is exhibiting aggressive behavior, give them time, don’t approach them too quickly. Just sit and wait. It does no good to approach an aggressive dog in an aggressive way. This will not solve the issue of aggression. I’ve seen that all too often. Untrained people will try to dominate an aggressive dog to “break them.” This generally only contributes more to the problem and the aggression gets worse.
The best solution to evaluating a dog for aggression vs. aggressive behavior is time and a keen, compassionate eye.
Find out just what it is that is triggering the dogs behavior.
If that trigger can be removed, the aggressive behavior can be fixed.