Dog aggression is one of those problems that can perplex us, worry us, and have serious consequences if we don’t deal with it. The statistics for the numbers of children who get bitten are horrendous. Some dogs are fine with people but display dog-dog aggression.
I’m no expert myself on how to handle aggression, so I was pleased when I happened to be reading Clickertraining: the 4 Secrets of Becoming a Supertrainer and came across an interesting example of how trainers Morten Egtvedt and Cecilie Koeste handled dog-dog aggression in Morten’s dog Kiro. (The photo is not of Kiro.)
Morten acquired Kiro after the dog’s aggressive behavior had become entrenched… I imagine that someone who couldn’t cope with the dog was all too happy to give him to an expert trainer! The situation was that after many incidents in his puppyhood, Kiro would pretty much go nuts on leash when they approached another dog. He would bark hysterically and lunge at the dog. No way could he just greet another male dog politely.
Morten’s training method wasn’t fancy but it makes sense. When he and Kiro were out walking, as soon as another dog came into view, he began rewarding Kiro with clicks for doing anything but being aggressive. Since they would still be some ways away from the other dog, there could be time to click and treat Kiro for maybe 7 or 8 behaviors – things like looking at Morten, walking on loose leash, even looking at the other dog.
The result was that Kiro wasn’t nearly as likely to be aggressive towards the other dogs. Morton and Cecile comment, “Kiro’s center for reinforcement [in his brain] was stimulated just before he met the dog, making his ‘fuse’ a great deal longer than it would otherwise have been.” They go on to say that in many cases of dog aggression, close attention to little things like this is a significant part of solving the problems. Kiro improved greatly.
If you have a dog with aggressive actions beyond your ability to handle them, by all means find a good dog trainer. But if you have some challenges you think you can handle, Clickertraining: the 4 Secrets of Becoming a Supertrainer is a very informative ebook that gives you an overall training concept, including dog aggression. Click on the title to go to the website about it.