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Canine Aggression. Molly Avery Amanda Hodgson. Dog Bites. About 4.3 million people each year Cosmetic & functional damage, psychological distress, fear of animals, and death Important! Majority are preventable . Aggression. Threat of harmful behavior Growling, snapping, biting, lunging

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Canine Aggression

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canine aggression

Canine Aggression

Molly Avery

Amanda Hodgson

dog bites
Dog Bites
  • About 4.3 million people each year
  • Cosmetic & functional damage, psychological distress, fear of animals, and death
  • Important! Majority are preventable
  • Threat of harmful behavior
  • Growling, snapping, biting, lunging
  • Normal species typical behavior
  • Many factors:

genetics, early experience, maturation, sex, age, size, hormonal status, psychological state, external stimuli

  • One problem!! Incompatible with human safety
  • Careful pet selection
  • Proper socialization
  • Train
  • Keep healthy
  • Neuter
  • Be alert
types of aggression
Types of Aggression
  • Dominance-Related
  • Predatory
  • Possession
  • Fear-induced
  • Pain-Induced
  • Territorial
  • Protective
  • Maternal
  • Medical Disorder Associated
dominance aggression
Dominance Aggression
  • Leading cause for treatment by behaviorist
  • Aggression towards family members or household pets
  • Often in guarding breeds
  • Development depends on genes and owner
  • Social maturity- 2yrs old
  • Roots in social organization of wolves
social hierarchy
Social Hierarchy
  • Pack
  • Dynamic Hierarchy
  • Complex communication system
  • When stable aggression is minimized
  • Dogs show dominance aggression when perceive instability in household hierarchy
  • Dominant posture:
    • Erect body position, ears, and tail
    • raised hackles
    • Direct stare
  • May react aggressively if:
    • Petted/hugged
    • Stood over
    • Disturbed while sleeping
    • Punished
    • Forced to do something
dealing with dominance
Dealing with Dominance
  • Avoid:
    • Petting on head
    • Speaking loudly/angry tone
    • Direct eye contact
  • Take threats seriously
  • Physical punishment is dangerous!!
  • Head halter and basket muzzle
  • Consider neutering
obedience training
Obedience Training
  • “Nothing in life is free”
  • Most respected should initiate obedience
  • Sit, down, stay, and come
  • Control attention given
  • 6 - 8 wks to establish new hierarchy
  • Always watch for returning signs
predatory aggression
Predatory Aggression
  • Directed toward anything considered prey
  • Level of prey drive
    • Varies among breed groups and within breeds
    • Sporting, herding, hound, terrier groups
  • Natural survival-related behavior
  • Searching, stalking, chasing, catching, biting, killing
no warning
No Warning!
  • Without mood change or threatening gestures
    • Dangerous for target!
  • Triggered by movement
  • Unwavering focus on movement or vocalizations of children or pets
predatory prognosis
Predatory Prognosis
  • Hard wired and driven by natural forces
  • Poor prognosis when:
    • Prey on people or pets
    • Have high arousal level
    • Have fixed focus
    • Have difficulty distracting
  • Avoid situations stimulating predation
no good treatment
No Good Treatment
  • Continuous outdoor supervision
  • Leash walk, fence, outdoor runner, keep at back of house
  • Reward-based obedience training
  • Punishment based techniques
    • Aversion and proper timing!
possession aggression
Possession Aggression
  • Food or object guarding
    • Food, toys, chewables, stolen objects
  • Growling or nipping when approached
  • Trust issue
  • Perception of being high on the pack order ladder
stop right there
Stop Right There!
  • During puppyhood:
    • Presence while eating
    • Approach bowl and drop additional food
  • Older, possessive dog:
    • Feed kibble out of hand
    • Empty bowl, drop in kibble
    • Semi-filled bowl, drop in treats
    • Full bowl, “sit” “stay”, release
    • Call away, reward
no it s mine
No! It’s Mine!
  • When young, touch mouth and brush teeth
  • Only a few chew toys on floor
  • Bring others down when you want to play
  • Offer and retrieve with commands
  • Give another “better” item in exchange
  • Provider of all good things!!
fear induced aggression
Fear-Induced Aggression
  • Defensive
  • Primarily a learned behavior
  • More treatable
  • The most common cause of bites to children
fear aggression posture
Fear Aggression Posture
  • Mixture of subservient and aggressive postures
    • Ears back
    • Head held low
    • Tail tucked, short quick wags
    • Showing teeth in nervous snarl
    • Licking movements
an ounce of prevention
An Ounce of Prevention…
  • Prevention is key
    • Lack of socialization and bad experiences during early period of development (3-16 weeks of age)
    • Lasting impressions can occur at any time if incidence is traumatic
    • Effects are usually lifelong.
counter conditioning
  • Reverse response to previously conditioned stimulus
  • Replace fear reaction with a sensation of pleasure, relaxation or reward
  • Slowly increase exposure to fearful stimulus while rewarding dog for quiet behavior
  • Use treats or Jolly Routine
  • May take weeks to months
pain induced aggression
Pain-Induced Aggression
  • Type of fear aggression
  • Suspect if aggression has sudden onset and painful stimuli are present or perceived
  • Defense reaction to eliminate perceived source of pain
territorial aggression
Territorial Aggression
  • Natural to protect integrity of home territory against intruders
  • Territory may include owner’s home, yard, surrounding neighborhood and car
  • Owners often value “guard dog” behavior
this is my turf
This Is My Turf
  • May be motivated by perceived challenge to dominance or fear from perceived threat
  • Prevention
    • Do not allow dog to carry out neighborhood urine marking
    • Provide enough space and separation in yard from external stimuli
get control
Get Control!
  • Treatment
    • Fear induced territorial aggression may be treated with desensitization and counter-conditioning
    • Dominance related territorial aggression requires owners to assert their leadership and control
protective aggression
Protective Aggression
  • Protective behavior toward people or objects.
  • Overdeveloped active defense reflexes and jealousy of owner’s attentions
  • Owners may desire perceived “protection” from dog
behave like an angel
Behave Like an Angel
  • Treatment
    • Use learn-to-earn praise and petting program
    • Counter-condition dog to react positively to situations using treats or Jolly Routine
maternal aggression
Maternal Aggression
  • Type of protective aggression
  • Progesterone induces maternal behavior including aggression
  • Female protects pups or objects perceived to be surrogate pups
  • Abates with decreased progesterone
medical disorder associated
Medical Disorder Associated
  • Sudden onset
  • No environmental factors causing aggression
  • Perform complete medical examination
  • Test hormonal balance, neurophysiologic function, and allergies
  • Disorders:
    • Rabies, hypothyroidism, psychomotor epilepsy, neoplasia
double edged sword
Double-Edged Sword
  • Owner’s ambivalence toward aggression
  • Desire dog who quietly welcomes friends into home, but barks and aggressively prevents intruders from entering
  • Desire dog to provide protection from aggressive people or animals, but also recognize the situations in which aggression is not desirable
  • Expect too much of dog’s mind
  • Owner needs to guide behavior and make compromises between own needs dog’s abilities
  • Campbell, W.E. Behavior Problems in Dogs. 1992. American Veterinary Publications, Inc.: Goleta.
  • Dodman, N.H. Dogs Behaving Badly. 1999. Bantam Books: New York.
  • Fogle, B. The Dog’s Mind. 1990. Pelham Books: London.
  • Lindsay, S.R. Handbook of Applied Dog Behavior and Training. 2001. Iowa State University Press: Ames.