Stan Rawlinson
Dog Behaviourist & Obedience Trainer
The Original Doglistener
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Dog Aggression

How to stop dog aggression

Act early to prevent your dog from becoming aggressive. This tutorial explains how you can avoid problems later on by socializing your dog in the first 16 weeks of its life.

Hi, my name's Stan Rawlinson, I'm a Dog Behaviourist and Obedience Trainer. This is Kai, my white German Shepherd who's a rescuer, and this is Charlie, who is a cross Jack Russell Daschund, and he's about 6 or 7 years old, and these are two of the four dogs that I own.

Today, I'll be talking about aggression, how it happens and how we can overcome it. I suppose that 95% of every case I deal with in aggression is related to fear, and that fear normally comes because those dogs weren't socialized correctly at the right time, between 0 and 16 weeks. That is the most critical period in your dog's life without any shadow of a doubt. If you took a human, up until 5 years old, that's the critical period in a human's life. 0 to 5, they learn so much, they learn to speak, talk, be able to control their bowel movements and by 5 years old, they're actually able to almost think for themselves, you can negotiate with them, under 5 you can't negotiate, you've got more chances of negotiating with a terrorist, well, 16 weeks is the equivalent in dog terms.

If you socialize the dog properly, if you get the dog from the right, correct breeder, who socializes and handles the dog, then you will have no problem whatsoever with aggression, to start off with, with humans. If the breeder is isolated and no-one ever comes to handle or touch the dog until you get it later on in life, particularly after 16 weeks, then you've got a major problem, because the dog then would have a fear of strangers, it'd have a fear and aggression towards other things if it hadn't met other dogs, if it hadn't been to puppy classes. Let me give you an example there; dogs and puppies learn from other dogs of a similar age, so if you take them to puppy classes, they learn to meet and greet and be able to communicate through body language because of that.

You can see what body language we're talking about here, they're licking each other, these two really like each other and they're very, very friendly even though they're different in size and type and everything like that, but they're really, really friendly dogs and that is because they have been socialized.

Now you need to get the dogs to puppy classes before 16 weeks because in the wild, they would stay with their siblings and they would learn from the games they play with them. When you remove them at 7 or 8 weeks from the breeder, you normally isolate them from other dogs of a similar age, therefore puppy classes are vital. If you can then put them in with dogs of a similar age, they will learn how to control the way they approach them and how to meet and greet, and once they know how to meet and greet and enjoy other dogs, then you're not going to have aggression later on in life.

With inter human aggression, once again, it's the handling of the breeder, really important. If they handle it at a very young age, from one week onwards, it allows the dog to become more calm around humans. It bonds, if you want to put it that way, to humans, and they tend not to be inter human aggressive. So, to sum up, early socialization - the key. 0 to 16 weeks is a vital time and then you can overcome the aggression. If you've got aggression later on in life, you're going to have to get someone like me in, a behaviourist, to see where the aggression is coming from. It's no good for me trying to do that in something like this because there are so many different reasons why dogs aggress later on in life, but, the early socialization is the key

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