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Possessive and Territorial Aggression in Dogs



You are probably not going to “cure” this aggressive dog, however, controlling the behavior is the goal. If the number of aggressive incidents can be decreased, you should feel that you have succeeded. A dog-training specialist can help you develop safety and management tools.


Safety should be the primary concern. Avoid situations that may bring on an aggressive reaction. If your behaviorist recommends punishment/dominance-based training techniques, you may want to seek alternative help, as it may escalate aggression. There are better ways to deal with the problem.


Feed the dog in a confined space and do not give it items that might incite aggressive behavior. Confine it to areas where people can neither be heard nor seen. Finally, teach your dog to wear a head halter and basket muzzle.


In extreme cases, it may be necessary to put the dog down (euthanize), as it is sometimes the only way to assuredly prevent your dog from injuring others -- especially those that have already been involved in an incident or incidents.


Living and Management


Behavior modification requires patience and consistency. It also takes time before the results are visible. In the presence of aggression-provoking stimuli, try desensitizing and counter-conditioning techniques. Use basket muzzles for safety when working with the dog.


Teach it first to sit and relax on a verbal command. Do this in a neutral location and use food rewards in tiny pieces to avoid food aggression during these exercises; reward non-aggressive behavior also. Gradually increase the level of stimulation, being careful to stay below the threshold that will result in aggression. Remember, patience will be important, as progress is slow coming. Just when you think you’ve made a difference, there could be signs of a setback. It’s important to remain firm with the training exercises.


While there are medications on the market for this behavioral disorder, they are not recommended. If your veterinarian does prescribe medication, it should only be utilized in association with behavior modification. It should never be utilized alone, as it will not solve the problem.


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