How to assess and manage your puppy aggression?
There are typically four options of expression in the event your puppy confronted with an overwhelming experience, namely Flight, Freeze, Helplessness, and Fight. And it’s experiences, reinforcements, either positively or negatively. We are looking at the full quadrant of Reinforcement here.
Puppy is like children, where they need to learn how to greet somebody properly. There’s a distinct difference if they meet with peers, seniors, parents, adults, and people of the statue. In the space of puppy, they do faces peers, adolescents, adult, senior and powerful dogs. Every different meeting calls for different greeting gestures and know-how to facilitate good and healthy animal communications.
The know-how skills of your puppy come from proper upbringing, adequately socialize, and well-exposed animal. Many a time, the ability to communicate with another like-minded animal is insufficient exposure. A puppy that has poor etiquette, insufficient exposure and poorly socializes will lead to a badly manage interaction, which will quickly escalate into a full-blown dog’s fight.
The eventual state of engagement among the puppy will be directly related to the four options of experiences in an overwhelming meeting. It boils down to each and individual puppy character. The choice of flight, freeze, helplessness, and flight of your pup is manageable, as we can control its consequences. All behaviours are modifiable by its consequence.
Should the owner be able to manage the consequences of flight, freeze, and helplessness positively, we can craft the environment and allows our puppy to choose the better outcome of flight, freeze, and helplessness, instead of fight mode.
Here are some of the ways I would recommend dog owners strongly to adopt to manage the eventual state of mind of your puppy.
Touch or Target Training,
Build an alternate behavior,
Choose the right behavior and lastly
Management of greeting of dogs.
Attention Training here, I’m referring to the association or classical conditioning. Just imagine every time you see a puppy, and if you turn and check back with the owner, you will be rewarded. Over time, giving attention to the owner when your puppy sees a dog is an association. What we want to build on is the second nature of checking back with the owner every time you see a dog.
Touch or Target Exercise is used here as an interrupter. If you are not sure of the TOUCH or TARGET, you can check out the BLOGS here where we discussed previously. Once you can master the touch or target exercise, you should be able to put this behavior on cue, or should I say, Request On-Demand. Allows your pup to greet another dog after time elapses of 15-30 second, demand a touch exercise, and if he responds, mark yes and reward your pup. This touch exercise will become a great tool for interrupter if you need to get your pup out of an overwhelming situation.
Building an alternate behavior is to displace the stresses that come with the greeting. Behaviours like sniffing the ground, turns away, play bow, submission, yawning, will be properly reinforced. What I’m trying to get here is to teach my pup; any alternate behavior is better than confrontation. With the good repetition of reinforcing these alternate behaviours, it will be a well of behaviours your pup can tab upon whenever faces a stressful and overwhelming situation.
Choose the correct behavior. As we discussed at the start of this article, all behaviours are modifiable by its consequences. Is with this training philosophy, after a good reinforcement history, your pup will choose the correct behavior to stay within your reward ZONE.
Lastly, I think it will fair to disclose the management of greeting. What, When, Where, Who and How will be the BEST WAY in greeting. In my opinion, I should never allow my puppy to be free to meet whoever he likes and wishes. It’s a Formula for Disaster! Why?
Do you know the character, the disposition, the health, and the readiness of the dog greeted by your pup? Most of the situation will result in snapping, fighting because both pups are not ready to meet, and the inexperienced owners allow it to happen. The results are both alarming and dishearten. A puppy learns how to aggressive; puppy learns that properly greeting is these incorrect manners; the puppy starts to build up self-defense and distrust in dogs and people.
The next time you bring your puppy out for a walk, think twice, check and confirm before you allow the greeting to happen. Do we need our puppy to meet and greet every dog on the walk? The answer is NO! Let me asks you, do you like and be friends with everyone you meet? The answer is also NO, then why are you be so hard on your puppy. Let him be a puppy and enjoys the environment, people, smell, touch, and puppy-time.
I hope you have fun and stay positive!