How to Find a Good Dog Trainer for Your Aggressive Dog

How to Find a Good Dog Trainer for Your Aggressive Dog

If you have a dog with aggression issues, it may be time to consider hiring a professional dog trainer. The thing is, what to look for? Here at Lolahemp, we want to help dog lovers find the best resources to make sure their pets have the support they need.

Do any of these stories resonate with you?

She’s a sweet dog, unless you try to take away her favorite toy. 

He gets along great with everyone, unless he is sitting in someone’s lap – then he gets snappy. 

We used to enjoy the dog park, but after a recent dog fight, she has been very nervous around other dogs. 

He’s fine with other dogs in the park, but he is a terror when he meets other dogs on a leash.

When is it time to hire a professional?

As you can see, dog aggression takes many forms. This complex behavior has many potential causes, including: trauma, resource scarcity, abuse, neglect, poor socialization, phobias, and plain old personality. That being said, much dog aggression starts with fear or anxiety.

Unfortunately, handling aggression with “common sense” can sometimes even make an aggressive dog more dangerous. Here is a prime example: If you choose to “dominate” your dog every time they give an aggression warning signal such as a frozen stance, snarled lips, or a growl, you may actually be training your dog to stop giving warning signals…without addressing the root cause of their fear and anxiety. Next time, the dog may go right to a bite when triggered…definitely not the desired effect!

If you have been trying to help your dog deal with dog aggression on your own, and have noticed the problem is getting worse, then the odds are good that your best well meaning efforts may be getting lost in translation. A professional dog trainer may be able to help you gain new perspective on aggression issues, and help you develop a plan that will actually help your dog recover from the root fears and anxieties that cause this behavior in the first place.

Which Dog Training Paradigm is Better for Aggression?

The popularity of some television shows which promote the “dominance model” of dog training where the solution to every problem seems to be aggressively showing your dog that he is well below you in the pack hierarchy has perpetuated an outdated myth about dogs. This myth is based on a few faulty assumptions. First, dogs=wolves (they don’t) and second, all dog learning can be boiled down to pack order (which it can’t).

The last 60 years of careful scientific study on animal behavior has demonstrated beyond any doubt that dogs, just like people, learn from reward and punishment. Moreover, punishment is most effective if it is used sparingly and only after more appropriate behaviors have been significantly reinforced through judicious use of reward.

And, when it comes to the fear and anxiety at the root of much dog aggression? Turns out that dominating your dog is almost always a form of punishment from their perspective…and it is punishing the response (aka the warning signs your dog gives to signal that he is feeling threatened), which actually increases anxiety and fear, further deepening the emotional response to the original trigger.

Imagine for a moment that you are afraid of spiders. Let’s say when you see a spider, you show this fear by letting out a quick shout. Now imagine a well meaning friend is trying to help you get over your fear of spiders by pinching you every time you shout. Every time you see a spider and shout, now you get a painful pinch. Are you going to be less afraid of spiders? Probably not. In fact, you may even become MORE afraid of spiders since now you have the addition of a painful pinch associated with their presence.



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