A vet friend of mine (and great dog owner) posted this link on her Facebook page titled:
It was posted on Victoria Stilwell’s website* and it lists the 5 most important factors which contribute to dog aggression. In order:
#1: Training methods used.
The researchers found that dogs trained using punishment and aversive training methods were twice as likely to be aggressive towards strangers and three times as likely to be aggressive towards family members.
Aggressive training methods create fearful, insecure dogs who often cease to use warning signs before biting, and cope with their fear and insecurity with aggression. A confident dog trained using positive methods does not feel the need to react aggressively. This study exemplifies why it is critical that dog owners, regardless of their dog’s breed, behavioral problems, or past history, choose positive methods over punitive methods.
In other words, violence begets violence. You want a gentle, social dog? Then treat it with gentleness and humane, dog-friendly training methods. To find a positive reinforcement trainer in your area, check out the trainer search feature on the Assoc. of Professional Dog Trainers website: http://www.apdt.com/petowners/ts/
Owners under the age of 25 are almost twice as likely to have aggressive dogs.
#3: Dog Gender.
Male dogs (neutered or not) are twice as likely to be aggressive than spayed females. It didn’t say anything about intact or lactating females.
Dogs who attended puppy classes when they were young were about one and a half times less likely to show aggression towards strangers. This factor may be twofold: first, that owners who took their puppies to puppy classes are more likely to be overall responsible dog owners, and second, that these dogs received socialization from a young age. (Emphasis mine).
Please join us for training. It’s fun, it’s rewarding, and it starts up again March 11th and 12th! Check out our class offerings at: http://apositiveconnection.com/training/
#5: Origin Of The Dog.
“Dogs that were bought from a breeder were much less likely to be aggressive than dogs obtained from shelters or rescues, pet stores, or Internet sites.” Unfortunately, getting a dog at a shelter means that you probably do not know its full background and how it was treated by previous owners. That makes it even more important that you choose positive reinforcement training methods in order to provide the best chance for a successful adoption. Also, it isn’t advisable to purchase a dog at a pet store or online as it is highly likely that these puppies are products of puppy mills or backyard breeders who are more interested in profit than breeding healthy dogs with stable temperaments.
The bottom line here is that it really does matter how you choose to interact with your dog. There is a positive connection between positive reinforcement and well adjusted dogs, so why not choose the method that enhances your relationship with your dog as well as improves the chances that he will be a happy member of society at large?
*Ms. Stilwell provides a nice summary of the study, but for a more in-depth look go here: http://phys.org/news/2014-02-aggressive-dog.html. It also includes some good suggestions for reducing the chance of aggression developing in your puppy (including leaving him with his litter until 8 weeks of age) and tips on body language that will help you to spot an aggressive dog. For my two hints on avoiding dog bites, see last week’s blog: http://apositiveconnection.com/2014/03/beware-of-the-slipper-or-how-to-successfully-meet-and-greet-a-dog/
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