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Understanding a Dog’s Aggression and Anxiety

Some people say that dog training isn't complicated. It is, and it isn't. You can rely on some pretty straightforward guidelines and theories about your animal’s psychology. But then there are the practicalities – the nuts and bolts of trying to change your dog's behavior.

One of the things that many of our clients struggle with is dealing with aggression and anxiety in dogs. We agree with lots of other professional trainers that these are very important subjects and issues – here’s some of what we have found to work well in working with our clients’ dogs.

Reasons for Aggression and Anxiety

It's all too tempting for dog owners to just assume that their dogs are acting out for no good reason.

What we know is that in the vast majority of cases, there are very good reasons for these behaviors. That's where empathy starts with your canine training. You have to understand the context in which the dog is acting out and figure out why the aggression or anxiety is there. Dogs have social challenges, just like people do, and unless we are tuned in to them, we’re missing a critical part of the picture. Then, also, just yelling at the dog, which is the go-to of the simpler owner, usually doesn’t work too well.

Engagement Training

Another powerful part of our training philosophy goes well beyond “Skinnerism” or behavioral technique.

People who don't look below the surface often seek to simply train a dog using treats, but again, that doesn't really tell the whole story.

You can get some results training a dog to perform for a treat, but there's a stronger aspect in play. In some of the best-case scenarios, it's called engagement training.

You can read up on this, but basically, engagement training means that you are giving your animal positive feedback that's relational, not a physical incentive like a treat.

The idea is that your dog wants your attention and that by providing your attention in the right ways, you’re building that relationship.

We've seen this work in so many different situations for clients and their animals that we really recommend you start reading about this if you want to improve your animal’s behavior.

Modern Options for Training

We know that in the course of coronavirus pandemic precautions, people are not meeting in public spaces the way they used to.

We offer face time and online chat training and more for you to figure out what works for your family. Talk to us about how to get your dog the help that he or she needs. It’s what we do!

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