Training and Care — Tip Of The Week
Excerpt from Our New
Australian Shepherd Lover's Guide To Australian Shepherd Training & Care
This one is a bit of a problem – it occurs when the dog thinks she’s higher up the pack hierarchy than someone else, or everyone else, in the house. She thinks she’s the leader, and so she thinks she has the right to enforce her desires through physical aggression.
A lot of the time this comes out in the dog protecting food and toys, getting aggressive if you try to take them away. Likewise, the dog may protect a certain family member and get aggressive towards others. Guarding behavior is very common in Aussies because of their breeding history, as we’ve already discussed – this kind of guarding isn’t always a dominance issue, and we’ll touch on guarding more in a second.
Stopping Dominance Aggression
There’s no simple technique to fix this problem, unfortunately. Because it results from the way the dog is looking at people or other pets around her, you need to actually change the pack hierarchy in order to resolve the issue.
If you’re dealing with a male, neutering will help solve this problem. It changes the dog’s hormonal balance and will decrease his need to assert himself as the leader, making it easier for you to take charge.
The tips and techniques in Chapter 1 are going to be especially important for you to learn and apply. You need to keep your routines with your dog rigid and do plenty of drilling on basic obedience. Make sure you walk through doors ahead of your dog, always eat meals before he gets fed, and make him sit and sleep on a dog bed if he usually gets on the couch or your bed.
There are some non-physical punishments provided at the end of this chapter, such as time-outs, that can help you deal with this problem. You may not need these if you focus on lots of training, but when it comes to aggression sometimes you do need to apply the occasional punishment to correct behavior. But whatever you do, don’t use physical punishments, as you may end up getting yourself hurt and making the dog more aggressive. If you don’t make any headway on your own, seek out a professional trainer to deal with the problem before it gets even worse.
Next time: Guarding, Tips on Muzzles
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