Understanding Redirected Aggression In Dogs
Most experts advise against breaking up dogs that are fighting for one primary reason: even if a dog is normally loving and well-behaved, they may wind up biting you if you interfere. People commonly get bitten when breaking up dog fights. Why does this happen?
The answer is something known as redirected aggression. Even though your dog loves you and would normally never bite you, you can still get bitten if you interfere in the fight. You can get a better sense of why this happens by looking at an example using humans.
Imagine that two of your neighbors are fighting with each other in front of their homes. Their wives run out to try to stop the fight. When one of the wives reaches out to grab her husband’s arm, he spins around and punches her instead. That is an example of redirected aggression.
With dogs, you commonly see this type of aggression when two dogs are barking at another dog that is walking by outside of their fenced yard. Since they are unable to reach the dog that is walking by, they may redirect their aggression at each other.
Whenever one of my clients says that their dog bit them while it was barking at a dog they were walking past, I let them know about redirected aggression so they can better understand why it happened.
How can you stop this type of aggression? There are a variety of techniques that you can use, depending on the circumstances. Whenever two dogs are fighting, you should never physically interfere with the fight. Instead, find another way to separate them. You could try making a loud noise with an air horn or spraying water on them with a garden hose.
What steps can you take to stop this type of aggression when you are out on a walk, and you pass another dog? In this case, proper training is essential. Once your dog completes obedience training, you can command them to sit and stay while the other dog walks past. Another option is to use a distraction to keep them from focusing on the other dog. For instance, if there is a particular treat that your dog loves, try giving them the treat when the other dog is passing to keep them from noticing.
Overcoming redirected aggression requires excellent obedience training. That means that your dog must see you as the alpha. Your dog must be willing to follow all of your commands, even when there are major distractions.
Training your dog doesn’t take long. In fact, if you can commit just 15 minutes per day to the process, you can quickly change your dog’s behavior, making them extremely obedient. This type of training can benefit both you and your pet.
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