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Canine Aggression

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  1. Canine Aggression Molly Avery Amanda Hodgson

  2. Dog Bites • About 4.3 million people each year • Cosmetic & functional damage, psychological distress, fear of animals, and death • Important! Majority are preventable

  3. Aggression • Threat of harmful behavior • Growling, snapping, biting, lunging • Normal species typical behavior • Many factors: genetics, early experience, maturation, sex, age, size, hormonal status, psychological state, external stimuli • One problem!! Incompatible with human safety

  4. Prevention • Careful pet selection • Proper socialization • Train • Keep healthy • Neuter • Be alert

  5. Types of Aggression • Dominance-Related • Predatory • Possession • Fear-induced • Pain-Induced • Territorial • Protective • Maternal • Medical Disorder Associated

  6. Dominance Aggression • Leading cause for treatment by behaviorist • Aggression towards family members or household pets • Often in guarding breeds • Development depends on genes and owner • Social maturity- 2yrs old • Roots in social organization of wolves

  7. Social Hierarchy • Pack • Dynamic Hierarchy • Complex communication system • When stable aggression is minimized • Dogs show dominance aggression when perceive instability in household hierarchy

  8. Signs • Dominant posture: • Erect body position, ears, and tail • raised hackles • Direct stare • May react aggressively if: • Petted/hugged • Stood over • Disturbed while sleeping • Punished • Forced to do something

  9. Dealing with Dominance • Avoid: • Petting on head • Speaking loudly/angry tone • Direct eye contact • Take threats seriously • Physical punishment is dangerous!! • Head halter and basket muzzle • Consider neutering

  10. Obedience Training • “Nothing in life is free” • Most respected should initiate obedience • Sit, down, stay, and come • Control attention given • 6 - 8 wks to establish new hierarchy • Always watch for returning signs

  11. Predatory Aggression • Directed toward anything considered prey • Level of prey drive • Varies among breed groups and within breeds • Sporting, herding, hound, terrier groups • Natural survival-related behavior • Searching, stalking, chasing, catching, biting, killing

  12. No Warning! • Without mood change or threatening gestures • Dangerous for target! • Triggered by movement • Unwavering focus on movement or vocalizations of children or pets

  13. Predatory Prognosis • Hard wired and driven by natural forces • Poor prognosis when: • Prey on people or pets • Have high arousal level • Have fixed focus • Have difficulty distracting • Avoid situations stimulating predation

  14. No Good Treatment • Continuous outdoor supervision • Leash walk, fence, outdoor runner, keep at back of house • Reward-based obedience training • Punishment based techniques • Aversion and proper timing!

  15. Possession Aggression • Food or object guarding • Food, toys, chewables, stolen objects • Growling or nipping when approached • Trust issue • Perception of being high on the pack order ladder

  16. Stop Right There! • During puppyhood: • Presence while eating • Approach bowl and drop additional food • Older, possessive dog: • Feed kibble out of hand • Empty bowl, drop in kibble • Semi-filled bowl, drop in treats • Full bowl, “sit” “stay”, release • Call away, reward

  17. No! It’s Mine! • When young, touch mouth and brush teeth • Only a few chew toys on floor • Bring others down when you want to play • Offer and retrieve with commands • Give another “better” item in exchange • Provider of all good things!!

  18. Fear-Induced Aggression • Defensive • Primarily a learned behavior • More treatable • The most common cause of bites to children

  19. Fear Aggression Posture • Mixture of subservient and aggressive postures • Ears back • Head held low • Tail tucked, short quick wags • Showing teeth in nervous snarl • Licking movements

  20. An Ounce of Prevention… • Prevention is key • Lack of socialization and bad experiences during early period of development (3-16 weeks of age) • Lasting impressions can occur at any time if incidence is traumatic • Effects are usually lifelong.

  21. Counter-Conditioning • Reverse response to previously conditioned stimulus • Replace fear reaction with a sensation of pleasure, relaxation or reward

  22. Desensitization • Slowly increase exposure to fearful stimulus while rewarding dog for quiet behavior • Use treats or Jolly Routine • May take weeks to months

  23. Pain-Induced Aggression • Type of fear aggression • Suspect if aggression has sudden onset and painful stimuli are present or perceived • Defense reaction to eliminate perceived source of pain

  24. Territorial Aggression • Natural to protect integrity of home territory against intruders • Territory may include owner’s home, yard, surrounding neighborhood and car • Owners often value “guard dog” behavior

  25. This Is My Turf • May be motivated by perceived challenge to dominance or fear from perceived threat • Prevention • Do not allow dog to carry out neighborhood urine marking • Provide enough space and separation in yard from external stimuli

  26. Get Control! • Treatment • Fear induced territorial aggression may be treated with desensitization and counter-conditioning • Dominance related territorial aggression requires owners to assert their leadership and control

  27. Protective Aggression • Protective behavior toward people or objects. • Overdeveloped active defense reflexes and jealousy of owner’s attentions • Owners may desire perceived “protection” from dog

  28. Behave Like an Angel • Treatment • Use learn-to-earn praise and petting program • Counter-condition dog to react positively to situations using treats or Jolly Routine

  29. Maternal Aggression • Type of protective aggression • Progesterone induces maternal behavior including aggression • Female protects pups or objects perceived to be surrogate pups • Abates with decreased progesterone

  30. Medical Disorder Associated • Sudden onset • No environmental factors causing aggression • Perform complete medical examination • Test hormonal balance, neurophysiologic function, and allergies • Disorders: • Rabies, hypothyroidism, psychomotor epilepsy, neoplasia

  31. Double-Edged Sword • Owner’s ambivalence toward aggression • Desire dog who quietly welcomes friends into home, but barks and aggressively prevents intruders from entering • Desire dog to provide protection from aggressive people or animals, but also recognize the situations in which aggression is not desirable • Expect too much of dog’s mind • Owner needs to guide behavior and make compromises between own needs dog’s abilities

  32. References • Campbell, W.E. Behavior Problems in Dogs. 1992. American Veterinary Publications, Inc.: Goleta. • Dodman, N.H. Dogs Behaving Badly. 1999. Bantam Books: New York. • Fogle, B. The Dog’s Mind. 1990. Pelham Books: London. • Lindsay, S.R. Handbook of Applied Dog Behavior and Training. 2001. Iowa State University Press: Ames. • www.avma.org/press/dogbite/dogbitebroc.asp • www.doglogic.com/possess.htm • www.mypetsstuff.com/encyc.cfm?VIEW=C-D • www.northrandwickvet.com.au/ArticleDocuments/13DAGGDIAG.doc