I went for a walk in downtown San Rafael a couple of weeks ago and saw a man walking a Siberian Husky. When his dog saw us, he started flailing around at the end of the leash and barking, hysterically.
I asked this man why he put up with such behavior from his dog? After all: He feeds the dog, he gives the dog free room and board. He even lets this dog defecate on his lawn. So, why put up with this behavior?
“My dog bites me,” was his reply.
To which I answered, “Well… what happens when he bites you?”
Yes, I’m sure.
I’m also sure that this behavior didn’t start from one day to the next. It gradually built up, over time. It was a behavior that– inadvertently– got reinforced.
I tried again: “How do you respond when he bites you?”
He again replied, “I respond in pain.”
He laughed, nervously… perhaps a bit embarrassed.
This man’s problem was that he was viewing the behavior from one side of the coin: His own. Instead, he should have been thinking to himself: If my dog bites me, I will correct him the way the mother dog would– and in such a manner that he won’t ever think of biting me, again.
Of course, we use a dog training collar to do that– instead of our mouth, like the mother-dog would. And we recommend adopting a “Nothing In Life Is Free” approach to your relationship with your dog, around the house– because these types of behaviors seldom happen in a vacuum.
But at it’s core: We’re talking about looking at your dog’s aggression with a fundamentally different attitude.