Aggressive Behavior Is Not Ok

FOCUS ON PETS

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Dogs should never be allowed to be aggressive toward people or other dogs. Owners tend to be embarrassed when their dog makes an aggressive gesture and they may try to pretend that it did not happen. A jerk on the leash and a "quit it" are common responses accompanied by an excuse for the behavior. Aggressive behavior in dogs is extremely serious. Too often, we hear on the news of dogs that kill or inflict serious injury to people, most often children. We hear of the dangers of certain breeds of dogs.

Regardless of the breed, dogs tend to behave the way we raise them to behave. If we do not correct negative behavior, the dog is not aware that it is bad. Dogs do things for reasons that we do not always understand. Normally, a dog is aggressive when he thinks he is protecting his property and people. We need to spend time with him. We need to set limits and make sure the dog understands them.

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When a dog shows aggression toward a person or dog, act immediately. Grab the dog by the scruff of the neck, raise his front feet off of the ground and look him straight in the eyes. Say "No! Bad dog! Shame on you. No, no, no." If he is too large to lift off the ground, at least grab him and look down into his eyes.

From an early age, dogs need to be socialized both with people and dogs. We need to walk our dog on leash where there are people, especially children, and other dogs. Walk him around shopping centers, parks and schools. Have him observe children playing, riding bikes and skateboards and being noisy. Let him know that this is OK. As he becomes more socialized, allow the children to be closer to him. It is important to get your dog accustomed to quickly moving, noisy children. This also provides the opportunity to explain to children how to behave around strange dogs.

There are constantly increasing restrictions as to where dogs are allowed to be. Many cities prohibit them in all parks, even on leash. We can be annoyed with these rulings, but far too many people do not clean up after their dogs. Most importantly, dogs bite people, especially children.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, "Dog bite-related injuries are the No.1 health problem for children in the United States." This is a rather startling statistic. We need to take a minute and let it sink in. We hear about the evils done by Pit Bulls and Doberman Pinchers. However, these breeds, when socialized and trained, make wonderful family dogs. On the other hand, a statistic a few years ago stated that more veterinarians were bitten by golden retrievers than any other breed. With the more placid breeds of dogs, we tend to ignore some behaviors that should not be ignored.

Aggression is never OK. Stern action is needed. When a dog shows aggression toward a person or dog, act immediately. Grab the dog by the scruff of the neck, raise his front feet off of the ground and look him straight in the eyes. Say "No! Bad dog! Shame on you. No, no, no." By lifting his front feet off the ground and with you looking down on him, he will be in a position of submission. This response must be immediate. If he is too large to lift off the ground, at least grab him and look down into his eyes.

It is never OK for a dog to be aggressive unless your life is being threatened. If the dog is not properly socialized and exposed to all kinds and sizes of people and other dogs, he has no guidelines on which to base his reactions. Many dogs are euthanized because they bite a person or dog. By building a strong relationship with your dog and properly socializing him, he will learn to understand you and other people and will know how and when to react. Aggressive behavior is never OK.

Christy Wrather is a columnist for the Payson roundup. She can be reached by e-mail at cpwrather@earthlink.net, or by snail-mail at HC1 Box 1521, Strawberry, AZ 85544.

Can you help?

A woman contacted me about her Shih-tzu, Sprocket.

During a family crisis about five years ago, she was forced to give him to a friend. She then lost track of him.

She heard that the dog recently has come from Mesa to Pine.

This woman wants to know that the dog is well and wanted.

If you have any knowledge of this dog, please contact me at my email address.

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