Understanding Dog Aggression
A major dog behavior problem stems from dogs becoming aggressive out of frustration and dominance. The frustration comes from a lack of exercise, and the dominance comes from a lack of calm-assertive leadership.
Breed and Dog Aggression
I deal with a lot of red zone dog behavior cases, and I often hear people incorrectly blaming the breed [http://www.cesarsway.com/tips/dogcare/Bringing-out-the-Breed]. Any breed can cause trouble. The difference between an aggressive Chihuahua and an aggressive pit bull is that the bigger breeds can cause proportionately bigger damage.
It is important to recognize the power of a strong breed, like the pit bull, the Cane Corso, and the Mastiff. These dogs are very powerful and, if they are unbalanced, they can cause serious injury. Remember, these dogs don’t dream of being in the news when they grow up. Bad dog behavior is not premeditated like people do. Bad things happen when powerful breeds (or mixes of powerful breeds) live with humans who like the breed but don’t understand and fulfill the animal in the dog. Many people consider the look or popularity of a breed before thinking about whether the dog works for their lifestyle. This is a recipe for disaster.
To control a powerful breed, you need to become the dog’s pack leader and establish rules, boundaries, and limitations. You need to fulfill the dog as Nature intended him to be fulfilled. If you are considering adopting a powerful breed, make sure you are willing and able to take on the responsibility.
For many of these dogs, it is a lack of adequate exercise that is the root of the problem dog behavior. Physical activity burns the dog’s excess energy and helps maintain his healthy state of mind. This is important because, in order to talk to the mind, you need to remove the energy from the body.
Your dogs are asking you to step up as the pack leader. Animals select pack leaders because they instinctually know who is strong and who can best lead them. An animal pack leader is concerned for the pack, not for himself. His natural instincts are protection and direction for the entire pack. It’s an unselfish role and an instinctual role. And in return, the pack completely trusts the pack leader. You need to earn your dogs’ trust, loyalty, and respect before they will look to you as their leader and you do this by giving them rules, boundaries, and limitations.
Once your dogs see you as their pack leader, they will no longer be fighting for dominance because you will be their calm-assertive pack leader.
Red Zone Dogs
It is important to understand that red-zone dogs are usually frustrated animals. To control a powerful breed, you need to master the position of pack leader. The sheer size and strength of a pit bull, Mastiff, Cane Corso, Rottweiler, or any other large dog can quickly transform a frustrated and dominant animal into a serious threat. You must gain control of the situation and dog behavior before it escalates.
When dealing with red zone dogs, I start by working with the owners, explaining how to establish themselves as the pack leader and to understand the animal in their dog. This is a crucial part of rehabilitating your dog: changing YOUR behavior. If you revert to your old ways, so will your dog.