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Stop Your Dog From Being Aggressive – Part 4

albuquerque dog behavior

albuquerque dog behaviorPart 4: Understanding

There are many reasons dog’s behave aggressively from frustration to fear or territoriality. No one likes to think that their dog is aggressive but it is a very common problem. One of the most common causes of aggression is a lack of proper socialization when they are a puppy. When a puppy is not properly socialized they will run away and try to hide behind their mother. If an adult dog is fearful, and they cannot run away, they become aggressive. This is the classic fight or flight response.  There are many things you can do to help stop your dogs aggression. Keep in mind that behavioral training takes time and consistency, so be patient.

If you are unsure how to cope with your dog’s aggression, please reach out to your Albuquerque veterinarian at Vetco and we can help discuss options.

Understanding your dog’s aggression will help you to deal with it.

1. Think about their triggers: What is triggering your dog’s aggression? Sometimes it is certain people or situations. It can be that they are protective of their area or experienced trauma and specific items remind them of that trauma. To be able to retrain your dog you will need to understand what is causing the aggression.

2. Read their body language: Your dog does not need to speak to be able to communicate with you. Through reading their body language you can help your dog avoid situations that make them feel anxious. Often dogs will express fear or anxiety before aggression. If you notice signs of fear or anxiety you can help them cope with what is happening or remove them from the situation so aggression never comes into play. Common signs are: lowered head, low body posture, tail tucked between the legs, licking their lips, looking away, dilated eyes, shivering, and shaking. If you notice this behavior, stop what you are doing and take the time to help your dog.

3. Understand signs of aggression: If a dog is planning to attack they will change some of their body positions and behavior. They will often make changes to how they are standing such as shifting their weight over their front legs. They will make direct eye contact and stare down their target. They might get a stiff tail and hold his tail low. If you see these signs it is best to step away from the dog and do not stare back. Be quiet and calm. Ask the other person to step back calmly. Use your leash to help pull your dog away from the situation. Do not stand in front of your dog, or cover their eyes. Doing so can cause panic in your dog and cause them to strike.

4. It takes time: There is no quick solution to aggression. It will take more than one training session. You need to take time to help them learn new coping mechanisms and be patient. Hitting or punishing your dog for their behavior will make them more fearful and can drive the aggressive behavior instead of fix it.  If you are trying all the methods and still having trouble, you should consider working with a trainer or pet behaviorist. 

Stop Your Dog From Being Aggressive – Part 3

albuquerque dog behaviorPart 3: Other Behavioral Issues

There are many reasons dog’s behave aggressively from frustration to fear or territoriality. No one likes to think that their dog is aggressive but it is a very common problem. One of the most common causes of aggression is a lack of proper socialization when they are a puppy. When a puppy is not properly socialized they will run away and try to hide behind their mother. If an adult dog is fearful, and they cannot run away, they become aggressive. This is the classic fight or flight response.  There are many things you can do to help stop your dogs aggression. Keep in mind that behavioral training takes time and consistency, so be patient.

If you are unsure how to cope with your dog’s aggression, please reach out to your Albuquerque veterinarian at Vetco and we can help discuss options.

Sometimes the best way to deal with a dog’s aggression is to learn how to deal with some of their other behaviors that are elements of aggressive behavioral patterns. We don’t always recognize aggressive behaviors when they do not seem outwardly aggressive, but these behaviors can add up and lead to your dog being generally aggressive. Curbing these behaviors can help lower your dog’s overall aggression.

1. Guarding Behavior: Dog’s get protective of their environment. Guarding behavior includes

  • Patrolling up and down the fence line.
  • Barking
  • Rushing the door

To combat patrolling try keeping your dog inside when you are not in the backyard with him. Give him exercise by taking him to the park or sitting outside in the backyard. If he patrols when people are over, try putting him in another room during their visit.

If your dog barks when people come to your house, try taking him into another room when they first arrive. Do not shout at your dog, they can interpret this as encouraging behavior and think that you are joining in. Praise them for not barking.

If your dog rushes the door, try blocking off the area to the front door so they cannot do that. You can put them in another room when it is time to open the door or put them on a leash and make them heel next to you.

2. Guarding Food: Dogs will guard their food because they are worried that someone will take their food away or eat it. This behavior can get very aggressive and can lead to snapping and biting. Try putting his food down with only part of his dinner in it. As he eats, scatter more of his food around the bowl, as close as he allows you to get. Walk past the bowl and scatter some food in the bowl every time you pass by so he starts associating your presence with plentiful food.

Another method is to put down an empty bowl and have your dog sit and let him eat. Once he sits, put a handful of food into the bowl. Then have him sit again, and put in another handful. Do this until all the food is gone. This shows your dog that you are the giver of food not the taker away.

Make sure to give positive reinforcement to let him know when he is doing well. The positive reinforcement will help encourage the non-aggressive behavior.
Dogs can be aggressive in many different ways, and it isn’t always just with other animals or people. Your dog should not be aggressive with you or anyone else unless it is in a situation where they are trained to be aggressive, like someone breaking in.

Stop Your Dog From Being Aggressive – Part 2

albuquerque aggressive dog

albuquerque aggressive dogPart 2: Desensitization

There are many reasons dog’s behave aggressively from frustration to fear or territoriality. No one likes to think that their dog is aggressive but it is a very common problem. One of the most common causes of aggression is a lack of proper socialization when they are a puppy. When a puppy is not properly socialized they will run away and try to hide behind their mother. If an adult dog is fearful, and they cannot run away, they become aggressive. This is the classic fight or flight response.  There are many things you can do to help stop your dogs aggression. Keep in mind that behavioral training takes time and consistency, so be patient.

If you are unsure how to cope with your dog’s aggression, please reach out to your Albuquerque veterinarian at Vetco and we can help discuss options.

The purpose of desensitization is to expose your dog to what he fears but in a way that is that is safe and less intense. This helps your dog to become less anxious as he is exposed to his fears. Your presence in the face of their trigger helps show them that they are safe and will help them to safely confront their trigger.

Steps to Desensitization:

  1. Make sure your environment is safe. Make sure that they cannot run away and get out of the area. Do not make them feel trapped either, so do not crate them or put them in a confined space. Your dog needs to be able to back away but not run away.
  2. Make sure your dog is in the proper equipment. Put on a harness or a good leash that you trust and with which you are able to control your dog. Put on a muzzle if they have a history of biting. The proper equipment will help keep you and your dog safe.
  3. Start by introducing your dog to their trigger (aka. whatever sparks their aggression) from a distance.
  4. Once your dog starts displaying anxiety through backing away, growling, aggressive posturing, stop and stay there. Do not punish them for being aggressive, but use a soothing voice and pet them to help calm them down.
  5. Once they calm down, keep them in a calm state for 30 seconds and then give them a treat.
  6. After the treat, remove them from the trigger and praise them again.
  7. Do the same thing every day but move a little closer each time.

Do not have the trigger approach them. Do not have the trigger make sudden moves or do anything that seems aggressive. When your dog is at the point of being within contact range, allow your dog to sniff the trigger on their own. Once they are comfortable with that you can work on the trigger moving and walking up to them.

Your dog may never be ok with having contact with the trigger and that is ok. The goal is to get them to be within a closer range of the trigger without showing aggression and without experiencing a lot of anxiety. This takes time and consistency. Be patient and your dog will get there in time.

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The information provided on this website is written by Vetco staff. All information is meant to be informational and is not meant as veterinary advice. If you have a health question regarding your pet, their treatment or anything concerning their veterinary care, please call Vetco to consult with a veterinarian.