Older Dog at the Dogwoods Mount Horeb WI

In this edition of our blog we wanted to take a moment to speak about something that we see from time to time here at The Dogwoods. It’s something that doesn’t happen often, but it does happen and we regularly get questions about it from our guest’s owners, as they sometimes encounter it at home too. That “thing” is aggression in dogs who may not have shown any aggression before.

Typically as a new pet owner raising a brand-new puppy, the animal rarely will show any signs of aggression within the first year or two. Suddenly out of the blue there is an event of aggressive behavior that has never occurred before. Most instances owners may brush it off citing that it was a fluke and that after all, the dog is just that; a dog.

To clarify, while there are several different forms of aggression that can take place in dogs, we are specifically speaking about what tends to be social aggression. As the dog has now matured, they are now trying to define their role within the hierarchy of their pack. If you think about it, to dogs, our homes fit this to a “T.” The dog typically has the lowest position in the home along with any other pets, followed by children and finally the parents/adults of the household. If a canine finds this hierarchy is out of balance they can begin to display those tell tale signs of aggression. This in most instances is their way of asserting their dominance within the pack.

So what are the signs of social aggression?

Social aggression occurs when the pet feels as though they are being threatened or something unpleasant is happening to them. For example:

  • Taking food away
  • When a chew toy or something they have taken is now taken away from them
  • Disturbing them while they’re sleeping
  • Physically moving the dog while they’re resting
  • Hugging & kissing (this is a human trait that dogs do not do)
  • Bending or reaching over them
  • Manipulating them into submission postures (belly-up)

While these are just a few examples of what may trigger aggressive behavior, it is actually a serious situation and action needs to be taken to curb this behavior.

What can be done?

When we see this kind of behavior we immediately ask the owners to step-up and address the situation. We know that it can be hard to believe that something is a miss with a pet, but believing this behavior is going to just go away is the wrong approach. With dogs, if negative behavior is allowed to continue it’s only going to get worse. And in those situations, that can mean physical harm to another animal, child or adult. For this reason we take these kind of acts very seriously. We monitor the behavior of all of our guests regularly and if we see any signs of aggression (depending on the severity of the situation) we may ask that the guest no longer visit or we may put a suspension in place until the pet is able to go through in-depth 1-on-1 obedience training. Aggression needs to be addressed immediately through specialized therapy with a trained obedience counselor. It is not something that will just go away and if not addressed correctly, in the dogs mind it becomes an accepted behavior. If your pet is a guest of the Dogwoods and you have recently seen signs of aggression, please let us know and we can always work with you to help find the right steps to correct the behavior (Please note that we do not do obedience training, but being in the profession of dog care, we do know professionals who work in this area).

Have you experienced any signs of aggression as your pet matured? What did they do? How did you correct it? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below.

– The Dogwoods


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