Are you and your dog plagued
with the Scarlet Letter “A”?
By:  Karen Decker - P.U.P.S. Dog Obedience Training
Maryland Pet Gazette - 2004
copyright PUPS Dog Obedience Training Maryland D.C.
As an obedience trainer specializing in working breeds and aggression problems, dog
aggression is a big issue. There are many different reasons for dog aggression, ranging from
fear aggression to environment or genetics, dominance or social aggression or a genetic
engineering for dog aggression (pit fighting breeds - Akitas, Sharpeas, many bull breeds, even
the Bedlingon Terrier). Through specific, proper training all of these breeds are highly
modifiable as long as the goal is realistic! In other words, if you have a pit fighting breed and
want to be a member of the dog park club, you're barking up the wrong tree.

Sadly, there is such a stigma attached to dog aggression, that many owners deny and
perpetuate the problem. Somehow people have thrust human ideology onto canines. People
practically whisper words like "my dog doesn't exactly integrate well with his peers." You
would think they are aiding and embetting a fugitive or are scheduled to be stoned in the
middle of town square by the villagers! Poor dogs. Trainers kick them out of class, tell owners
to euthanize, or only agree to private lessons (which will NEVER help the dog, but will help the
trainer’s wallet!)

And the excuses owners give regarding their dog’s behavior... “My dog’s grumpy from lack of
sleep,” “When my dog was a pup, another dog didn’t share his toys with him." PLEASE!  It’s
called DOG AGGRESSION! Say it!

Besides, aren't people supposed to get dogs to enjoy their companion traits, not so that the
dog (or quite frankly, the owner) can win a popularity contest at the dog park? With the
exception of when a new dog arrives and all the dogs charge, converge, and “playfully”
pummel him, the dogs are with their people, not other dogs.

Plus, at the Howard County dog park, there are no rules against dogs wearing choke chain
collars or prong collars - great training collars, but
deadly for dogs interacting (especially the
“pummeling” initiation). This is
exactly the place where a dog could have such a negative
experience that he becomes dog aggressive. But hey, with the exception of people
occasionally going down like dominoes because they are clipped by a dog that was charging a
newcomer, the people are quite happy: socializing and offering ridiculous narrations of what
their dog is thinking. Actually, the dogs are probably thinking how they would prefer, and be
much better off, interacting productively with their owner hiking or training.

If your dog’s not welcome at the dog park, he’s not missing out on anything! Owners don't
have to be advocates of dog aggression, they just need to recognize it (the earlier the better),
call it what it is, and deal with it! It takes work and you must find an experienced trainer, but it
can be greatly modified. The realistic goal for a dog aggressive dog: To be able to go
anywhere in public,
on leash and be calm, confident, non-threatened or threatening, and
behave reliably and appropriately....PERIOD!

To find out how your individual goals can be achieved, call P.U.P.S
Dog Obedience Training at 410-992-8410, or email

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