Dogs have provided men with companionship for a long time, and have been asked to behave in many different and sometimes conflicting ways. They have been expected to be bad with strangers; good with family and friends; good with other domestic animals; bad with prey. Such a long time together, and so many different jobs. But, have we tried to find out what their real personality is like?
Aggressiveness is a natural behaviour in dogs. This should be taken into account to enable owners to handle them better. You may have read or heard lately that certain aggressive breeds are potentially dangerous in themselves. The truth is that a dog’s behaviour is the result of the interaction of multiple factors: genetics, training, environmental factors, hormonal status. So it is absurd to maintain that certain breeds have definite aggressive tendencies that are specific and impossible to redirect. If worst comes to worst, it could be said that certain lines within some breeds show specific problems.
Each type of behaviour is motivated by a different stimulus: fear and territorial behaviour are some of the most frequent causes of dog aggressions. But it is possible that dominance behaviour is the main one. Your dog will try, during his first years of life, to reach the dominant position in your family, his new pack. To do this, he will very patiently display instances of behaviour that in many cases are not taken into account or are even applauded by his owner: he growls when you approach his bowl or his toys, he growls or even bites you when you try to get him off the sofa. Your animal tries to achieve certain prerogatives and uses the tools provided by nature to do this.
The solution to the problem lies in two words: education and socialization. It is of fundamental importance that the dog behaves like a social being. To accomplish this, he must be in contact with every possible situation in his new environment from the very moment he leaves his biological family. The more he gets to know his environment, the less likely that undesired behaviour will appear. It is also important that you forget about educating your dog based on intuition alone, because inexperienced people are often convinced that they have the knowledge needed to educate their new pet.
Finally, there is a type of aggressiveness that dogs have learned from humans: the aggressiveness displayed by dogs that are bred and taught to fight by their owners. Are these dogs responsible for their own behaviour? Your pet is happy when you reward it for doing something you have told him to do: he is happy when he returns a ball, but also when he shows the aggressive behaviour that his owner has demanded. The aggressiveness of a breed should not be generalized from the actions displayed in certain cases. On the contrary, we should demand that owners be considered responsible for their pets.
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