Aggression question. Warning signs...

Discussion in 'Dog Training Forum' started by PWCorgi, Aug 11, 2008.

  1. PWCorgi

    PWCorgi Priscilla Winifred Corgi

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    There is a dog in my flyball class who is aggressive towards men and kids (after being around this dog my thoughts that Frodo was HA flew out the window quite swiftly) and doesn't give any warning signs. She was a rescue so they don't know her past and her current owner uses a clicker and positive reinforcement, but she doesn't give ANY visible warning signals and seems at ease around them (no barking, growling, lunging) until they get close enough and then she just strikes.

    It got me to thinking, if you suppress a dog's natural warning signs (growling, barking, etc) is there any way to reverse that? To get those signs back? Will they just come back naturally after a while, or are they gone for good? Ideally I guess you would just never put the dog in a situation where they would need to use the warning signs again, but I think that's often easier said then done.

    TIA :)
     
  2. Maxy24

    Maxy24 Active Member

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    Are you sure she does not show ANY? Sometimes people don't notice (or are not aware that they are actually warnings) the smaller signs. Whale eye, freezing and lips moving into a pucker are common subtle signs. Of course if the previous owner brought the dog to a professional excuse for a trainer they may have noticed them and punished those out too. Isn't it so dangerous, the side effects punishing aggression, instead of working to eliminate the fear, can have?

    The only way I can think of to bring back the warnings is to make sure to ALWAYS listen if the dog displays one of those subtle signs. If the dog learns that communicating with you actually DOES something he'll be more likely to try and communicate with you again and his signs may become more obvious. Actual dog trainers might have some clever ideas I do not know of and I would love to hear them, I was thinking about this problem the other day. Perhaps there is some way to teach the dog a behavior to do when he is upset, I just don't know how you'd do it unless you actually knew that the dog was upset.
     
  3. dr2little

    dr2little Moderator

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    If current training successfully treats the actual cause of her reactivity, the warnings really do become unnecessary. Think of how many dogs that you know who never give a warning, never, ever feel the need to warn. The goal is to never hear another growl but though behaviour modification rathing than flooding (which is most often the only reason the growl occurs).

    Many of the worst cases that I go to are of course owner induced and like you've said, without warning because the warning was punished but the actual trigger was never addressed. Of those cases, the owners are still armed with the knowledge of what caused the issues, and that's where we work from.. With the exception of CAT, in this therapy, the growl is important threshold information and is seen during treatment.

    If in fact the warning is still intact (ie, never punished out), the goal is still to never hear another growl because the cause of the growl is properly addressed without flooding. Avoiding confrontation is always #1 in most rehab. program. Many, many reactive dogs who's warning is intact at the start of behaviour modification, never feel the need to growl again.:)
     
    Last edited: Aug 11, 2008
  4. PWCorgi

    PWCorgi Priscilla Winifred Corgi

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    Thanks Maxy.

    I'm not sure if she gives off the smaller signs you mentioned as I've only seen the dog attempt to bite once and I wasn't focused on the dog at the time.
     
  5. PWCorgi

    PWCorgi Priscilla Winifred Corgi

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    Thanks Doc! :)
     
  6. Maxy24

    Maxy24 Active Member

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    Well the reason I thought you'd need to hear/see the warning is so you know how far the dog will let you go before he starts getting upset so you can take it a few steps back and start from there. I suppose with that sort of dog who does not warn you can just start at a super low stress level so there is no chance he would be aggravated at that point and work slowly forward.
     
  7. dr2little

    dr2little Moderator

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    That's exactly how CAT works Maxy.:) I prefer to use the less forward approach when possible which just never takes them to threshold. Knowing what cause them that much discomfort can often allow progress to continue without ever seeing another signal...at least that is the goal.:)
     
  8. lizzybeth727

    lizzybeth727 New Member

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    What is CAT? Did I miss something?
     
  9. dr2little

    dr2little Moderator

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