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Tuesday Training Byte: Is my dog aggressive?

First let me say that there is a difference between aggressive and protective. Dogs may become aggressive for a variety of reasons. Commonly, when a dog is kept in a confined area, they may become quite territorial. Examples include chaining/tying out a dog or keeping him confined in a small pen. If you have a back yard with a chain link fence, the dog may run up and down the fence line barking aggressively at any people or dogs that he sees. Keeping a dog crated for extended periods can also add to the problem. Typically, the smaller the dog's area of confinement, the more this becomes a problem. So how do you tell if it is aggressive or protective? My dogs have a very large fenced yard, but also come into the house. When in the yard they will bark at the gate if a delivery truck or guest pulls into the drive. They will also bark if they see me out front talking with "a stranger". That is being protective. As I can go open the gate and let them out and they will run happily to greet the visitor who may be a total stranger to them. The key is that the driveway and front yard my dogs consider my area and the fenced back yard is theirs. If I have workers at the house, the workers cannot go into the back yard without me or unless I put the dogs up (dog's area), but can come and go into the house (my area). On the other hand, an aggressive dog may be unpredictable or unstable in situations with strangers or other dogs. The owner can even get bitten when trying to hold their own dog back. If you think your dog is aggressive, seek out a professional trainer or canine behaviorist.

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