Is Aggression normal in Dogs
Domestication means exactly what it says domestication.
Is aggression normal in dogs; answer is no it is not normal. Domestication means exactly what it says domestication. We domesticated dogs to such a point that they now live alongside the human and have become a part of our society.
So why if we have spent over 14,000 years domesticating the Canine and categorically believe now that they are a completely separate species from their wild ancestors are we seeing an increase in aggression?
Well some experts believe it is a combination of factors that start with their early stage puppy socialisation and hormone development. It is true that these behavioural development stages are extremely important. And as their new owners we must be a part of this, learning with them to form that true bond.
As a dog develops into an adult at between 18 and 36 months, behaviours that seemed acceptable as a puppy are no longer acceptable and our dogs may change the way they react to the human attempts to control the behaviours.
Now this is where some experts believe that the reason for behaviours like defensive aggression can be linked to excessive use of punishment.
Punishment is not a true form of control; the word control and how we gain control can be misunderstood and misinterpreted as punishment.
According to BF Skinner “Punishment is defined as the opposite of reinforcement since it is designed to weaken or eliminate a response rather than increase it. It is an aversive event that decreases the behaviour that it follows”
Now the key to knowing the difference between punishment and correction is in that sentence “It is an aversive event that decreases the behaviour that it follows”
So punishment is an after event, it can be as simple as removing a potential reward or as adverse as a smack or yank of the lead after the event. This is not how dogs work and it is certainly not how we should work and control our dogs.
So if aggression is not a natural to dogs then why do they exhibit it? Well to me it all comes down to our understanding of this somewhat complex species. We have allowed ourselves to be driven by science and society.
Our domestic dogs have over the years become more and more insecure, anxious and fearful of the human species. We have forgotten why we domesticated them and how to read them and work with them.
The problem now is that we have not just domesticated them we have now also humanised them and this is the key factor to why we are seeing an increase in aggression.
There has been so much written and that is available for all to read about dogs and dog behaviour. It is so difficult for your average dog owner to know what’s right and what’s wrong. Science is a wonderful thing but nothing will serve you better than your instinct.
The only way you will avoid any unwanted behaviours like aggression in your dogs is to get to know your dog, never punish your dog, do not allow your dog to dictate and do not humanise them. Give them guidance, give them leadership and nurture them as other dogs would and you will have a true domesticated balanced dog.