Aggression and Calm/Assertive Correction
Sarge is a 9 year old Airedale from the Tampa area that was living with an elderly woman who passed away. His foster owners have been very good about wanting what is best for him even though they have been bitten by him on several occasions. This behavior and negative energy from him usually is centered around being wiped off with a towel. After taking him for a walk in the woods, we came across a dog he had always had problems with. I showed the owners how controlling their dog's state of mind and keeping them calm can actually control the other, more aggressive, dog. The other dog, even in his own yard, gave up barking and walked back into his porch.
Sarge did quite well on the walk, but his Kryptonite is the towel. His Pack Leaders usually try to do this inside the closed garage, which sometimes has it's own negative energy that the dog will associate. My ultimate suggestion was to get him used to being calm around a towel by walking him while holding the towel on the same side as the leash, and perhaps even wiping him off in a different area (outside, for example). However, I wanted to have him work through his problems by being calm in the garage so I opted to work with him there.
As you can see from the video, he had a rather violent reaction to this, and tried to disagree with me by trying to bite me twice. However, dogs have to give respect and distance on their own, and while he tried to resist doing that, once I had his owner move, he had to process that on his own. He also tried to bite me a third time (that did not get recorded, since I don't have a production staff!) and that required him to be placed on his side to calm down. He had so much negative energy that he stayed -- on his own without any direction from me -- for close to 20 minutes.
After that, we all went outside to throw the ball and have a different experience. I was able to stroke his head with the towel without his violent reaction, and the day ended on a positive note, as you can see. The hardest thing for humans to do is to NOT hold a grudge against a dog for behaviors such as this, or to think that giving affection at the wrong time is going to "sooth the savage beast". In short, it will not. It WILL actually have the direct opposite response and can (and often does) result in a bite. Staying consistent with a more aggressive dog is a bit more challenging but we are working toward making the dog either adoptable or happier and calmer, which always gives us better behaviors.
Until the next time, stay calm and assertive even in the face of a violent outburst so that you can regain your leadership position with the dog.
UPDATE: Over the past month, Kamp K-9 and Koa have visited clients all over the state of Florida and the region, showing that balanced dogs are a possibility even in households where they never thought that to be possible with their dog. From March of this year, Kamp K-9 has helped over 300 Pack Leaders (this does not include students in my classes or attendees of the seminars) with dog psychology, aggression, too much energy, anti-social behavior and new pack member introductions (either dogs or new infants) all around the region. This is not to brag but it IS to show that there are a lot of misconceptions about how to treat dogs in the manner that shows them the MOST love and affection, after exercise and enforcing rules/boundaries/limitations. Timing is everything, so make sure that you follow the formula and if you aren't getting the results you want, look to yourself first. And, if you need help, ask for it to have a better, safer, and more comfortable life with your dog!