Mon-Fri 8 to 5:30
Sat. by appointment only
31310 Woodhaven Trail
Cannon Falls, MN 55009
Click here for map
651-222-0885 Twin Cities
A dog’s temperament is
determined by hereditary genes and environmental conditions!
Health authorities report
that more than one million people are bitten each year. This
number represents the reported cases only, and most cases go
unreported. Bite wounds account for one percent of emergency
room admissions and the annual cost to healthcare is
approximately $30 million. Half of the dog bite victims are
young children under 10 years of age. Aggression in is the
most serious behavior problem that dog owners encounter. It
can be preventable, if owners understand the factors that
influence the development of aggressive behavior during
their growth periods.
The puppy period is a
critical socialization period between 3 weeks (when they
start to see and hear) and 14 weeks of age. Puppies should
be purchased after eight weeks of age and proper
socialization should continue in their new home. Puppies
experience a fearful period between 8 - 10 weeks. During
this time, a puppy socialization class that promotes
positive reinforcement is extremely important. Every puppy
should be exposed to and gently handled by at least 100
adults and children.
The juvenile period starts at fourteen weeks.
This dreaded adolescence period ends when the pup reaches
sexual maturity between 14 - 15 months of age. Puppies that
are kennel raised for the first 14 weeks (with limited human
contact) will remain shy of people and exhibit fearful
behaviors when stressed. These puppies are improperly
socialized and have a difficult time trusting people and
other dogs. Attending obedience classes during this time
helps them to socialize with other dogs and teaches them to
trust as well as respect people.
Dogs reach sexual maturity between 6 - 14 months of age.
During this period, the males begin to lift their legs to
urinate. They also may start barking at strangers and become
more protective of their things and space. It is important
to introduce strangers (adults, children, and other dogs) at
their home property as well as in public places during this
period. We also recommend spaying the females and neutering
the males at 6 months of age. By removing the excess
hormones the dogs bond more easily with their owners because
they are more willing to learn, and are easier to obedience
Factors That Influence Aggression
Genetic makeup or hereditary genes
play a major role in aggression. Dogs bred for protection (Akitas,
Pit Bulls, Rottweilers) are expected to be more aggressive
than (Golden Retrievers or Labs). Terriers by nature are
intelligent, independent feisty little dogs used for hunting
and killing rodents or small animals. It is important to
evaluate the breed characteristics, and choose one that best
suits your needs and fits into your lifestyle! The breeds
that have a genetic predisposition for aggressiveness should
have experienced owners.
Inbreeding may cause
unstable temperaments as well as serious health issues.
Hormones contribute to
aggressive tendencies in intact male dogs and in females who
are nursing and protecting puppies.
that influence aggression are: being isolated from human
contact, lacking proper socialization opportunities, using
improper reinforcement techniques of negative behaviors by
inexperienced owners, using inconsistent commands between
family members, using excessive punishment, being teased by
children or adults, being frightened or attacked by an
aggressive dog, being aggravated at delivery people,
joggers, or bikers.
Dogs are genetically
programmed to live in a pack hierarchal order that
influences their social rank. The rank is established and
maintained by their body language. The most dominant dog
maintains the alpha status and the others fall into place.
When dogs live with people, they look at their family as
their pack members. They attempt to establish their position
or rank within the family by challenging the more submissive
members (particularly the children). It is
important to correct dogs that display dominant gestures
such as growling at anyone who walks near them or while
guarding their food dish or possessions. When dominant
gestures remain uncorrected, the dog gradually gains in rank
over one or all family members. Subtle signs of dominance
usually go unnoticed until the dog bites a person for
infringement on their alpha position. Owners misunderstand
or ignore the progression of these behaviors and blame the
dog for biting "for no reason." These dogs frequently end up
at animal shelters and are destroyed because their owners
misunderstood the development and progression of aggressive
behavior. Ten million dogs are euthanized each year because
of unwanted behavior.
stand tall with their ears erect and pointed forward, their
tail is held straight up, and their eyes are open and in a
fixed stare. They bark excessively, snarl or snap, emit a
low pitched growl, raise their hackles up, exhibit curled up
lips and exposed teeth. They may attack other animals such
as dogs, cats, or horses. They may mount people's legs or
place their front paws on the shoulder of other dogs. They
push people aside when going through a door. They chase
moving objects such as joggers, bikers, cars and trucks.
They escape from home and roam for long periods of time.
Dominant dogs demand attention, excessive affection and are
possessive of their possessions, space and sleeping areas.
Most of these dogs choose to ignore soft toned commands or
the command to “down” or “drop”. They resist being placed in
a submissive position. The males lift their legs to mark
things in the house and everywhere outside. Punishment
cannot be used to correct a dominant aggressive dog! It
takes a knowledgeable trainer and an experienced dedicated
owner who is willing to train, utilizing behavior
modification skills to achieve respect and gain the alpha
position. CVS does not recommend a dominant aggressive dog
for the average dog owner!
display submissive body posture (ears back, often flat
against their head, avoid direct eye contact; lower their
head and body; and may tuck their tail between their legs.
Some may experience submissive urination, lick their owner’s
hands or roll over to expose their bellies. They may resist
handling or grooming and hate to have their feet touched. If
cornered, they become aggressive fear-biters and often snap
at people who turn their back to walk away. Dog’s that
exhibit these tendencies must learn to trust. It is
important to use behavior modification skills and positive
reinforcement to build their self esteem.
Other types of aggression:
pain related aggression, possession aggression (of space or
things), maternal aggression (parental protection of puppies
or family), territorial aggression, status related
aggression, intra-sexual (male to male or female to female),
protection aggression, predatory aggression, and play
If your dog exhibits any aggressive acts, an animal
behaviorist should be contacted. Timing is crucial because
it is easier to change or modify behaviors when they first
get started. The more ingrained the negative behaviors get,
the harder they are to modify. Treatment starts with filling
out the Canine Behavior History Form. Once we receive the
CVS form, it is evaluated and a treatment plan is
determined. We encourage family members to attend the first
appointment with your dog. Using positive reinforcement and
behavior modification training methods, we teach dog owners
how to effectively become the alpha leader of their family
or pack. We also teach owners how to modify their dog’s
strong instinctual behaviors with appropriate and acceptable
behaviors. When necessary, Dr. Winter may prescribe
medication for your dog to help make the transition easier
for them to accept.
AVOID AN AGGRESSIVE DOG ATTACK:
private property unless specifically invited.
encounter with guard-trained dogs.
Avoid direct eye
contact, which the dog interprets as a challenge to
Glance at the
dog so you know where it is, but don't stare at
Do not run, when
confronted by a threatening dog.
ground, and demonstrate moderate dominance by firmly
commanding the dog to “go home or sit”.
If the dog backs
away, slowly retreat until it is out of site.
If you are on a
bicycle, do not ride away from the dog.
Stop, get off and stand with the bicycle
between you and the dog.
Do not pet a
loose strange dog.
Do not touch or
pet a strange dog that is eating or sleeping
Do not turn your
back on an aggressively barking dog.
Do not scream or
run (be still and remain calm).
Do not be
embarrassed to ask an owner to restrain their dog.
Do not be
embarrassed to jump on a car, climb a tree, or call
for help if you feel threatened.
As a last resort
throw food or an object at an aggressive dog.
aggressive loose dogs or incidents of actual bites
to the police.
If you are
knocked down (curl up into a ball, and
use your hands to protect your head and neck).