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Aggression is an animal behavior meant to ward threats off and save energy. Our dogs will show this in many common situations like guarding their territory against intruders or protecting themselves or their owner from a threat. This is normal and as the saying goes, some dogs have barks far worse than their bite. Unfortunately, some go overboard and end up biting someone. What could be done about it before it leads to the worst-case scenario? Will a shock collar help with an aggressive dog? Will training them with shock collars or electronic collars reduce their aggression?
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What Causes Aggression in Dogs?
Domesticated dogs descended from wolves and inherited the survival instincts linked to their aggressive behaviors. We can generalize these instincts to two things: Protection and Prey Drive. Protection is their instinct to protect themselves, their home, or their pack while Prey Drive is their ancestor’s drive to find food.
Certain dog breeds are naturally protective or aggressive, such as the Doberman, German Shepherd, and the small but sometimes terrible Chihuahua. Despite this, their aggression towards people is only tied to certain natural triggers, and are docile in normal situations. Other breeds like the Bloodhounds and Pitbull have strong Prey Drive which results in aggressive behaviors towards smaller mammals.
If your dog shows signs of heightened hostility, check out your dog’s history. If you’ve had them as a pup, then your treatment of the dog should be taken into consideration. In some cases, doted dogs become extremely territorial or attached. If left alone in the house, they may feel anxiety which will result in the dog lashing out when it “snaps.” Adopted and rescued dogs could have a history of abuse and neglect, which needs plenty of time and care to properly resolve.
After considering their history, check their surroundings. Foreign loud sounds and smells they can’t identify or don’t have the means to investigate can lead to restlessness, which then translates into aggression. Certain breeds like Beagles and other Hounds need the freedom to track smells and sounds to a degree, otherwise, they might feel unease.
Neighboring dogs and other animals can cause the same effect, especially when these animals also show aggression towards them.
Finally, check their health. If your fur buddy’s in pain or discomfort, they are far more likely to repel anyone they perceive as a threat to defend themselves. If you suspect that they have health issues, don’t hesitate to take them to a veterinarian. Any illness that thins their temper is likely causing them prolonged discomfort, warranting immediate care.
Once you have addressed all of these and either resolved it or properly concluded that your fur buddy’s just born antagonistic, you can then consider training them to help redirect their aggressive energy. There are many training tools out there, but one of the most efficient devices is the modern shock collar.
Related article: Best Bark Collar for a Large Dog
How Can Shock Collars Affect a Dog’s Behavior?
Before we begin, it’s worth saying that a shock collar or electronic collar is a training tool, and whether it does good for your dog or otherwise, depends mostly on the user. We say ‘mostly’ because the quality of your shock collar also contributes to the overall result.
Its function is to produce an irritating sensation to a spot on your dog’s neck. Trainers and owners alike use this to their advantage as a way to communicate with their pets. The shock collar will tell the dog that they are doing the incorrect response, and your praise and treats will tell them they did great. It does not mean that the collar is used for punishment. A shock collar should never be used to punish your dog. The idea is that you should not use the collar when your dog, for example, chews on your expensive brand-new earphones. Instead, use it to teach your dog obedience to prevent it.
This is not the case for everyone though. Improper use of shock collars and other tools like the choke collar can cause fear and anxiety. That visceral fear they feel when they have no control over the painful shock caused by excessively high-intensity level or the improper tugging of a choke collar triggers their fight-or-flight response. If they can’t flee, they will fight.
On the other hand, a proper training method using shock collars will enrich your dog’s experience. By properly introducing the collar, setting the lowest functional level (The lowest level that causes the tiniest reaction from your fur-buddy), and preparing plenty of positive reinforcement, you can establish clear communication with your dog and prevent confusion.
How this helps with aggression, is not mainly with the shock collar, but the combination of shock training and positive reinforcement. By positive reinforcement, we mean playing with them, praising them, and giving them treats when they do the correct thing. The shock collar quickly helps them figure out how to do the right thing, but it’s up to you and a bit of timing to get the message through. For example, teaching them to go back to you when called can be done without a shock collar, but with it, you can remotely tell your buddy that stopping midway is wrong and going straight towards you stops the sensation, which then leads to the other half of this process: the reward.
Rewarding them during training makes the process enjoyable and allows them to pour their doggy energy into the process, relieving and rewinding their pent-up tension. No matter the breed, a dog that feels fulfilled, would rather spend their cognitive energy on playing, exploring, and bonding with you rather than trying to protect themselves from non-existent threats.
After they learned even basic obedience commands, not only will the training fulfill them, you’ll also gain a way to prevent negative and unwanted behavior. Eventually, you won’t need your shock collar, nor bark collars and such if all it takes for your fur-buddy to follow you is a clear command and a decent treat.
Related: Best Bark Collar for a Small Dog
Conclusion Will A Shock Collar Help With An Aggressive Dog?
Dogs, like people, have unique personalities and temperaments. They could be born aggressive, or short-fused but when you treat them with proper care and take the time and effort to teach them, they can and will become great members of your family. Maybe they still end up short-fused and a bit snarly, but like us Humans, what matters is what they do with it. It’s up to you as a pet owner, to help them reach their greatest potential.
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Garrett loves animals and is a huge advocate for all Doodle dog breeds. He owns his own Goldendoodle named Kona. In addition, he volunteers at the Humane Society of Silicon Valley, where he fosters dogs and helps animals. Garrett enjoys writing about Doodles and believes that dogs can teach humans more about how to live than humans can teach a dog.
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