How do I stop my gun dog being aggressive?
By Jeremy Hunt
Wednesday, 12 December 2007
I have a young labrador gun dog I have had since a pup. He is now 10 months old and has become rather aggressive towards other dogs. Is this something I can deal with or is this how he will always be?
JEREMY HUNT says:
Aggression is never easy to deal with. From the start it's important to state that punishing a gun dog for being aggressive towards other dogs will only make the situation worse.
If you know your dog's parents had temperament problems your task may be more difficult to deal with; otherwise you should be able to overcome it, to some degree at least.
It may be your dog is simply trying to protect you, in which case I would advise letting another capable person take him out and put him in the presence of other dogs, although you will need to be on hand just in case you are needed.
Don't put him into direct conflict with other dogs to start with - keep some distance away so you can exert some control over the situation. If he shows aggression, just keep walking and speak to him harshly to make him realise you will not tolerate his outburst; by all means give him a short, sharp jerk to make him know you are in control but don't send a panic message down the lead by tightening your grip.
For this exercise try swapping your traditional gundog lead for a choke chain and leather lead; this will enable you to deliver the sharp, corrective jerk.
You could try making him focus all his attention on you by undertaking a 'sit and stay' when he sees another dog. In that way you are asserting your control over him, although I admit these theoretical suggestions can be difficult to achieve when your dog is getting agitated.
Your aim should be to get him to concentrate on you and what you want him to do and not what he wants to do. Try and get some friends with their dogs to help you - at least you will then have some control over what happens.
If you feel you need professional help you could consider sending your dog to a trainer or animal behaviourist.
Be careful if you do send him away and make sure he goes to a reputable trainer and not someone who will simply turn his bolshiness into total submissiveness - that can be even more difficult to deal with.