Obsession with Aggression


Obsession with Aggression

More of an observation. From dog sport to companion training, the obsession with aggression is at a new all time high. One must just troll social media to witness all the discussions, or in my opinion, obsession. Even in my travels around the world I am always shocked with discussions of reactivity with pet dogs or the application of aggression in protection work in dog sports.

Why is this? My theory, for what its worth, is people still find it mythical.  I would say now days 75% of inquires to our business pertain in one way or another to reactiveness in dogs. Terms like "Behavior Modification" and "leash reactivity" are trending.

One could argue that it is caused from improper breeding practices. One could also argue that rescue groups/shelters are not selecting appropriate dogs for adoption. One could even say with the new movement of "positive only" trainers (whatever that means) is causing inadequate solutions to simple problems.

The word "behavior" has become the new norm. Almost as if you have a dog with "behavioral” issues that sets you apart from the rest. Something special perhaps? The quest for "standing out”, or feeling "special" in an almost mondain world of dog training? Even the trainers now I meet are saying "I specialize in more behavioral stuff”.  Sometimes I wonder if that translates into "I am not that good at teaching obedience or sport work so I do behavior work". Talk of aggression simply bores me. Be it in sport dog community or companion dog training. I can normally finish a conversation in under 5 minutes on the topic. Perhaps I don't know enough about the topic to speak more on it (although 2 decades of working with it may say different)? 

As far as the need for active aggression in sport? Well what I can tell you is a dog working in 100% prey can go to a world championship. And score respectable. I know from experience. The place "aggression" can perhaps get you and extra few points are in the guarding phases. But how easy is to really tell if a dog is working in active aggression? What determines it? Can a judge misread it? A lot of discussion and obsession for MAYBE a few points.....

On another note. For some reason people think all dogs MUST like each other. Strange way of thinking. I mean heck, people don't always like each other. Reality check, not all dogs like each other. And when pushed in a social setting the way they react is through aggression. Normal.

I think often people don't realize animals including dogs can make choices. Once people understand that many times an act of aggression is a choice, then the solution becomes more clear.

As far as trainers that say the specialize in "Behavioral work", I always thought teaching heel, sit and down were still behaviors. Thats what B.F. Skinner believed anyway......

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