Dog Aggression Case Study

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Rags is a one-year-old Labrador mix that was adopted from a rescue organization after he was found to be living in a yard without shelter. The family that adopted Rags lavished him with attention and support, but Rags still retained the fear associated with his previous owner. In addition to showing aggression towards the family's children, Rags would frequently growl as passersby on the street and on more than one occasion cornered a visitor in the family's home. The family is quickly becoming fearful that Rags will attack and injure a human being. Since the family desperately wanted to keep Rags as a four-legged member of their family, they elected to begin a rigorous training exercise to eliminate aggressive behavior.

After almost attacking a family friend at a party, Rags was taken to a local dog training academy to work on his aggressive behavior. Before the training started, the instructors sat down with Rags and the family in order to best understand the behavioral problem. During this interview, Rags showed no signs of aggression until another trainer rushed into the room to deliver a message. At this point, Rags become agitated, began growling, and lunged against his lead. Seeing this behavior, the instructors had a better idea of how to develop a training plan especially for Rags.

At Rags' first training session, the instructors worked with one of the adult members of the family. This way, Rags would associate the training with someone familiar. The instructors told the family member that Rags was mistreated by his previous owner and uses aggressive behavior to defend himself against the violence against him. Also, since Rags was confined to a fenced in yard, he was not allowed to become socialized regarding people.

The training session included the instructor giving commands to Rags and the family member complying. As the dog progressed, additional instructors were added into the situation, each one maintaining a calm demeanor. During this session, Rags exhibited no aggressive behavior towards anyone in the room. The instructors warned the family not to use verbal or physical abuse towards Rags when he becomes aggressive, as he may become violent. This includes using methods like shake cans and water bottles that can be mistaken as threatening to the dog. The instructors also provided a list of training techniques that can be implemented in the home between sessions.

As the sessions progressed, the instructors added more individuals into the mix and created more distractions for Rags. When Rags stopped responding aggressively, the trainers deemed the dog retrained against his aggressive behavior. In the end, the family was extremely pleased with the training and enjoyed having Rags as a happy and healthy member of their family.

Once the training was complete, the family threw a party in Rags' honor. During this party, the family's home and yard was crowded with many people, yet Rags did not feel threatened or display any aggressive behavior. Furthermore, when the family took Rags on walks or trips, he could easily interact with other people they met along the way without fear of aggression.



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