Anti-aggressive puppy training

19 Jan

Yep, that’s a thing!

If a puppy has just become part of your family, or if you are considering getting a puppy, it might be worth considering this anti-aggressive training thing. I didn’t really know too much about it until Maya was a bit older, but i still try to continue to carry it out now (and she’s nine months old!).


So, what is it?


Anti-aggressive puppy training involves the owner becoming the dogs leader rather than its master. This all goes back to what i was saying a while ago about how it is much more beneficial to be the leader and guide your puppy through life, rather than its master and boss it around. The puppy learns tolerance as a result of following this leadership. Submissive behaviours such as “sit”, “come” and “down” are the easiest lessons for the puppy to learn. As i have mentioned once before, these are fairly instinctual as Most dogs are born to be naturally submissive, as there can only be one pack leader.

Unchanneled or encouraged play aggression can result in aggression problems later in life. Suitable early interactions with a puppy can prevent aggressive problems developing later in life. This is particularly important with a puppy that is already showing pushy behaviour as it tries to assert itself as the pack leader. Pushy behaviour at an early age might be difficult to recognize, but some simple signs would be if it is jumping all over you or mouthing you alot. Maya probably fell into this category.

A key lesson to teach a puppy is that it is not acceptable to bite, a lesson that begins by refusing to allow it to bite the owners hand. As mentioned before, bite inhibition is partly learned through social play with the dogs litter-mates where they learn how hard is too hard. When owners allow biting to occur because it is “cute” or “natural”, the behaviour is reinforced and the puppy could learn that biting hard is ok. Unfortunately, this behaviour doesn’t stay “cute” for long, and as the puppy gets bigger it can result in more aggressive behaviours and possibly hurting the owner or other people. This interaction must be stopped through diversion or ignoring it. Some dog trainers suggest that when the puppy tries to bite your hand, you should provide it with a toy instead. Others say to pull your hand away and ignore the dog or even make a yelping type sound to suggest that the dog has caused you pain, and then pull away.  As a natural behaviour, punishment is inappropriate. If you would like to know more about how you might want to teach your puppy that biting is not ok, or read about the problems we had with Maya, check out my post on “Play biting, attention seeking nips, real aggression”

puppy nips


Preventing dominance and protective aggression can also be carried out through activities with the food bowl. The puppy should learn to wait before the food bowl is placed in front of them, learning that if they are not patient, they won’t be fed (or rewarded). It is important to note that the dog should not be focusing all its energy on the food (i.e staring at the food bowl) but should be focussing on the owner, in a calm submissive way, waiting to be fed rather than demanding. Puppies should allow the owner to pick up and take away its food readily, just as they would to a dog “pack leader”. This is an activity that could be continued throughout the dog’s life, to reinforce that you are the pack leader and have control over the food. For this technique, you can check out the videos i posted of Maya’s feeding ritual.


tea time


When playing games with the puppy, the owner should only participate in games or behaviours that would be acceptable in an adult dog. For example, the owner must always be able to control access to a toy, therefore a puppy should never be allowed to win at a game of tug of war. The puppy should be encouraged to relieve excess energy through exercise, but not because the puppy solicits it. Encouragement and rewards should be used when the puppy shows submissive behaviours as well as following the owner in order to help see the human as the leader figure.

 tenor and his rope toy


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