Taming Dog Aggression

By Susan Garlinghouse DVM

Puppies usually learn how to interact with other friendly dogs during early life . However, for a variety of reasons, that doesn’t always happen, and such pups can grow up with poor social skills, unable to decipher and understand the body language of other dogs. As they mature, they can develop fear-based dog aggression—barking, growling, lunging or worse, which often gets more ingrained with time.

It would intuitively seem like the best way to discourage such behavior is to rebuke the dog or give a quick pop on the leash to reprimand for dog agression. However, doing so actually makes things worse, as punishment simply reinforces his anxiety that being around other dogs means bad things will happen. Read the rest of this entry »

How Not to Say “Bite Me”: Avoiding Dog Bites

Avoid Do Bites

By Susan Garlinghouse DVM

This is National Dog Bite Prevention Week, so let’s talk about how to avoid being either the owner or victim of dog bites.  According to the Centers of Disease Control, 4.5 million people are bitten by dogs every year, with 1 in 5 (that’s over 800,000) requiring medical attention.  The most common victims are young children and the elderly, and most are bitten during everyday activities by a dog familiar to them.

Any dog can bite if provoked, regardless of size, age, breed or gender.  Usually, dogs bite as a reaction—either out of fear, from pain, to protect their territory or possessions, or during play that gets out of hand. Read the rest of this entry »