Food for Thought on Territorial Aggression in Dogs

In my mission to learn as much as I possibly can about our canine companions, I have been reading more than I have read in quite some time (wow that’s sad).  In my search for doggy knowledge, I have learned about behavior, training, diet, exercise and last but not least, types of aggression.   My peaked interest in the subject of aggression is due to the different obstacles that people may face after adopting a dog whose background is not pleasant, abusive or completely unknown.  Particularly because of my favorite shadow, Mr. Goose.

Goose, as indicated in the previous posts, is my, I guess you can say, teenager.  He’s had a rough start and needs a little bit of shaping and training.  He is one of the most intelligent dogs I’ve met which has been useful and challenging all at the same time.  Because of his “quick to catch on” trait, his training is going quite well, as for basic commands, but he has a small problem with territorial aggression (i.e. fence running and front door freak-outs) and he’s not a big fan of men.  It’s not so extreme that I can’t control him on a lead, but I don’t want it to escalate and I don’t want to take unnecessary chances.  I chalk this lashing out up to his background of neglect, intolerance and ignorance and I’m working to help him gain his confidence and trust, but a little help from the experts never hurt. 

In “The Well-Adjusted Dog” by Dr. Nicholas Dodman, Dr. Dodman discusses all aspects of dog shaping, training  and what can contribute to their behavior, including aggression.  Much information was given and I took in every fact and idea, but decided to start with his suggestion pertaining to exercise and diet in an attempt to calm Goose down so I can gain control of the situation. 

In what I believe will be a journey filled with patience and lessons, my first step was to take him on longer walks everyday, which I have found to be great for the kids’ pent up energy as well, and I have adjusted his diet.  According to a study done by Dr. Dodman, a low-protien diet can greatly reduce “territorial” aggression, so  I thought I’d put it to the test.  Although I did not go as low as 17-18% as suggested, because Goose is still young, I did reduce the intake.  Instead of 28+% protein, he is now at 23%.  According to the study, I should be able to see dramatic results within 2 weeks.   It has only been a few days, but I will keep you updated on his progress.  Wish us luck!!

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