Predicting Outcomes in Dog Aggression Cases

aggressive-on-bedAggression is one of the most emotionally difficult and draining types of behavior problems we are asked to work with.  Owners are afraid that their dog is going to hurt someone, or maybe already has.  They are also afraid they may not be able to keep their dog.  Or they may be afraid of the dog himself!

We’ve heard owners say they just can’t keep a dog that is going to bite. We’ve also had people tell us they will keep a dog in the family, no matter what.  Others are torn about what to do.  Professional trainers and behavior consultants need concrete factors to discuss with clients to help them guide their choices.

While good criteria that accurately predict outcomes have not been established, there are certain factors that professionals need to be aware of and discuss with owners.  The following video segment from our Behavior Education Network course on Dog Aggression to Family Members takes a look.

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In the meantime, watch this video sampler with our compliments.


  • Suzanne-Dan

    November 22, 2016

    Cris – those questions and suggestions you have – we have webinars, checklists, and other resources on them ALL in BEN. We’d suggest you become a member!

    Teri – we’re so sorry to hear about that traumatic bite – it must have been terrifying. I hope the outcome after the referral was a good one. Police dog trainers are accustomed to working with a very specific type of dog and the techniques they use are often don’t work well with companion dogs whose temperaments can be much more variable (we’ll avoid commenting on their appropriateness for working dogs).

    None of us wants to have a case that ends in euthanasia, but as you say, in some circumstances it is the best, safest, and really only option.

    Thank you all for your comments

  • Teri Brown

    November 22, 2016

    Thank you. In 8 years I have decided not to work with 4 dangerous dogs. The last one was a Belgium Malinois whose owner was referred to me. The owner told me that he was “a little protective” when people came over. When I knocked on his door I could hear the dog barking and snarling in the background. I asked if he was leashed and the owner said no. That should have told me something right away. So he leashed to the dog and I walked in past the owner and dog who was lunging at me. I had no eye contact with him and went to sit down across the room when the owner lost control of the dog and he went for my face, I blocked him and he bit me several times on my arm. I told the owner to put the dog away so I could talk to him. I was very concerned because there were 3 small children and his elderly father in the home. I told him I couldn’t work with the dog, who had no discernment regarding threatening humans. I referred him to a trainer who trains police and military dogs in my area. I have a few more experiences that I could share. I became a trainer after putting down my 1 yr old Akita after she bit my housekeeper and killed my Aussie. It broke my heart but I couldn’t find any trainer or behaviorist that was willing or able to help. Knowing what I know now, I do believe I could have helped her. Your assessment protocol is very helpful, and though I know most feel very uncomfortable with the only outcome being euthanasia, I agree there are those situations where it is, unfortunately, the only safe and viable option. Thank you again!

  • Cris

    November 22, 2016

    It was very informative.

    Can you ever do one for “fear aggression” in dogs? Is there any hope for a dog with this problem?
    Also,if treatments with medication is a priority for helping a pet.
    What kind of behavior training is recommended, ( or not) along with medication.And what kind of training tools, harness, buckle collar, prong, choke, martingale,etc would benefit the dog?

    Thank you,

  • P Via

    November 22, 2016

    THank you for this brief video clip. It definitely keeps things in perspective for me with all of my aggression evaluations

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