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Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Displaced Aggression

"Displaced aggression, displaced reactivity, redirecting" is attacking something that isn't the source of the frustration. In her book, Behavior Adjustment Training, Grisha Stewart describes redirection as "where your reactive dog goes after your other dog because he can't reach the real target."

A dog might see a cat outside the window.  The dog can't get to the cat, so she attacks the closest thing instead.  Some dogs might bite the curtain, some dogs might snap at the closest animal (a sibling). Some dogs might even bite the pet parent.

When trying to fix redirected aggression, the best course of action is the help the dog feel better about the cause of the redirecting. Impulse control and stress reduction can also help. But in order to keep everyone safe, we have to start with management.

1. If the behavior is serious enough, pet parents might have to consider keeping the animals of the household in separate rooms or separate crates.  Some people call it "crate and rotate." I call it "musical rooms/crates."  - One pet is put away while the other has free reign, then switch.

2. Number 1 can be too drastic for some pet parents. There are other options.

A. Reduce visual and auditory stimulation
     -  See Window Barker:
     -  See Privacy Fence:
     -  See Using White Noise:

B. Getting dogs further away from the source of frustration can help as well.
     - See redundant fencing:

3. We can set up our house and yard for safety. Set up barriers indoors and out. Have crates handy
    -- See outdoor exercise pens:
    -- And indoor exercise pens:

After we have everyone safe through management, then we need to treat the whole dog

1. Stress Reduction:
2. Relaxation:
3. Mental and physical stimulation
4. Impulse Control
5. Zen exercises

Then we can work on helping our dogs feel better about stimuli that causes the redirecting
- A simple way to do this is to hand our dogs treats as soon as the concerning thing comes into view.
  -- Here is one example: Window Barker:
-  A more sophisticate program can be found by reading books and watching DVDs by Leslie McDevitt. See Tawzer or DogWise or Cleanrun, or Amazon for her books and DVDs

Pet parents should never counter aggression with aggression. Do not yell, nor yank, or hit.  This will make the issue worse.
Startle and other suppression methods are also highly discouraged.

A medical evaluation might be in order.

If this issue is serious and/or if none of the above works, it might be wise to call in a professional.  Pet parents have to be careful. Some incompetent "professionals" will not only make the issue worse, but also, they can even emotionally scar a dog for life.
Hiring a trainer:

Tell us about your redirector in the comments below.

Email general questions or comments to Replies might be shared on this blog but names will be changed or left out.

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