At our Northern Virginia dog behavior training facility, we deal with dogs who are aggressive towards people on a regular basis.
One thing that everyone asks is, “Can you fix my people aggressive dog?” That’s a very tricky question to answer until we really start working with your dog.
First, you must understand WHY your dog has aggression towards people: abused at a young age, lack of socialization at a young age, or bad breeding (genetic predisposition)?
I would say about 90% of the cases is lack of proper socialization at a young age; unfortunately, this is sad because this is the EASIEST and most preventable thing to do with your dog (that is 100% free and cost-free). We will discuss proper socialization and desensitizing your dog to “trigger points” in a different blog.
We (as in Off Leash K9 Training) do have a classification system that tells us the likelihood of being able to completely fix (or address) your dog’s people’s aggression.
We base this system NOT on the number of incidents your dog has had, but the “severity” of the incidents. This is the grading scale assuming that your dog has no medical issue.
Level 1 Aggression:
-Growls and barks at people, but has never actually put teeth on a person.
Level 2 Aggression:
-Growls, barks (not necessary), and has put teeth on someone but has never actually punctured a person’s skin
Level 3 Aggression:
-Growls, barks (not necessary), and has left 1-3 shallow puncture marks on someone. *Shallow punctures meaning not deeper than half the length of the dog’s K9 teeth*
Level 4 Aggression:
-Growls, barks (not necessary) and has left 1-4 deep puncture wounds in a single bite. *Deep punctures meaning deeper than half the length of the dog’s K9 teeth*
Level 5 Aggression:
-Growls, barks (not necessary) and has left multiple Level 4-type wounds on a person.
Level 6 Aggression:
-Has severely wounded a person (long hospital stay due to the dog bite) and/or even killing a person.
Dealing with Level 1 and 2 Aggression: This is the easiest type of aggression. At our K9 Training facility in Northern Virginia, we work with this on a daily basis. We are almost always able to completely fix this, give your dog amazing obedience, higher confidence, and stop their reactivity to people. What this tells us is that your dog may be reactive towards people; he/she has learned GREAT bite inhibition (which we will talk about in another blog).
Dealing with Level 3 Aggression: This is still very workable from a training and “fixability” perspective. We have a lot of steps that we will go over with you in order to get this issue fixed and bring the level down until it’s a level zero. This means that your dog has SOME bite inhibition.
Dealing with Level 4 Aggression: This is where it starts to get a little tricky. This is where we will ask about the specific situation and story behind the bites. Generally, with a level 4 aggression biter, it is workable with the family and people living with the dog (assuming the dog did this with someone in the family). Generally, would not recommend this dog interacting with anyone outside of the people working directly with the dog on a daily basis. This is a dog who has A LITTLE bite inhibition.
Dealing with Level 5 Aggression: Okay, at this point, you have a dog that we would classify as a dangerous dog. Your dog has NO bite inhibition whatsoever, and we would say that they are not be trusted around people.
Dealing with Level 6 Aggression: Your dog is a VERY dangerous dog and training would not help whatsoever. Your dog could never be trusted around anyone and would recommend this dog being put down for public safety.
So, if you have a dog in the level 1-3 zone, this is definitely workable, trainable, and more than likely completely fixable.
We would say that level 4 can generally be managed and controlled and a good possibility of fixing this behavior.
If you have a level 5 biter, we would never trust this dog around people; however, we can give you control over the dog. Depending on your specific situations with a level 5, depends on what course of action should be taken with this dog.
If you have a level 6 biter, training would not even be a viable option for your situation.
Hopefully this blog on dealing with your people aggressive dog will help you in having realistic expectations from training. Also, it will help you realize exactly how severe your issue really is from a professional training standpoint.
If you are at a level 1, 2, 3, or 4, I would HIGHLY recommend getting training as soon as possible, as it is very possible (with time) for your dog to move up the aggression scale.
I would also recommend reading our other blog on dealing with people aggression.
Off Leash K9 Training