Is Your Havanese Assertive or Aggressive?
Is your dog neutered? Neutered or not, if your dog is humping, it is exerting it's desire to be top dog and he/she assumes you are either on the same level or subservient.
Dominant dogs may show signs of dominance in various ways; they may object to being petted on the head; they may protect food, toys or their bed; or they may resist grooming, nail trims or discipline or growl when disturbed.
Dominance aggression usually peaks between 18 to 24 months of age, as the dog reaches social maturity. Since dominance arises from learned social interactions, dogs are not born dominant, only with a tendency for dominance to develop. Young dogs that are predisposed to developing dominance may periodically challenge their owners. Potential warning signs in young dogs include excessive "mouthiness," body blocking from physical to blocking the entrance to a room etc, pushing, pawing or leaning on the owner, growling when disturbed, and resisting handling, particularly of the feet or head.
Once you (the family) establish the leadership role over the dog, problems related to dominance can often be resolved. It's when the leadership role of the humans are not solidly in place that it can lead to an escalation of challenges which can lead to aggression. However, it is important to monitor your dog's position in the family hierarchy on a regular basis and to take measures, if necessary, to prevent a resurgence of dominant behavior.
Often people confuse dominance with assertiveness. The term dominance is often used erroneously. You should only use the term when describing the ability to maintain or regulate access to some resource (food, toys, coveted person etc) in a staged contest. The word dominant should not be used to describe a dog that is merely assertive, confident, or pushy. A dog can be pushy or assertive without being dominantly aggressive; such a dog can "talk back", but it isn't aggressive. Pushiness or assertiveness is a personality type. In fact, many owners prefer confident dogs because they work well in obedience situations and in the show rings and are thought to have good personalities or what some term - charming over the top personalities. The terms dominance and dominance aggression are often used erroneously, you can end up handling the situation in an ineffective manner.
Because it is associated with social context, dominance aggression is most likely an anxiety disorder where a dog has not found effective coping skills nor has it been socialized sufficiently early enough to understand correct social exchanges but if this didn't happen, it's never too late. Dogs with dominance aggression can be divided into two broad groups: 1) those that know they are in control and can compel their owners to do their bidding, and 2) those that are unsure of their social roles and use aggressive behavior to discover what's expected of them. Contrary to the commonly held view of dominance aggression, dogs in the first group are rare. Most dominantly aggressive dogs are in the second group. These dogs receive information about their social and behavioral boundaries based on how their owners react to their aggression. This is analogous to disruptive and sometimes aggressive teen-age children with behavior problems. Dogs in this category appear to be less sure of their relative hierarchical status. They express more ambiguity in their vocal and physical responses to what they perceive as threats. Dogs in the second group do not direct aggression equally toward all people because they respond differently to each social interaction. They are emotionally floundering.
Most dogs in the second group also exhibit attention-getting behavior. These dogs are needy and are constantly setting people up to attend and defer to them. They have an abnormal urge to control and often challenge others to determine their roles in the social environment. They often feel lost when you don't do what they expect.
Many people struggle with their roles with their dogs and that's where the trouble begins. But he or she won't love me if I don't... fill in the blank. Mix that with a dog that likes to step over the line and test its boundaries and it can equal trouble. There are many signs before a dog bites but we just don't have the tools or ability for whatever reason to nip it in the bud early on and then we play recovery. It's NEVER too late though unless your dog has been picked up for biting and then - maybe it is.
Confidence building works wonder with dogs that are floundering. Once they know they can achieve and are applauded for achieving, it's like a light bulb comes on and the process moves forward. I have to say, it's the most rewarding thing to see. But - it takes you being consistent, putting in the effort and never giving up.
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