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Doggy Bites: What Is Displaced Frustration/Aggression?

Before I get into the title of this blog, I need to explain my thoughts regarding “Aggression”. I don’t use the words frustration and aggression interchangeably.

Frustration occurs when a situation over stimulates a dog and they can’t reach their “target” so to speak, and the dog will communicate their frustration through barks, pants, whines, pulling on leads, etc.

Aggression occurs when the dog is continually “teased” with a situation that they feel they need to get to and the tension within themselves reaches a point where the dog says, “I can’t take this anymore!” And vents their frustration through biting, destroying etc., This might turn into aggressive behavior(s) if not dealt with.

”What Is Displaced Frustration/Aggression?”

I dealt with displaced frustration with our Border Collie, Bronwyn, early on in her youth when she was 2 or 3 years old. When she would hear our tractor, lawn mower, or leaf blower rev-up; if she couldn’t get to her noisy target, whomever was standing next to her would get bit, and hard too! I was one of those recipients. I corrected this behavior immediately. I trained Bronwyn to refocus her anxiety (because this is what it is) towards a positive tool. I tied her to the side of our small sheep barn and cranked up our UTV, she of course went nuts she pulled, and barked, but the difference was I introduced a positive activity into a negative situation. I asked our youngest daughter (17 year old) to throw Bronwyn her ball, and she (Bronwyn) took hold of the ball and bit down on it hard; the ball wasn’t any worse for the wear. Bronwyn is 5 years old now and has since learned to get her ball on her own to relieve her own anxiety or she now runs towards us with no intention of biting us, and we are usually prepared to alleviate this frustration from Bronwyn and we are happy to throw the ball for her. She very seldom chases the farm vehicles now, and we no longer have any concerns that she’s going to use her teeth on us to ease her frustration.

Aggression: If I hadn’t worked so quickly to remove this negative, unwanted behavior out of Bronwyn this could have turned into aggression. It only took a few sessions to redirect her. I turned a very high anxiety situation and put a positive spin to help her deal with the loud noises.

Please, be proactive and help your dog deal with unwanted behaviors before the negative behavior results into severe harm not only for your family but especially the dog.

Happy Tails 🐾

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