Archives for September 5, 2017

Boston Terriers and Aggression

The Boston Terrier is descended from tough, ferocious dogs. Bulldogs were developed to work with butchers to engage and control steers and cattle-animals that were many times their own size and that could cause fatal injury if the dog was not quick or tough enough. The terriers that contributed their genes to the Boston’s family pool were pit fighting dogs, fearless fighters of their own kind but completely harmless to humans. How these ferocious breeds were used to create the friendly, happy companion we know today is difficult to explain or understand. But throughout the generations, the dogs were selected as much for their easygoing, nonaggressive nature as for their type and structure.

Boston Terriers can be aggressive toward other dogs, particularly when they are behind a fence or on a leash. This may be something the dog has learned, or it may be a genetic tendency. Regardless of its origins, this behavior is not typical of Boston Terriers and is not to be considered acceptable. In many cases, this behavior can be changed by teaching the dog to focus on his owner and by rewarding the dog with praise and treats for ignoring the other dog or dogs. Under no circumstances should a dog be punished or corrected for this aggressive behavior by yanking on the leash, yelling at the dog or hitting the dog. The aggressive behavior is usually caused by fear, and punishment can increase the fear and thereby increase the aggression that the punishment was intended to stop.

If your Boston Terrier does display aggressive behavior toward you, other humans or other dogs, you should seek the services of a competent dog trainer or behavior specialist who will work with you to change the dog’s behavior without resorting to punishment or correction of any sort. Before the training begins, the trainer or specialist will probably recommend a thorough vet exam to rule out physical causes for the aggressive behavior. Sometimes pain or illness can cause a dog that has always been peaceful to suddenly behave aggressively. Certain chemical imbalances in the body, such as low thyroid hormone levels or abnormalities of the liver, can trigger aggressive behavior in dogs. I have seen a few cases of Boston Terriers who would suddenly and unaccountably “turn on” their owners and bite them severely, and every case of that type was attributed to a brain disorder causing seizures or seizure-type problems.

Aggressive behavior is not normal for Boston Terriers. A Boston that does develop aggression should be checked thoroughly by a vet and put on a program of positive, reward-based behavior modification under the supervision of an experienced dog trainer, behavior specialist or Certified Veterinary Behaviorist.

Ask your dog-owning friends for recommendations on dog trainers. Call trainers to ask whether you may observe their classes (if they say no, look elsewhere). Look for a trainer who is very positive, one who emphasizes praise and rewards for the dog’s good behavior and avoids punishment or corrections for bad behavior.



Source by Rick Alan Thomas