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Q&A on Canine Aggression with Canine Trainer Namratha Rao

We asked Namratha Rao of PAWSITIVE TALES some of our burning questions on canine aggression. Namratha is a canine trainer and aggression specialist.

Q. What does a typical session with an aggression specialist look like?

Namratha: A typical aggression session with me usually lasts 1-1.5 hours. I expect the family to come to my home (or a park) because I conduct the first session in a neutral space.

The reason I do not recommend home visits for the first session are:

i) I cannot conduct a fair behaviour assessment to ascertain the underlying cause of aggression in the dog’s own territory,

ii) I may not feel safe, and

iii) It helps me understand the family’s ability to give time to the dog and prioritize a behaviour modification program in their day to day life.

The first session is a lot of talking, a lot of information gathering. Subsequent sessions see a lot more ‘action’. Progress is slow, we take it one day at a time, working to establish safety protocols first, ie, no more bites, and then work slowly and systemically through the dog’s triggers.

Q. Why do the sweetest dogs bite out of the blue?

Namratha: There is no such thing as a dog biting out of the blue. A dog typically tries a range of things before deciding to bite – displaying calming signals, running away, growling, air snaps etc, that one may have missed. A good behaviourist will be able to help you understand why your dog bit you, what factors may have led to that, and what early signs (in the days/weeks prior to the bite) you may have missed.

Q. Is it advisable to use a choke collar or prong collar on aggressive dogs?

Namratha: No. An aggressive dog is usually operating under a lot of stress. Aversive methods just make aggression worse.

Q. What is the best way to cure aggression?

Namratha: As much as I would like to be able to ‘cure’ aggression, there is no such thing. In the dog’s mind, the act of biting is a very normal and natural form of communication. As with any natural behaviour, biting too, cannot be extinguished. You have to work on understanding why your dog is biting (usually because of extreme stress), work to eliminate the reasons for the bite and/or teach the dog to alternate behaviours to a bite.

How to contact Namratha:

or WhatsApp: +91 9871320450

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