Michael Shikashio is an internationally sought-after keynote speaker and presenter on the topic of dog aggression at numerous events, conferences, and universities worldwide. He has mentored and presented to thousands of animal professionals in twelve different countries and has been a guest at every major dog training conference in the U.S. and Mexico including the APDT, IAABC, FDSA, Clicker Expo, Victoria Stilwell’s DBC, PPG, CICA, IACP, Owners of Dog Daycares, and The Aggression in Dogs Conferences.
Prong collars and E collars can suppress the dog's behavior towards an event, but they do not work to create a positive association with the event. It is better to provide rewards when the event occurs in order to help the dog feel better about it. Transcript: "Do you believe there's a place for Prong collars and E collars in normal or severe dog behavioral issues? Well, let's talk about the cases that I work with, which is aggression cases, and use that as an example. My goal in those cases is often to create a positive association with whatever the dog is having issues with, whatever stimulus, the other dog or the person that's entering the home. The goal is to help the dog overcome its fear or anxiety or stress or frustration. Many of those factors often are what's fueling the dog's aggressive behavior. So my goal is to help them feel better about that thing coming into their home or approaching or whatever it is the stimulus that they're having issues with. So the issue with any kind of aversive, whether it's a Prong collar or an E collar or a squirt bottle or a shaker can or a rolled up newspaper or really anything the dog doesn't like or may not like. The issue with those is that it can actually create a negative association with that event. So let's say Uncle Bob is coming over and we're trying to help the dog feel better about Uncle Bob. And every single time Uncle Bob comes over, somebody is squirting the dog or maybe correcting the dog with an E collar or a Prong collar. It might suppress that behavior of the barking and lunging towards Uncle Bob, but it's not going to help the dog feel any better about Uncle Bob coming over. On the other side of the coin, let's say Uncle Bob was entering the home and was constantly tossing hot dogs and really yummy treats towards the dog, even if they're barking. If the dog is fearful of Uncle Bob, what's going to happen over time is the dog's is going to be, like, huh, this guy is not so bad after all. He's constantly bringing food. He's been pretty safe. He's pretty predictable. So maybe he can come over more often. That's often going to work in many cases. And so my goal there is often to just, let's help the dog feel much better about the person or the thing that they're having issues with instead of adding an aversive, which might actually create more issues for you."
Intensive training can help to reduce the likelihood of reactive or aggressive behavior in dogs, by teaching them new skills and creating a safe, predictable environment. Transcript: "Can reactiveness and aggression in dogs be completely cured with intensive training? Or will there always be some risk of that behavior returning? Well, we have to remember that aggressive behavior is actually quite normal for any animal. It's a survival mechanism in which we perceive a threat, and we respond accordingly. So it's never quite cured. Our goal is to reduce the likelihood of it happening again. So I'll give you a quick story. When I was 16, I just started driving, and I got in a really bad car accident. And ever since then, for the few weeks after, it took me a while to get back into my normal driving pattern. I was kind of overcorrecting, oversteering, and slamming on the brakes hard whenever I saw some-- what I perceived as a threat-- so overreacting to those particular stimuli in the environment. And the same thing can happen with aggression. So I had to learn, OK, things are actually not that bad. Things are safe out there. And I can learn these alternative behaviors or skills to go through those kind of environments or driving environments. So the same thing we can do with dogs. Say your dog is barking and lunging at other dogs on leash because of the one time they were attacked by an off-leash dog, for instance. What we need to do is help that dog feel safer and teach them alternative behaviors that they can choose from in those environments. So then you see a reduction in that reactive behavior or that barking and lunging on leash, because the dog is feeling safer and learning new skills in the environment. So that's how we can help to fix the aggressive behavior. And helping the dog, we're reducing the likelihood of it happening by creating safety and predictability in the environment."
There is an increased risk of getting bitten if you put your hand in your dog's food bowl while they are eating. Instead, create positive associations by tossing treats into the bowl or near the dog when you pass by. Transcript: "Will my dog bite me if I put my hand in his food bowl while he's eating? Well, there's no guarantee your dog will bite you. But there's a significant increase in the risk of getting bitten if you do that. The reason why it's something called resource guarding in dogs. Where they're just simply protecting something they find of value. So the same thing us people can do when we're, let's say, out at our favorite restaurant. You're really hungry. You go sit down, the waitperson brings over your favorite meal. And then some stranger comes up and sticks their hand in your plate. Or maybe even somebody you know tries to steal one of your French fries. Your reaction might be anywhere from saying, hey, knock it off, to slapping their hand away, right? And the same thing can happen with dogs. They might growl. Or go to biting if they feel like they are threatened, or their resource is threatened. So what you can do instead to reduce the likelihood of getting bitten is actually tossing higher-value treats into your dog's food bowl while they're eating. Or simply as you're walking by while they're eating, you can toss the treats near the food bowl or near the dog. And what that does is creates a positive association with your approach. Similar to if you are sitting at your favorite restaurant. And a stranger or somebody you know starts walking by and dropping $100 bills next to your plate. If you do that enough times, pretty soon, you're looking forward to that person approaching. So the secret is creating positive associations, and avoid creating negative ones."
To help your colleague, create a positive association for them with people and/or dog staring at him by using high value treats. Start with short, controlled duration of eye contact, gradually increasing the duration, and reinforcing the behavior with a treat when they make eye contact. This should help your colleague become more comfortable with eye contact over time. Transcript: "My colleague is triggered by people and or dog staring at him. What can I do to help him? Well, the issue with eye contact for dogs is that it can be actually kind of offensive to them because dogs don't stare at each other and the same thing can happen when people are strangers. Stare at your dog. So what we want to do is create a positive association with that because currently it's probably a negative one. So what you want to do is find some really high value treats or something, your dog really likes think of something, your dog would die for and use that. Lovely for this exercise. I've got my little helper here, and let's say you are the, the camera is the eye contact. What you want to do is make sure you're following these two variables, is make sure there's enough distance from you and the person you're going to be practicing with or other dog and make sure you keep the duration, very short to start. So if you can make any eye contact, keep it very short and have the person just look and then look back very short and then gradually increase the duration of the eye contact. Then what you're going to do is you're going Actually want to catch your dog noticing that. So let's say our helper. Here is noticing your eye contact. I want to actually Mark and then reinforce that so you can use a word like yes or good. One your dog notices that. So if the dog notices, I'm going to say yes and then give the dog a treat and then that person breaks off eye contact. So again, you're the person giving eye contact but I've noticed is that yes and then giving a treat in each time. What's going to happen is your dog will start to hear that word? Yes. And they know it predicts a tree. Eat, then you look back for that treat. So yes feed. Yes. Feed and over time, what's going to happen? Is that eye contact? Predicts you saying? Yes? Which then predicts a treat. So you can see the order of events. There, is that eye contact from another dog or person is going to predict something good is going to happen for your dog. So do that for short sessions, maybe 10 or 15 repetitions and then gradually increase the duration of those repetitions. Now we're going for more than a couple minutes. You don't have to go more than that. Just keep it short and make sure your dog is comfortable with any other kind of eye contact, as you're going through the sessions. And what you'll find is that you'll draw a good might actually start looking forward to getting eye contact, but the secret is to always keep it at a level that your dog is comfortable with, by controlling the distance, and the duration of that eye contact."Check out AggressiveDog.com!
A dog may growl at you if you pet them while they are sleeping due to a startle response, underlying pain or medical issues, or not getting enough rest. It is important to rule out any medical issues, and make sure your dog is getting enough sleep. Transcript: "Why does my dog growl at me if I pet him while he's sleeping? Well, that old saying let sleeping dogs lie can really apply here. And I usually see about three different reasons for this particular behavior, most commonly is it's a startle response. So the dog's sort of just sleeping and resting, they don't know who's petting them. So my own doberman, Kenji, who you can see back there, displayed this behavior in the first couple of weeks after we adopted him. I think it's because he had come from a stressful environment previously. And in the new environment he's, sort of settling in, sort of like looking over your shoulder the whole time. And so when they're sleeping, they don't know what's going on around them until they wake up and recognize you. The second reason is it can be underlying pain or medical issues. So it's a good thing to rule this out with your veterinarian or veterinary behaviorist who check to make sure everything's OK with the dog. So even if the dog has had a great day going to the dog park or dog daycare, but then they come home and they're in a little bit of pain or discomfort, and they're just simply trying to rest, it's the same thing as if somebody was trying to touch a sore hip or knee that we just had surgery on. We might be a little bit defensive as well. So a good idea to rule out those underlying health issues. The third reason is sometimes dogs just aren't getting enough sleep. We saw actually a lot of this during the pandemic when everybody was home. So the kids were home from school, and the dog was constantly being disturbed, not getting enough sleep. So making sure your dog does get enough time to sleep undisturbed is really important for their daily routine."
The most likely reasons for a dog to bite someone while they were sleeping near them are startle response, resource guarding or fear/negative associations. It's important to rule out any underlying medical issues with your veterinarian and to evaluate for resource guarding and negative associations. Transcript: "Our dog who is 3 years old and who we've had since they were eight weeks old Bidar teenager, while they were picking something up next to them while they're sleeping. Why would this happen? Well, there's a few different reasons that this could happen especially with a sleeping dog. First off, I want to say, I hope your teenagers. Okay. And that they are healing. Well and nothing major happened there. But the three reasons that I typically see this sometimes with Sleeping Dogs, it could be a startle response. So they kind of get up and ask questions later. After biting, they don't recognize the person necessarily right away, sometimes it can be some other underlying medical issues. So, it's a good idea to rule these things out with your veterinarian or Veterinary, behaviors to ensure. There's no underlying medical issues such as Vision, hearing seizure, disorders, is a lot of different things that can actually cause this, and it's good to rule that out with your veterinarian. The second thing that I see is something called resource guarding. That's when there's something of value near your dog. That could even be the dog bed, but it can be toys or food or bone. And so even something that you might not see like some crumbs left over from a Bone, the dog was chewing on earlier so it's good to evaluate for that. And the third thing is fear or negative associations, it's unlikely that a dog that's been living with somebody for about three years is going to necessarily be fearful but sometimes negative associations can take hold. So I've had cases where somebody might have tripped over their dog earlier their day startled, their dog dropped something that started their dog next to them and the dog sort of remembers that. That and it's still kind of carrying that as the days go along, usually dissipates after a few days but you want to kind of look for that as well. It could be just a negative association like that, although they could be doing that thing again next to me. So, I'm going to respond accordingly. So those are some of the more common reasons that you might see this Behavior. But again, I go back to any time you see sudden Behavior changes, make sure you get a good rule out with your veterinarian."