Adrienne is a certified dog trainer and former veterinarian assistant who
partners with some of the best veterinarians worldwide.
Can a dog trainer guarantee results when it comes to reducing aggression?
Can Solving Bad Dog Behavior Be Guaranteed?
Owners of aggressive or excessively fearful dogs often may wonder if their
dogs’ behaviors can be cured once and for all. They, therefore, look for a
special dog trainer or dog behaviorist making promising statements. These
owners’ hopes are high that Rover can be totally changed like a magical
Hollywood makeover. Often, they watch shows where dogs are magically
transformed in just half an hour. As a dog trainer, I often feel bad for these
owners who are given false hope.
Beware Overly Promising Statements
Statements such as ”We will cure your aggressive dog” or ”We will deliver
you a totally changed dog” should be seen as a bright red flag. Yes, these
dog trainers/dog behaviorists have plenty of reviews from happy clients and
make promising statements, but they are ultimately not being truthful. Their
statements make perfect marketing plans since they grab attention fast, but
again, chances are high that they are simply trying to lure you into spending
thousands of dollars.
The truth is, a good dog trainer/dog behaviorist will not make guarantees.
Because behavior problems in dogs have so many variables, and ultimately, may
stem from a dog’s genetic predisposition, it would be downright wrong to make
promises and guarantee results. Yes, some trainers may have a money-back
guarantee or some sort of system where if you still have ongoing problems,
they are willing to provide services for free, but it is ultimately ethically
wrong to make promises of any kind when dealing with dog behavior.
The Truth About a Genetic Predisposition to Aggression
Dogs who have a genetic predisposition to act aggressively may never be
magically transformed into the docile, calm, dog you imagine. Yes, there are
instances of great stories of dogs that have made significant improvements and
owners who have witnessed some drastic changes. But these, while inspiring,
are not examples of possible outcomes your must exclusively rely on. Consider,
that there are also, several dogs that were never ”fixed” and have remained
dogs with issues. This mindset protects you from keeping your hopes too high
but also helps you have a grip on reality.
Ongoing Work Is Necessary
The truth is, you are never done working with a dog with reactivity issues
stemming from temperamental flaws. Some outward manifestations may be
”solved” but internal issues may remain, requiring ongoing work. ”Never let
the guard down’ ‘is my motto when dealing with dogs like these.
As a general rule of thumb, keep in mind that dogs that are instilled with a
predisposition to reverting to aggression as a way of dealing with stressful
situations and fall back on that strategy every time something makes them
uneasy. Owners of dogs predisposed to manifesting aggression should therefore
be prudent and never assume their dog is ”cured” even though no signs of
trouble are seen for some time.
I like to think of a dog with weak nerves as a dog equipped with an internal
spark. Do nothing about the behavior and when enough triggers happen and
enough circuits connect, the spark will ignite quickly into a fire and you
will see a full blast of barking/lunging/growling. Work on the behavior, and
you may reduce the number of fires and eventually extinguish some. Observant
owners that scan the environment and read their dogs can become good smoke
detecting experts that manage situations before they escalate.
There’s No Magical Cure for Canine Aggression
No magical tool or no magical trainer will come along and cure problems once
and for all, because the spark is ultimately still there. Therefore, be wary
if a dog trainer or dog behaviorist makes promises and offers guarantees;
truth is, they are likely looking for money and are not being professional. A
trainer that is hesitant to answer your question ”Will my dog be cured once
and for all” is being cautious, responsible and ethical. Please don’t
exchange that with lack of experience or insecurity.
Truth is, the outcome of behavior modification problems is never known for
sure, many dogs change drastically through management and behavior
modification programs, but this means ongoing work and a dog owner constantly
watching the dog’s body language and scanning the environment for potential
problems. Most of the success also depends on the owner that must be willing
to work with the dog perhaps for the remaining of the dog’s life. However,
there are times when the risks may be too high and dogs are better off put
down. In these sad cases, where dogs are genetically predisposed to
fearfulness and aggression, the risks for liability are too high and
unfortunately, the chances for a successful outcome are too low.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It
is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription,
or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional.
Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a
© 2012 Adrienne Farricelli
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[email protected] on May 23, 2019:
It was good to read the article for we do have a dog-on-dog aggressive Portie
who also barks just about at everything that moves.
The breeder was told that he had a strong prey drive when evaluated.
We got him at 5 years old because his former owner couldn’t handle him any
He is a Grand Champion and w just don’t understand how he got to be the way he
We did take him to a behaviorist and know what is ahead of us…..to put him
down is not in the cards.
shea duane from new jersey on January 30, 2012:
good hub. and I agree with moonlake and jacqui. I have a lab/chow mix who was
abused as a puppy. I got him at about 1 year old, and he has always been good
with my son and my cats. But he hates strangers and once bit someone. He is
now 10 and is only now calming down. We love him, but he has been a lot of
work. Some dogs are crazy for ever.
jacqui2011 from Norfolk, UK on January 30, 2012:
Very interesting hub and very true. My brother had a beautiful German Shepherd
which was very aggressive towards other people. He took it for many sessions
to dog obedience and dog behavior specialists who failed. Whenever he has
visitors, my brother has to put the dog outside in the kennel until they are
gone, during which time he will bark like mad. He is now 8 years old and he
has had him as a 1 year old. Useful hub. Voted up – interesting/useful.
moonlake from America on January 29, 2012:
I agree with you. There are times when no matter what you do a dog can’t be
changed. I hear my dog barking right now. He barks at anything and everything
that goes by. If there were a person outside walking by our house he would go
after them. He has always thought he should protect the whole yard. We have
tried everything with this dog and nothing helps.