Dr. Moshe Oz

Dr. Oz: A dog’s predisposition to aggression

Sometimes the cute loving dog we were hoping to adopt changes in front of our eyes

Companion animals, man’s best friend, loyal like a dog. These are some common phrases describing the unique relationship formed between humans and pets. So many lucky people have incorporated animals into their lives and families and get to enjoy this amazing goodness that animals can bring to one’s life.

Adopting a dog is a life changing experience. Ideally it’s a positive addition to one’s life. Unfortunately sometimes the cute loving dog we were hoping to adopt changes in front of our eyes in certain circumstances and we are not sure what to make of it or how to deal with it.

First, one must understand that adopting a mature pet, especially from an animal shelter, is a novel thing to do, and I couldn’t encourage doing this more. However, one must remember that every dog comes with a past, and this past is not necessarily positive and nurturing.

In some people’s minds, animals are similar to animate objects. Animals can be used for work purposes, guarding, herding, carrying or any other physical use. Others may only look at animals as food. In those people’s eyes, animals have no soul, no needs, but for the basic minimal needs for survival.

This concept is very wrong. All animals have emotional needs beyond food, water and basic medical care. All sorts of animals have the need for companion. Animals that don’t come in enough contact with humans or other animals become very lonely. Animals can also get depressed and sad and bored. Usually those animals will develop negative vices to occupy themselves. These vices often include self destructing and self mutilating behaviours.

Animals are craving positive interactions with human. Similarly to us, animals also want to be loved, petted, hugged. Animals that are not exposed to enough positive human handling are often very scared. A natural reaction for animals when they are scared is aggressiveness.

Domesticated animals are good in their nature. They will show an aggressive behaviour only as a self defense mechanism. When domesticated animals are treated appropriately, they normally are not aggressive and can be in fact very loving and loyal. Domesticated animals need us for their survival and their well being.

Before adopting a new dog, I always recommend to my clients to think through what are their hopes of this relationship and what can they offer to the dog. Fitting the right family to the right dog is a crucial key in the success of the adoption. Don’t just go by the looks of the dog, inquire about its personality, needs and tendencies before you add it to your family.

If you do end up adopting a pet with behavioral challenges or aggression, don’t be in hurry to get rid of it. Seek professional advice from your vet and an animal behaviorist. In most cases the dog’s behaviour is reversible and it’s not too late to rehabilitate an abused or neglected animal. Even though it’s possible, the process can be a lengthy and rocky and at times very frustrating till one manages to regain an animal’s trust in those who did them wrong.

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