From fear, anxiety, stress and aggression, behavior modification may ease your dog's tendencies to react to triggers in the environment in an undesirable way. Most aggressive displays, growling, barking, lunging, etc are actually distance increasing behaviors directed towards our dog's triggers (people, other dogs, etc). These displays of aggression are usually rooted in fear and anxiety of that particular trigger (unfamiliar people, dogs, children, etc), but through positive reinforced counter-conditioning and systematic desensitization, we will strive to ease your dog's reactivity towards these stimulants, train your dog what to do, rather what not to do. Using pain, intimidation and punishment to suppress these behaviors does not fix the underlying emotional and psychological issues.
A growl is a very important part of canine communication, the intensity of the growl sends many different types of signals to other canines, thus a growl should never be reprimanded or suppressed, even in play. If a growl is suppressed from constant "No!", "Be nice!", etc, the dog learns that growling is not acceptable, but the underlying issue is not addressed. If the growl is suppressed, the dog may then go to the next step in trying to create distance from their trigger which may be more severe than a growl, a snap, nip, or even bite. Reprimanding or suppressing a growl is equivalent to constantly putting ointment on a rash, but never having a doctor take a look at the cause of the rash.
Once we can diagnose our dog's reactivity, we can then use positive reinforced counter-conditioning and systematic desensitization to the trigger stimulant while teaching our dogs behaviors to calm themselves and send more appropriate signals to their pet parents and others that they need more space, they don't feel safe in the environment and wish to leave, etc. Our goal will also be to make our dogs more tolerant of the stimulant and condition a positive emotional response rather than let them keep practicing the undesirable behaviors such as growling, lunging, barking, etc.
To familiarize yourself with these techniques and aggression, please click on the links below for more information about aggression, the difference between dominance and unruly behaviors, as well as the force free techniques that will be used in the behavior modification training.
The Dominance Controversy (Unfortunately half of the videos links do not work, but this link also leads to Dr. Sophia Yin's free download of Chapter 2. "Dominance vs. Unruly Behavior" if you click on the top header of the two wolves)