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Dogs and bullying: When the dog harasses others


When it comes to dog bullying, there is not only a victim side, but also a perpetrator side. Bullying dogs have usually already learned as puppies that it is worth harassing them. If you have such a "brawler" at home, do not just let him do it, because then his behavior will deteriorate. But what can you do in this case? Is it still a game or is it already bullying? Two dogs are fighting - Shutterstock / Oleksiy Rybakov

Nowadays, the term bullying is particularly common in relation to groups of people at school or at work. He originally came from the animal world: behavioral biologist Konrad Lorenz described a phenomenon in 1963 when several animals came together to drive away a predator, for example geese and a fox. The term was only adopted for groups of people in the 1970s by the Swedish psychologist and doctor Heinz Lehmann. Dogs can also become both victims and perpetrators of bullying - using less psychological terror than physical violence.

Why dogs are prone to bullying

A bullying dog usually chooses weaker members of the species as victims, for example dogs with a handicap, smaller dogs, puppies, newcomers to a group of dogs or very fearful, insecure animals as well as those that show strong appeasement signals. It may also be that other four-legged friends get bullyed and harass the bullying victim in the group. The perpetrators chase the other dog, bump into it, knock it over, hold it against its will and press it. The bullied animal will try to flee, seek protection, or appease the attackers - which only incites them even more. The reason for this is the release of adrenaline in hunting and attack situations, which the bullies find pleasantly stimulating. In appropriate situations, the horses go through with him and he is no longer under control.

Behavior is learned

Bullying dogs have often learned this behavior as puppies and found the adrenaline rush to be a reward. They just enjoy bullying other people, they find it exciting and exciting when they cheat others. There are certain dog breeds that are more susceptible to this than others - hunting dogs and greyhounds, for example, because the former have a strong hunting instinct and the latter like to run very fast and enjoy the adrenaline rush. A racing or hunting game with other dogs can then turn into bullying. The Spanish greyhound and hunting dog Galgo Español is often said to have a tendency towards bullying behavior. However, it must be emphasized that the innate predisposition is not a fate, but can be kept in check by good dog training, animal welfare and employment. Galgos often grow up in so-called breeding facilities in Spain, the puppies and young dogs are kept together in the kennel and then they have to settle their conflicts among themselves according to the law of the fittest. This is how bullies and victims of bullying develop early on.

This can also have happened to young dogs from abroad if they are imported to Germany by animal rights activists without knowing their history. In puppy play groups that are not well managed and monitored, the larger, stronger young dogs can also learn that it is fun to harass the smaller, weaker playmates. If the hormones go crazy during puberty, the bullies are in a state of permanent excitement and use games with others to relieve tension.

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Your dog is a bully? You can do that

If your dog bullies others, you should intervene immediately. Take your "brawler" out of the situation, lead him away from the other dogs and calm him down. First try to get him to you with a callback command. If this doesn't work, go to the dogs and put your lout on a leash. As a stop signal, you can also build up in front of your "bully", spread your arms and make yourself tall. Say "stop" in a firm, clear voice and remain calm and confident until your four-legged friend relaxes. Then relax and reward your dog with a high-quality treat. Through this positive reinforcement, he gradually learns that it is more worthwhile for him to stay calm than to annoy his peers.

For particularly stubborn candidates, it is helpful to seek professional support. An animal psychologist can help you understand dog behavior, a good dog school or a dog trainer with additional behavioral therapy training - for example in the context of problem dog therapy - can help you with dog training. Relaxation exercises are also important for your dog so that it regains its inner peace and does not freak out so much when playing. For example, acupuncture for dogs can have a calming effect. Until your four-legged friend has himself under control, you should minimize encounters with other dogs. If he has settled down a bit, you can carry out game and encounter training at the dog school so that he learns "fair play".


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