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Aggression – Michael Shikashio, CDBC 

 September 25, 2020

Behavior deteriorates under stress.

That simple statement has been in most of my presentations, regardless of whether I’m talking about dogs or people. It’s a key idea that we need to keep in mind for reducing behavior we don’t like and creating better responses.

Michael Shikashio, CDBC, is well known for his work with aggressive dogs. To shake things up a bit, I invited him to join me in a conversation about aggressive behavior … in people. 

The human brain is more sophisticated than the canine brain. People often point to our bigger brains as evidence that we are more evolved, more rational, and more thoughtful about our behavior.

It’s a nice story, but the vast majority of our behavior springs from the limbic system, the center of our emotions. Aggression is closely tied to emotion. And it can be a powerful tool for getting what we want—in the short term, it works! 

But the risks of aggression outweigh the rewards. Aggressive behavior breaks down trust and communication. It destroys rapport. We’re a social species; we need good relationships with others before we can truly thrive.

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