Admitting that your dog has an aggression issue isn't easy. After all, you love the furry guy. However, fixing it is the only way to ensure safety and happiness for you and your entire household, pooch included. Gaining an understanding of the aggression's root cause can be helpful in getting on the path to eliminating it.
Apprehension can sometimes turn a usually mild-mannered dog into an aggressive one. When dogs are in this mode, they often become highly protective of themselves. This isn't because they're out to get you or anyone else, but because they're nervous and worried for their lives and trying to defend themselves. Although scared dogs often attempt to flee frightening situations immediately, they can behave aggressively when they don't think that running away is a realistic option.
If a dog hasn't had a lot of early and meaningful interaction or experience being around people and other animals, he might employ aggressive behavior as a means of getting them to leave quickly, simply because he doesn't feel relaxed or secure in their presence.
Canines in the wild live in packs, where they follow the cues of alpha dogs. If a dog for whatever reason considers himself -- instead of his owner -- to be the big guy in his household, he might affirm his social power by behaving in a fierce manner. Dogs who think that they're dominant not only often behave aggressively, they also often disregard rules, closely protect their belongings and walk in front of their owners.
If a dog is in pain or feeling under the weather, she might show signs of aggression simply because she's frightened and doesn't know what's going on. Because of this possibility, always be careful when in the company of a dog who is sick or wounded. This is imperative if you have to touch her for any reason -- perhaps for the application of medicine the veterinarian gave her. Some health woes can even bring upon aggression as a symptom -- think seizures.
Some dogs turn to aggression when they think that someone else is setting foot onto their territory. If a canine growls and exposes his teeth when his owner babysits the neighbor's Irish setter, it could mean that he's intimidated by the new doggie and worried that she's about to take over what he sees as his own, whether the backyard or the coziest spot on the den couch. Tasty meals, bones and toys aren't "turf," but all sometimes cause dogs to behave in similarly aggressive manners.
Whatever factors might influence a dog's aggression, one thing is clear. Professional intervention is a must. Never try to sort out your pet's aggression by yourself. Speak to your veterinarian regarding qualified animal behavior experts in your region. A professional might be able to help you nip your pet's truculent behavior in the bud -- and get him back on track to being the sweet and friendly dog he truly is.
- American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals: Aggression in Dogs
- Sacramento Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals: Aggressive Behavior in Dogs
- The Humane Society of the United States: Dog Aggression
- Animal Humane Society: Reasons for Aggression in Dogs
- Mendocino Coast Humane Society: Dog Aggressive Behaviors