Recognizing Aggressive Dog Behavior

May 7, 2012 by  
Filed under Dog Behavior

An aggressive dog is definitely a more serious problem for a dog owner. Fortunately a dog with these characteristics is not born this way. These characteristics are often formed when the dog is in the puppy stage and this gives you an opportunity to mold his behavior as he grows. Even if the dog is older , the behaviors he begins to exhibit will give you signs of an impending problem developing and give you time to take the appropriate action to deal with it.

Lack of socialization as a puppy is where this behavior can begin. Abuse is another culprit. It’s vitally important that you pick a puppy from a reputable breeder who has done a good job caring for and spending time with the puppies. Sometimes it is tempting to want to adopt puppies or dogs from the shelter or out of the newspaper. The only challenge with this is to recognize that you are not going to have any real background on this dog.

They may end up needing special training and care for problems that stem from bad experiences that they had early on in their development.

Once you bring your new puppy or adult dog home, it will continue to be your responsibility to provide them with the proper socialization and training they need as they mature.

Some people buy into the myth that larger breeds like Rottweilers, Dobermans, German Shepherds, are typically aggressive breeds in general. Even though these types of breeds are used for police work and protection, this type of breed under this type of training is kept under strict control. Out of control aggressive behavior is what we are referring to here. Little dogs can be just as aggressive and often people will mistake them as cute and not implement proper training and that cute Chihuahua ends up running their household.

Often little breeds develop fear aggression and bite people  when they feel threatened or challenged.

Aggression can be exhibited in different ways. Your dog may growl at you when you take a toy away from him. This is not a good sign and should not be tolerated. This could easily escalate over time into snapping if it is allowed to continue. Dogs naturally want to guard resources but it is unacceptable for your dog to growl at you. When you try and get your dog to move off of the furniture and he growls at you, again this shouldn’t be allowed. You may notice that your dog is using his body language and showing dominance in the household and trying to put himself in control. If any of these situations come up and you are afraid that your dog may bite you, you should contact a professional immediately.

Make sure that you never hit or scream at your dog when confronting a situation. This won’t accomplish anything except to make your dog more afraid of you and this could make him lash out at you. 

There are different types of instinctual aggression that dogs may display which is why a dog owner has to be discerning and watch their dog very closely. As was mentioned before, dogs can act aggressively out of fear, when they feel threatened or cornered. A dog with her puppies can be very protective and may not like people approaching her or her pups. Most dogs are naturally protective of their own territory. Your dog may act quite different when strange people come to your front door or walk onto your property unannounced. If a new dog is brought home and introduced to the household, the original dog may try to assert his dominance and this may end up in a fight.

Recognize that dangerous aggression is when your dog bites the vet when getting examined or your dog bites a child in the neighborhood. When you work closely with your dog on a regular basis it is important to make sure that you take note of any strange behavior and what triggers seem to set your dog off. 

 It is a good idea to consult a good dog trainer or canine behavior therapist when your dog begins to act aggressively. Good quality dog training resources can also be critical in helping you and your dog work through these types of issues. It is an issue that needs to be taken seriously when you first notice the smallest signs because the problem almost always escalates when the dog gets away with it. The dog can be re-trained. You can find a different home for the dog where he may be better suited to another owner and their personality. The worse end result is that no action is taken and the dog bites someone.

Darcy Austin is a dog lover and Editor in Chief of Dog Obedience University.

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