Behavior & Training

Dogs – Aggressive Behavior

Hello,

Many dog owners experience behavior problems based on aggression. Although many people think that these unexpected attacks aren’t based on the current situation, there are many occasions that cause unwanted behaviors.

Black dog face
Male Doberman

Let’s learn about aggression.

1. What is it and what is it caused by?

Aggressive behaviors occur in various situations. Dogs are usually protecting their territory, defending their offspring or protecting themselves. Aggression is based on a wide range of behaviors which usually begin with a warning and can cumulate into an attack.

2. Do dogs warn us before attacking?

Many of our pets warn us before attacking. Here is the course of the attack beginning with warnings and ending with painful wounds.

WARNINGS
– becoming very still and stressed
– lunging forward or charging at the target
– losing contact with the owner
– growling
– showing teeth
– snarling
– snaps

ATTACKS
– quick and harmless nips
– quick bites that leave a mark
– bites with pressure that may cause bruising and punctured wounds
– repeated and rapid bites

Once we noticed that our pet is showing any signs of attack, we should try to calm him down and eliminate the situation that caused unwanted behavior.

3. Classifying aggressive behavior
Answer a few questions which will allow you to understand what really happened.
– When and where did the attack occur?
– What else was going on at the time?
– What had happened and who/what created a stressful situation?
– What seemed to stop the unwanted behavior?

An accurate diagnosis will help you to classify your dogs behaviors into the following categories.

Territorial Aggression

Some dogs will attack and bite an intruder, whether the intruder is friend or foe.

Protective Aggression

Dogs may show aggressive behavior when they think that one of their family members or friends is in peril.

Possessive Aggression

Many dogs show the tendency to guard their possessions from others, whether they need to or not.

Fear Aggression

A fearful dog may become aggressive if cornered or trapped.

Defensive Aggression

Motivated by fear, defensively aggressive dogs decide that the best defense is a good offense.

Social Aggression

A dog who perceives herself as high in status may show aggression toward family members.

Frustration-Elicited Aggression

A dog who’s excited or aroused by something but is held back from approaching it can become aggressive.

Redirected Aggression

Redirected aggression occurs when a dog is aroused by or displays aggression toward a person or animal, and someone else interferes.

Pain-Elicited Aggression

An otherwise gentle, friendly dog can behave aggressively when in pain.Expand to read more
Sex-Related Aggression

Intact male dogs will still vie for the attention of females in heat, and females will still compete for access to a male.

Predatory Aggression

Some pet dogs show classic canine predatory behaviors, including chasing and grabbing fast-moving things.

4. Can aggression be cured?

I came across and article from the ASPCA which inspired me to write this post and they’ve nailed the answer to this question.

“Pet parents of aggressive dogs often ask whether they can ever be sure that their dog is “cured.” Taking into account the behavior modification techniques that affect aggression, our current understanding is that the incidence and frequency of some types of aggression can be reduced and sometimes eliminated. However, there’s no guarantee that an aggressive dog can be completely cured. In many cases, the only solution is to manage the problem by limiting a dog’s exposure to the situations, people or things that trigger her aggression. There’s always risk when dealing with an aggressive dog. Pet parents are responsible for their dogs’ behavior and must take precautions to ensure that no one’s harmed. Even if a dog has been well behaved for years, it’s not possible to predict when all the necessary circumstances might come together to create “the perfect storm” that triggers her aggression. Dogs who have a history of resorting to aggression as a way of dealing with stressful situations can fall back on that strategy. Pet parents of aggressive dogs should be prudent and always assume that their dog is NOT cured so that they never let down their guard.”
I also highly recommend to work with a behavior specialist, or trainer who can help decrease unwanted behavior and possibly “cure” your dog. Just like the quote written above says, you can never let your guard down even if there are no signs of aggression for years. You never know when someone/something triggers your pet.

I really hope that this post helped you understand you pet more! The next post will include tips on training your dogs and help them to live happy lives!