What Causes Aggressive Behavior in Dogs and How to Manage It
Aggressive behavior in dogs can have a lot of causes behind it, and obviously it is something dog owners need to be aware of so that they can manage it when it arises.
Here’s a look at some of the main reasons that a dog’s behavior might veer towards aggressiveness, and what you can do to avoid this.
If a dog feels that its territory is being impinged upon by an intruder, it can become aggressive. This applies whether the intruder is a complete stranger or someone the dog knows well.
Territory defense traits are an in-built, evolutionary behavior in dogs, and will usually emerge as they enter adolescence.
If you want to avoid a dog bite lawsuit, you need to deploy the right training techniques to ensure that the territorial tendencies of your pooch don’t become a problem either at home or while out and about.
Protecting pack members
If you own a dog, the animal will essentially see you as a member of their family, or their ‘pack’. If you’re in the pack, then it’s all good. But if the dog perceives that the pack is being threatened, aggression is the natural response.
This kind of protective stance may be especially applied in the case that the dog sees members of the pack as being vulnerable. This can be relevant to dogs with puppies, but also comes into play if you have a small child of your own.
Socialization and obedience training are the two core tenets of tackling this particular conundrum. If your dog is able to meet and greet all sorts of other people and pooches, it will be less likely to feel threatened by outsiders that come in contact with its ‘pack’.
Dogs are good at guarding things, and this not only includes their territory and close family, but also the objects that they feel they have ownership of.
This could be a bowl of dog food, it could be their favorite toy, it could be a bone they have been given, or it could be the place they sleep.
Even very young puppies can exhibit this type of aggressive behavior, so early intervention is the best way to cope in the long term.
Like humans, if dogs feel fear, they can reflect this with aggressive behavior. This is particularly the case if they realize that they are unable to physically remove themselves from the situation that is frightening to them.
Thus giving a dog an escape route, and avoiding cornering them if they are showing signs of fear, is sensible.
Establishing a pecking order
In the wild, packs of dogs and their lupine relatives have a strict social structure, with the most aggressive and powerful member being the most dominant and high-status.
So long as your dog knows that it is not at the top of the ladder, it will treat you with respect and not show aggression.
The same might not apply to every family member, and this could lead to the animal being a loveable goof with you, while exhibiting more aggressive behaviors towards your partner or children, depending on the context.
In short, whatever types of aggression your dog might be putting out there, it’s important to realize that training can help a lot.
If you are in any doubt, or you feel overwhelmed by this responsibility, working with a professional trainer is worth every penny, and will ensure that you can have a happier and healthier relationship with your furry friend going forward.
Who knows; if you learn the ropes of what it takes to train a dog, you could even become a coach yourself!