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Aggression In Dogs: How It Can Be Managed

Aggression In Dogs

Aggression, all of us must have experienced this feeling within us, or in our fellow human beings or animals at some point of our lives. Aggression can be referred to certain sorts of unfriendly or violent behaviours which express anger. Any sort of extreme aggression need to be tackled with caution. Aggression in your beloved dog is a cause for alarm, as firstly and most importantly, it can cause severe injuries (even fatal ones). Secondly, being a pet parent you bear the complete responsibility of your dog. To manage or rectify the behaviour you need to work on your dog with the help of a professional.

A dog may exhibit anger by growling, snarling, lunging, snapping, barking and biting. An evaluation of the reasons, which are causing your dog to react aggressively, is the first step towards treatment. Hoping to solve the problem on your own may not be a very good idea. You need to get the services of an animal behaviourist to manage the anger of your dog.

Types of Dog Aggression

Fear is found to be the most common cause of aggression in dog, but there can be some other reasons too which motivate improper behaviour. Let us look into some probable factors which induce aggression in canines:

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1.Fear-driven aggression

Fearing for its safety and well-being a dog may come into an attacking mode. Many a time it is the dog’s analysis of a situation which may provoke it to attack in self-defence. The actual situation may not warrant an aggressive response. A person may be intending to just give the dog a pat on the head, but the dog may perceive it to be a threat and bite him.

2.Protective aggression

If a dog perceives some threat to its family members or pack, it is most likely to act aggressively towards its perceived, animal or human, culprits. This sort of aggression is most likely to be witnessed in a female dog when it looks after its young puppies.

3.Territorial and possessive aggression

Territorial aggression can be displayed to someone when the dog regards that someone as a threat to its territory. A dog’s territory may comprise of the boundary of its masters home, and even go beyond it. The area where the dog usually roams with you and urine-marks may also be recognised by the dog as its area. And any intrusions would have to pass through dog’s show of aggression. Possessive aggression can be aroused in dog for things it is possessive about, like their food, toys, or other objects considered valuable by it.

4. Redirected aggression

Redirected aggression takes place when the dog is not able to attack the motivator of its aggression. And hence it redirects its feelings to someone else (human, animal or object). Understand it like this, if two dogs are fighting and a person comes in between to stop them, one of the dogs may just bite that person in its rage. This kind of aggression can occur in all dogs – puppies and adults (male/female).

5. Medical problems

At times certain medical conditions may make the dog aggressive. Like if the dog is exhibiting aggression, repeatedly, along with certain other alterations, like weight gain, hair loss and lethargic behaviour, it may indicate hypothyroidism. Damage to some areas of brain due to certain diseases like tumour, hydrocephalus, or any trauma may also lead to aggression in behaviour.

6.Pain-elicited aggression

Suffering from pain can make even a gentle dog aggressive. So it is very important to be cautious while dealing with an injured dog, or a dog going through a painful medical condition, like aching joints, etc.


Who is the Receiver?

Observe where the dog is directing its aggression most of the time. Though the majority of times the fury is addressed to strangers (humans, dogs, and/or other animals). Aggression towards family members and other pets at home is rare. Your dog may detest children, groomers, veterinarians, postman, and some other group of people. You need to observe it and see if that can be avoided.

Would the Hard Work Pay Off?

What is learnt once can be relearnt but the level of ease with which it can be accomplished may vary from case to case. Every dog is different. The stimulators of aggression differ, also differs is the degree of stimulation which succeeds in provoking a dog. On the other hand, there will also be dogs which won’t bite regardless of the threat.

A higher threshold for aggression is what every pet parent aims to achieve. And to raise the low threshold of your dog you need to apply behaviour modification techniques with the help of an expert. There are a few more factors which will come in your way and would influence the results to a great extent. Like the:

Age – A younger dog can be more easily bent towards better and friendly behaviour than an older one.

Size – Larger dogs are more dangerous and damaging than smaller breeds. Thus, more serious thought should be paid in determining their fate.

Genetic predisposition – Certain breeds may have a natural inclination towards aggression because of the way they have been bred in the past. Like some of the dogs once served as guards, hunters or fighters; their DNA is still carried on by their descendants. However, do keep in mind that breed shouldn’t be the final deciding factor. Every dog has a personal temperament. So it’s important that you look into the past interactions of the dog with other people and animals to judge its real personality.

Biting record Dogs who have already bitten someone are more likely to do it again.

Prior warning and predictability of attack – A dog which gives prior warnings before an attack is much safer than the one which just lunges over you with little or no warning. Warnings can make people and animals alert and may enable them to avoid getting hurt.

Moreover, a consistent aggressor is much safer than a dog which gets into an aggressive mode infrequently. With such a dog you never know when to be alert and when to lower your guard.

Think and Act

Remember that the aggression of a dog can cost grave injuries and even death to the victim. So it is not something which can be brushed aside as normal behaviour. You need to access the time and money that you can devote in the treatment of your dog. And please note that punishing the dog for its behaviour is not going to solve any problem, it often makes a bad situation even worse.

See if the source of aggression can be conveniently avoided or managed – For instance, if the dog becomes aggressive when it is eating food, then the easy solution is not to go near while it eats. Biting all strangers is difficult to curb, but biting only those strangers who try to touch or kiss is a situation which can be managed.

If things don’t look positive you have the option of sending the dog to a dog shelter.


Shikha Sharma believes that Mother Earth is our mutual abode, where all creatures have an equal right to live with dignity. This belief is clearly reflected in her wonderful writing pieces that revolve around animals and their well-being. She is the blog editor of Pets World.

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