dog aggression

Common Types of Dog Aggression

Let’s discuss the different types of common dog aggression, what may cause the aggression and how to tackle it. Many of us consider our dogs our best companion, even our best friend. Which is why it is so troubling if they are exhibiting aggressive behaviors. The aggressive behaviors can be concerning, embarrassing or even dangerous. Understanding why you dog is displaying these aggressive behaviors is the first step to managing, preventing, or fix these behaviors. Being a responsible dog owner is essential to keeping them and the community safe. 

Types of common dog aggression.

  1. Fear Aggression: Fear aggression is very common. Dogs can become aggressive when they are scared, unsure or threatened. They become aggressive (defensive) telling the threatening thing to go away. This is commonly people or other dogs, but can also be inanimate objects such as a plastic bag in the wind. 
  1. Territorial Aggression: Many dogs are naturally territorial. They may may perceive a threat to their home, such as a stranger approaching and react aggressively. Although we commonly think of territorial issues with the house, however dogs can also become territorial of their kennel (crate), their dog bed, their spot on the couch, etc.  
  1. Social Aggression: This type of aggression is in social situations and interaction with people or other dogs. This can be caused by genetics, lack of exposure or socialization, or past negative experiences. Example: A strange dog begins to approach, your dog may begin to bark and lunge towards the dog. If the dog gets in proximity your likely dog starts a fight.
  1. Possessive Aggression: Also know as resource guarding. Dogs can become protective of their resources, commonly their food, toys, or bones. However I have experienced dogs that will guard a tuff of hair, so it may not always be the obvious item. Example; your dog has settled down with its favorite bone. When you approach you dog, it starts to display aggressive behaviors, tense body language, low growl, even leaving the item to attack you. 

Causes of Dog Aggression

Genetics: Genetics plays a much larger role in your dog than commonly thought. Genetics obviously is what makes your German Short Hair Pointer, point at birds. Makes your Labrador love the water. But it also contributes a large part to your individual dogs personally. If your dogs parents displayed aggression, fearfulness, or anxiety it will be much more likely that your dog will develop the same issues over time. This is why responsible breeding is extremely important. I responsible breeder, will not breed a dog that is displaying these unwanted behaviors. 

Lack of Exposure and Socialization: Dog that have not been exposed to new people, dogs, noises, environments, during critical developmental stages may exhibit fear based or social aggression. After the covid years, this has become an even larger occurrence. Many people got a new puppy during quarantine, then because of the state of the world, the puppy rarely left the house or property. Resulting in the puppy not being exposed or socialized during the important developmental stages ( age 3 -7 months rage).

Traumatic Experiences: Dogs that have experienced negative or frightening encounters, abuse, or neglect can develop aggression as a coping mechanism. This is a less common reason that lack of socializing. Many may believe the reason their newly rescue 3 year old dog is afraid of men, is because they had previous abuse from a man. In reality it is more likely from a lack of socialization to new men. 

Medical issues: Dog whom are experiencing pain or discomfort from health problems can lead to aggressive behaviors. Older dogs who seeming “randomly” start displaying aggressive behaviors, may be suffering from an undiagnosed medical issue. It is important to receive a full check up in these causes. 

Managing and Preventing Aggression

  1. Early socialization: Exposing young dogs and puppies to the world. For developing puppies we aim for one new thing a day, person, dog, noise, texture, environment. When done correctly, this will build confidence and reduce the fear based aggression. This does NOT mean your new puppy needs to meet every person or dog it sees, teaching your dog to ignore them builds impulse control and self control. dog aggression
  1. Consistent boundaries and expectations: Establish clear rules and expectations. Dogs enjoy knowing what is expected from them, rather than guessing what the correct answer is. Praise the correct response instead of “punishing” the undesired response. 
  1. Dont inadvertently praise the Aggression: Owners may accidentally praise or encourage the aggressive behaviors. If your dog is fear aggressive towards children, do NOT try to comfort them. Example; Your dog is low growling at a child, you bend down, petting and telling your dog “its okay, they are friendly” As you may trying to reason with your dog, you are actually saying; yes you are supposed to be growling, good dog. Remember only praise for the correct response. 
  1. Avoid reenforcing the Aggression: You may be re-enforcing the aggression without realizing it. Example; A new person is trying to approach, the dog may start to back up, lowering its head, and begin barking or growing. In most cases when the dog reacts aggressively, either they are removed from the situation, or the trigger (the new person) leaves. This teaches the dog that their aggressive behaviors works. Reenforcing their behavior and teaching them to repeat that action.
  1. Seek Professional Training: If your dog is showing signs of aggression seek outside help from a professional trainer. They can provide the guidance and customized training techniques for your individual situation. 

Dog aggression is a complex issue cause by various factors. Responsible dog ownership involves understanding your dog’s behavior and addressing any signs of aggressions. Seeking professional help when needed. 

Depending on multiple factors – such as; the dogs age, triggers, severity of aggression, and personality will determine how easily the aggression can be fixed or managed. With patience and proper training aggression can be managed effectively.

How Our training helps.

Here at Off Leash K9 Training Charlotte, we work with many types of dog aggression cases regularly. Approaching the aggression by teaching your dog what to do instead of the unwanted behaviors. Every dog is unique, therefor we customize the training regiment to you and your dog specifically. We offer private lessons customized to teaching you and your dog how to practice and manage the aggression. Our Board and Train programs allow us to give your dog a needed jump start into obedience and aggression management for you! 

Remember dog aggression and dog reactivity are NOT the same thing. Dog reactivity is when your dog is becoming vocal to the triggers at a distance. Walking by a dog across the street and barking, lunging or growling. Dog who are reactive are commonly but not always aggression once up close. 

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