Aggression in Dog Breeds


Dogs do not snarl or bite just for no reason there is always a something behind it. While that reason may not be blindingly obvious to the handler, a little understanding of dog aggressive behavior can help the owner understand. Remember you need to always think like a dog.

Retraining dogs to be more relaxed and polite around strangers or children is possible with positive training methods, but it takes skill and only experienced owners may possess this skill. The responsible owner needs to recognize the early signs of aggression and act accordingly to eliminate the behavior.

Your dog could become aggressive if it:

* Snarls or nips at children or other people

* The hackles stand up on the neck, the dog shows its teeth or growls when approached or handled

* Snapping, growling and barking when defending food, treats, balls etc

* Hiding behind your legs when people approach

* Nipping when playing

* Stares that could last for as long as a couple of minutes

* Chases and attacks other dogs

Some dog breeds, such as the American Staffordshire Terrier are born with a greater tendency to become aggressive, but the problems usually only occur when the aggression is encouraged, sometimes unwittingly. Early socialization with the family, children, as many other people as possible, and other animals can reduce the odds that the dog will become aggressive.

Remember that aggression is a very serious state of affairs and you should not rely on a book, or article. Meet with the local dog training club or your veterinarian for advice.


Dominance Aggression towards humans

The dog may growls, nip, or bite you or a member of your family. This is a challenge and has been carefully thought out by the dog previously. You need to assert your right as pack leader. Physical punishment generally does not works as it is provocative and may very well work against you.

Assert your dominance using deep growls, strong body language, and facial expressions to reassert your pack leadership. Attach a leash to the dog and move the dog away from human contact where it is isolated. When you believe the dog has been sufficiently punished, release and, as always finish with positive behavior.

You must always be consistent and remember that YOU walk through the door first, YOU eat first, YOU are the trainer; it is in this way the handler will assert their role of pack leader.

Dominance Aggression towards other dogs

Dogs need to have a hierarchy and they will live happily and naturally within that hierarchy. When there are two or more dogs, they will naturally sort out the ladder. You yourself must work out which dog is the Alpha dog and treat it accordingly. This is the dog who you need to feed first, and pat first. And any attempt to try and change the hierarchy will only create problems.

Maternal Aggression

A female dog will do anything to protect her litter; mothers do not mess around. Early socialization can help reduce the likelihood of maternal aggression. Neutering can avoid this problem.

Fearful Aggression

Fear is the most common cause of dogs biting strangers. This is most likely to occur in dogs that did not have the opportunity to socialize with people as pups once again, it is under-socialized dogs that are the problem. Fearful pups will display submissive body language. They may hide behind you, run away, or roll over to appease when they are frightened. They bite to make the perceived threat go away. Shy, submissive pups need extra attention to boost their self-confidence.

Predatory Aggression

Dogs have evolved over the centuries to chase. They hunt, catch food etc by chasing. Some dog breeds, such as terriers, herders, sighthounds, and scenthounds are superprimed for chasing. Some dogs chase for fun,and some will kill at the end of the chase. This is a primitive and very basic form of aggression and is potentially present in all dogs.

Once again early socialization and channelling your puppy’s desire for chasing into chasing after a ball are the best ways of prevention. If the dog wants to chase cyclists, joggers or cars, get a friend involved and when the dog chases, have the friend squirt water from a water pistol. Its called aversion therapy and it works.

Food and Toy Aggression

Never allow your dog to treat his or her food or toys as something that nobody else can touch. Teach your pup that being touched while eating is OK and that hands near the food bowl will not take the food away. When you feed the dog, kneel down and, while he is eating, offer something tastier such as a liver treat or carob piece. When the dog is used to this, put your hand in the food bowl and, when it noses up to your hand, open it and give the treat. Allow the dog to finish the meal. The dog will learn that your presence at meal times is something to be enjoyed.

If your dog becomes persistently possessive about a toy, take the toy away forever.

Territorial Aggression

Your home, your yard, and your car is where your dog is the most self-confident and the dog wants to protect these territories. Initially it will be by barking but could progress to biting. Do you recognize these behaviors: the postie arrives on bike, makes noise, the dog barks, the postie leaves or the rubbish collector arrives in truck, the dog barks, the collector leaves. The dog thinks that it is their barking that fixes a problem, so it’s all-good.

It has been discovered that there is some correlation between the health of dogs and aggression. The thyroid function could be an underlying cause of aggression in dogs that weren’t previously aggressive and also brain tumors have also been associated with aggression.

Learned Aggression

Some people like to teach their dogs to be aggressive. The dog may then think that the owner is superman, but what about the rest of the family, the neighbors, and friends. Teaching a dog to attack is best left to the professionals and even then – why have a loaded gun in the house. If you want home protection, then teach the dog to bark, not attack.

Neutering can solve some forms of aggression but not all; early socialization and effective training can prevent many aggression problems and finally, consult your vet when you start to notice early signs of aggression.


Post a Comment