Occasional aggression toward others in a group of social animals
is normal, although most acts of aggression are unacceptable when we are
talking about dogs becoming members of our household.
Aggression tendencies are stronger in some breeds than others
due to selective breeding by humans.
Dogs can show aggression for many reasons. Aggression can be directed at immediate family
members, children or other people outside the family.
Most of what people focus on when
assessing a dog′s behavior, is the dog, and its background. But before any approach can be taken to
modify the dog′s behavior, you must determine what function the dog′s behavior
We start by looking at the behavior
patterns exhibited by a specific dog in a specific circumstance, and look for
possible behaviors which may contribute to that behavior within that
environment. From that we determine the relationship between the environment,
the owners and the target of the aggression.
Aggression can be motivated out of:
Defense of self
Self-Protection from pain
Defense of territory
Defense of others
Defense of things, places, or persons the dog
does not want to share
Defense of position
The distinction between dominance-related and fear-related
aggression hinges on the signs of fear with regards to the dog′s body language.
One is in defense of self, the other in defense of position.
All aggressive behavior is caused by the
need to establish control. With aggression displays it is for the purpose
increasing the distance between them and the target. With acts of aggression it
is for the purpose of gaining control of territory, resources, protection of
others, protection of position, or protection of self.
Dogs that are territorial, resource
guarding, or are dominant aggressive believe the environment in which they are
acting allows them this behavior.
Aggression can be in the context of:
Dominance Aggression /
Dominance-Related Aggression / Status-Related Aggression
- Dominance aggression is frequently directed at
immediate family members and/or anyone from the dog′s perspective that
represents a threat of control over them or their place in the social hierarchy.
- These dogs are easy to identify by the amount of
control they have over their owner, and the owners inability to control their
- These dogs show an unwillingness to accept the owner′s
authority, in at least some circumstances that are important to the dog.
- Dogs can show aggression tendencies toward
children for many reasons.
- Children are unpredictable; they move,
sound and act differently than adults.
- Motivated by fear due to the lack of proper
socialization as a young puppy.
- Unpleasant experience with children in the
- Dog must compete with new baby for
- Dogs that silently stalk a moving child may
be showing predatory behavior in order to control the child
- Lack of proper socialization
Unpleasant experiences in the past
- Learned behavior from the mother
- Learned behavior from the owners
- Use of aggression displays to keep people away
- Dogs that are in pain can act irritable and
aggressive when handled.
- Dogs with confident assertive owners may suppress aggressive tendencies toward owners, but may act aggressively toward others when handled. .
- Irritability and aggression can continue even after
the injury has been healed or when the pain is no longer present due to the dog
becoming sensitized to being handled by previously learning that handling was
Natural tendency to protect the territory of the
Act ferociously aggressive toward people when
they are in or near its territory
The territory defended may be the home, car, and
common places the dog walks or other locations the dog frequently visits
Can be fear-aggression and/ or both territorial
and fear aggression
Can be breed specific
Lack of becoming accustomed to visitors
No supervision and training / lack of control by
Not to be confused with watchdog alert barking
Dog Aggression −
Toward Strange Dogs
Aggression tendencies are stronger in some breeds of dogs
- Lack of proper socialization
- Fearful of strange dogs
Previous unpleasant experience
Never developed proper social etiquette with
Unable to read another dog′s social signals communication
Territorial aggression at locations the dog frequently
Protection of owner, or resource
Unwilling to show submissive gestures
/ Episodic / Dysfunctional Rage
- No explanation for behavior / Unknown cause
- Rare type of aggressive behavior
Unpredictable and unprovoked attacks on people
the dog knows well
Typically infrequent and spaced a month or more
Possibly a neurotransmitter disorder
Often confused with severe forms of dominance-related
Successful behavior modification depends upon accurately
identifying the reason for the behavior.
If you are having challenges with any form of aggression,
please consult a professional for assistance.