Aggressive Dog Behavior

Aggressive Dog Behavior is a very serious problem; it so serious it could see you being sued or being forced to euthanize your beloved friend – your dog. Legal action and civil suits against dog owners are escalating each year. As a dog owner you have a responsibility to your community to make sure your dog never poses a threat to other animals, children and adults that may come into contact with your dog.

It has nothing to do with the size or breed of your dog – even a small dog can easily scare, injure and even scar a child. Larger dogs do have the ability to kill humans especially when attacking with other aggressive dogs.

There are many people who have lost everything they owned because of their dog’s aggression and found themselves heavily in debt because of expensive legal, court and settlement/compensation fees. Some dog owners have even served time in prison because their dog attacked and injured someone.

Do I have your attention now? There are many signs of rising aggression in dogs but the question is frequently asked – how do I stop aggressive dog behavior?

To stop aggressive behavior in your dog it make sense to be aware of the types and first signs of aggression. This will allow you as the dog owner to know with out doubt when your dog is becoming unsettled and ensures you can intervene before things get out of hand.

The types of Dog Aggression.

There are 4 main types of dog aggression, they are:

1. Dominance Aggression.

2. Fear Aggression.

3. Territorial/Possessive Aggression.

4. Redirected Aggression.

Next we discover how to stop aggressive canine behavior.

  1. Check with your veterinarian for health problems.
  2. De-sexing your dog.
  3. Start specialized dog training.
  4. Re-train yourself – dominance method.
  5. Professional assistance.
  6. Physical tools. 

Dominance Aggression.

Dominance aggression is one of the more common reasons for dogs jumping and blocking your path. Other more confident male dogs will attempt mounting younger members of the family is a clear indicator of your dog trying to establish dominance.

Dogs are essentially pack animals so it makes sense that they will try to establish themselves as the alpha dog in the group. Dogs consider the family members to be members of the pack.

Some herding breeds of dogs may even try to establish dominance over small children by “herding them”. Herding tactics can involve the dog pushing young children in the direction the dog wants them to go, small nips to the children’s ankles, growling and trying to keep them within a certain area.

As a dog owner it is important when you see these types of aggressive dog behaviors that you establish yourself as the alpha dog in your dogs pack – his family. When you are respected by your dog as the ‘alpha dog’ you can easily take control of your dogs aggressive behavior.

Aggressive Dog Behavior Image

Fear Aggression.

Fear is another reason why dogs can be become aggressive. A dog which experiencing a fearful response will first  put its tail between its legs then pull its ears back, sometimes look away, or possibly step away or even run. If a dog feels threatened or cornered, they might lash out with growling, snarling, and even nipping and biting.

This can be avoided if your dog to feels safe and there are many ways to condition your dog respond differently to his or her fear response.

Territorial/Possessive Aggression.

Territorial or possessive aggression in dogs is a very common type of dog aggression. Dogs often have a sense of territory and possession or even over their owners, and most dogs do not like to share. Overly loyal dogs will become aggressive if they feel their territory is being breached or that family members are in danger. Your dog may display many different aggressive behaviors.

It is important to discourage this type of behavior by taking precautions and avoiding these potentially volatile situations. For instance, if your dog is aggressive only when he or she eats, then you need to keep people away from the food bowl during feeding times. You also need to establish that you are the boss over their food.

Redirected Aggression

Redirected aggression in dogs is one of the most unpredictable types of dog aggression. It is also considered the most misunderstood type of aggressive dog behavior. Redirected aggression happens when your dog cannot aggressively act on the actual object causing the fear, anger, or territorial thoughts.

For example, if you have two dogs in your backyard and a person they see as a threat or intruder enters the house, the two dogs may turn on and attack one another. Most dog owners do not understand the displaced aggression in their dog, because they do not know what started the aggressive behavior in the first place.

How to Stop Aggressive Dog Behavior.

Aggressive behavior in dog is complicated but the great news it that it can be modified or controlled. Here are few ideas:

Check with your veterinarian.

It is really important that you see your vet and request a full examination for your dog. This will inform you if there is an underlying medical condition that may be causing the aggression.

Medical conditions and illnesses like brain or body tumors, low blood sugar and liver disease have been associated with aggressive canine behaviors. Especially so if your dog develops an aggressive behavior at maturity that was not previously seen.

De-sexing your dog.

This option may seem severe but it can make a huge difference to a dogs aggressive tendencies. If considering this option, it is preferably done before he/she is six months old.

Unaltered dogs have a greater risk of exhibiting aggressive behavior. Dogs know when there is a female dog in heat nearby, and their desire to reproduce can trigger them to start fighting with you or other dogs.

Start specialized dog training.

After an illness has been eliminated, its time to start a dog training for aggressive dogs. Make sure you inform the person running the training that your dog has some issues with aggression. There are a number of good dog training courses that operate in small groups to lessen the likelihood of dominance or fear aggression.

These types of courses will assist you in learning more about your pet’s needs, instincts and behaviors and will teach you how to communicate better with your canine friend.

Re-train yourself – dominance method.

Building a dominance relationship with your dog can really help. If you are the “top dog” or “alpha dog” in the relationship, your dog will secure and safe. He won’t have the desire to protect the marked territory from visitors or other dogs.

Professional assistance.

There is no shame in admitting that need help to help train your dog away from aggressive behaviors. Professional assistance for overly aggressive dogs may be needed before their behavior gets out of control and someone is hurt.

It is vitally important that you do not ignore aggressive dog behavior. These types of problems will not resolve themselves and if you’re smart, you do not want to deal with the consequences. The best news is that most every angry canine can be re-educated and trained. 

Physical tools.

Some physical tools can be very helpful in curbing your dog’s aggressive behaviours if there aggression is based in fear. One tool that is proven to work well in these types of situations is the Thundershirt. You can learn more about how the Thundershirt works by clicking on the picture below.

Go to Thundershirt site to learn more

We hope that this article was helpful to help you identify the types of dog aggression and gave you some insights about how to manage aggressive dog behavior.

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  1. Aggressive dog behavior is of great concern as you have pointed out, your article highlights some situations to be aware of to prevent aggression becoming an issue in even the most placid dog. Great information.
    Melanie Braggs recently posted..Electronic Pet DoorsMy Profile

    • Thanks for your feedback Melanie.

      Many people hear their dog growl and think this is a good thing – however this can be the very first sign of aggressive behavior.

      Far too many people learn the hard way that if they are a dog’s owner they are 100% responsible for their dog’s behavior.

      • I just adopted a 2yr old rottie. He at most times seems a calm very affectionate boy. For no apparent reason he will lunge growl and bite. I need to get this stopped so he can become part of our family. I honestly believe it is a fear issue but as a rottie he bites hard and can hurt someone. I think he has been hit. I need advice.

        • The Puppy Persuader says:

          Hi Jessy,

          Thanks for your comment.

          In many cases if a dog becomes aggressive only occasionally it can be because something has triggered a fear response. Some dogs will note a persons physical appearance and more often than not the smell of a particular individual who has caused them harm.

          This means that they will either tend to become aggressive with certain physical types or certain smells. I had a dog years ago who I rescued from a shelter and who was the most placid dog you could ever meet until any red haired, tall male approached. Then she was almost uncontrollable. One thing you can do is to try to identify the triggers and then avoid those situations and be aware of them. Dogs have long memories and remember abuse.

          I knew a man who kicked at a Rhodesian Ridge-back when it was just a 10 week old puppy and that man could not go into the yard with the dog with out the owners present for the entire life of the dog. The dog was fine with all other people he met throughout his life and never was aggressive with anyone else.

          If you are able to identify the triggers, then you can start trying to desensitize the dog by introducing the thing or physical type of person in a controlled environment. Remember that you will achieve a lot more with praising good behavior and chastising your dog for inappropriate behavior.

          Your dog is building trust with you at this point, so do not be tempted to over step the boundaries just yet. Work on your relationship with your dog – be sure that he trusts you before trying desensitization techniques.

          Do you know about the “Dog Pack” mentality. This is critical to understand with such a big and powerful dog. You must take the role of the pack leader to gain a relationship of trust with your dog. I could write all day about the many steps you need to take to ensure your dog trusts you and has respect for you. This in turn makes your dog listen to your when direction is given in those challenging situations when aggression creeps in.

          Rather than write a novel here, I suggest that you visit Stop Dog Anxiety Page. I have written three comprehensive dog training books which has the type of information you are looking for in step by step form.

  2. I was attacked by a dog when I was a young girl. I was riding my bike when it came out of no where and latched onto my ankle. I remember screaming, and then riding as fast as I could. When I got home I was crying so much my Mum could not understand what I was saying! I had to have stitches……and I was always too scared to ride down that street ever again.

    Even now if I see a dog, and I am not sure what its like….I usually stay back a bit from the dog, or see if the owner is near by before going near the dog. Some dogs need more training then others so its good to read about a course to help with Dogs behaviours.

    Lisa Wood recently posted..Homeschooling BooksMy Profile

    • Hi Lisa,

      A very scary situation and I can understand your concern about all dogs. As you said it is always best to check with the dog owner before attempting to pat a strange dog.

      Thanks for your comment

  3. G’day Bev,
    Have been lucky enough OR perhaps disciminating enough to have chosen only non agro dogs all my life, so the only bad behaviour I’ve seen is someone else’s nasty !
    I feel strongly against having hunting dogs in domestic situations – it’s asking for trouble.

    Harry Lynn recently posted..Learning Piano – My Learning Journey Part ThreeMy Profile

  4. PS Dugg, HelloTxt and all done
    Harry Lynn recently posted..Learning Piano – My Learning Journey Part ThreeMy Profile

  5. I agree with Lisa, good to see somewhere to read about a course to help with Dog Behaviors. Lisa touched on the topic of when she sees a dog to look if the owner is around. For me this is where most improvement in a dogs behavior can be made, with the owners.
    Aggressive dog behavior is not good and it is a pleasure to read about where to go for a solution and tips on managing this. Thank you
    Benji – Passionate about Margaret River recently posted..The Stirling Rangers on the Verandah at Settlers Tavern – 26th June 2011My Profile

  6. Like Lisa says, it’s the psychological impact of aggressive dog behavior, rather than the physical harm (which is usually nothing). I also know someone who has a phobia of dogs because a dog was aggressive towards them when they were very young. A bit of dog discipline and know how can go a long way.
    David Moloney recently posted..Office Artwork- Doing it YourselfMy Profile

  7. Aggressive dog behavior is one thing I don’t have to worry about with my two dogs although Penny will fly at the front door if anyone comes but as soon as I send her to her room she goes.

    Oscar has the the most gentle nature and would lick everyone.
    Rita recently posted..House Train a DogMy Profile

  8. Sometimes a very human friendly breed like the bull terrier can exhibit aggressive dog behavior. By themselves they are lovely dogs, but get two of them together and they will sometimes together attack another dog, even if it is bigger than they are.
    Wal Heinrich recently posted..Maggie’s Decision Destroyer ShortcutMy Profile

  9. Aggressive dog behaviour is very scary especially if its a big dog. I have always been frightened when seeing big dogs in yards with small children especially those known to be unpredictable in behaviour such as german shepherds and rottweilers.
    Jackie Stenhouse recently posted..Natural Flea ControlMy Profile

  10. Thanks for posting some great Tips on Aggressive Dog Behavior. It’s always scary when you come across an aggressive dog, and it’s good to know as much as possible about it – even when you don’t own a dog yourself.
    Weekend Getaway recently posted..Organizing A Girls Weekend GetawayMy Profile

  11. I have to say I have been pretty well-done by when it comes to dog’s aggressive behaviour. I was bitten when about 4 as a result of standing on my (very) old dog’s toe – but that was a reflex rather than an attack. I’ve had dog’s all my life, and have always ensured social safety and manners. But then I guess as those who know me would confirm I have my moments of ‘alpha’ .
    I do have great empathy for fear tho’ and while you may laugh, my version was being pecked by a chook when quite small. It took over 40 years to get comfortable enough to actually cradle one, when I found how lovely they are. 🙂
    I really like the concept of the mini-course you are offering – It’s a great idea!

    • Hello Jo,

      I can see the funny side to being pecked by a chook but its actually very scary when little to have a chook peck!! We have had roosters and they are so big, fast and have even had me clinging to the washing line. One of our big roosters had our son Nic too scared to move from behind our shed – he was screaming that much we thought he had been bitten by a snake. The next day we had rooster for dinner!

      Lisa Wood recently posted..Moving To The CountryMy Profile

  12. greetings! 😉 i am at the office at the moment, hence i don’t have much time to write… but! I truly enjoyed reading your post. It was a bunch of great stuff. thanks! All the best, resor

  13. Hello Bev,

    Who would believe it – but we were out walking the other day….when a huge dog came out of no-where. I was walking, and two of my boys were on bikes. We also had a dog with us (one that is from day the road but has adopted our family). As soon as I saw the dog I told Nic and Kyle to ride as fast as they could. Then I ran – with our little dog running as fast as she could.
    Gees that dog was so scary. Luckily for us we managed to get around a bend in the road, and the other dog could no longer see us, and gave up the chase.
    Sure got our exercise for that day!!!

    Still can not understand why owners do not keep their dog locked up when they have behavior isses? It was a big dog, and would have done some damage if it got close to us!

    Lisa Wood recently posted..The Power of The MindMy Profile

  14. Hi Bev, thanks for breaking down the different types of agressive dog behaviour. I never realised there were so many different types of cranky dog!
    Tom recently posted..Simplifying My Approach to Internet MarketingMy Profile

    • Thanks Tom,

      Thanks for your comment. It is important to identify which type of aggressive dog behavior is being demonstrated before thinking about how to manage your dog’s aggression.

  15. I’m sorry, I know its not funny, But my neighbor has this little dog, its a lap dog, not sure what kind. The thing is fine one moment, then the next its completely mad and wanting to bite everything. It’s just funny because its such a small dog, that acts tough hahha.
    Sam recently posted..Flea Bombs – How To Use Them To Eliminate FleasMy Profile

  16. Thank you for your sharing. I love dog and cat, but I do not want to have one again, because I do not have enough time and also more importance is that I could not receive when my cute pet have to leave me. Yes, as you said, making sure your pet to be safe is very important to us, and we have this kind of responsibility.
    Sophia recently posted..Forex Robots Are DangerousMy Profile

  17. I have 2 yorkies since they were puppies, they are brothers, from 2 different litters. They are 4 years old now and they always got along great. Only once in awhile they would fight, didn’t think anything about it, but now they are out for the kill. I have to keep them apart all day, if they happen to get together they are trying to kill one another. They bark and scratch the doors, and growl, and litterly go nuts to get to each other. They go for the neck and ears, blood and sores on both. I and my family love these dogs to death, but we just can’t take it any longer. My 3 year old grand daughter cries and gets so emotional when they are fighting, and it’s hard to control her. I can’t have company over because we are affraid they may open a door or let one up and they will do their fighting. Please help us, we are thinking about giving our dogs up before they kill each other or hurt us. ( we get hurt too, cuts, blood, and become very overwhelmed that we get sick, we have to pull them apart and hear the sounds of their teeth doing harm) Please help us. Thank you

    • The Puppy Persuader says:

      Hi Kelly,

      Yorkshire Terriers do have an aggressive nature at times and can be very territorial. The only dog that has ever bitten me was a yorkie when I was 5 years old.

      It does seem odd that these two have been great friends but now seem to be in a huge struggle to be the top dog.

      My question to you is, has something changed, was one of the dogs away from the other (out of the home) for a period of time or has one of them been sick? Has one of the dogs been with a bitch for breeding purposes? Are both the dogs intact or are they both neutered? Has there been something significant happen, like perhaps you have returned from a vacation to discover their escalating bad behavior.

      Battles for top dog placement usually occur when there is a change in the dogs life. There needs to be some major changes implemented, by you, to control this situation. You can not have a dog that will hurt other dogs or people.

      You are the one that needs to be seen as the pack leader, you have to be the top dog. Your dogs need to follow you – you can not be stressed about how they relate to each other. They need to respect you – at the moment it seems like all you are doing is crisis management, dealing with fighting and injuries.

      From what you have explained there is a huge imbalance in the authority figure in the house, it needs to be you, not one or both of the dogs.

      You need to go back to basics, start with walking every day, perhaps twice a day in the begining. This will get rid of built up energy. A tired dog is much less aggressive. You need to make sure that they walk with you properly, by your side, and never in front of you. Also, never feed your dogs before you eat, they need to wait – the pack leader always walks ahead of the others and eats first. This will start to establish you as the pack leader.

      I could spend hours explaining all of the things you need to do to regain control, but because I can’t do that I have written 3 books. At the moment they are available together, for only $19.00. These books will give you all of the step by step instructions you will need to get back in control of your dogs lives and bring harmony back to the home. Go to the books tab at the top of the page and you can get them from there.

      Please, do not risk your grand daughter being anywhere near the dogs when they are fighting, they could easily turn their attention to her and hurt her.