You have probably heard the saying that a dog’s bark is worse than its bite, but the sight of a barking, snapping dog can still be very frightening. Many dog owners experience problems with dog aggression, and unfortunately, they often go about treating it the wrong way.
Before you can deal with your dog’s aggressive behavior, you need to understand it. Why does your dog act that way? What are his triggers? Once you understand the answers to these basic questions, you can begin to deal with the problem.
Below you will find some of the reasons why your dog might be acting aggressively toward other dogs and people:
- He is afraid. It may not look like it, but when your dog becomes aggressive toward other dogs or people, it is likely that he is afraid and his aggression is simply a defense mechanism.
- He is being defensive. Dogs that act aggressively out of fear often resort to defensive aggression in the hopes of deterring the threat before it can attack.
- He is being protective. Dogs can become very protective of their families and other family pets ¾ sometimes to the point where they become aggressive in defending them against perceived threats.
- He is protecting his territory. Male dogs are especially prone to territorial behaviors, such as urine marking. If another dog or person comes into the dog’s perceived territory, your dog may regard it as a threat.
- He is protecting his possessions. Dogs sometimes become very possessive of certain toys or objects, and in some cases, they may become aggressive about it, barking or snapping at people or other pets that try to take it away.
- He may be redirecting his aggression. Sometimes when a dog feels threatened by some kind of intruder but cannot physically address the threat, he will redirect his aggression to the nearest person or other dog instead.
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- He is asserting himself as the leader. Dogs naturally form a hierarchy when they live in groups, and sometimes it is necessary for the leader of the pack to assert his dominance, reminding the others of their place in the pack.He hasn’t been properly socialized. Socialization is an incredibly important part of raising and training a puppy. If the puppy isn’t exposed to people and other dogs during the first two months of life. they are likely to have trouble adapting to new situations as an adult.
- He may be overly excited or frustrated. Some dogs have a tendency to become overexcited or frustrated about certain situations. When a dog gets excited about something but is unable to attain the object of his excitement, he may become aggressive out of frustration.
- He is in pain. It can be difficult to tell when your dog is in pain because he cannot tell you. When a dog is experiencing pain, he is more likely to act aggressively to deter people and other dogs from approaching.
- He may be competing for a female dog. When a female dog goes into heat, male dogs tend to compete for her attention and for the privilege of mating with her. If your male dog is intact, these behaviors are more likely.
The Bottom Line
There are many reasons why a dog might exhibit aggressive behavior, and one dog may become aggressive for different reasons at different times. In order to properly handle the situation, you should take the time to observe your dog to determine what is causing his aggression. Once you identify the reason, remove the trigger, and your dog’s aggressive behavior should diminish.