Aggression is just as stressful for dogs as it is for dog owners! Since dogs have the same goal as humans- to get through each day with as little stress as possible- we owe it to them and to ourselves to help them resolve these issues. Aggression is not a natural state of mind for a dog, but rather, the result of negative experiences, frustration, fear, or lack of socialization. Sometimes it is a combination of these things, creating an even more complex issue. In all cases of aggression, we begin by assessing “why” your dog is behaving aggressively.

Below we have outlined several types of aggression that we deal with regularly and can work towards correcting. In all aggression cases, we require that the owners actively commit to following our guidelines and instructions as part of our Durham training program. There are some forms of aggression, “predatory aggression” for example, that you cannot “solve” because it is directly linked to instincts. You may, however, be very successful in managing these instincts by teaching your dog impulse control and allowing appropriate outlets to use their prey drive.

Types of Aggression in Dogs

The most common forms of aggression we deal with are Fear Aggression (includes People and Children Aggression), Dog Aggression, and Predatory Aggression. People commonly misinterpret aggression and use incorrect labels when explaining it like, “my dog hates children” or “my dog hates other dogs”. Dogs do not react because they “hate” so much as they are responding from fear, possessiveness, or territorial instincts. In these situations, it is key that we properly reassign the leadership role to the humans (instead of the dog) so that the dog does not carry the burden of making such stressful decisions! It is amazing how significantly strong leadership can alter a dog’s need to be reactive in stressful situations. When a dog understands that its human is advocating for him and will manage high stress situations, we begin to see the dog making better choices and feeling calmer.

Type Symptoms Cause Common
Fear Reacts when backed into a corner, reacts when people do something unpredictable, does not like it when people move fast or are loud, likes to sneak behind people to bite Poor socialization, lack of socialization Very common
Prey Fixates on animals (usually small), becomes very still when fixating, may drool when fixating Instincts, lack of mental stimulation Common
Territorial Possessive of areas where they spend a lot of time Instincts, long periods of time in one area, lack of mental stimulation Common
Dog Acts aggressively toward dogs that seem to pose zero threat Poor socialization, lack of socialization Very common
Children Acts aggressively toward smaller individuals Poor socialization, lack of socialization Common
Human Acts aggressively toward strangers Poor socialization, lack of socialization Common
Possessive Reacts unpredictably toward certain people or dogs that approach a specific owner Improper sense of entitlement, lack of leadership, lack of mental stimulation Common
Food or Toy Dog becomes very still and stiff when someone or another dog approaches with certain objects Instincts, history with food, lack of leadership Less common
Maternal Mother dog will become aggressive toward anyone or anything approaching her babies Instincts Very common
Pain Dog may bite when faced with pain, dog may act aggressive as a result of bad thyroid or bladder infection Medical issue Very common
Punishment Acts aggressively when expecting punishment Improper punishment from human Less common

Dog Aggression Is Common

Dog aggression is very common in today’s society.  A lot of dogs will react toward a dog that has posed zero threat. This does not necessarily mean your dog is “dog aggressive”. In most cases, the dog does not have social skills, which is a lot easier to work through than a true dog to dog aggression. Since aggression is NOT a natural state of mind for a dog, nor are dogs born aggressive, something has shaped this behavior. Nine times out of ten it is related to either lack of socialization or poor socialization which resulted in a dog making a “generalization” or an “overall negative association” with something due to one or two bad experiences.

A lack of or poor social skills, is the leading cause of fear aggression. Even if your dog is the “initiator”, chances are they are still reacting out of fear or feeling uncomfortable. A great deal of fear aggressive dogs go on the offense before they have to be on the defense, and because it works for them, they continue reacting this way to solve the problem of feeling anxious and uncomfortable. So what we do is find a different way to solve your dog’s problem and to make them more comfortable in the situation from the start. Again, aggression is NOT a natural state of mind for a dog. No dog wants to feel or act this way. They are just looking for a way out, and we can help show the way.

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