Aggressiveness in Dogs What Can We Do
When our dogs have aggressive behaviors, there is no doubt that such behavior, in addition to being annoying, can be extremely dangerous.
But what happens to my pet? Why is it aggressive, if I give it food, love, and attention?
Well, here are some answers to try to understand aggressiveness in dogs, as well as some tips and advice to control it.
What is aggression?
Aggression is normal and natural behavior in dogs and other animal species. But … Why is my dog aggressive?
Aggressive behavior in dogs is usually caused more often by fear and stress and may be due to several factors, such as lack of adequate and early socialization (that is, before 14 weeks of age).
Other factors may be the lack of training, the unqualified use of training methods, some traumatic experience that the animal has suffered.
Also, it may also be due to genetic predisposition or perhaps some medical problems, such as hypothyroidism, Cushing’s disease, mast cell cancer, urinary tract infections, elbow, and hip dysplasia or arthritis.
Some types of aggression may be due to neurological problems. In that sense, these types of behaviors require the assistance of a behavioral veterinarian.
What are the triggers that cause aggression?
There is no aggressive dog as such. Aggression is always a response to something in the dog’s environment, whether by the action of a human being, the sudden appearance of another dog, pain caused by an injury or illness or another reason. This is known as an antecedent, which means a previous occurrence, cause or event.
Each trigger is followed by a behavior
For example, an owner gives his pet the order “sit.” The dog sits and the owner gives him a treat. In most cases of aggression, triggers follow a pattern.
Sometimes, the pattern is easy to see, for example, when a person comes to his dog and suddenly attaches him. Other times, it may be more difficult, as there could be multiple triggers or it could be due to non-visual factors, such as something the animal hears or smells.
To determine what is causing your dog’s aggressive behavior, it is necessary to gather a detailed history of each incident that can help establish a pattern of triggers.
A professional coach can work with you to determine and identify what those patterns are. Once identified, a training or behavior plan should be implemented as soon as possible.
According to several studies, aggressive behavior in dogs usually occurs because they are afraid, not because of the natural desire for domination that the species may have.
While some breeds such as the Dobermans or the Akitas have been selected for their excellent skills as guard dogs, it does not mean that each specimen of that breed is a good guard dog.
The breed, as the only element, is not decisive to affirm that an animal will develop or show aggressive behavior. Both the history and the isolated behaviors of each issue should be considered.
Can aggression be prevented?
Except in very rare cases, the aggression is not random. A dog that shows aggression towards strangers may be perfectly friendly when he meets new dogs. So why does aggression seem to occur without warning?
Dogs give numerous signs of anxiety or discomfort that are not recognized by most owners. When these stress symptoms are ignored, the animal can escalate to an alert signal that is much more obvious and this is where we can hear some grunts.
Common signs of stress and anxiety include, among other signs:
- Avoid other specimens of your species
- The repetitive yawn
- A tense body language
- Slow movement
- Ears back
When owners do not recognize these symptoms, the dog may fall in times of stress and intensify its sign of discomfort.
In that sense, the best we can do is hire a professional trainer who will teach you how to read your dog’s body language. That way you can identify some signs of anxiety and prevent aggressive behavior.