• Lisa Mullinax, CDBC

UNDERSTANDING AGGRESSION IN DOGS


When dogs exhibit aggressive behaviors, it is always upsetting.

By gaining a better understanding of aggressive behavior, you can better prevent, manage, and modify aggression in your dog.

WHAT IS AGGRESSION?

Aggression is a category of behaviors, all of which are a response to a perceived threat. These behaviors include:

  • Growling

  • Tooth displays of varying degrees

  • "Muzzle punch" (striking with a closed mouth)

  • Snapping (without contact)

  • Biting without injury

  • Biting with varying degrees of injury

There are many non-aggressive ways dogs attempt to avoid or escape a threatening situation before escalating to aggressive behaviors but too often these early warning signs aren't recognized by most dog owners. The exception to this description is predatory behavior which, although violent, is linked to food acquisition and not aggression.

WHAT CAUSES AGGRESSION?

Aggressive behavior in dogs is most frequently caused by fear and stress due to various factors including, but not limited to:

  • Lack of proper and early socialization

  • Lack of training

  • Unskilled use of aversive methods (bad training) (1)