Causes of Aggression in Dogs

Aggression in domestic dogs is a serious problem which can cause injury to other dogs and people. It ranges from growling to snapping to biting. In order to deal with aggression effectively, it’s important to figure out what kinds of aggression your dog displays, under what circumstances they display that type of aggression, and how severe it actually is.

Aggression toward family members usually differs from aggression directed toward strangers or outside people because there are different causes for each type of aggression, so very often a plan needs to be developed specifically for each one in order to get the best results.

There are lots of different reasons that dogs become aggressive, both in the way they were raised and due to genetic factors. The combination of these two things can lead to some very serious behavioral problems, which often require professional assistance.

Aggression Toward Family Members

Many times, aggression directed toward family members is fear-based because your dog perceives someone he should feel comfortable with as a threat. The best thing you can do if your dog is showing aggression toward people who are familiar with or close to him is to get him into obedience training right away.

Dog owners must be educated about how to work with their dogs so they’re confident walking them on a leash, thru crowded areas, and when other animals are around. The more you learn about canine behavior, the more you can work with your dog to counter-condition him and teach him new, appropriate behaviors. If you don’t know what you’re doing, then the whole process will be that much harder and take even longer than it would otherwise.

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It’s also important to figure out what kind of aggression your dog is displaying toward people so you can separate it into one of two categories: fear-based aggression or dominance-based aggression. Depending on which one your dog is dealing with, a different approach will need to be taken for this behavior to resolve itself. This might mean working with a professional trainer who has experience dealing specifically with aggressive dogs, as well as working closely with your vet.

What can you do?

If your dog is showing aggression toward people other than family members, then you must recognize the severity of the problem. Because this might be a sign of illness or injury, contact your vet right away so he can do the appropriate tests to make sure there isn’t something else going on.

Aggression toward strangers usually has something to do with fear, because your dog associates them with things they don’t like. Often, simple obedience training will help tremendously to teach your dog how to behave in new situations. Anxiety often leads dogs into displaying this type of behavior, so exercises that are meant specifically for high-strung dogs are always helpful, even if aggression isn’t present.

Remember that when you’re working with an aggressive dog, it’s always best to take the professional route. There are lots of dog trainers out there who have experience dealing with aggressive animals and can help you teach your dog how to behave in a way that won’t leave him at risk of being injured by someone else. Your vet should be able to recommend a trainer in your area that is qualified to work with this type of problem so you can develop an appropriate plan that will help solve the problem right away.

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Things you shouldn’t do

Many people seem to be unaware of some of the things that you shouldn’t do when you’re trying to deal with your dog’s aggression. One very big one is giving up. If you force yourself to keep training and it seems like nothing is happening, then at least try altering the plan a little bit to make it more successful.

Also, avoid using punishment because most people don’t realize that this can increase aggressive behavior rather than decrease it. You should always consult someone who knows what they’re doing if you have any questions about dealing with your particular situation. Other common mistakes are letting anxiety get the best of them, expecting too much from their dog all at once, and not taking the right steps to give their dog a better life.

Most of all, you should always work with your vet rather than trying to resolve this type of problem on your own. Several things could be going on so it’s best to have someone who knows how to deal with this sort of thing examine your dog and figure out what can be done to give him a chance at a more fulfilling life.