The Different Kinds of Puppy Aggression

For most of us, the word “aggression” brings to mind large dogs with sharp teeth and snarling lips. But, in reality, aggressive behavior can stem from many sources—and it isn’t always scary. In fact, aggression is the third-most common reason people bring their puppies to a vet or trainer. Here’s a quick guide on how to recognize different kinds of puppy aggression and what you can do about them.

Puppies who don’t get enough socialization with people and other pets are more likely to grow into aggressive dogs.

Puppies who don’t get enough socialization with people and other pets are more likely to grow into aggressive dogs. Puppies who are not properly socialized may not know how to behave towards other animals, which can lead them to lash out or show fear when they encounter unfamiliar animals later in life.

Socialization is all about introducing your puppy to new situations, places and people. When you take your puppy out and about into different environments, they learn what’s normal in these environments—like seeing other dogs walking past them on the street or being greeted by a stranger at the park—and this helps them become better behaved in these situations as an adult dog.

Worrying gazes

This kind of puppy aggression is similar to the “direct stare,” but with a few key differences. The staring dog may be looking at you and then looking away, or staring directly at you while assuming an aggressive stance. Either way, they’re trying to assert their dominance over you by making sure that you know who’s in charge here.

If your puppy looks away from you when you approach him or her and if he or she stares at another person instead of giving them attention, this can be a sign that your dog is confident enough not only to greet new people but also to intimidate them (which could be helpful if he needs protecting).

Resource guarding

Resource guarding is a common behavior in dogs. It is when a dog guards a resource (or toy) from another dog or person. Resource guarding can be a sign of possessive behavior, anxiety, dominance, or fear.

If you have ever seen your dog growl at you when you try to take away his toy or chew treat from him/her then he/she may be resource guarding. Your dog might also be resource guarding if he/she threatens other dogs who come close to him/her while eating food or treats from his bowl.

Resource guarding can also happen when people come too close to the bed or crate where your dog feels safe sleeping or hiding out for most of the day during work hours when no one is home with him/her!

You will know if this is happening because it will probably cause conflict between yourself and someone else who wants access (including children).

Displaced aggression

Displaced aggression, or redirected aggression, is when a person or animal that you are afraid of becomes the target of your aggression. For example, imagine that your dog is afraid of loud noises and you are standing next to him when there is a sudden loud noise. He may become aggressive toward you instead of acting in a fearful manner toward the source of his anxiety.

Fearful aggression

Fearful aggression is a type of puppy aggression that occurs when a dog is afraid or fearful of being hurt. The dog may be trying to protect itself from harm, and it may growl, bark, or lunge at the perceived threat. This type of aggressive behavior can be directed towards people or other dogs. It can also be caused by a traumatic experience in which the dog was injured in some way.

Excitement-related aggression

Excitement-related aggression is the most common type of puppy aggression. It usually occurs when your puppy gets overly excited about something, or when he’s just having a good time with you. Excitement-related aggression can look like:

  • Jumping on people
  • Biting (and not necessarily in an aggressive way)
  • Barking, growling and snarling at people or other dogs (this is more likely to happen if the dog feels threatened)
  • Nipping at heels or tails as a playful gesture, especially in young puppies


If you have a puppy who is exhibiting aggression, it’s important to know what kind of aggression it is so that you can address the issue appropriately. Your vet or a dog trainer can help you determine the root cause of your puppy’s aggressive behavior and work with you to find a solution. In the meantime, keep in mind that all puppies are learning, just like children. Your puppy will grow out of some kinds of aggression naturally over time if you work on addressing the roots of their fears and avoid reinforcing negative behaviors through corrections or punishment.