Understanding Dog Aggression

dog aggession
In order to fix your dog’s aggressive behavior, it’s important to understand their reason for aggression….
Aggression in dogs is the most common and most serious behavior problem. As a pet owner, it may be difficult to accept that your dog’s behavior is too aggressive, but it’s important to asses the situation as soon as you notice it.

Aggression refers to a wide variety of behaviors that can occur for a number of different reasons. Some behaviors include growling, snarling, snapping, biting, barking, or lunging. While these behaviors are all methods of communication between dogs, they are unacceptable and dangerous to humans.  It’s important to recognize these aggressive behaviors and understand the reasons behind them.

aggressive dog bark

An aggressive dog usually shows some of the following behaviors:

  • Becoming still and rigid
  • Barking
  • Lunging or charging at someone that poses no threat
  • Growling
  • Showing teeth
  • Snarling
  • Snapping
  • Nipping
  • A quick bite that tears skin
  • Biting hard enough to cause bruising
  • Biting that causes a puncture wound
  • Biting and shaking

Types Of Aggression


In order to fix your dog’s aggressive behavior, it’s important to understand their reason for aggression. There are a number of different situations that might cause your dog to become aggressive. Here are a few of the most common reasons behind dog aggression.

Territorial Aggression

A dog’s wild relatives are naturally territorial, so some dogs develop these tendencies. They may bark and snarl at strangers who invade their turf or they may even bite the intruder, whether they are a friend or foe. Male and female dogs are equally prone to territorial aggression. This type of aggression usually appears as a puppy matures.

Protective Aggression

Dogs may show protective aggression if they believe their owner, friend or family member, (human or not) is in danger. A dog who has never displayed this type of behavior might start behaving this way after having their first litter of puppies. This type of behavior becomes a problem when dogs become aggressive with everyone outside the family, despite the fact that they are friends of not.

Fear Aggression

When dogs sense fear, they tend to run away or use the “flight response” but if they have no way of escaping, the will fight back. It might be another animal or a person that the dog is scared of. If a fearful dog gets cornered by something they are scared of, the are most likely going to display aggressive behavior. In some cases, a dog might not show any warning signals like growling or showing their teeth. At that point, a dogs only warning may be its fearful posture and attempts to escape.

Learned Aggression

Once a dog has shown these aggressive behaviors and realizes that they get what they want with these behaviors, they may repeat the aggression.

What To Do

how to stop dog aggression

So, what is the next step if your dog is displaying aggressive behavior? Here are a few helpful tips:

  • Talk to your veterinarian to rule out any medical issues that may be causing the aggression.
  • Seek professional advice. Working with an aggressive dog may require in-home training help from an animal behavior specialist.
  • Take precaution. Supervise, confine, or restrict your dog’s activities until you figure out the reason behind their aggressive behavior.  If you take your dog out in public, consider using a muzzle.
  • Avoid situations where your dog may be more likely to exhibit aggressive behavior.
  • If your dog is possessive of toys or treats, prevent their access to them and you’ll prevent the problem.
  • Get your dog spayed or neutered. Intact dogs are more likely to display dominant and aggressive behavior.

Trisha Banks is a blogger for Loewy Law Firm in Austin, Texas. She just got a dog and wants to know how to prevent aggressive dog behavior.