Dogs often behave in an aggressive manner, which can be dangerous and worrying for their owners, and many people are forced to seek professional help to deal with the problem. Aggression in dogs can refer to many different types of behaviour, some of which are listed below:
- Lunging towards people when on the leash, or charging at them without making contact
- Barking in a different tone that sounds threatening
- Using their mouths to bite at people without applying any pressure
- Snarling with teeth showing while emitting a growl
- Snapping at people or objects without making contact
- Nipping or biting (sometimes shaking whatever or whomever they have bitten)
There will always be a reason behind a dogs’ aggression, whether it’s a pet dog or a dog in the wild, and taking the time to understand the triggers can help when dealing with the problem.
Different types of dog aggression and the potential reasons behind it:
Evaluating your dogs’ aggression is key to being able to prevent it from happening in the future, and you need to ask yourself questions such as: ‘what happened that could have upset them?’, ‘who or what was the recipient of the aggression?’, ‘where did the incident take place?’, was there anything going around them at the time?’ and ‘what happened to make her aggression to stop?’.
Classifying a dogs’ aggression is made easier when you try to understand the purpose behind the aggression; what was the dog trying to achieve by behaving in such a manner? Here are 3 examples of aggression classifications:
Dogs born and living in the wild can be highly defensive of their territories, and wolves are a classic example of this. If a wolf who does not belong to a pack, invades the territory of another, then the resident wolves will chase and attack them to drive them away. In pet dogs this behaviour can also commonly be seen, and they will charge at people or other dogs to warn them away from what they perceive as being their territory. For some pet owners, this is seen as a positive behavioural trait, particularly when they are protecting a property, but some dogs take the behaviour to the next level and attack and bite anyone who enters their territory, and this is not good news for you or your dog.
When in the wild, dogs enjoy being social and live together in small groups or packs consisting of family and friends. Should a member of their pack come under threat from man or animal, they will do their best to protect them, no matter what. In pet dogs, this behaviour can often be seen, particularly when the animal has developed a certain bond with people or has recently given birth to a litter of puppies. It may even occur when the pets’ owners bring a baby into the home.
Wild dogs must compete daily for food and territory, and as the domesticated dog has descended from them, it makes it a little easier to understand when they show the same guarding or possession instincts as their ancestors. Of course, most pet dogs don’t need to guard their food or territory, they will still display such behaviour instinctively should anyone come near their food bowl when they’re eating or tries to take something that is important to them, such as a chew or toy.
If your pet dog is displaying aggressive behaviour, even in a mild form, you should seek professional help to ensure that the problem doesn’t get out of control, and to prevent any innocent persons (or your dog) from being harmed. Then, a treatment plan can be devised according to your dogs’ temperament and your own circumstances, and you can work on it while they guide you.