You’re not alone. Dog aggression is the number one reason dog owners contact me for professional guidance. Perhaps that is because some behavior issues, while mildly annoying, are less a likely to hurt someone.
Dog aggression, which manifests as growling, baring teeth, and snapping, has the potential to escalate to biting and puncturing the skin, especially when the dog believes that other forms of communication have not been effective.
And while growling and showing teeth are considered normal dog communication, an aggressive dog is a potential liability. As a dog owner who genuinely cares about your dog, you don’t want to see him upset in this manner, and you sure don’t want to see anyone hurt.
Regardless for the reason behind the aggression, people who live with an aggressive dog commonly feel personally responsible for the behavior, when they shouldn’t. Living with an aggressive dog is stressful, sometimes embarrassing, and sadly I can relate from past experience!
Types of Dog Aggression
Fear Aggression: Fear-based aggression arises when your dog perceives a threat, be it real or imagined, and his aggressive is a way to get the threat to go away. Here is a translation: “Stranger danger! Remove yourself immediately!”
Fearful dogs must be taught a new emotional response, a new way of thinking and feeling about the threat.
Territorial Aggression: Does your dog bark at strangers who come to the front door? Historically humans sought out dogs to protect their property. And although most owner’s don’t mind their dog barking when a dog comes to the door, the behavior is unacceptable if it doesn’t stop when you bring in a guest.
Bulley Aggression: Dogs may be bullies, as may people. Bulley’s play well with most dogs, but often seek out a weaker dog in the environment and pick on him.
Leash Aggression / Barrier Aggression: Leash aggression only happens on leash, or when the dog is behind a barrier, like a fence or a car window.
Resource Guarding: Aggression towards dogs or people to protect a limited resource like a bone, rawhide, or toy.
Maternal Aggression: Think hormonal lactating females. Mother dogs who have recently whelped are more likely to show aggression to new people, or more often, to dogs who come near her puppies. Maternal aggression fads quickly once her hormonal levels drop.
What To Do About It
- Manage the environment so that your dog does not have the opportunity to practice the aggressive behavior. If your dog has barrier aggression, don’t allow him to practice barking from your front window at pedestrians. The less he practices this bad behavior, the quicker he’ll learn new acceptable behaviors.
- Cease all punishment. Most aggression is caused by anxiety. Don’t add more anxiety to pre-existing anxiety.
- Contact a professional dog trainer to compose a plan.
Professional dog trainers, like myself, work with dog aggression every day. Remember you are not alone! Call me for professional guidance.
Pavlov Dog Training, LLC / (303) 908-8296 / pavlovdogtraining.com