How to Deal with Aggressive Dogs

3:07:00 AM

Just like humans, dogs can also show feelings of aggression towards other dogs and humans. Dogs can become so aggressive as to growl, show fierceness and sometimes, bite. However, there is always a reason behind these feelings of aggression.

It is worth noting that dogs will often show warning signs first before resorting to extreme behavior. Therefore, humans can avoid dangerous situations by learning how to read signals of dog aggression.  

But first let’s talk about the possible reasons of aggressive behavior in dogs.

What Causes Dog Aggression?
There are many possible reasons why a dog can become aggressive. Fear and anxiety are common causes of aggression. Boredom may also cause a dog to lose its calmness.  

Dogs who feel threatened or feel like their personal space is being invaded can also become agitated. Traumatic circumstances that a dog may have experienced can result to aggression too. This is true especially with dogs who have been abandoned or have been treated cruelly by their former owners.

Then again, a dog in pain can also become aggressive. For instance, a dog may snarl at a human who is trying put on a leash and collar. While other dogs may just yelp or scream in pain, some dogs may be startled with the pain and may growl or even bite, unintentionally. Instead of punishing the dog right away, it is recommended to see a vet and have your dog go through physical examination (x-ray, physical check-up, etc.)

If you think that your dog shows aggressive behavior, don’t make conclusions right away. Instead, evaluate the dog’s background, the environment and the dog’s personality to determine the real cause of the problem.

Warning Signs of Dog Aggression

Unusual breathing. A dog that feels threatened or pressured can change its normal breathing pattern. Watch a calm dog and you’ll see that its breathing is obvious through the movement of its rib cages. If a dog is breathing slowly or is holding his breath, it must be observing movements around him or is giving a warning signal.

Body movement. Rapid movements or a complete absence of movement can both be signs of aggression. If a dog is uneasy or is unmoving, it can suddenly shift its gear and explode.

The expression of the eyes. Anxiety, fear, or stress can be seen from the eyes. If a dog looks away or is staring intently, it must be trying to tell something to avoid any dramatic confrontation.

Tension in the mouth. A dog may show signs of fear, anxiousness or stress when its lips tighten.  Other possible warnings signs of anxiety or aggression are changes in the whiskers, clenched toes, and increased tension in both facial and body muscles. The more obvious signs are barking, snarling, and growling.

Using harsh words or inflicting physical pain to correct a dog’s aggressive behavior is discouraged as such treatment can only worsen a dog’s fear and provoke an even more aggressive behavior. The best way to handle the situation is to get yourself away from the scene as calm as possible. Avoid any movement that can trigger or provoke the dog’s feelings. Immediately seek help from a professional dog trainer or a vet to help your dog cope with whatever causes his aggression. 

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