11 Different Types Of Aggression Seen In Dogs

June 26th, 2009 by Dan

Aggression problems are very serious and can be traumatic for owners to deal with. You may feel helpless and torn about what to do – you love your dog and you don’t understand why he is acting out in ways that could prove to be harmful to you or to other people or animals. Seeking the help of an experienced, qualified canine behaviorist is a requirement in situations where your dog is lashing out in aggressive ways. However, you may be able to begin to understand what type of problem you are dealing with from this list of common behavior issues.

Territorial Aggression:
The territorial aggressive dog believes that the house, yard, etc is *his* and reacts in an aggressive manner when stranger approaches their area. Think of the stereotypical mailman vs dog scenario and you have a perfect example of a territorially aggressive dog. A dog with this issue will react in a hostile manner towards strangers who approach “their area”, even if that stranger is a friendly one.

Angry Black Dog

Photo by EddieB55

Idiopathic Aggression:
Idiopathic aggression is one of the hardest types to deal with as it means there is no known underlying cause for the outbursts. It can happen out of the blue and the triggers are unknown.

Maternal Aggression:
Some mother dogs have a change in temperament as they are preparing to give birth and while raising their pups. This is natures way of ensuring the survival of their young, however most reputable breeders will not breed overly protective mothers again. A proper amount of care should be taken when dealing with a new mother. Respect her litter and her space.

Pain Induced Aggression:
If your dog has an underlying illness you are unaware of, ranging from arthritis to a toothache, they may suddenly begin to lash out aggressively. If your dog experiences a sudden personality change, a trip to the vet should be your first appointment.

Fence Aggressive Dog

Photo by Skid X

Prey Driven Aggression:
Dogs with prey driven aggression will usually go after moving objects – from skateboards to squirrels. While some amount of prey drive is normal in all canines, it’s when a dog attempts to attack the object that it becomes a serious problem.

Misdirected Aggression:
If you have the misfortune of being in the middle of a dog fight and make a valiant attempt to break it up, you may very well become a victim of Misdirected aggression. The dogs involved are too entrenched in the scuffle to understand that you have their best interest in mind and it may result in them turning and biting you out of pure adrenaline.

Food Guarding Aggression:
If your dog guards his treats, food, bones or even displays aggression when human food is around, Food Guarding aggression may be the root of your problem. Often this behavior starts when dogs are very young. If it is addressed during puppy hood, the problem can often be solved. However, if allowed to progress it will only worsen

Dog Guarding Cookie

Photo by Jan Tik

Punishment Induced Aggression:
If a dog has been punished harshly in the past using physical means, often there will come a time when he will have had enough and will lash out at the person who has caused him pain (or the hand that is coming at him too fast). This is a problem created by owners who don’t understand the proper way to train and discipline a dog and it will take lots of time and a well versed trainer to help undo the damage.

Dominance Aggression:
The overly dominant dog thinks that he is boss, and the dominant aggressive dog will act out when things don’t always go his way. These dogs usually express aggressive mannerisms (barking, growling, etc) towards their families. Attempting to get these dogs to submit (a la “The Dog Whisperer”) is a sure way to get yourself bitten. Seek a professionals help right away if you find yourself living with a dog who thinks that he is the master of your domain!

Inter-dog Aggression:
Inter-dog aggression is usually (but not always) a power struggle between dogs of the same sex. Owners who keep 2 males (or more) or 2 females (or more) can actually exacerbate these issues by coddling the submissive dog and giving it more attention. In households, fights can break out over toys, attention or sleeping spaces.

Fear Aggression:
Fear aggressive dogs can often give off signals that will make you think they are in need of comfort – they cower, shake and react in an insecure manner to the world around them. These dogs were often under socialized as puppies, badly bred or isolated during impressionable periods. Fear biters may lash out whenever they are frightened. A fear aggressive dog can be set off by loud sounds, being cornered or anything that causes the dog to feel threatened.

If your dog has an aggression problem, seeking professional advice should be your first step. In the meantime, make sure to keep your dog safely confined while in and out of your home. It is your responsibility to control your dog and make sure that people and other animals remain safe.

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One Response to “11 Different Types Of Aggression Seen In Dogs”

  1. Nina Seibel Says:

    My small dog (age 7) was attacked by my daughter’s large dog 5 years ago and has been terrified of all dogs since that time. She barks and growls at any other dog, even on tv and we just don’t know what to do.

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