Dealing with Aggression in Dogs

Although your dog is as sweet as can be with you, there may be times when your pet shows too much aggression towards other dogs, cats, and people. Even though dogs have been domesticated for years, they are still animals with the “fight or flight” instinct when faced with a potential threat or danger. Any breed of dog can be aggressive, but, fortunately, the majority of this aggression can be both prevented and treated through behavior modification. At 5 Points Animal Hospital, we feel that dog owners should know the signs of aggressive behavior as well as how to understand the different types of aggression, which can help you treat this behavior. We would like to talk a bit more about the different signs and types of aggression to help you get the best treatment that can prevent any aggressive behavior.

What are the signs of dog aggression?

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Of course, growling, snarling, baring teeth, and barking are obvious signs of aggressive behavior in dogs, but there are some other signals that can alert you. If you ever notice your dog suddenly becoming still and rigid, VetStreet says that this is a sign of aggression. Your dog may lunge at a target without making contact and punch the target with his or her nose. There is no set sequence of aggressive behaviors that they follow, but the previously mentioned actions should warn you before any biting occurs as dogs rarely bite without warning.

What are the different types of aggression?

Knowing what causes your dog to become aggressive is key for treating this behavior.

  • Dominance aggression – If your dog threatens or attacks people who try to correct his or her behavior, your dog’s aggression has to do with dominance.
  • Fear aggression – If your dog urinates or defecates during the aggressive behavior, he or she is most likely responding out of being afraid.
  • Maternal aggression – Mother dogs can become very aggressive if she feels someone is threatening her puppies.
  • Pain aggression – If your dog becomes aggressive when you try to touch him or her or pick him or her up, pain is generally the cause of this behavior.
  • Possessive aggression – This behavior occurs when your dog feels someone or another dog is trying to take away food or a toy.
  • Protective aggression – Even if a person or animal does not pose a threat to you, your dog may be aggressive when guarding you from this person or animal.
  • Territorial aggression – Similar to protective aggression, your dog could become aggressive towards people and other animals while protecting your house or yard.
  • Redirected aggression – If your dog cannot attack his or her intended target, he or she may take out the aggression on another target.


Early and frequent puppy socialization is the best way to prevent aggressive dog behavior. Contact us at 5 Points Animal Hospital if you need recommendations for behavior modification treatment for your dog.

By Dr. Janet Grace | Tagged with: Tags: , , | Comments Off on Dealing with Aggression in Dogs

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