A dog and man growling at each other

Aggression and fighting are often regarded as the most common, and the most serious, behavior problems in dogs. Knowing how to manage your pet’s behavior can keep you, your family, and your pet safe.

Understanding Aggression

Virtually all animals can become aggressive when it comes to guarding their territories, defending their offspring, and protecting themselves or their pack. This is especially true of animals that live in groups, including people and dogs.
If your dog has demonstrated that he or she is prone to aggression, the first step in helping your pet is understanding where the aggression is coming from. The following are classifications of aggressive behavior:
  • Territorial aggression
  • Protective aggression
  • Possessive aggression
  • Fear aggression
  • Defensive aggression
  • Social aggression
  • Frustration-related aggression
  • Redirected aggression
  • Pain-related aggression
  • Sex-related aggression
  • Predatory aggression
Once you have a basic understanding of what is driving your dog’s aggression, you can work to mitigate it.

What You Can Do To Stop Pet Aggression

Whether you know the root of your pet’s aggression or not, the first step in managing your pet’s behavior is working with a professional. If your pet is showing repeated signs of aggression, contact your veterinarian and a pet behavior specialist.
By working as a team, you can identify what is triggering your pet’s behavior and learn to manage it in a healthy way. Often, the most reliable solution is to limit your dog’s exposure to the situations, people, or things that trigger the aggression. But with time and patience, your dog may be able learn to control his or her impulses and make peace with those triggers.
Another important part of keeping the peace is recognizing your dog’s warning signs when he or she is feeling threatened or is likely to attack. The following are signs that it might be a good time to get your pet away from a potentially dangerous situation:
  • Becoming very still and rigid
  • Guttural bark that sounds threatening
  • Lunging forward or charging with no contact
  • Growl
  • Showing teeth
  • Snarl (a combination of growling and showing teeth)
It’s also important to remember that aggression can escalate quickly. The sooner you can remove your dog from a threatening situation, the better. When a dog is feeling threatened, it is not uncommon for your otherwise peaceful pup to be drawn into a fight before you know it.
If you are concerned that your pet is showing signs of aggression, please don’t hesitate to give us a call. We will work with you and your pet to discover the root of his or her behavior and correct it as best we can, before it’s too late.