Aggressive dogs can leave owners feeling like they may have to choose between their pet and their loved ones. While aggressive behaviors are normal for dogs their tolerance for stimuli can vary depending on their environment and genetics. Fortunately aggressive dogs can be trained to have a higher tolerance for aggravation.
There are many different types of dog aggression, and understanding them can help you in your efforts to retrain your dog.
- Protective, territorial and possession aggression is often supported by the dog’s family because they want a loyal family dog or believe a dog has a right to be protective of their meal or toys.
- “Predator” aggression is natural for dogs and a dog displaying predator aggression may attack smaller dogs, cats, or small farm animals as it acts on its hunting instincts.
- Because dogs are social creatures and instinctually crave a pecking order dominance aggression is common, and can even spur aggressive behavior towards a new human or animal member of the family as well as new playmates.
- Fear aggression can occur even when a dog is not actually in danger, but perceives that they may be harmed.
- Dogs sometimes also re-direct aggression, turning their aggression towards the cat outside their fence on their doggy pal or others.
- Pain induced aggression is one of the most misunderstood and misdiagnosed aggressions, as many dog health problems are not easily diagnosed by the naked eye.
- Very few dogs suffer from rage induced or idiopathic aggressions, aggressing without reason. Some breeds are predisposed but an owner should always have their dog fully diagnosed before assuming that their dog suffers from unfounded aggression problems.
While you should never accept aggressive behaviors from your dog, never punish them physically or verbally, as it may spawn fear aggression. If your dogs displays aggressive behaviors use kennel time outs, and a calm voice to correct his or her actions. If you feel your dog displays aggressive behavior in respect to its territory make sure to kennel your pet or otherwise remove him or her from the area when you have guests. For dogs who struggle with aggression it is important to not encourage aggressive play, such as tug of war, and to work with them to build their tolerance to stimuli that might trigger aggression.