Below is a hypothetical example about aggressive dog behavior that could very well be a true story, followed by some signs you should be looking for and what to do about them so that you never find yourself in the same situation.
Joe had adopted his mixed breed dog when he was just a puppy. Six years later, the dog started acting strangely around the family cat.
The dog and cat had never had any problems getting along in years past, but now the dog would growl anytime the cat came in the room.
Since the dog had never behaved aggressively in the past, he ignored the behavior and chalked it up to the dog just not “being in the mood” to be around the cat. Ignoring that behavior turned out to be a big mistake.
As the family watched television, the dog attacked the cat. He bit her several times before Joe was able to get the dog off.
After a vet bill of over $2500, the cat survived. The dog had to be rehomed to a family with no other pets.
The attack could have been avoided if Joe had not ignored the signs of aggression that his dog was exhibiting.
Knowing the Signs
Some people think that aggressive dog behavior is only defined as a dog snapping or growling at a person or another animal.
There are other early warning signs of which all pet owners should be aware.
• Barking a lot, with and without provocation
• Being very protective of food. This may include hovering closely over the food bowl, growling when an animal or person comes near when he is eating or even snapping at anyone who comes near.
• Being very fearful around people he doesn’t know
• Growling when being petted or groomed
None of the above behaviors should be ignored. They are not likely to self-correct and unless you want the aggression to escalate, you must find a way to correct it.
Causes of Aggression
Often, when a dog acts aggressively, he is trying to get or maintain dominance. If the dog thinks that he is at a certain level in the social hierarchy within your home, he will try to maintain that position by acting aggressively. One way to avoid this is to ensure that the dog always understands his place and is never allowed to exert dominance over any adult or child member of your household.
Fear is another big reason that some dogs act aggressively. If your dog is not trusting of the people and other animals in the house, this is problematic. If he can learn to trust, this type of aggression can be avoided.
If a dog that was never aggressive in the past suddenly begins to show signs of aggression, it is very possible that there is a medical reason for the behavior.
Hypothyroidism, head injury and epilepsy are three examples of medical conditions that can cause aggression. Also, if the dog is in pain due to any type of medical condition or injury, that could also be a trigger for aggressive behavior.
If your once placid pet is suddenly aggressive, you should take him to the vet to rule out a medical cause.
What to Do
The most important thing is NOT TO IGNORE the aggressive dog behavior. Some ignore it and hope the behavior will stop because they are afraid that they will have to get rid of their pet. This is not always the case. In fact, when caught early, most aggressive behavior can be corrected.
Unless you are an expert, you should not try to fix this behavior on your own. Instead, get the help of your vet and/or a professional animal trainer who is skilled in working with dogs that are aggressive.
There is hope for aggressive dogs, but ignoring the problem is never the answer and will, in many cases, result in tragedy. If you do not want to become like Joe check out this dog training guide >> Aggressive Dog Behavior <<