Why Is My Dog Aggressive?


Many dog owners are askingaggression-in-dogs the same question: why is my dog aggressive? Let’s look in more detail at the many factors that can contribute to or exacerbate aggression in dogs.

Lack Of Socialization

This cause of aggression is very common. It’s comes about because of poor socialization between six and twelve weeks of age and thereafter. This is the time when all puppies need to learn how to interact with other dogs and humans. If the experiences of contact are limited, the puppy becomes an outcast to its own kind – it does not learn the canine communication skills it will require to deter or defer to other dogs.

Like children, dogs learn what they can and cannot do from play and general social contact. When these experiences are lost at the critical or sensitive period, they can become fearful and then develop the aggression that is the bane of so many dog owners’ lives. Though dogs continue to learn throughout their lives, it can be most difficult to correct lack of early socialization.

Traumatic Experience

Being bullied or attacked by an aggressive dog can produce a strong imprint on a puppy or adolescent dog. Though many puppies can shake off such an incident, providing most of their initial experiences with dogs are friendly and pleasant, some individuals retain the unpleasant association for life. A very severe attack can create a similarly long-lasting impression on even the most stable dogs.

Some dogs can be traumatized by what appear to us as minor incidents. The fact is, it is the dog that reacts to the incident, not the owner. If a dog decides another dog is aggressive and is to be feared, the result can be the beginning of fearfulness of its own species.

Moreover, many of these damaged temperaments often do not reveal their own aggression until some time later – even into their second or third year. We call this latent aggression. But when it happens, they can grow more and more aggressive with each successive attack as they learn that attack itself can become a successful defense tactic.

The Dominantly Aggressive Dog

Many dogs that display dominance aggression have been brought up in well-balanced homes and were socialized correctly, but they still go on to become dominant and aggressive. These dogs may have been allowed to bully other puppies when they were young, or the owner may have an older dog that allowed the dominant puppy too much rough play without any corrective retaliation – in other words, lack of dog discipline.

Many dominant dogs seem to actively enjoy the cavalier action of bullying their way around the park and challenging other dogs. Fortunately, this type of problem behavior is not as common as fear-driven aggression.

Cyclical Aggression

Probably the most common reason that dogs become aggressive is as a result of being attacked by another. The majority of dogs have an early history of being attacked or set upon by such dogs. We have seen the same people walking in the same parks month after month watching their dogs repeatedly attack good-natured dogs, many of which will themselves become aggressive because of the trauma they suffered.

These same people usually proffer so many lame excuses to explain away their dog’s behavior or to absolve their guilt. What they don’t do is address the serious problem. If your dog is aggressive, you have a responsibility to muzzle it first and seek professional advice immediately.


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