Overly Aggressive Dogs: What to Do

September 23, 2020 | We Care | Tips from Phillipa Andreas

You’re a responsible pet parent, you love your dog and your dog loves you. Yet nothing you do seems to stop his seemingly unpredictable biting, growling, snarling, lunging, staring intensely and blocking. The thought of euthanising your dog can be heart-breaking.  However, euthanasia is not necessarily the only solution, and there are a number of factors to consider before taking that distressing and tragic step.

Dog aggression can be classified as:

  • Territorial
  • Protective
  • Possessive
  • Fear
  • Defensive
  • Social
  • Frustration-Elicited
  • Redirected
  • Pain-Elicited
  • Sex-Related
  • Predatory

Inter-dog aggression occurs in all breeds.  It is more common in non-neutered male dogs, and dogs of the same gender. It may occur due to abuse or neglect in the past, or traumatic encounters with other dogs.  While dogs can be valued for their territorial behavior when defending the home, the severity, predictability, triggers and targets of the aggression have to be taken into consideration when treating dog aggression. If a dog is repeatedly aggressive towards children, it is unlikely the dog will ever be trustworthy, and safety concerns have to be the priority. So what are the best options for treating dog aggression?

“While dogs can be valued for their territorial behavior when defending the home, the severity, predictability, triggers and targets of the aggression have to be taken into consideration when treating dog aggression. “

Identifying risk factors such as predictability, triggers, bite history and targets is the first step. You must work with your dog’s veterinarian to identify any medical condition that maybe affecting behavior. Orthopedic, thyroid, adrenal, cognitive, geriatric and seizure and other neurological disorders may have some affect on aggression. If the aggression is caused by fear or anxiety, anti-depressants or Benzodiazepines may occasionally be prescribed.  Behavioural modification with a professional behavior expert is the next step. You can find a directory of Certified Applied Animal Behaviourists (CAAB or ACAAB)at http://www.animalbehaviorsociety.org/web/applied-behavior-caab-directory.php or Certified Professional Dog Trainers (CPDT) at http://www.ccpdt.org

While some types of aggression can be reduced and sometimes cured, pet parents should never let down their guard. Limiting exposure to places, people, situations and things may be the only solution to managing dog aggression. Making sure no-one else is harmed is a pet parent’s priority.

Image by Andr Sommerh from Pixabay 

If you enjoyed this post, you should read Traveling with your Dog: Making it Fun for your Furry Friend here.

Does your dog’s unpredictable behavior worry you?

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