One serious problem dog owners should never ignore and should address right away is aggression. It is a cause for concern in many dog owners, for it may pose danger to other dogs and people. It is reported that there are more than one million cases of people getting bitten by dogs, and this may probably just half of the actual bites, with perhaps another million for those unreported.
Aggression is defined as the threat of hard to another dog or a person. It may involve growling, snarling, lunging, or barking. Aggression may manifest dog-to-dog or dog-to-human. Inter-dog aggression occurs when a dog is excessively aggressive towards other dogs. This aggression is often considered “normal” when the other dog is unfamiliar, however, some may be overly aggressive to the point of already hurting the other. Dog-to-human, on the other hand, is dangerous, because of possible bites that can lead to hospital admissions.
There are also different types of aggression among dogs; two of the most common are dominance aggression and defensive aggression.
- Dominance Aggression. This kind of aggression is usually displayed by dogs that are often characterized as confident - stand tall with ears up and forward. Dominance aggression is when dogs try to show their domination by behaviors that show aggressiveness. There are usually menacing staring, growling, showing of teeth, and barking.
- Defensive Aggression. Unlike dominance aggression, defensive aggression is not outrightly identifiable through the body language of the dog. This kind of aggression is usually characterized by dogs with a more ambivalent behavior, and they display a more submissive body language. There is usually fear-biting and snapping when cornered.
Dog aggression can stem from a lot of things or may be because of several factors. There are many possible reasons why dogs at aggressively:
- Biological. Genetic factors is a great factor that contributes to aggression. There are breeds that are innately more aggressive than the others. For instance, protective breeds such as Rottweilers and Dobermans, are expected to be naturally more aggressive.
- Dispositional. The dog’s disposition may be a factor in aggression, and there are many possible reasons why.
- Fear or anxiety
- Overly excited and hyper
- Situational. The situation or context the dogs are in can also play a big part in aggression. There are a lot of situations and contexts that lead to dogs becoming aggressive.
- Space is being violated or territory is being trespassed.
- There is a need to be protective.
- Something unfamiliar appears.
- The dog is being provoked.
- There is a threat.
- Environmental. The living conditions and how the dog is being treated by its owner may contribute to aggression. A dog being spoiled or being isolated from other dogs and people, often lead to aggression.
- History. Dogs that may have had a traumatic experience or were mistreated or severely punished in the past, may display aggressive behaviors. Dogs who were not socialized well in the past may likely lead to some aggressive behavior.
It is important to understand to the reason why dogs are being aggressive, because with knowing the cause of dog aggression, appropriate steps can be taken to address it.