Aggression is a behavioral aspect of dogs that help them in a wild setting or at the time of the attack. But if your pet dog is showing signs of aggression like growling, snapping, biting, this can be a grave problem. Aggression problems are not limited to a particular breed; neither can it be treated in a snap. If you reckon that your dog might be getting aggressive, your job will be to deal with this issue and your dog patiently. Some dogs suddenly become aggressive, leaving their owner in shock. It generally involves an attacking incident. Others may develop the frustration that leads to aggression slowly over some time.
Look out for these warning signs: As said before, behavioral issues are not breed-specific; any dog can develop them. The only difference is that an aggressive pit-bull can cause more damage than a chihuahua. It is better to track a pattern in a change in behavior to avoid such a situation
- stiffing- up their body
- Lip licking
- Turning away their eyes
- Avoiding eye contact
- Raised fur
- tail tucking
These signs don’t strictly indicate aggression but also anxiety and fear.
It is sensible to understand aggression first, and then try to solve it. You must try to comprehend; why is it that your dog has become more possessive of its things or suddenly barking at small children and strangers? Maybe a particular object is making your dog angry or an animal (like cats). Different types of aggressions stem from various issues or causes. To devise a correction plan, let us understand the problem first.
Common types of Aggression are Protective, Possessive, Fear, Territorial, Social, Frustration-induced, Sex-induced, and Defensive.
- Protective aggression: Aggression that results from an act of protection is the protection aggression. Dogs are protective of their pack members or people. Mother dogs can be seen as being aggressive to protect their puppies. They may become hostile toward anyone who goes near them.
- Possessive aggression: The dogs guard their possessions like food, chew toys, bones, or any other valuable thing. An example of possessive aggression would be a dog attacking someone getting near their food.
- Fear Aggression: This can be understood as the fight response in a fight or flight situation. If cornered, dogs attack the opponent to save themselves.
- Territorial aggression: The dogs try to mark their territory and defend it. They guard their space or their home from anyone who seems like an intruder.
- Social aggression: Dogs that didn’t grow up in social settings face this problem. For example, they do not know how to mingle with other dogs, and people depict social aggression. They might flip out in the company of another dog or unknown people.
- Frustration-induced aggression: Dogs may act out if they are not allowed to release the tension building inside them. Like humans, dogs need an outlet to release their excitement and frustration. If not given that outlet, a dog is likely to become aggressive.
- Sex-related aggression: Dogs compete aggressively to get the attention of the opposite sex dog. It can be avoided by spaying and neutering dogs.
- Defensive aggression: Similar to fear aggression, dogs attack in defense. They fight back instead of retreating first. If a dog wants to be left alone, they give signals like turning their head away or stiffing up their body or bitting.
How to solve the aggression problem in dogs?
The aggression problem can not be ignored; it should be prioritized. Leaving this condition unattended can someday cause a dreadful accident. Once you have discovered the cause or the setting that is making your dog aggressive, you can move on to the next step of the correction plan. It is important to know the underlying problem, which can be fear or anxiety or a need to show dominance. Aggression can not be treated without addressing the cause of it. Some Professional help and patience will cure your pet for this problem.
A medical problem can lead to aggressive behavior too. Dogs that suddenly develop aggressive behaviors might have a medical reason for it. Hypothyroidism, painful injuries, and neurological problems can cause aggression. Talk to your veterinarian to rule out the possibility of a medical condition. If the answer is a medical condition, treatments, and medications may improve your dog’s behavior.
Hire a behaviorist
Another step you can take to improve your dog’s condition is to hire a professional dog trainer or animal behaviorist. Dog owners try to fix everything on their own it is a normal tendency, but aggression is a severe problem, and you should not hesitate to call a professional. A professional can help you figure out the cause behind your dog’s aggression and create a suitable plan to reform its behavior.
A behaviorist will come up with the approach to manage your dog’s aggression. The reform plans are tailor-made according to the pet’s needs. Positive reinforcements are used to teach new behaviors. For example, if your dog is mildly aggressive when close to strangers, you can start by standing at a safe distance from someone your dog doesn’t know. You must be far enough away so that it doesn’t trigger your dog to growl or snap. Then, reward it with lots of treats and praise. Gradually decrease the distance between your dog and the stranger and continue the positive reinforcement as your dog shows improvement.
What happens is that your dog begins to put strangers equal to treats and stops growling. That will reduce the level of aggression. The same procedure can be used in a variety of situations.
Punishment is not the way to go
Dogs generally do not respond well to punishments. They don’t handle negative reinforcements very well. Punishing your dog is likely to backfire and worsen the aggression. If your go-to response to your dog growling is hitting or yelling, it needs to stop immediately. If this goes on, your dog may not trust you anymore and feel the need to defend itself from you.