Dog Training Guide - 8 Reasons Why Dogs Can Be Aggressive

Published: 15th April 2010
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Dog aggression is a major issue - 30% of rescue dogs are there because of aggressive behaviour, it is also the main reason why dogs are put down. There many causes of aggression, they can be grouped into the eight categories listed below.

1. Medical Problems

Aggression can be due to several reasons and it is unusual for an aggressive dog to have just one type of aggression. Before looking at any of these reasons it would be wise for you to investigate any possible medical problems particularly if your dog has shown a sudden change in his temperament. There are many medical reasons why a dog may be showing aggressive tendencies ranging from pain of any kind to diabetes and epilepsy.

2. Fear of other dogs

This can occur simply because your dog's mother was timid and fearful. It can also occur if your young puppy is not properly socialised with dogs and other puppies. Between the ages of 7 and 16 weeks they learn to perform and understand the complex rituals of 'meeting and greeting' other dogs. If they have not learnt the greeting rituals then approaching an unknown dog they will instantly be viewed with suspicion and a confrontation may ensue.

3. Fear of humans

Again this is caused by a lack of socialisation and handling at an early age. Pups that are not handled gently and often from about 2 weeks old can fail to bond properly with humans. This very early handling causes the puppy very mild stress which enables it to handle dog and people interaction when it is older. Fear aggression is always defensive. It can be directed at just men or just women depending upon who looked after the very young puppy.

4. Frustration

Dogs that are tied up in apartments or left in back yards for long periods where they can see things that they want to interact with but cannot, often suffer from this kind of aggression. It can lead to the dog wanting to escape, agitation, biting and unprovoked attacks. The traditional aggression towards the postman is based upon frustration.

5. Sexual

This is usually limited to male dogs and exhibits itself as mounting both people and other dogs. Castration and behaviour modification can help with this problem.

6. Territorial

By definition territorial aggression should be directed only at other dogs but dogs seem to regard humans as part of the pack consequently this kind of aggression may be directed towards humans as well. It appears to be the result of either dominance or fear.

7. Dominance

As the word implies, the dog wants to dominate other dogs and members of the family. In this case the dog needs to learn its purpose and position in life. The 'Nothing in Life is Free' plan can often control this kind of problem.

8. Predatory

This kind of aggression can be directed at many things including, cats, dogs, squirrels, cars, bikes, skate boarders etc. Movement appears to be the trigger. This is not easy to cure, reward based obedience training can help but it requires the trainer to constantly monitor the dog at all times.

Hereditary aggression is almost impossible to cure but learned aggression can be successfully treated by what is called 'counter-conditioning'. This is the process of re-teaching your dog good associations when interacting with other dogs and people.

Go to my dog training guide to get free instant access to my Secrets to Dog Training 6 Day Dog Behavior and Training course at As well as a dog training guide, You will find other articles covering all aspects of dog training there.

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