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What To Do About Aggressive Dog Behavior

Imagine you have invited your friends over, and your generally quiet furry friend suddenly starts barking and expressing aggression. It’s so frustrating, right?

Even if your dog is very friendly and cuddly to you, he might still dislike the visit of strangers at his place. What can you do? Say no to your friends? Or tie up your dog?

Obviously, you don’t want to do any of these, but you have to do something to get your dog used to your friends and other visitors. No worries, I will tell you everything about aggression in dogs and teach you what to do about aggressive dog behavior.

(check our dog behavior-related articles on Loobani to learn more tips for training your dog). 

What To Do About Aggressive Dog Behavior

What Causes Aggressive Behavior In Dogs

Our beloved furry friends are still wildlife predators, and expressing aggression is sometimes part of their nature. However, let’s still explain what exactly means aggression in dogs and how it is expressed.

A dog’s aggressive behavior refers to any behavior related to barking or an impending attack. This includes roaring, becoming still and stiff, baring teeth and biting.

Various factors can cause these dog behavior issues, which is reflected in several forms of aggressions:

  • Possessive aggression
  • Fear aggression
  • Leash aggression
  • Social aggression
  • pain-related aggression
  • territorial aggression
  • genetic aggression

Once your dog faces any of these circumstances, you might find it difficult to control his behavior and stop an impulsive attack on someone. So, the first thing every owner should do as soon as they notice sudden strange dog behavior is to find the source of it. Where does this aggression come from, psychologically?

Before dealing with the problem, let’s understand each aggression form: how they are expressed, and how the owners can notice which dog aggression form they are facing. Once the source is found, you can quickly start fixing it.

Possessive Aggression

Possessive aggression is also known as resource protection, this type of behavior centers on the dog’s obsession with particular objects. The object may be their favorite toy, bed, or bowl of food, but the result is always the same.

Once another person or animal approaches their belongings, the possessive dog will react immediately.

Fear Aggression

Fear is a powerful motivation for most dog behavior. A nervous dog will switch to the “fighting mode” when faced with a terrifying situation.

However, unlike most other types of dog aggression, there are no warning signs for a dog’s fear-aggressive behavior. They only react when they think they have no choice but to protect themselves. These dogs will not growl, show teeth, or growl until they bite the source of fear. This behavior is caused by the dog’s past trauma in most cases.

However, if your dog generally expresses aggressive behavior towards other dogs, then you’re facing the other problem, not the fear, and will need to socialize your dog more to get familiar with other dogs and animals.

What To Do About Aggressive Dog Behavior

Leash Aggression

If your dog is generally friendly and peaceful but starts barking as soon as you put him on the leash, then it obviously means your dog is aggressive on the leash. This type of aggressive behavior stems from your dog being restrained and frustrated by its leash.

Although it rarely ends with a dog attacking a passerby with a leash, it is undoubtedly frustrating when your dog misbehaves in public.

Social Aggression

Social aggression mostly depends on instinct. Dogs are social animals that live in groups, which means there is a strict hierarchy in the family, even if you don’t know that there is a hierarchy.

Your other pets might be on a lower stage of this hierarchy, so your aggressive dog is probably trying to act dominant and remind them of their status.

Social aggression also causes attacks and barks on strangers.

Pain-Related Aggression

Dogs are very good at hiding their pain, but they may begin to growl or bite if something bothers them. Although this is considered offensive, it is just a defense mechanism.

You might have heard as well that injured dogs will bite them when their owners are trying to help, so be careful when handling painful dogs.

If you notice that your old dog is suddenly becoming aggressive, they will likely feel discomfort, pain, or even sickness. Don’t try fixing aggressive dog behavior, but be sure to take them to the veterinarian to eliminate any medical conditions that might cause it.

Territorial Aggression

Dogs’ territorial aggression basically comes from possessive aggression—Dogs attempt to guard or defend their home or space. Once a stranger steps on his controlled area or talks to his owner negatively, he will become aggressive.

Territorial aggression includes barking and lunging at fences or windows, which might get annoying for the household. Every time the mailman or delivery steps by, your dog is bursting from the bark. It’s pretty frustrating, right?

Genetic Aggression

Honestly, there is no such thing as genetic aggression. You might have heard that Pitbull, Doberman, Rottweiler are quite aggressive dog breeds, as they are often used in fighting training. However, this aggression is all caused by wrong behavior training.

These breeds are famous for their protectiveness and affection to the owner, meaning that if they are trained for it, they can get aggressive to anything the owner orders.

When it comes to the so-called most aggressive dog breeds, lots of dog behavior studies show that the only factors that cause aggressive behavior of biological nature are the age and sex of the dog. The unneutered, not socialized, sexually mature dog may be more aggressive than neutered females of the same species.

So, if you own one of the famous “fighter” breeds, train them professionally and try not to develop any overprotective aggression-oriented behavior.

What To Do About Aggressive Dog Behavior

How To Reduce Aggressive Behavior In Dogs

Once you notice aggression in your dog, try to find the reason for it. Note when your dog becomes aggressive and the environment related to that behavior. This will play an essential role in determining your next step. The root of aggression simply is a symptom of an underlying problem. There are many ways to control their anger and help your dog stay calm.

Best Way To Handle Behavioral Issues In A Dog:

  • Learn your dog’s body language
  • Get an appointment with a vet
  • Hire a behaviorist trainer
  • Avoid punishment and discourage bad dog behavior
  • Use medication

Importance Of Knowing Aggressive Dog Body Language

Understanding dog behavior with their body language is important in every aspect. After living with a furry partner, you will gradually learn their body language. You’ll acknowledge what the wiggling tail or floppy ears mean.

Knowing your dog’s body language will help you tell when they get aggressive as well.

A dog that exhibits aggressive body language will appear large, with its head higher than its shoulders when standing. His body will be very tense. The weight will be concentrated on the four feet or lean forward slightly on the front legs.

Importance Of Vet Visits

Dogs that are not usually aggressive but suddenly exhibit aggressive behavior may have potential medical problems.

Health problems that can cause aggressiveness include hypothyroidism, painful injuries, and neurological issues such as encephalitis, epilepsy, and brain tumors.

Talk to your veterinarian to determine if this is also the case for your dog. Treatment or medication may significantly improve your dog’s behavior.

Importance Of Dog Behavior Training

Aggressive dog behavior training can help you figure out the best way to control a dog’s aggressiveness. In most cases, you will use positive reinforcement to teach your dog new behaviors.

For example, if your dog is a little aggressive towards strangers, stay away from people your dog does not know. You should be far enough away so that your dog does not start barking or snapping. Then, as you gradually reduce the distance between your dog and strangers, reward it with plenty of hospitality and praise, and continue to use positive reinforcement.

Difference Between Punishment And Discouraging Bad Behavior

There’s a big difference between punishing and discouraging bad behavior in your dog.

Punishing your dog for aggressive behavior is usually counterproductive and may escalate aggression. If you hit, yell, or use some other disgusting method to respond to a barking dog, the dog may feel the need to protect itself by biting you.

Punishment can also cause your dog to bite someone without warning.

During basic obedience training, get your dog used to awards and praise for good behavior. And once he ruins something, simply walk away, do not make eye contact, do not speak, or touch your dog. This way, your dog will learn what is allowed and what is not.

Do the same when he expresses aggression to something, and he will be discouraged from doing it again.

Importance Of Proper Medication

In some cases, training alone is not enough. Aggressive dogs may also need medication to help solve this problem. It is essential to understand that dogs experiencing fear, stress, or anxiety cannot learn new things. Think of medicine as a tool to help your dog overcome this fear.


Dog aggression is the problem lots of owners try to deal with. Especially when you rescue a grown-up dog, it might take more time to get him used to society and the fact that no one will steal their food anymore and he can eat peacefully.

It takes a while, but every owner can fix this problem in their dog. Follow our tips, grow your puppy in love, affection, socialization, and he will definitely start expressing love instead of aggression towards others.

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