Causes of Dog Aggression

Updated on October 1, 2016

Many animals show aggressive behaviors for a variety of different reasons. Originally, aggression in domestic dogs was actually a positive trait. The reason was because the owners wanted dogs to protect them and their property. However, these aggressive traits are very unpredictable and often lead to problems. To understand why canine aggression is so unpredictable, let's first look at the types of canine aggression.

Predatory Aggression

For many dogs, they have a natural instinct to hunt. With this type of aggression, dogs will not give any warning signs before they do strike. Unfortunately, many times children and other pets fall victim to this type of behavior.

Fear-Induced Aggression

Many veterinarians and their staff have to deal with aggression that is caused by fear. Animal hospitals aren't the only place fear-induced aggression is displayed. Any time an animal feels trapped with no means to escape, they will automatically fight back. This is a survival instinct.

Other reasons may include sudden, loud noises and children. One common reason is when the dog fears other people. It could even just be characteristics of other people such as wearing a hat, a uniform, or even the site of a rolled newspaper being delivered. These may be triggered by past experiences.

Punishment Aggression

Punishment aggression can be similar to fear-induced and pain-induced aggression. If an owner chooses physical punishment, such as spanking the hindquarter, this could cause an aggressive reaction from the dog. No physical punishment is ever recommended for any animal, especially with dogs. Some owner take the physical punishment too far by kicking, slapping, or punching the animal. This is considered abuse and is strongly unacceptable.

Even if you use the isolation method, such as crating or isolating in a room, some dogs will act out because they do not want to be isolated. More often this occurs from using crates that are simply too small and uncomfortable for the dog.

Learn more about dealing with dog aggression from a dog trainer.
Learn more about dealing with dog aggression from a dog trainer. | Source

Pain-induced Aggression

Most animals display aggression when they are in pain. This is why you should always approach an injured animal with the utmost caution. In fact, dog fighting utilizes pain-induced aggressions to keep the fight going.

Injury isn't the only reason for this type of aggression. Sometimes dogs may have a painful skin irritation, internal medical condition, or simply afraid a veterinarian procedure such as vaccinations.

Dominance Aggression

Canines naturally have a pack hierarchy mentality. One dog will be more dominant and be considered the leader of the pack whereas the other dogs are considered subservient and will follow the dominant dog. For domestic dogs, humans serve the dominant role of the pack leader. However, there are times when dogs will challenge the pack leader whether it is canine or human. Dominance aggression has warning signs such as growling, snapping, or biting before it escalates to a full fight. Many times this occurs when a human persists to assert their dominance over the dog.

Territorial Aggression
Territorial Aggression

Territorial Aggression

Dogs can be quite territorial. Some dogs may growl, bark, or bite anyone unfamiliar to them that gets too close to the yard, house, or their human family. Many times dominance aggression is mistaken for territorial aggression. You would probably think that when a dog growls when you come too close to their food bowl while they are eating would be territorial aggression, but it's not.

Learned Aggression

Some owners unknowingly reinforce aggressive behaviors. These owners will give into the dog by allowing the dog to have what it wants at the first sign of aggression. Unfortunately some owners even teach or encourage aggressive behaviors, especially for dog fighting.

Another example of learned aggression is responding to a dog's aggression with negative punishment techniques. This will reinforce fears and create phobias in the dog. Nonetheless, the dog's aggression problems will worsen.

Types and Causes of Dog Aggression

Type of Aggression
Cause of Aggression
Predatory
hunting prey for food or sport
Fear-induced
fear of something, such as the vet
Pain-induced
injured, sick
Punishment
negative reinforcements
Dominance
Alpha mentality; wanting to show that it is the one in charge
Territorial
to show something is theirs and to back off, such as food, family, and their yard
Learned
dog fighting, negative reinforcements

Body Language That Signals Aggressive Behavior

Body language signs that signal a dog is exhibiting hostility and aggression.
Body language signs that signal a dog is exhibiting hostility and aggression.

Animals often use body language to communicate. In fact, the most common body language used in animals is to show aggression or displeasure in something. Dogs are no exception. Dogs have many ways in which they give warnings of aggression and a possible impending attack. This is referred to as dog signalling. Although each dog has its own combination of signalling depending on the breed and what is causing the aggressive behavior, here are some of physical signs to look for that signifies that your dog is upset or angry.

  • growling
  • lips curled; snarling teeth
  • nose wrinkled
  • ears back
  • fur, also known as hackles, raised along their back, especially between the shoulders and right before the tailbone
  • tail tucked
  • front half of body lowered
  • pupils dilated

By understanding different types of aggressions dogs display, you will be better equipped to correct the behavior. Many dogs will be grateful to have an understanding owner that is better equipped to help them learn and grow into a loving dog that will become truly man's best friend.

Questions & Answers

    © 2014 L Sarhan

    Comments

      0 of 8192 characters used
      Post Comment

      No comments yet.

      working

      This website uses cookies

      As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, pethelpful.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

      For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://pethelpful.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

      Show Details
      Necessary
      HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
      LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
      Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
      AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
      Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
      CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
      Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
      Features
      Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
      Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
      Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
      Marketing
      Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
      Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
      Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
      Statistics
      Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
      ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)