What Causes Aggression in Dogs?

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It is in the nature of dogs to be aggressively protective of their loved ones. You may have seen several dogs being violent, growling, and even trying to bite. But have you ever wondered why some dogs show these nasty behaviors? You understand your dog is aggressive, but understanding the cause of the aggression can help you find a solution to treat them.

Some of the common causes of aggression in dogs

You cannot find a solution without knowing what the problem is! As long as you know what is causing aggression in your dog, you may be able to help. Some of the most common causes of aggression in dogs include

  • Injury or illness

Pain is a common cause of aggression in all living things. Your dog may have been loving and friendly for several years and suddenly started showing signs of aggression. The first sign to notice is whether your dog is in pain or if there is an illness that is causing the aggression. Some medical conditions make dogs aggressive such as brain disease, tumors, among others.

  • Possessiveness

Dogs are extremely possessive animals. Your dog may show aggression when it fears to lose the object of value such as a toy, food bowl, bed, or sometimes even a person. This is also called resource guarding. Dogs may also growl and warn when strangers or outsiders enter your home. To your dog, it’s his or her territory. The degree of aggression varies from barking and growling to attacking and biting.

  • Anxiety or Fear

Aggression is a form of defense mechanism in dogs. Many dogs show aggression when they are in danger and unable to escape. They exhibit aggressive behavior to defend themselves. Most of the dogs that exhibit fearful behavior have been neglected, abused, or experienced a traumatic event.

  • Frustration

There are several reasons for a dog to feel frustrated, from fleas and ticks to being tied up or restrained on a leash. Also called redirected aggression, when a dog is frustrated, and it is unable to take the frustration out in any way, it gives birth to aggression.

  • Dominance

Establishing dominance happens in all species, including dogs. Your dog may either be trying to establish dominance over another dog or even over your whole family. Most times, dogs show aggression when their position is being challenged, and it may be mistaken for dominance. But in some cases, your dog may be trying to be the ‘Alpha’ of the family resulting in aggression.

  • Learned Aggression

You may have seen infants and few children creating in a scene in public to get what they want. Once it works, they continue with the behavior. Dogs are no different. Once they realize that they can get what they want by showing aggressive behavior, they learn to repeat the aggression. It is always better to be careful while interpreting aggression and first rule-out health issues causing aggression. Any mistake in interpreting can cause more harm than good to your dog.