UNDERSTANDING CANINE AGGRESSION

Taking Steps toward Understanding an Aggression Problem

If your dog has a tendency to be aggressive or has developed an aggression
problem, then you should first consult with a veterinarian to make sure that the
reason for the behavior is not physical.

As the most serious canine behavioral issues are related to aggression, it's
important to understand why this issue can develop.

Behaviors Resulting from Aggression

Aggression can be also exhibited by the following kinds of behaviors:

-- Growling
-- Charging
-- Barking that is threatening
-- Nipping
-- Snapping
-- Biting which results in the tearing of skin, punctures, or bruising
-- Snarling

Health Issues Related to Aggression

If the aggression is the result of a medical problem, then the behavior can often be attributed to such conditions as:

-- Joint pain
-- Brain dysfunction
-- Seizure
-- Hearing loss
-- Difficulty with seeing
-- A glandular abnormality

Kinds of Aggression

Older dogs can become aggressive if they are feeling confused and dogs taking certain medications can growl, bite, or act hostile too. If a medical cause has been ruled out for your dog's aggressive behavior, then you'll need to consider the possible triggers for it. Aggression can be categorized in a number of ways and defined by any of the following:

-- Dominance aggression happens when a dog growls or snaps at his owner for correcting a poor behavior. The situation can be brought on by controlling the dog's use of his toys or physically restraining the animal.

-- Aggression resulting from fear often causes a dog to soil a carpet or urinate. If the dog is usually placid, this type of aggression will result if he is especially frightened.

-- Maternal aggression is exhibited by mother dogs who feel that their puppies are threatened.

-- Aggression can be due to possessiveness as well. If a dog believes another animal or person is trying to take away his food or his toy, then he may become threatening.

-- Protective aggression occurs when a dog tries to safeguard his owner from people who are often not a real threat at all.

-- Territorial aggression is similar to protective aggression, except, in this case, the dog may be trying to protect his property from someone who is not an actual threat.

-- Aggression also results from pain and usually occurs when a dog is fearful that he will be picked up or touched.

Determining if a Dog is Simply Playful or is in Fact Aggressive

In certain instances, it can be hard to distinguish aggression from playfulness. However, when a dog is playing aggressively, his bites will often be swifter and more intense than if he is just playfully mouthing or nipping. Some Ways to Handle an Aggression Problem

When it comes to treating aggression problems, typically younger dogs are easier to treat. Also, you'll have to consider the triggers and if they can be prevented, eliminated, or avoided. For example, if your dog only acts aggressive during mealtime, then simply stay away from him during those times. Or, if your dog has not been spayed or neutered, then having the procedure done can improve your dog's behavior too.

Some Dogs Respond better to Behavioral Modification than Others

Behavior modification is more successful as well if your dog responds favorably to any rewards offered for good behavior. If your dog does not readily accept treats, toys, or praise for behaving properly, then you'll have to consult with a certified dog trainer to help in this regard. As you are liable for any injuries that may stem out of your dog's aggression, it's important to take the steps needed to alter the behavior.