A loving dog will almost always, if given the choice of aggression or another response, choose the other. The longer you live with the problem of a dog that is acting aggressive, the more difficult it’s going to be to correct. Look at the cause of the aggression. This isn’t a situation where a normally loving dog loses it – it’s perfectly normal. Again, this is probably a job for a pro. But when you’re considering what aggression is, you also have to think about what it isn’t. The potential for “fear biting” is much more easily prevented than cured. You have aggression issues that might not be directed at you, but if they’re not corrected, the outcome could be very bad indeed for someone else. At some point, Carla decided that she wanted to be the boss. If the aggression really does seem to have no reason, could the dog be ill? Carla and I had always gotten along famously, but on this particular day, she decided that she wasn’t disposed to sit, stay, walk at heel, or do anything else that I was asking of her, and she made it very obvious. Because I do this, I’ve never had to worry about a loving dog suddenly showing aggression over food or property. Thanks to increased public knowledge about the importance of regular rabies vaccines, the disease is fairly uncommon in dogs today. " Dogs who display owner-directed aggression most often behave aggressively in the evening hours. Mostly, they scavenge, looking for places where food is likely to be found. He might see you as weak and think that he’d be a better “pack leader,” and he might display hostility when you try to control him. Sometimes the cause is organic, and can be treated using medication. The most common causes include conflict aggression, fear-based or defensive aggression, possessive aggression, food guarding aggression and redirected aggression… See What to Do When Your Dog Hates Your Significant Other for more insight into this problem. In the introduction to this post, I offered a scenario where a dog was playing with children, and suddenly snapped at a child, Kayla. Remember Cujo, the sweet-natured Saint Bernard in the Stephen King book (and later the movie of the same name)? There could be several reasons for sudden aggression in your typically loving dog, but if you keep the vaccinations up to date, you can definitely rule out rabies as a potential cause. Reasons Why Your Dog is Acting Aggressive, Top 3 Reasons for Aggressive Dog Behavior, and What to Do About It. This kind of concern could be the result of many different factors. Predatory instinct can be controlled to some extent with vigorous training, and often channeled through finding the dog a job, like agility training. That’s just demented, irresponsible and wrong on just about every level! 1 Your suddenly aggressive dog … It’s not a cure, just a preventative measure that works for the dog and the humans he may encounter. A territorial dog isn’t necessarily an unloving dog, but the result (a bite) is the same regardless of the emotional state or basic good nature of the dog. Please start posting anonymously - your entry will be published after you log in or create a new account. Random aggression in dogs doesn’t happen, and when it appears to happen, it’s still not random. How to stop a puppy from eating everything? An adult wolf, though, is going to challenge you every step of the way. Just knowing this makes it a lot easier to deal with a dog that is acting aggressive. Fear can elicit sudden behavioral and temperament changes such as … One of the biggest reasons as to why your dog might be acting aggressive... 2. Others will tell you that they’re not for anyone. Which airlines are best to travel with a dog that must fly cargo? When the owner went to the neighbor’s house, the neighbor still wasn’t in a good frame of mind, and reiterated that she wanted the dog put to sleep. When a dog growls, he’s delivering a message. More on that in a bit. It frequently happens that a dog who has been completely non-aggressive when adopted at 12 to 16 weeks will, somewhere between nine months and two years of age, “suddenly become aggressive … I think that dogs know the difference between going into full-on “kill mode” and playing. As to the idea that playing “tug of war” with your dog causes aggression, I call bullshit. He doesn't bear down, just grabs hold. Snapping over an owner trying to take away food or a toy is not “random” aggression in dogs – it’s the dog trying to protect what he feels is his, and it’s up to you whether or not you want to allow that. They are better tempered, less likely to be aggressive, in the morning. This may be because brain serotonin is highest in the morning and falls over the course of the day, reaching low levels in the evening as serotonin has metabolized to melatonin. If your puppy is suddenly acting aggressive, and you’ve ruled out territoriality, it may simply be that you have a naturally dominant dog that is “testing” you. Be the boss! Here are some warning signs: To take this further, if you’re afraid to take your dog for walks because you worry that he might bite someone or try to fight with another dog, or if you’re constantly telling people to keep their distance because you’re afraid they might end up being bitten, then you definitely have a dog that is acting aggressive. If your dog bites someone, or harms another dog, you could end up being sued, and your dog could end up being put down. These breeds include Spaniels, Terriers, Lhasa Apsos, and Rottweilers, amongst others, but aggression can appear in any breed. How do I train my small rescue dogs not to be overly excited? There is always a reason, and dogs can have any number of reasons for displaying aggression. If a dog is injured, and you’re trying to help him, he might lash out at you thinking that you’re the cause of the pain. I was younger and stronger then. 3. And once the litter is weaned, have her spayed, because often maternal aggression can be translated into generalized aggression once the litter is gone. As further set forth in our Terms of Service, Rover.com does not make any warranties regarding such information, and you should conduct your own diligence before relying on it. Was the dog surprised, or tormented? Learn about its … This space is reserved only for answers. Aging can affect your dog… How to handle a dog which is super agressive towards other dogs in the house? Mental Illness. Did somebody make a move that might have been misinterpreted by the dog? If the aggression is the result of abuse, then a lot of love and gentle handling can go a long way, but the reality is that you may never have a dog that is one hundred per cent safe around people – in a case like that, all you can do is keep the dog away from other people. 5 Ways of Dealing with Aggression When You Have More Than One Dog (Video), What to Do When Your Dog Hates Your Significant Other, 70 Pet Insurance Statistics – By Dog Breed and Condition, You’re unable to approach your dog when he’s eating, Your dog growls at you when you try to put him off the furniture, You’re afraid of your dog for any other reason. The dog’s reprieve came from a surprising source – the child, who had been listening to the conversation. The dog’s owner seized the advantage, saying softly, “If I put Gino down, who’s she going to blame? I recently had a phone call from a woman who had adopted a puppy out of the first litter from Janice and Leroy. Some breeds, though (the Australian Shepherd is one example) tend to pull their lips back so that their gums are visible, and the teeth can look pretty scary. Some people will suggest that you should curtail play aggression, on the theory that it will lead to “real aggression,” but that’s very unlikely to happen. “This kid has been here a million times; she loves the dog and the dog loves her! To know whether a dog is being aggressive, or simply smiling, you need to look at the rest of the body language. For instance, many breeds of dogs are very protective of their families, to the point where they can be dangerous. In the case of a rescue dog, though, the cause could be situational – it might be that the dog has been tormented to the point of being vicious, and in cases like that, behavioral intervention is required. Some dogs might develop a sudden fear and restlessness at night. I don’t know if I’d try to handle a dog like Carla at this point in my life. Sometimes, a perfectly loving dog can turn into a holy terror if she thinks she has to protect her little ones. If it’s your own dog, avoid putting him in situations where he feels threatened. It seems that for some reason your dog is super anxious at night time. The problem is some of us are taken by surprise by sudden aggression in a dog that has … I can’t stress enough the importance of vaccinating. Anxiety can come in many forms. This may be because brain serotonin is highest in the morning and falls over the course of the day, reaching low levels in the evening … Growling, barking, biting, snarling, lunging, or any type of aggressive … If the thyroid gland is not producing the right amount of thyroid hormone, this is another condition that can cause aggression. Your Dog Wants … If your dog has not been vaccinated, though, this could be a cause of his sudden aggression. Many animal behaviorists will tell you that they’re not for everyone. Puppies are often afraid of people that they don’t know, but if they’re taken out regularly and exposed to different people, they will learn that most people are friendly and that there is nothing to fear. Here are some of the most common causes of aggression in normally loving dogs. Again, it’s not “sudden aggression,” and it’s not random, so you don’t have to rush off to a trainer or animal behaviorist – you just have to work through the problem. Knowing the reason is the first step toward addressing the aggression, which is most of the time, simply the first indication of an underlying problem. With this kind of situation, you might need professional assistance. No. In this case, you might not be able to do much about the source of the frustration. Has the dog been evaluated by a veterinarian to rule out brain tumors, Lyme disease or other conditions that could lead to aggression? An “air snap” is a warning, and not necessarily an indication that you have a dog that’s going to be acting aggressive habitually – it’s usually the result of some action on the part of a human, however innocent. she has bitten my husband a couple of times, and she … Also, prey drive can be considerably stronger in some breeds than it is in others. … A bite, however, is most definitely not a warning,and should never be ignored or considered to be a “one-off.”. If a dog that has never shown any sign of aggression suddenly begins growling, snapping, or biting, it may be caused by a disease or illness. This seems like a good opportunity to point out, as I frequently do, that you should never leave children and dogs unattended. I’ve always done this early on with my dogs, and I’ve done the same with toys, offering them and then taking them away before the dog is big enough to think he can engage me in battle over something he wants. Dogs are descended from wolves and they are pack animals as a result. When that happens, the growling dog is telling you, “I would prefer not to bite you, but I will if I absolutely have to. The dog had been approached in a manner that most humans don’t like, never mind dogs! In the final analysis, I think that all I can say is that it’s reasonable to assume that your dog loves you and trusts you. This long digression is simply by way of pointing out, again, the fact that a loving dog does not generally “turn,” and that there is no such thing as random aggression in dogs. They find their territory, and they will protect it against other dogs. You’ve probably heard stories about random aggression in dogs that go something like “I don’t understand it; my dog was just sitting quietly on the sofa between me and my girlfriend, and all of a sudden, he turned around and latched onto her.” Or you hear, “He was playing with the kids, and everything seemed to be going fine, and then suddenly he snapped at Kayla.” Another common tale is “I was just petting him, and he grabbed my hand, and I ended up needing stitches.” Still another is “He was such a sweet boy, until he ate the neighbor’s cat.”, A lot of the time, these stories end with “So I took him to the vet and had him put to sleep; after all, I can’t take that kind of chance again.”. On the contrary, I think that tug of war allows dogs to display aggression in a happy, healthy way – playing with their human, or with another dog. Dogs can also be mentally ill. We usually think of a “dog smile” as the lips being pulled back, and the teeth visible but not bared. I would submit, though, that if your dog is around other people, it would probably be a good idea to train him to the point where food and property are not issues. Aggressive Temperament or Fear. In other words, it’s a physical problem that affects mental function, and requires medication to correct the imbalance. I’ve had three litters out of Janice and Leroy, and I’ve never once experienced a situation that’s more common than you might think – where the mother is so protective of the litter that she won’t allow anyone near the puppies, not even her human. This is perfectly normal, and if you’ve ever seen a real fight between dogs, you’ll immediately know the difference between “play aggression” and “real aggression.”, Again, though, this differs from supposed random aggression in dogs, where a dog suddenly seems to “go off.”. Not every act on the part of a dog constitutes aggression. Not all dogs are like Janice, though. Take a look at the dog’s body language. On the contrary, Janice is quite happy to allow perfect strangers to pick up her puppies and handle them. You could think of a domestic dog as a wolf puppy that never grew up – willing and eager to please his human, and perfectly happy to be number two when it comes to dominance. This is a good time to mention that it’s not a good idea to discourage growling in dogs. Often, dominance issues appear in young dogs. Dogs can be aggressive for many reasons and as dog owners we usually know and accept this. I suggested that since the owner had been able to determine what had set the dog off, she might want to go over, apologize to the neighbor, explain, and try to make things right before matters got even worse. Lee Bailey couldn’t have delivered a better defense, from where I’m sitting. Even the most loving dog in the world can bite if he’s in pain. If you would like to engage in a discussion, please instead post a comment under the question or an answer that you would like to discuss. It’s very rare for a dog to become violent out of nowhere. Often, when dogs are playing, they become very vocal, barky and growly. There is always a reason for aggression in dogs. … All dogs are predators. Why Would a Loving Dog Suddenly Become Aggressive? You want to kill Gino, and I hate you!”. In many cases, dogs that don’t growl before biting have been corrected by well-meaning owners. In fact, it’s about as far from “random” as I can imagine. Seizures, low or high thyroid levels, anxiety, and chronic illnesses can cause sudden aggression in … You will probably use your hands, but a dog will use his teeth to try to remove what he perceives as the cause of his pain. Let me point out yet again that there is no such thing as random aggression in dogs. Although the reaction in this case would have been the same no matter who had approached the sleeping dog, it’s worth mentioning that there can be situations where a dog differentiates between “my kids” and “visiting kids.” A dog that is perfectly fine with his own family might perceive that his kids are being abused by kids that are not his, and react in a way that, to the dog, seems perfectly normal. A recent study of Golden Retrievers showed that in 80% of cases, the aggressiveness is hereditary. Protectiveness is not a bad thing in a dog, but if not properly channeled, it can be a problem. That means that the dog has decided “All right, enough talking – now it’s time to get physical in a huge way!”. They are better tempered, less likely to be aggressive, in the morning. This excerpt may help: " Dogs who display owner-directed aggression most often behave aggressively in the evening hours. If you take a closer look, always enlisting the help of your vet, you may be able to figure out the cause of your dog's behavior change . Pain is an especially common cause of aggression in dogs. Or for that matter, any sleeping dog. The best advice I can offer here is, if your ordinarily loving dog doesn’t want you near her puppies, respect her wishes. She was in tears because the dog (now three years old) had snapped at a neighbor’s child who was visiting her home, and now the neighbor was demanding that she have the dog euthanized. Your dog may be exhibiting aggression at night due to various conditions. If pain isn’t causing your dog’s aggression, then ruling out illness is extremely important. This is a question that we often get from sitters and owners who work with Rover. In Wolves and Wolf Hybrids as Pets, I talked about the inadvisability of selecting a wolf or wolf dog as a family pet. I have a 3 year old puggle who plays well but likes to bite gently, mostly on my wrists. And again, the aggression isn’t “random” or “sudden” – it’s just a wolf being a wolf. Lyme disease is spread by ticks, so if your ordinarily loving dog has suddenly become aggressive, and you live in an area where ticks are known to be present, I would suggest that your vet have your dog tested for Lyme disease. There’s Something at Night Scaring Your Dog You didn’t think you had a problem on your hands? Your dog is far less likely to be aggressive if you allow him to play with other dogs. Voices were raised, nothing was resolved, and then I got the phone call. And if it seems that he’s behaving out of character, it’s up to you to find out why. Generally speaking, though, the time to worry is not so much when the dog is growling, as it is when a growling dog stops. It simply doesn’t exist. Prey drive is not “random aggression” in dogs, though – it’s hard-wired, and in some dogs, it needs to be channeled in a positive direction. Ideally, you’ll create a very high fence around your property, and never for one minute leave your wolf or hybrid unattended. If aggression is a problem in your dog, though, it really doesn’t much matter if it’s random or otherwise. Sometimes, it’s a “one-off” like the scenario I’ve described above, but equally often, something else is at work, and if the dog is acting aggressive, and that aggression is not dealt with, it will usually escalate. While most aggression towards familiar people is a sign of a serious problem, there are some instances where an animal will be aggressive following a painful medical procedure or if they are in pain regularly. Was This an Example of Random Aggression in Dogs? Many studies show that there is a genetic basis for aggressiveness in dogs and that each breed has the potentiality to be aggressive.This means the gene is not only present in those considered ‘potentially dangerous’ dogs. If the owner is out of state, are sitters stuck dealing with aggressive dogs with no alternative? I have known more than a few dogs who were perfectly kind and gentle with family members, but very afraid of strangers. THIS POST MAY CONTAIN AFFILIATE LINKS. Only then would we explore behavioral trends that peak at the end of the day or your evening routine that might be cause for your puppy getting aggressive only at night. 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