Aggression in dogs can be caused by many triggers. It's up to us to find out what is triggering our dogs to have behavior that comes out in the form of aggression. There are many motivational triggers to look at in dog aggression...
Leadership is one of the first and most common triggers of aggression in a multi dog house hold. In a pack of dogs or a family with more then one dog one leader will be chosen by the pack of dogs. This usually results in a fight. The one who wins is then the pack leader. This may be challenged again at times. It is important for us as humans to respect this and not treat the weaker dog of the pack with more care and attentiveness. This will only cause aggression in the leader of the pack and make life difficult for your dogs.
Pack hierarchy is the rank order of the rest of your dog pack and with each dog it is different. This can occur multiple times in order for the pack rank to move from one dog to another.
Protection of territory is important to most dogs. Some are protective of where they live, food bowl, preferred toy or his human companions or one of his human family members.
Maternal instinct can occur when the male dog comes to close to her puppies or when humans especially children come to close for comfort. It's important to avoid sudden contact with pups.
Fear/Stress can cause a dog to bite and can be apart of flight or fight decision when a dog is scared. The dog needs personal space. When introducing two dogs to each other, it's important to give them space and not hover over them the whole time. This can also be avoided by not letting a dog meet and greet being attached to a leash as the dog will feel your stress and the tightened leash. It is even better if they can meet on an area that is not familiar to any of the dogs to avoid territorial aggression. At first when adopting a second or third dog it's important to give the dog that you had first, attention and food first until they have figured out their pack dynamics.
Hunting instinct is more prone in some dog breeds then others. Huskies are well known for this as they have a high prey drive and an excited energy and can cause great harm and death to smaller dogs and animals.
Dogs that suffer from pain or is injured should always be handled with a muzzle on. An injured dog wants to protect him by the only way he knows how and that is through aggression this goes hand in hand with fear and stress related aggression. When dogs get into a fight, beating them to stop the fight can even stir up a bigger fight between the dogs.
Dogs can be competitive mostly for attention from his owners and this causes some jealousy that triggers unwanted behavior that can go over into aggression.
Dogs and kids both need boundaries and very often we let kids just play with dogs as they please. This can cause a dog to snap. There are usually many warning signs of a dog feeling frustrated by a child. Things like walking away, growling etc. But we and kids choose to ignore this and push the dog just that little bit extra. This is how kids get bitten by dogs most of the time and this is the only way they know how to say please stop now. Adult dogs do this with puppies too and discipline them this way.
When dogs play they can easily cross the point of being play full and starting to fight. It's important for us to know when they are still playing and when they are starting to fight. This can avoid serious fights. Dogs that play will only bite lightly and leave the certain spot where he is biting after just a few seconds. Dogs that really fight will open flesh. Also take notice when one of the dogs seem to want to leave and not play any more and when they start to growl with irritation this is when they should stop. Dogs wanting to play lays down in the down ward dog position. This is when they put their front paws down on the ground with their hind legs up wards, tails can wag and they can jump around excited and make friendly barking sounds.
Male dogs cause up to 90% of gender fights, but male dogs sort out their problems much more quickly then female dogs. Females that are spayed can be more aggressive because they have more testosterone, but an intact female is like a woman that has pms. An intact female goes through that same hormonal stages, irritability and feeling down.
Some breeds are more prone to fight because of their genetic make-up. How you raise these dogs and socialize them can make a vast difference in their temperament.
Idiopathic aggression they say is caused by a brain dysfunction. This is usually seen in larger breeds. These dogs will suddenly attack and then minutes later be the sweetest dog and seem to have totally forgotten about the attack. These dogs should not be used to breed.
Learned aggression is usually caused by humans. These dogs can use aggression because it works to achieve what they want. It can be that the pups were bullied. Or dogs that use aggression to survive.
Not socializing a dog can cause aggression problems. If a dog is only used to being with an older lady, he might not be able to know how to handle kids and or men or other dogs. This can go two ways; either being scared and pancake or being aggressive to wards the other dog or human. Know that this is not true aggression, but unwanted dog behavior from a dog that is uncertain and scared.
Training dogs to be aggressive can be given on cue when a dog is trained as a police dog or for security purposes.
Ageing dogs can tend to be aggressive. This goes hand in hand with sickness and pain as they are scared that they will be hurt and because their senses of hearing and sight can be less accurate. This can cause a dog to get frightened and react accordingly.
Metabolic disturbances can occur with low blood sugar that could be caused due to hunger. This shifts the testosterone and can cause aggression.
Displaced aggression can be caused by two dogs that run to a gate barking at a stranger or dog passing. Because of the gate constricting them to not be able to reach out to the stranger. They turn to each other out of frustration and miss place the aggression.
Louise Basson is the author and web master of http://www.dog-care-centre.com She also runs a dog day care centre and kennel for dogs. This is a specialized facility for only a few dogs to insure optimum care.
She specializes in Alaskan Huskies and has been to Alaska to learn more about the breed and the dog powered sport called mushing. Louise also is currently busy with Ethology-dog behaviour training course. She also distributes mushing gear and dog care centre dog gear and treats. Louise Basson is a part of Siberian Husky Rescue Gauteng to help foster and re home Huskies in the Western Cape.
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