Aggressive Behavior in Dogs

Although dogs are the most popular pet in the United States, they can act aggressively in certain situations. Recognizing aggressive behavior in dogs can help to keep yourself and your loved ones safe around a potentially dangerous dog. Some people believe that certain breeds are the only dogs that will act aggressively, but in reality, any dog can react in an aggressive manner to something it views as threatening.

Recognizing Dangerous Dog Behavior

It is important for everyone to recognize possible signs of aggression. If a dog is displaying signs of aggression, a person should move away from the dog and avoid confronting it. Some of the most common signs of aggression include:

  • Repeatedly showing teeth to an owner, visitors, or other animals
  • Showing signs of protectiveness over food or toys
  • Growling or whining when stranger or strange dogs approach
  • Snapping or biting

These do not necessarily mean that a dog is going to harm you, but they are behaviors that should be taken seriously.

Types of Aggression

Dogs can act aggressively for many reasons. The following are some different types of aggressions:

  • Territorial Aggression—Dogs are instinctively protective of their home, yard, and anything they consider a “safe space.” When others get too near to their territory, they may act aggressively towards the intruder.
  • Possession Aggression—Protecting items that the dog views as theirs can lead to aggressive behavior. Often, dogs are overprotective of treats and food, but the behavior can be triggered by anything.
  • Dominant Aggression—When feeling threatened by another dog or person, some dogs will attempt to prove dominance in the pack.
  • Fear Aggression—When dogs are afraid, their instincts may tell them to fight the thing that is frightening them.
  • Punishment Aggression—Dogs that are being punished may be afraid for their well-being or unhappy that their toy was taken away. This can sometimes trigger aggressive actions.
  • Predatory Aggression—When a dog’s instincts to hunt are triggered, their aggression levels may increase. They can be triggered by joggers, squirrels, or anything else that is running away from them.
  • Maternal Aggression—Mother dogs may react aggressively towards people or animals that approach their litter. This behavior is instinctual and intended to protect their babies.

Whether you are visiting friends, hanging out at the park, or observing your own pup, understanding the possible causes of aggressive behavior may help you to avoid an unnecessary injury. Teaching your children and loved ones the importance of recognizing this type of behavior can also help them to stay safe around dogs they are unfamiliar with.

Victims of dog bites may have the right to file claims against the owner of the dog for failing to control their pet. Often, these cases are intended to provide the victim with financial compensation for the costs of their medical treatment and other expenses. By working with a dog bite lawyer, victims may be able to take the legal action needed to protect their rights.


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