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Aggressive dogs – Causes and treatments

Aggressiveness is an issue of concern for dog owners because most of the time they fail to understand its origin and how to respond to it. It´s of great help to be able to identify the different types of aggressions and the sources for these behaviors, as well as realizing that you´re the sole responsible for his problems and improvement.

Before we even begin speaking of aggressive dogs is important to clarify what we mean with aggressiveness. The aggressive instinct is part of human nature and animals, it helps them to defend themselves from dangers, survive in precarious situations and among animals it regulates relations between them.

No dog has the character fixed only by genetics. Most of the time the aggression in animals has to do with education and lifestyle. For example, a foal can become aggressive if most of his life he´s locked in a stable without socializing. Bulls may attack and kill people to defend themselves when they feel threatened. A dog on a chain, isolated and without practicing physical exercise, finds in aggression a way to relieve his frustrations.

Most dominant dogs may start to bite if they are allowed to occupy a superior position to that of the owner, so they feel entitled to correct any human behavior with bites, scratches and grunts.

We´re speaking about a dominant dog when:

  • The dog isn´t allowing the entrance to halls and rooms in the house.
  • He growls as people approach their food or resting areas.
  • Sleeps on couches and beds.

You must establish your dominance right from the start and if for some reason you have difficulties in exercising your authority and leadership, it will be convenient to analyze your own conduct and finding out the reasons for your lack of security. This aggressiveness should never be overlooked as it can increase up to attacking family members including children.

Biter dogs

Timid biters are less dangerous than the dominant ones. If a shy biter is alone and sees a stranger or a neighbor that he fears, he will try to escape. In case he fails to do so, he will bite the stranger from behind, because this is less frightening than having to deal with the look of the person.

dominant, frightened dog is different. He may bite at any time and anywhere, in the presence of the owner or in his absence, often getting to attack the person’s face. As he´s dominant by nature he doesn´t try to escape, but to attack.

agressive dogs - boxer breed


Territorial dogs attack persons or animals that attempt to approach their family group. They think they shouldn´t approach as they don´t see them as part of the pack.

Early prevention

One strategy that prevents aggressiveness is to socialize him from an early age (while he´s still a puppy) in a safe environment, relating him with people willing to provide love, time and respect. Don´t allow children to treat him like a toy, pulling his tail and legs or jumping over the animal, because they can hurt him. If his early socialization experiences are positive, he will be a balanced and respectful dog to his owner.

When early prevention is already not possible…

In the case of adult dogs with experiences of abuse, it´s recommended to start from scratch. Each case is unique; when aggressive conduct starts becoming a danger for family members, the best advice is going to a canine behavior specialist to identify the causes of aggressiveness and from there focusing on the dog´s re-education.

Some recommendations for handling aggressive dogs

  • Don´t keep him locked up and avoid physical punishment whenever possible.

locked dogs


  • Walking and exercising daily will help to release his energy. Always use the leash to prevent him from releasing and possibly attacking other animals or persons.
  • Analyze behavioral changes your dog has had lately and see if there has been any event in his life that influenced his aggressiveness.
  • Prevent your dog from being the winner in games of strength for that makes him feel superior to you.
  • In rides you should go in front of your dog, as well as when you arrive home.

Before initiating treatment in aggressive dogs, you should visit the vet to rule out any physical illness; when a dog is in pain he may become irritable and aggressive. You need to be sure your pet is healthy to take the appropriate measures to solve his problem.

Note: if you are interested in more information about aggressive dogs, you can receive a notification when I publish the e-book in which I have been working during the past year, which includes information on preventing accidents in dogs, which frequently happen due to aggressiveness. Sign up for our email newsletter in order to get notified.

As a personal note, I understand that we can make mistakes in the education of our dog due to lack of knowledge on how does a dog´s mind work, but abandoning him is a cruel act, when in fact there are many ways to treat his aggressiveness and seek professional canine behavior expert, doing online research, connecting with people who have had similar experiences, and others. There will always be a solution if you really want it.

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