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Dogs show aggression for several reasons. If you aren’t familiar with dog behavior, it may appear that some aggressive behavior is unfounded. If you can learn why dogs show aggression and start to recognize the subtle signals, it may help you avoid dangerous situations with either your dog or an unfamiliar animal. Gaining some understanding of the hierarchy of the pack will also help you see things from the dog’s point of view.
Fear is a very common reason for aggression in dogs. If a dog is cornered or on a lead that prevents escape, he may become aggressive to try and protect himself.
Dogs can develop territorial aggression, and protect their home, car or back yard. This is often valued by their owners, who feel more secure with their canine companion on guard.
A dog who believes he is top dog in his pack can show dominant aggression. He feels he needs to remind the other pack members of his position, and put them in their place if necessary. This can be a problem when he sees himself as dominant over his owners. This type of dog can become dangerous.
It’s not difficult to understand the meaning behind raised hackles, bared teeth and snarling, but signs of aggression can be much more subtle. Watch the corners of a dog’s mouth. A relaxed happy dog has his mouth held open in a sort of smile; if the corners of his mouth are held forward and tense, it suggests that he is feeling aggressive and may bite.
What do you do with an aggressive dog? This is no time for complacency. It is important that professional advice is sought from a veterinary behaviorist, who can put in place a training and behavior modification program for the dog. They can also prescribe medication that will help him learn a more appropriate way to interact with people and dogs.
In Summary – It won’t be easy, and it will take commitment from his owner, but many aggressive dogs can be rehabilitated, and can become loyal family members.
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