Is your dog aggressive?


Just like humans, dogs are prone to changes in mood. Sometimes aggressive behaviour is a way of showing the dog wants something, feels unsafe or feels ill or sore. However, whatever the reason, if a dog is being regularly aggressive, they can be a real danger. Owners need to be aware of when dogs are showing signs of aggression and why they are doing it.

Signs of Aggression

  • Becoming rigid and freezing
  • Barking threateningly
  • Pushing people with their body or nose
  • Growling
  • Baring their teeth
  • Biting including leaving no mark, or leaving a bruise

Reasons behind the aggression
Dogs can show aggression for many different reasons.

They are ill
Although not always the case, some dogs can be aggressive when they are ill or in pain. If they are acting abnormally and suddenly becoming aggressive, it may be worth taking them to the vet. Although it may not be something serious, changes in behaviour can sometimes be pain (acute or chronic), indicate brain disease or some other illness.

They are stressed and scared
The most common reason for aggression in dogs is fear. Have a look at the situation and try and identify anything that the dog could seem threatened by. This could include new people, noise, other dogs or feeling trapped.

They are frustrated
Dogs can be aggressive if they feel frustrated. For example, if they are being restrained on a lead when they want to run free. Avoid this by not pulling on the lead as this will make the situation worse. Another example is taking away something that they love (e.g. a toy or food).

They have not been socialised enough
Puppies need to be socialised from an early age with other dogs, people, home life and situations they are likely to experience as they grow up. This socialising needs to continue throughout their life so they will be less likely to become frightened and aggressive when they see new things.

Don’t ignore warning signs
The more time you take to understand your dog’s behaviour, the more likely you are to see the warning signs the dog gives you which indicates they are about to become aggressive. Nose licking, turning their head away are all subtle signs that they are not comfortable. Having their ears pinned back, crouching with their tail tucked between their legs and standing stiff, unblinking are signs that they are feeling worse. If these signs are ignored, the next step is vocalising their feelings by barking and growling.

Seek Professional Help
If you have trouble with your dog’s behaviour, it is always best to seek advice from a professional.

It is vital that dog owners know the signs of aggression and seek help with learning the methods to cope with aggressive behaviour as if it is not dealt with it can lead to tragic consequences.

For information about dog behaviour therapy sessions, please visit https://www.witsend4pets.co.uk/behaviour.php or alternatively call us on 0116 244 2455 to book a session.

About the author

Dr Shahad Mohammed
Veterinary Physiotherapist
National Association of Veterinary Physiotherapists