It is a frightening experience to be around an aggressive dog. It’s even scarier when it’s a dog that is usually subtle and friendly but then suddenly becomes aggressive, growling, lunging, or baring its teeth. In an extreme case, the dog may bite or attack you or a family member. It is entirely different if your dog response to complete strangers this way but if it’s the same with family then it’s a serious call to concern. What should you do when your dog shows these signs of hostile behaviour? Since dog aggression can get out of hand and lead to injuries to dogs or people, it’s very important to find the cause so you can help your dog overcome the aggression. Or take your dog to the nearest animal control centre. Knowing why your dog is acting aggressively is essential to figuring out the best plan for stopping this frightening behavior. There are several potential causes of aggression in dogs. Some of them maybe behavioral problems that need to be tackled and others are temporary.

Illness and Injury

Pain is an especially common cause of aggression in dogs. Your suddenly aggressive dog may have an injury or an illness that’s causing major discomfort and stress. Some medical conditions can cause dogs to become aggressive. If a dog that has never shown any sign of aggression suddenly begins growling, snapping, or biting, it may be caused by a disease or illness.

Other severe illnesses may affect your dog’s brain, leading to seemingly unreasonable aggression. Conditions such as cognitive dysfunction and brain diseases or tumours may provoke the onset of aggression. These problems are more likely to occur in older dogs but can happen at any age.


A fearful dog can easily develop aggressive behaviour. A fearfuldog does not need comforting and definitely does not need the human sharing in that fear. A fearfuldog needs a calm, assertive leader. We can’t tell our dogs that everything is going to be okay with words, but we can definitely show them with our actions and energy. Stay calm, and don’t be afraid. Most dogs only exhibit aggressive behaviour if they sense that they are in danger, cannot escape, and feel the need to defend themselves. For example, this may occur if a dog is backed into a corner with no way out or if he thinks a hand raised over its head means he is going to get hit.

If your dog is a rescue dog that exhibits aggressive or fearful behaviour more than is normal, it may have been abused, neglected, experienced a traumatic event, or not properly socialized as a puppy. Any information you can get from the organization where you adopted the dog could help you determine the best way to handle the situation.

To avoid provoking this type of aggressive behavior in stray dogs or yours, approach unknown dogs carefully (better yet, let them approach you). Train and socialize your dog to help prevent fear down the road.


Possession aggression, or resource guarding, occurs when a dog is possessive of something or very rarely someone. This is often food, toys, or some other object of value. A dog that exhibits possession aggression may growl if someone approaches his food bowl or gets too close when he is chewing a favorite toy. A dog may also bite a stranger who steps into your home, which is the dog’s territory. These aggressive behaviours differ from object to object and what value he places on it. Sometimes it advisable to let your pet have its alone time with its favourite toy. When a pet is too attached to someone and reacts aggressively when someone comes towards the person, it should be immediately reported to a dog training facility because the problem will only grow worst.

Show of Dominance

Dogs sometimes behave aggressively as a display of dominance. This is often directed toward other dogs, but it can occur with people as well. It’s important to understand that dominance is a behavior, not a personality trait. Dogs are not dominant or submissive “by nature”. Some may have tendencies towards one behavior or the other, but this is typically determined by the circumstances. Unfortunately, people often mistake the cause of canine aggression as dominance-related behavior when there may be another cause. In reality, aggressively dominant behavior is not nearly as common as the other causes of aggression.


Aggression that’s caused by frustration is often referred to as redirected aggression or barrier frustration. It occurs when a dog is frustrated at not being able to get to something and takes its frustration out in another way. This type of aggression is common in dogs that spend a lot of time tied up, restrained on a leash, or behind a chain-link fence.

For example, a dog that’s chained in a yard may spend the day straining to get to a dog that lives across the street or in an adjacent yard. The restrained dog usually barks and growls more fiercely as the frustration grows. When the owner approaches, the dog may redirect its frustration and bite the owner. Or worse using your dog as protection against intruders and release your dog only at night. Even if your family member comes to visit at night the dog may probably not recognize the scent due to frustration and anger and bite the family member.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *