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Aggression in dogs is the most common and most serious canine behavioral problem . It’s also the number-one reason why pet parents seek professional help from behaviorists, trainers and veterinarians.

It can be a frightening experience to be around an aggressive dog. It’s even scarier when it’s a dog that is usually docile and friendly but then suddenly becomes aggressive. There are many reports of dangerous attacks by dogs on humans in Nigeria overtime. And due to security reasons or so, many dog owners prefer aggressive dogs. Some even train these dogs to be so.

Aggression is hostile, injurious, or destructive behavior toward an individual, whether human or another animal. And it’s not just larger dogs and so-called “dangerous breeds” that are prone to aggression; any breed is capable of becoming aggressive under the right circumstances.

Your first step toward stopping this behavior is to figure out what is causing your dog’s aggression. Some dogs growl as someone approaches them while they’re eating or chewing a bone, for instance. Others react aggressively toward children or strangers.

Seek professional help by consulting your vet or an experienced animal behaviorist before attempting to manage the aggression. Punishing your dog for aggressive behaviors is not advisable.

Signs of Aggression in Dogs

Any dog can pick up aggressive behavior, and it’s important to track a pattern of warning signs, like:

  • Growling and snapping
  • A rigid body and quickly wagging tail
  • Lip licking or yawning
  • Averting gaze
  • Raised fur
  • Cowering and tail tucking
  • Seeing whites of the eyes

Not all dogs who exhibit this behavior are generally aggressive—many of these warning signs are also an indication of anxiety or fear.

Classifiction of Aggression in Dogs

Territorial Aggression

Some dogs will attack and bite an intruder, whether the intruder is friend or foe. They bark and charge at people or other animals encroaching on their home turf. Dogs are often valued for this level of territorial behavior. However, some dogs will attack and bite an intruder, whether the intruder is friend or foe.

Fear Aggression

A fearful dog can easily develop aggressive behavior. Most dogs only exhibit aggressive behavior 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.

Frustration Elicited Aggression

Dogs can be like human children in that when they get frustrated, they sometimes lash out with aggression. A dog who’s excited or aroused by something but is held back from approaching it can become aggressive, particularly toward the person or thing holding her back.

Social Aggression in Dogs

It’s all about the instincts in this case. Dogs are social animals who function in packs, meaning that there is a strict hierarchy in the household, even if you’re not aware there is one. Other pets might be lower in status, so a dominant dog will “remind” them who’s the boss every once in a while by displaying aggressive body language. 

Leash Aggression

Leash aggression is usually directed at other dogs and is known to stem from your dog feeling too restrained by their leash. Signs include your dog starting to bark, lunging, or snapping at everything in sight as soon as you put on their leash.

How to Handle Aggression in Dogs

Consult with your vet about the possibility of a medical cause for the aggression, particularly if you notice other symptoms. Aggression accompanied by hair loss, increased bodyweight, and lethargy may be a sign of hypothyroidism. 

The next step is to seek help from a qualified professional who can evaluate your dog and provide assistance with long-term behavior modification. Do not expect your dog to get better on their own or just grow out of it.

Aggressive behavior can often be reduced in frequency or intensity, but the display of aggressive behavior may not be ‘cured’. The avoidance of situations that have induced aggression behavior should be encouraged, thereby avoiding the dog’s exposure to situations, people, or animals that trigger aggression.


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