Aggression is the most common behavioural problem in dogs. This aggression usually takes the form of dominance/spontaneous control aggression and fear aggression.
Fear aggression relates to situations that make the dog fearful. This particular type of aggression usually causes the dog to urinate or defecate. The dog will tend to keep to itself and remain passive, unlike dominance aggression. However, if the dog realises that it can no longer avoid the situation or run from it, it will become aggressive.
Food-related aggression is displayed when dogs that are not starved get close to pet food, bones, rawhides, biscuits, or even human food.
Dominance aggression, also known as impulse control aggression, occurs when a dog becomes hostile or threatens to attack its owner in a situation where the owner is trying to correct the dog’s behaviour. It is difficult to diagnose dominance aggression simply based on one event. Certain conditions that may precipitate this kind of aggression include trying to restrain the dog physically, controlling the food, toys, or resting places.
Idiopathic aggression doesn’t have any known triggers. It is erratic and malicious. This form of aggression is really uncommon.
Maternal aggression is described as too much hostility by a mother toward its own puppies. Though a small amount of aggression is considered normal, particularly around the weaning period, too much of it can hurt the puppies. This kind of aggressive behaviour may be passed down genetically.
Inter-dog aggression is violent behaviour that is focused at other dogs. The intended victim might be another dog in the house or dogs that are met outside the home.
Pain aggression is a self-protective response that is displayed whenever a dog is in pain. It may come about if a dog thinks it is about to be moved or touched.
Play aggression occurs during playing activities such as play bows, chases, and charges. Contrary to what most people thought, playing vigorous games with your dog e.g. tug-of-war, does not inevitably create play aggression.
Possessive aggression is displayed when an individual approaches or tries to obtain a non-food article or toy that the dog has in its possession.
Predatory aggression is aggressive behavior linked to predatory instinct like stalking, hunting, and catching smaller animals. It is characterized by a silent and swift attack that involves a ferocious bite and shaking of the prey.
Protective aggression is an effort by a dog to protect its owner from another individual who is approaching, even if there is no apparent threat from the other person. The aggression becomes more pronounced as the other person comes nearer.
Territorial aggression occurs when a dog wants to protect an area, such as a house compound, from the advances of another dog or person. It is associated with actions like pursuing, growling, barking, or biting. The protective dog reacts aggressively, in spite of whether or not the individual approaching behaves in a hostile manner.
There are other forms of aggression that can be displayed in dogs. In some exceptional cases, violent behaviour can be a consequence of illness, toxicity, or side effects of a medication.
Redirected aggression is displayed when a dog attacks a target but is prevented from reaching it. It then redirects the attack at another dog or person. This violence and hostility isn’t unintentional, with the dog actively pursuing the second dog or person, especially if they are directly responsible for the interference on its attack on its initial mark.
Handling of Aggression in Dogs
The management and handling of aggression in dogs is a very complicated issue and should best be done by a professional. It is in everyone’s best interests that situations that incite violent behaviour are avoided in order to help diminish the risk of bites. In almost all cases, corporal punishment such as the use of prong collars and electric shock collars should be avoided, as they can deteriorate the dog’s aggression. Such methods are not recommended, particularly in the absence of specialized supervision.