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Causes of Aggressive Episodes

Agression has its root cause in behavioral problems.

By
Jolanta Benal, CPDT-KA, CBCC-KA
1-minute read

Q: I noticed my dog has gotten very aggressive with visitors lately. How can I fix this behavior so I can keep having company over?

Does the aggressive behavior reflect a sudden change, or have you sorta-kinda seen a problem coming but wanted to believe everything was fine?

Many dogs guard their food bowls, resting places, or favorite toys. Many are on edge around big, assertive men or erratically moving children. Did your dog get beaten up at the dog park that morning, then have to go to the vet, and did you just step on his foot while he was asleep? Did some ignorant trainer tell you to jerk on your dog’s leash when he lunged at another dog on the street? Is your dog old and arthritic? Is that chronic ear infection flaring up? I strongly suggest making written notes. A detailed account of the aggressive episode is golden, whether your dog needs behavior modification, or medical treatment, or both. Meanwhile, prevent further rehearsals of the aggression– avoid the problem situation as much as you possibly can.

Want to raise a happy dog who loves to play and cuddle -- but still comes when called and doesn't chew up your favorite shoes?

Then check out The Dog Trainer’s Complete Guide to a Happy, Well-Behaved Pet!

Image courtesy of Shutterstock

About the Author

Jolanta Benal, CPDT-KA, CBCC-KA

Jolanta holds professional certifications in both training and behavior counseling and belongs to the Association of Professional Dog Trainers and the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants. She also volunteered with Pet Help Partners, a program of the Humane Society of the United States that works to prevent pet relinquishment. Her approach is generally behaviorist (Pavlovian, Skinnerian and post-Skinnerian learning theory) with a big helping of ethology (animal behavior as observed in non-experimental settings).