Dogs Develop Aggression?
Can dog’s develop aggression? Mine have. Well, one of them anyway. Atlas, as some of you might know, reached the age of 2 years old this July. With that age, she’s developed a form of aggression that caters to food. I recently wrote an article that said that I had lost motivation because Atlas bit Buttons over food and she died in minutes.
What most people don’t realize, is that some breeds, even ones that are supposed to be of calm demeanor can develop aggression. Whether it runs in their lines, or it’s how they’re raised. All dog’s can change suddenly, and you should be prepared.
Some Dogs Have Aggression Naturally.
It’s known that Bullies have the APBT in their lines going way back. While the APBT isn’t aggressive per se, they can be towards other dog’s as time goes on. There are ways to help prevent this, which I’ll get into soon. However, it’s important to know that APBT’s naturally were raised – years and years ago – to be fighting dog’s.
Long ago, people thought dog fighting was a sport, and paid good money to watch this so called sport. People that owned the dog’s, trained them to attack other dog’s in the ring. The winner, usually the one that survived the attack, made their owners a lot of money.
While dog fighting has been banned for a very long time, it still occurs throughout the world. Not that I’m saying the APBT’s are fighting dog’s, but it does run in their blood to be more aggressive towards other dog’s; it’s simply something they were bred to do long ago. I will note though, that they are usually not aggressive towards humans. This is where the media have given them a bad rap over the years. But, they can be more reactive towards other animals simply because, like I mentioned, it’s in their blood.
Hence why it’s important to socialize them at a young age. It helps prevent this reactivity, which can turn aggressive as they age.
Dogs May Develop Aggression.
Some dog’s, even without the aggression in their lines, can develop an aggressive demeanor depending on the course of their lives and how they’re raised. Think of this way, if a child was raised by themselves, in a small room with only one parent until they were older, that child might not be social. Meaning, they woudn’t have developed the social skills of being around others. They would only know that one person that raised them in a room.
Same goes for dog’s. If you don’t socialize dog’s at a young age, they don’t know how to socialize with other dog’s. When they get older, they missed out on the natural cues from other dog’s to teach them boundaries. So, when they finally get around another dog, they don’t know how to act. They can often mistake a dog’s communication and see it as a threat. They might exhibit a low growl, or rough play, and the other dog isn’t having none of it. So, this can lead to a fight.
Dogs can also develop aggression by being attacked by another dog during their upbringing. They often will then fear other dog’s because of it, and lash out in fear. Again, leading to a dog fight.
Trying to Prevent Aggression.
There are ways to prevent aggression of course. One is to be sure to socialize a dog at a young age. Specifically, when the dog reaches 8-12 weeks old. This is the imperative time frame in a dog’s life that they should understand what it means to have boundaries. The older dog’s will usually teach this to young pups so that as they get older, they know how to behave. Kind of like a kid learns how to behave in school.
Preventing attacks is also important. I had a dog that wasn’t aggressive when she was younger until she was attacked by a dog while we were walking. The dog was off leash and I missed the signals that the dog was communicating by coming up on Annie stiff with the tail up.
As we got closer, the dog then turned on Annie and attacked her. It was after this incident that Annie was fearful of all dog’s that she saw and would lash out from fear of the other dog’s. It wasn’t anything that I could foresee, except had I noticed the clear signals that the other dog was stiff, I might’ve been able to prevent the attack by turning quickly the other way and walking fast. However, after that incident, Annie was very aggressive to all dog’s she came in contact with.
Training Aggression Out.
For those that wonder whether you can train aggression out, I’ve heard that you can. However, I’ve yet to come up with the best, solid plan for doing this. In fact, my life, with my two females is quite stressful at this moment. Atlas now likes to go after Muse, and of course, this usually ends up in a fight between the two of them. While I’ve learned to muzzle them up when they’re around each other, they still continue to attempt to fight with each other regardless.
From what I’ve read all over, as well as watched on videos, dog trainers swear that you can train the aggression out of any dog. And, while Atlas and Muse are a work in progress, they’re reactivity to each other continues on regardless.
I’ve thought about boarding one at a time and seeing how that goes. Maybe a month apart from each other would do them some good, but at this point in time, I’ve yet to seek this out as a viable option. I suppose a, “Stay tuned for more information,” would be appropriate right now.
Final Words on Dogs Develop Aggression.
I’m no expert by any means, but I have witnessed firsthand dog’s that develop aggression through lack of socialization, attacks from other dog’s, and simply having it in their DNA. How do I know it runs in their DNA? Because some lines – the dog’s from a single litter have all exhibited a food aggression in some sort of manner.
As far as training it out, that’s a To Be Continued. I apologize for this of course, but at least you know that my trial and error will be real. Especially since I’ll end up paying some good money for it when all is said and done.
There’s something to be said about the kennel rotation though. I’m not sure if it helps or hinders, since they’re not out together any longer. But, it’s a stress relief for me personally, since I hate to see them hurt each other and live in fear. I can see it in the way they hold themselves, ears back that they’re stressed and anxious. I want my dog’s to live a happy life, full of love and a safe home. The only way I know that I can do this is by keeping them apart from each other.
So, stay tuned for more information on dog’s develop aggression and training it out of them. I’ll write more as I know more.
How have you helped your dog’s with aggression? Have you trained it out of them? If you did, what did you do to help it? What worked and what didn’t? What tips and pointers do you have for those that struggle with this at home with two dog’s that they thought would be good companions? I’m not the only one in this predicament. Especially since many have posted on FB that they’re following my post just to seek answers to their dilemma.
8 thoughts on “Dogs Develop Aggression?”
This is such an interesting article because it reminds me of us as humans. When we are very young we are constantly developing and one of those things we develop is anger, or aggression.
We are not naturally born with lots of aggression, it is developed by how we are raised. If we are raised in an aggressive household then it is highly likely that we will develop a lot of aggression.
I guess the same goes for dogs too. If we are aggressive towards our dogs and don’t treat them well, then they will develop aggression and anger towards us and others that they may not be able to control.
It’s great that you share ways to help with this as I am going to share this article with other friends of mine who have dogs too.
Thank you for sharing and keep up the great work.
All the best,
Yes, dogs can develop aggression from their humans, but they also can learn the behavior from other dogs as well. I had a dog named Annie, who, unfortunately passed a couple of years ago. However, one day we were out running, and on the trail there was another dog that wasn’t leashed. The dog must’ve misread Annie and mistook her running with me as aggression. Anyway, the dog ran straight for Annie and attacked her. I was able to break it up fairly quickly with my voice, but not in time to limit the psychological damage it did.
After that, I noticed that when Annie saw another dog, she would assume that dog was aggressive and would attack first. I started having to limit her time outdoors after that encounter, and soon after, not even allow her to go out – her aggression had progressed to being worse after the attack.
It was unfortunate that she became strictly an indoor dog after that, but she still lived a good life I suppose. I took her out to parks, but I would have to scout the park first before taking her from the car to ensure no dogs off leash were around. Then I would be able to let her run.
In some cases, the humans don’t have to be aggressive or disciplinary for the dogs to develop aggression. They simply can from other outside encounters.
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I am sorry to hear that your dogs do not get along together. I don’t have much experience with aggressive dogs, but I must admit I wouldn’t have a pit bull. I think it is just too much risk of them endangering others pets and kids. we had a Toy Manchester while i was growing up, and it was protective of it’s food. You could not try to move her dish while she was eating. We just knew that and didn’t bother her until she walked away from her bowl. If you had more food in your hand, it was ok to put it on her dish. I guess she may have had issues from her litter. I never knew that until I read it in your article. Thank you for educating me on dog aggression and I hope you get your dogs issues resolved.
It’s not the Pitbull breed itself that makes them aggressive. I’ve had many breeds that exhibit signs of animal aggression that weren’t APBT. It’s simply factors that play into their life that cause them to be aggressive, or reactive. Take Chihuahuas for example. Very aggressive dogs, but not APBT in the least. They can be aggressive towards humans and animals. My dogs not getting along in the house no longer causes me stress. I simply kennel rotate them in order to create a peaceful environment. Now, they each get their turns being out and they’re much happier for it. No more side looks or the cautious looks back and forth that they used to give each other. Plus, it’s more orderly for us humans and we’re all into the schedule of it now.
In our home, kennel rotation simply works well.
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The common reasons why dogs may develop aggressive behavior can range from fear, pain, lack of socialization and improper training to dominance and territorial issues. It is important to address aggressive behavior in dogs as soon as it is noticed, as it can become a dangerous and destructive behavior if left untreated. It is also important to understand that aggression is not always directed toward humans and can also be toward other dogs. It’s crucial for pet owners to seek help from a professional dog trainer or behaviorist to properly diagnose and treat the issue. Alternatively training your dog as early as 2-4 weeks on socializing as you’ve rightly said can prevent any future aggressive behaviors. This article provides a good starting point for pet owners to understand the root cause of their dog’s aggression, and to take the necessary steps to prevent it from becoming a bigger issue. Great article here.
Yes, you are absolutely correct. In fact, many dog owners mistake fear for aggression. There are a lot of dogs in the world that are very fearful. Whether they weren’t socialized correctly, or trained for the basics or even introduced to humans and other environments while young that will demonstrate a fear which often looks like aggression.
With Atlas, because we got her so young, we were diligent with socialization when she was a young puppy. At 8 weeks old, we took her to dog parks, public places, introduced her to friends dogs’, etc. We did this for the first 2 years we had her. Unfortunately, in the home, introducing another dog into the mix is what triggered her to be territorial. Which, two breeds, same sex, same size, can often have this happen. The two will fight among their hierarchy in order to achieve who’s the pack leader. This is what leads to fights. Neither backs down and this is what can result in serious injuries between the two of them.
So, keeping them separate is what leads to a peaceful home life.
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I dog sit a yellow lab that doesn’t mind other larger dogs like himself, but he doesn’t like small dogs. The owners told me that he was attacked by a couple of small dogs when he was young, and that he is very aggressive towards small dogs.
I found out how aggressive he was when walking him one day when a couple came around the corner walking their small dog. The leash on him was too loose and he actually drug me to the ground and pulled me a bit before I lost my grip on him. Thank goodness the other owners picked their dog up in time, and all I had to do was unwrap his leash from the woman’s ankles.
Unfortunately I can’t help in any way, but like you, I am curious in how something so ingrained can be trained out. For me, I have simply become more aware when walking him, and keep him on a tighter leash when concerned. I too will follow along hoping someone may have an answer.
Some dogs simply develop this trait/aggression. It’s hard to train it out of them, I won’t sugar coat it and pretend it will go away. In some cases, training them to be around other dogs, especially the ones they were are aggressive towards in a very controlled situation can help over time. In fact, most “trainers” will tell her that you should train it out of them, however, speaking from experience, it can take a very long time, and whole lot of patience and in some cases, a lot of money.
It’s really up to the owners if they decide to go that route. If they don’t plan on getting a small dog in the near future, then basic training will at least help with the other things we can control – leash pulling, heeling, sitting, etc. That’s what I focus on for mine more than trying to get them to get along. I paid a trainer a lot of money over the course of a year and to this day, I still won’t let them be together in the house. For one, the trainer never came to the house for sessions, so there’s no guarantee they won’t fight in the home vs in the training room. 2nd, It’s honestly easier for my family, with kids around to simply keep them apart.
But each owner will know what they think is best. Then from there, consistency is key!
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