Signs of aggression in dogs
Sometimes, when our dogs get very unhappy and feel threatened or extremely frightened, they feel like they have to resort to aggressive behaviour because, to them, it seems like there’s no other way out of a situation.There are a range of reasons and situations which might cause a dog to feel threatened and these can be different for each dog. If a dog is in pain, this could also mean they are more likely to feel anxious and are at a higher risk of lashing out. The most important thing to look out for are the changes in body language, which will help you to identify if a dog is struggling in a certain situation. A dog is more likely to resort to aggressive behaviour if the signs that they are unhappy and worried have been ignored, so keep a close eye out for those too. Signs that a dog may become aggressive very soon include:
Stiff tail. An aggressive dog may have a stiff, straight tail that seems to shake rather than wag. Others may tuck their tail behind them.
Body position. Dogs may stand-alert with a stiff, tall body position and their head pointed upwards towards you. However, they might also lower their body to the ground cowering whilst baring their teeth, or shift their weight to the back of their body so they can spring.
Ears are forward or flat. Their ears may be pointing forwards or be pulled flat against their head, rather than being floppy and relaxed.
Eye contact. An aggressive dog will stare humans or other dogs straight in the eye, with a fixed stare. If a dog ever becomes still and stares straight at you, stop interacting immediately until the dog calms down.
Baring teeth. A dog showing aggression may bare their teeth and growl as a warning. Never ignore these signs as growls can quickly turn into dangerous bites if the dog still feels threatened and is unable to escape. However just because a dog hasn’t growled yet doesn’t mean they won’t bite so keep a close eye out for the other signs too.Try to be understanding with your dog and don’t force them into situation where they will be uncomfortable. Keeping them in their comfort zone will mean you and your dog both have a great time and stay best of friends.If your dog is showing signs that they are anxious or stressed on a regular basis, take them to the vet as there could be an underlying cause. If there’s an obvious reason like a certain dog or situation, your vet can give you some initial pointers and recommend an accredited behaviourist or trainer as appropriate.If your dog is showing signs of aggression, then it is important to get them seen by a vet to rule out any medical conditions that might be causing them pain or stress. If a health problem has been ruled out, then any aggressive behaviours will need addressing by an accredited behaviourist.