Just like humans, dogs deal with many complex emotions. They can be overcome with joy, stricken with fear, beleaguered by sadness, or act aggressively because of a slight provocation. Like humans, dogs build up certain behaviors to protect themselves due to past or currently abusive treatment of having to fend for themselves.

All dogs can benefit from behavioral and obedience training. It’s just a smart move for a new pup to best ready them for interaction with other humans and pets. For rescues, this type of training does the same but also retrains them to trust their owners, neighbors, and other dogs and not cower in fear or act out in an overly aggressive manner.

Some level of aggression in certain situations is okay and expected, but how can you identify when your or another dog’s aggressive behavior is turning violent? It helps if you’re able to spot different kinds of aggressive behavior, like those listed below.

  1. Arousal: Often associated with playing with others, especially other dogs. Arousal aggression can be okay. When the animal doesn’t know how and when to disengage is when the interaction can turn violent.
  2. Defensive: Many dog owners train their dogs to handle some pressure, but some breeds don’t respond well. Each breed has a trait called their “defensive drive.” Their level of defensive drive will determine if they will accept the training or fight against it. Golden retrievers have a historically low defensive drive, whereas a german shepherd will have a high drive against human pressure.
  3. Fear: This type of aggression comes from a myriad of sources, like a predisposition to fear and anxiety, owner abuse, being in dog fights, improper socialization as a puppy, or handled by their owner in a way that normalizes fearful behavior.
  4. Territorial and possession: These kinds of aggression are often genetic. Dogs commonly want to protect their homes, but some are more prone to attack than others. Possessive aggression has to do with dogs who guard their food, toys, furniture, other dogs and even their owners.
  5. Predatory: This trait is uncommon but does occur, as some larger dogs with view smaller dogs and young children as possible prey. This kind of aggression is why proper socializing at a young age is so important.
  6. Social aggression: This type of behavior often occurs at dog parks and has to do pack hierarchy. The aggressive behavior occurs when insecure dogs challenge others to compete for status in the pack. Dominant behavior is okay when the dog is properly trained, well mannered and has a calm temperament.

If you find yourself in the midst of trying to separate fighting dogs, be careful because dogs can redirect their aggression in an instant. Also, if you are facing a dog attack, consider these methods to try and de-escalate the situation. If you get attacked by a dog, are seeking compensation and feel you have a case, consider personal injury representation.