Aggressive Behavior In Dogs

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Dogs are commonly referred to as man's best friend, but what makes some dogs exhibit aggressive behavior towards people?

"There are a number of reasons that dogs can become aggressive. Everything from pain, all the way up to fear, and fear is probably one of the more common situations," Dr. Bonnie Beaver of the A&M College of Veterinary Medicine said.

Beaver says dogs can also become aggressive if they feel closed in or trapped. A child pulling on a dog can also trigger a dog to lash out as a means of communicating that its upset.

"We also know that dogs that aren't raised around people or are encouraged through praise and reward to show aggression are more apt to show aggression to people because that's been encouraged or they don't know what people are," said Beaver.

Pit Bulls in particular have been stereotyped as canines which exhibit violent or aggressive behavior. However, Beaver says regardless of the breed, the way the dog is handled is the primary behavioral factor.

"Many of them; Rottweilers, Dobermans, German Shepherds, many mixed breeds can have the same end result if they are not raised appropriately and taught appropriate commands or responses," Beaver said.

Owners can prevent overly aggressive behavior in their pets by socializing puppies and dogs at a young age with lots of different people and environments. Dog owners also need to be aware of the warning signs of aggression in their pet.

"Anytime an owner has a dog that growls, snaps, stares at another person they need to have a concern, and they should talk to their vet to see how they need to take the next step to prevent it from escalating," Beaver said.

Working with a vet, Beaver says, as soon as you get a dog, can help owners raise their dogs to be faithful and loyal companions.