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by Rolan Tripp, DVM and Susan Tripp, MS

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Getting Started Week 44 - Classifying Canine Aggression

Once a dog bites a person, a second bite becomes more likely depending on the circumstances. Aggression can be situational. For example, if the dog bites someone at the veterinary practice, he or she may be more likely to bite again in that location. If a child puts a pencil in a dog's ear, the dog may be more likely to bite a child.

Once a dog has punctured human skin, or if the dog bit repeatedly during the first biting event, the prognosis for improvement is more grim. 

Ideally, aggression is prevented. Second best case is catching aggression early and getting professional help from a veterinary behavior consultant - without resorting to violence ourselves. Violence only teaches more violence.

It's crucial to learn the true CAUSE of the aggression
. The dog may have an unidentified pain or chronic discomfort creating a short fuse. After a comprehensive medical exam and diagnostic tests to rule out any possible underlying discomfort, the next step is a comprehensive behavioral history and behavioral profile for the aggression.

Any combination of the following types of aggression may be present:  barrier frustration, displaced aggression, dominance, drug induced, housemate, irritable, pain-induced, predatory, possessive, fear, hormonal, maternal, pack response, play, family protection, rage syndrome, encephalopathic, improper socialization, trained, unintentionally learned.  For more information, call 1-800-372-3706 to speak to a veterinary behavior technician.

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