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Aggression to Guest
 in your Home

Dog Meeting
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Introduction to


Dog Behavior Library

Dogs Who Have Bitten Humans

Once a dog has rendered a serious bite to a human, and got what it wanted as a result, it is very difficult to ever be confident that dog will never bite again.

At this point, it is time to call an experienced dog behaviorist, and still some cases end in failure to correct this habit. Therefore the key to preventing euthanasia due to aggression is to correct aggression early, without resorting to violence ourselves.

There is a dictum, "Don't Treat Aggression With Aggression".

The most important next step is to determine the CAUSE of the aggression. If there is any medical condition present, it might contribute indirectly to lowering the threshold for aggression. If you have not already done so, schedule a thorough work up including lab tests of blood, urine and feces to look for internal causes of pain or discomfort. There have now been several recorded cases lower than optimal thyroid levels causing aggression, so have the thyroid tested if the veterinarian feels there is any possibility.

After ruling out medical components, the next step is to get a proper behavioral diagnosis. This usually takes an experienced behaviorist an hour or more of careful questioning. For example, in the same pet, there may be many separate aggressive conditions that may add up, or show up under different situations. Here are some examples of potential causes in aggression.

If there is any medical condition present, it might contribute indirectly to lowering the threshold for aggression.

Types of Canine Aggression: (Any combination may be present in any one case.)



Simple personality conflict


Barrier Frustration

Has a barrier involved, e.g. tied up. Dog can't escape, so attacks.



Housemate dogs who fight, usually over social status.



The intent was redirected from one target to another.



Mistakenly thinks he runs the house, and controls as needed.


Drug Induced

While on any medications, perceptions are affected.



Some medical condition of the brain, (e.g. epileptic)



Paranoid dogs think offense is a good defense.


Food Guarding

Dog has the mistaken idea that people take food instead of give it.


Hormone Imbalance

Thyroid is the most common.



Some cases are not diagnosable; idiopathic means, "undetermined."


Improper Socialized

Dog may have been isolated as a puppy, and socially stunted.



Females who fight only females, or males only fight males.



Some medical problem may be lowering the aggression threshold.


Maternal Protective

Occurs in females when young are present.


Owner Protective

Some dogs expand this job inappropriately.


Pack Response

Dogs act differently when in a mob (as do people)


Pain Induced

This is a reflex aggression designed to stop pain.



Some aggression starts as play (rough housing).



Possessing toys, or stolen non-food objects.



Lack of proper genetic inhibition of predation.



Age related aggression, often tied to loss of perception.



Dog inappropriately guards an area, or won't stop on Instruction.



Some dogs are trained to bite people and become confused


Unintentionally Learned

Some people pet a dog to try to calm it when it becomes aggressive

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