Fear and anxiety play a huge role in aggression in dogs. Most will only lash out if they have no other option. Dogs have different triggers than people. You may not understand why your dog is afraid, but it still needs to be recognized.
Comforting your dog when they are afraid of something isn’t always the best solution. Putting them into “work mode” rather than coddling them is another way we can be a strong leader for our dogs. For example, if your dog is afraid of noises like thunder or fireworks, try to work them through a sequence of commands like sit, down, stay, and come. Use food and toys to get them to focus on you instead of what they are afraid of.
Forcing them into a situation they are uncomfortable with can also be detrimental to progress. Using food and toys is a great way to encourage your dog to explore their fears without force. For example, if your dog is afraid of the car or water, don’t just scoop them up and force them in. Try using treats and toys to encourage them to move into space on their own.
Depression is another huge contributor to stress and aggression in dogs. Here are some causes of depression in dogs that can lead to unfortunate outbursts:
Living in a shared space, whether it be roommates or neighbors, can cause restlessness for your pup. Loud noises often are part of apartment life, whether from parties, traffic, or people yelling. Your dog needs to have a nice quiet space in your home.
Isolation is a big cause of stress and aggression for dogs. In the wild, dogs spend most of their time with their pack. This is for comfort AND safety. Keeping your dog away from its pack.
You can cause them to feel unsafe and anxious. To prevent this, crate trains your dog from a young age and never leave them alone for too long. If you have to work long hours, hire a dog walker, or enlist a friend to check in on them.
Separation anxiety is one of the most common behaviors pet owners seek professional guidance for. It can cause your dog to become destructive in your home. It is totally treatable, but don’t be hesitant to seek professional advice if you need it!
Change in routine can cause major anxiety for your pup. If you introduce a new person into your home, whether it be a baby or a new partner or roommate, give your dog some time to adjust. You can’t expect them to warm up immediately. The same goes for moving to a new space. If you allow your dog some time to settle in, while keeping their old routine, they will ease into it with less anxiety and stress.
When you have an issue with an aggressive dog, it will help to figure out the cause. It is often an issue we create without realizing it. If you figure out the root of the stress, you can often eliminate the aggression.