Aggressive behavior in dogs is very recognizable in most aspects. They usually display erratic behavior such as baring their teeth, pulling back ears, stiffening their body, and has a lunging posture with their eyes focused on the target.
Dog aggression is usually misunderstood by most people. When your do shows aggression, try not to think that your dog is an evil dog. Neither the dog or the owner is evil. Understanding that dog aggression is not about the dog, but about the potential threat that your dog sees.
Aggressive behavior is displayed by our canine friends whenever they sense nearby threat, causing them high levels of fear and anxiety. Aggression is just an instinctual behavior that is being displayed to get rid of the potential threat in their proximity.
There are various types of aggression observed among dogs. There is status-based aggression, male to male aggression, and sometimes female territorial aggression. In this article, we will focus on familial protective aggression which is in reality, protective in nature.
What is protective aggression? Protective aggression is how a dog’s family members tend to get aggressive in place of the dog “being threatened”. Dogs, as a social species, protects their family members whenever there is potential threat. This is in their nature.
The distant evolutionary cousins of dogs, the wolves, tend to display this behavior as they protect each other in packs. These small wolfpacks have a whole family and some friends included.
This “pack” behavior sometimes occur in dogs which is displayed in small social groups that are also mainly composed of dog parents and their offspring along with other close dog friends.
Whenever one of these “pack” members is in danger, the others will try to rush in aid to help and protect that member.
Even dogs that are domesticated well still have this instinct naturally. These natural instincts go back even during the past since this behavior is embedded in their genetic makeup. If they think that one of their members is in slight danger, they will rush to try and protect them.
This is also the reason why dogs are protective of their human owners most of the time. They consider them as part of their “pack” and at the same time, they trust you to do the same as well. This instinctual protective behavior can be easily seen on mothers with their litter and are commonly labeled as maternal protective aggression.
You might notice that sometimes when you introduce a new puppy into your home along with an older mother dog, the dog may be protective with the newly introduced puppy and treat him as one of her own.
Also, if your family is growing and had a baby, your dog will most likely be sure to be protective to your newly introduced baby to your home. That is how protective aggression extends to the dog owners and their family.
Protective dog parents
Mother dogs are the most protective when it comes to their puppies. There are instances that mother dogs show aggression towards other people in the house and even to other dogs once she gave birth to her puppies.
You might not want to touch these puppies and probe first if the mother allows you to. If the mother shows obvious aggressive signals like snarling, baring teeth, and such, you might want to back off and don’t disturb them.
Instead of getting afraid, try to understand the situation and instead be supportive to the mother by giving them proper nutrition and shelter to help her protect her little puppies.
The parents of the puppies will obviously stop displaying aggression once the puppies can already leave on their own and start to grow up. If they join in during puppy playtime, you might observe that the puppies tend to follow their parents.
The adult dog reprimands their offspring by snarling whenever the puppies do something wrong. This aggression due to guidance slowly goes away while the puppies are developing.
Family protection and aggression
Dogs are also protective to their ‘family’ members. This protective aggression is not just limited to dogs. This also extends to other people, as dogs treat their owners as family also. If your dog senses that you are in danger, you would notice your dog baring its teeth and growling at the direction of the threat.
Sometimes, it would even fight and bite the threat. This could be dangerous especially if the threat source is a stranger, since you would not know how a stranger would respond to an angry dog that wants to bite him. He might hurt the dog and even file a lawsuit. This gets you and your dog in danger.
This aggression has the potential to be dangerous even inside the family. Siblings, when they fight, become loud and rowdy. This is even though they are just playfighting. Dogs which are not mature enough and have not been in the family for too long might misunderstood the situation and see it as a threat to the other sibling.
This could cause the dog to bite and attack the other, which could get bloody and serious. Thus, observance of aggressive behavior in dogs is a must especially if they are staying indoors with rowdy children. Take care to notice even the slightest cues that might trigger serious dog aggressiveness.
Dealing with protective aggression
As mentioned, aggression is just an instinctual response to the fear and anxiety caused by a threat. Wit this in mind, you might have to deal first with increasing the distance of the threat from your dog.
Also, don’t condone your dog’s behavior but instead be calm and understand the situation. While not condoning the behavior, you also do not punish your dog. Difficult? Of course! But it is very rewarding.
Protective aggression is not bad in itself. Actually, it might save you in certain situations. Let’s say that a burglar targets your home and tries to attack you. Of course, your dog will respond and try to protect you at all costs.
This protective aggression should instead be understood and allow your dog to better realize what the potential threats are instead of making your dog misunderstood non-threatening situations. Letting your dog grow with you and exposing him to your environment will reduce the protective aggression in the long run.
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