Signs of Aggression: How to Tell If Your Dog is Agitated

Even the most docile and sweet dog may have the potential to become aggressive and bite another dog, or human, under certain conditions. While your beloved pet may never become agitated and bare their teeth, a neighborhood dog might while you’re out for a walk. Be aware of the signs of aggression a canine displays so you can avoid a situation that could lead to injury for both you and your dog.

Body Language

Your dog will display certain signals with their body language as soon as they begin to feel stressed and agitated. Laid back ears, tucked under tail, tense body, slow movements and the avoidance of eye contact with you are all subtle signs that your dog is not happy in the situation they are in. If you fail to recognize the dog’s body language at this point and remove them from the stressful situation, aggressive behavior may soon follow.

Warning Growl

If the initial body language signals go unheeded, warning growls will follow. A dog typically will never bite if a growl will get the job done. If your pooch can get your attention and be removed from the agitating situation by emitting a low-key growl, they will do so. Once removed from the irritant, your dog will cease growling, relax and return to their normal self.

Not a Bad Dog

Your pup is not being a bad dog if they show these initial signs of aggression under certain circumstances. They are simply responding naturally to what they perceive to be a threat. Canines have a natural instinct to protect what belongs to them, like their territory, food bowl or owner. Another pet, delivery person or even the sound of a doorbell may seem like a threat to your dog and entice agitation and aggression. According to a Fresno accident lawyer, a common dog bite scenario involves a person encountering an unfamiliar dog and attempting to pat it on the head. Dogs, in general, don't appreciate this and may flinch or attack as the stranger approaches. When introducing your dog to new people, educate them on proper approaching and petting etiquette.

Don’t Punish

Since this is a natural canine instinct, punishment will not solve the problem. Discover what triggers your dog’s agitation and learn their body language signals. At the first sign of agitation, tap your dog somewhere on their body to break their chain of thought. Use the same signal consistently to calm and quiet your dog, like a specific touch, word or sound. Remain calm and in control to help your dog remain the same as well. An agitated dog must be removed, either mentally or physically, from the situation that is causing them stress or the stress level will escalate.

And Finally...

If the worst case scenario occurs and you are bitten by a dog, don’t panic. A minor puncture wound can be treated at home, larger bites should be treated by a doctor. Call animal control if the dog that bit you is unknown to you—never attempt to catch it yourself.

Whether your dog is a brand new puppy or a longtime member of your family, you can use the above-listed strategies to avoid dangerous situations and de-escalate any agitation which occurs. Remember that your dog’s behavior, while not always acceptable, is probably the result of their natural protective instinct. Be patient with your pet, practice responsible dog ownership, and you should never have to deal with a situation that’s outside your control.  



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