How to Tell the Difference Between Dog Play and Aggression

So you just adopted a new pup and you want to raise it to be kind and playful but you don’t know what to do. New dog owners experience this valid concern all the time. First things first, congratulations on adding a new furry member to your family! But don’t worry – the team at Barking Lot has got your back! Below explains the 411 on aggression in dogs and how to prevent these behaviors in your new friend.

How Aggression Surfaces
Aggression in dogs can stem from many places. For instance, aggression can be learned. Let’s say that a dog becomes aggressive every time the vacuum is on. If the dog shows signs of aggression because it was scared of the vacuum but ceases its aggression when the vacuum is turned off, then this aggressive behavior is most likely going to continue every time the vacuum is running. However, aggression in dogs can stem from their social development. Just like humans, dogs need to have interaction while they grow up. Isolated dogs are more likely to show aggressive behavior than dogs who were socialized from birth. Another way aggression surfaces in dogs is from stress and fear. When dogs experience these emotions, they are likely to act aggressively toward the stressful situation they are currently in. Additionally, hormones can elevate a dog’s aggressive behavior. For example, female dogs in the heat of breeding season typically demonstrate aggressive behaviors due to their increased hormone levels.

What Aggression Looks Like
Similar to how aggression in dogs can stem from many areas, aggression can also come in numerous forms. When dogs appear tense, rigid and stiff, owners can use this as a warning sign that the animal is stressed and may act in an aggressive manner. After becoming tense, owners should watch out for signs of freezing. When a dog becomes nervous, they may freeze up and become motionless. Dogs that engage in a direct stare are also showing signs of aggression. Intense focus without blinking indicates that a dog is stressed. Further, one of the most ignored signs of aggression by humans is snarling. Dogs usually snarl before they growl, but humans often overlook the muscle movements associated with this behavior. Lastly, an indicator of aggression is growling. When dogs growl while remaining stiff and rigid, this is a sign that aggressive behaviors are most likely to follow. At this time, all of the above behaviors may surface and dog owners should intervene.

Aggression Prevention
One of the easiest ways to prevent aggression in dogs is to socialize them to other playful pups early in their lives. Puppies learn how to act from watching other dogs, so setting up a playdate or taking your dog to a dog park can help eliminate aggressive behaviors. Like previously mentioned, hormones can add to aggressive behaviors, so it is smart to neuter or spay dogs as early as possible. Additionally, positive reinforcement can work wonders on eliminating aggressive behavior in dogs – I mean, who doesn’t want to reward their pup for behaving in a polite manner!?

Click here for more easy tips and tricks that benefit your pup, or visit Barking Lot in Deerfield, IL.

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