The Aggressive and/or Bully Dog

Most dogs believe that aggressive behavior is okay.

In a dog’s world barking, growling and biting is an acceptable behavior. In our world it is not.

In general most dogs do not exhibit aggressive or bully type behavior. They are happy to get along with everyone, dogs, people and even cats.

What causes aggressive or bully behavior?

There are several things that can cause it:

  • Bad breeding or bred to fight

  • Dog tied up continually

  • Teasing and rough play

  • Illness (check thyroid)

  • Genetic possibilities

  • Lack of owner responsibility

  • Beating the dog

    What kinds of aggression are there and what can be done to correct them?

    Other than the genetic side of the coin and/or bad breeding, it is the responsibility of the owner from day one of ownership, to provide the proper environment for the dog.

    If a “good dog” suddenly becomes aggressive or a bully, a medical check up should be first on the list of things to do.

    It is important to make certain that the dog is healthy, and this includes a thyroid check, as this gland can be a subtle cause of aggression.

    If there is no health issue, the next thing to take under consideration is “have there been any changes in the household?”

    Dogs are creatures of habit, they enjoy routine and any sudden changes in the household can cause stress. Stress can express itself in many ways and aggression or bullying can be one of the ways.

    If there have been changes and the dog’s routine has been severely altered, take time to re-establish a new routine. The time you spend establishing a new relationship will be well spent.

    One of the traits, the human population has is considering pets as “our children.”

    This is a good trait on one hand, as it generally means the dog will be well treated. On the other hand, we then neglect to recognize that they are dogs and we do not learn to understand the dog’s language, behavior patterns or true needs.

    By not understanding behavior patterns, we do not see “bad patterns” developing or we consider them “cute.”

    What you consider cute when your dog was a puppy, can turn into a nightmare as the puppy grows.

    If your puppy has been allowed to behave without certain restrictions, you are going to have a dog that can become the dominant one in the family.

    There are many types of aggression and it usually starts to appear around the ages of one to three years.

    Dominance usually rears its ugly head toward someone in the family or against you, when the dog begins to feel superior.

    Territorial aggression surfaces around possessions, people, the yard or even the block you walk the dog around.

    Fear motivated aggression happens when the dog has been punished severely on a continual basis, it will react to a raised arm or anything else that it thinks will cause harm to him/her.

    Re-directed aggression happens when a dog cannot get to the person or animal that is upsetting it and it turns on whoever is near, be it a person or another animal.

    Aggression in any form takes professional help to remedy it. You can not do it alone.

    Punishment in the form of beating, yelling or hitting is the worst thing you can do. This will only increase the dog’s stress and make the whole thing worse.

    The help of a trainer that has had “aggressive dog” training is truly the way to go.

    Proper obedience training and socialization of a puppy, right from day one, is the best prevention. Dogs enjoy having rules to obey and they like structure in their lives and it is up to us, as their guardians to provide it.

    When getting a dog from an animal shelter or a rescue shelter you should try to find out as best you can “why” it was given up.

    I realize that the story the previous owners gave the shelter may not be the complete truth, but give it a try. One of the main reasons people give up their dogs is because of aggressive behavior.

    Before you commit to the adoption, spend some time with the dog. Observe the dog’s behavior, play with it and walk with it.

    Pay attention to the little things, remember you are about to make a commitment and a commitment does not mean return the merchandise if it doesn’t suit you.

    There are some dogs that due to genetics or breeding cannot be re-trained, if the aggressive traits are too well ingrained. Do not take on the responsibility of such a dog because you feel sorry for them.

    Do not let their big brown eyes and sad look make you feel that with your love you can conquer any problem the dog may have.

    Aggressive dogs can have Jekyll and Hyde personalities and unless you are a mind reader, you will never know when the bad side will appear.

    If you want a dog in your life, start out on the right foot, begin obedience training and socialization from day one. If possible, see the parents of the puppy you are getting and do research on the breed.

    Good luck.