Isn’t it wonderful having a dog as a pal? They understand you, they are by your side and you have great fun learning new things. I know I’d be lost without my buddy! But then you see a change occurring. It starts small, and then is seems to grow a little bit at a time. Your first thought is – “Am I seeing dog aggression,” and your second thought is – “is it me or my dog.”
I rescued a dog once that was so warm and cuddly to me right from day one, but anyone else she wanted to eat. This was obvious aggression, but it’s the more subtle signs of dog aggression you need to watch for. Let’s say you are having a game of tug and your dog is starting to get a little overbearing growling at you (not the noise they make when you are playing tug) and even showing his teeth if you try to take the toy away.
Well, I know in the past my reflex would have been to let go and give my dog her toy, but I know better now and I also know that’s not the right approach. However, for most of us we don’t even recognize this is as a sign of dog aggression.
From the toy possessiveness to the next step can be very small or subtle. My border collie -and these guys are not aggressive dogs- was great. But she started getting possessive of her toys, then her aggression moved to snarling and warning for any animal that stepped within a two foot radius of her. Soon that progressed to humans and slowly the aggression was growing. And I did not recognize it as such because it was far more subtle than my rescue dog who would simply try to have you or anyone that tried to be nice to her -except me- for lunch.
The key here is that we all need to learn how to recognize dog aggression before we can actually deal with it. Aggression that is left unaddressed can turn into a major problem. The cause of this early aggression – many want to know is it them or the dog? And the answer is both. Some dogs may be born with a more aggressive personality, while others may simply be testing the boundaries.
It becomes you, when humans fail their dogs, when they fail to recognize the early signs of dog aggression and get the necessary help they need. Because when that aggression is left untreated, the potential for you to land up with a vicious dog that likes no human or animal and poses a real threat to anyone she comes in contact with, is just too great. Too often, this leads to a dog being surrendered to rescue or worse, being euthanized.
All of us are learning about our dogs. Most of us want only what’s best for our dogs and for them to have a healthy and happy life. So, it makes sense to take a little time and learn more about the subtle signs of dog aggression before it becomes the recognizable aggression many of us are familiar with.