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Aggression In Dogs & What To Look Out For

We always think of dogs as man’s best friend, giving us companionship, loyalty, and unconditional love. But, at the end of the day even the most well-trained and beloved pets can have aggressive tendencies.

If your pet is feeling anxious, scared, or threatened they will try to tell you, and not knowing the signs can lead to scary situations.

Why do pet dogs attack?

We never like to think of our wide-eyed pets as being anything but a loveable cuddle buddy. But the truth is, your pet can lose their temper and cause serious harm.

Fear and anxiety: Your dog might lash our if they feel threatened or cornered – just like we would! Fear and anxiety can trigger defensive behaviour, causing even the gentlest dogs to react aggressively.

Territorial instincts: Dogs are territorial by nature, and they might see unfamiliar people or animals as potential threats to their territory, leading to defensive aggression.

Resource Guarding: Your dog might attack if they feel their food, toys, or other possessions are being taken away. This behaviour comes from an instinct to protect their stuff in the wild.

Pain or illness: Dogs in pain or discomfort might snap or bite as a way to tell you they’re distressed. It’s important to notice any sudden changes in your pet’s behaviour so you can help them.

Lack of socialisation: Poor socialisation during the first few months of a puppy’s life can result in fear or mistrust of unfamiliar situations, people, or other dogs. If you got your puppy at the height of COVID, this could be the case for you.

Signs of a dog about to attack

We can’t speak dog, and dogs can’t speak English – so how’re we supposed to know if our dogs are warning us to stay away? Recognising the warning signs of a future dog attack can help you stay safe and prevent injury.

Stiff body language: A tense and rigid body suggests your dog is on high alert and might be prepared to defend itself. Your dog might also tuck their tail in between their legs if they’re scared.

Raised hackles: When the hair along your dog’s back stands on end, your puppy will be trying to appear bigger and more threatening.

Growling or snarling: Audible growling or snarling means your dog is feeling threatened and this might lead to warning bites and snapping. If you see teeth, back away!

Eye contact: if your dog is staring intensely, they can be trying to show you who’s boss. Or, if your dog is purposefully avoiding eye contact, they might be scared of you or the situation.

What to do if your dog is aggressive

If you have a new pup that seems aggressive, or if your dog has recently gone through a traumatic event you might want to try the following to help your dog become more relaxed.

Speak to a professional: The best way to get your dog help is to speak to a vet or a behaviourist, who can get to the bottom of why your dog is feeling upset and develop a training plan to help.

Limit triggers: If you’ve noticed your dog gets angsty around other dogs, people or in certain situations try to avoid these for the safety of your pet, you, and others.

Safety measures: Muzzles, a stronger lead or a safety gate in your home will help keep your dog out of harm’s way.


Understanding the reasons behind your dog’s behaviour and being able to spot the warning signs can help prevent your dog harming themselves or others. By taking proactive steps and seeking help when needed, you can create a safer and more harmonious environment for both you and your furry companion.