aggressive dog

What are the Indicators of aggression in dogs

Can you spot aggression in dogs

From barking and biting to chewing and lunging, aggression in dogs is expressed through a variety of behaviours. The understanding of the dog’s natural indicators of aggression is essential to gauge the level of intensity a dog is exhibiting.

Although unpleasant to see in our canine companions, aggression is a natural behaviour of group animals, used to develop both the hierarchy and pecking order of the group, as well as to provide self-defence in times of threat or danger.

Aggression in dogs does not always follow the same pattern, we know that a dog is more likely to growl or lip snarl and show what we call calming signals before they snap or bite.

As responsible dog owner we should understand the levels of aggression and prevent it from getting out of control. In order to do this, we must first understand the indicators of aggression and distinguish between the low and high levels.

First indictors of the aggression are low level;

  • Yawning
  • Blinking
  • Licking

These type signals are usually used first in all dogs.

As the aggression in dogs escalates you may see more indictors such as;

  • Turning of the head
  • Turning the body away
  • Sitting
  • Pawing

It is important we indentify these early indicators of stress and discomfort to avoid and further dangerous escalations or reactions.

If we ignore or misinterpret these early indicators then we could be allowing our dogs to go to higher levels of aggression and at this point they may be displaying body language such as;

  • Creeping ears back
  • Standing low
  • Tail under
  • Maybe lying down
  • Stiffening of the body
  • Staring
dogs playing

If high level indictors of aggression are being presented then this will be an extremely unpredictable and dangerous point and should be avoided if possible. High level aggressive behaviours include:

  • Snarling, snapping
  • Showing of teeth
  • Biting
  • Jumping up and barking aggressively

When higher level aggressive behaviours have gone beyond warnings we will see actual physical contact and biting or attempting to bite.

Aggression in dogs is a normal behaviour and it is important for the owner to be able to control the dog’s aggression. Through early socialisation and a positive understanding of the dog-owner relationship, the animal will not show aggression.

It is important to understand that no dog is born with aggressive tendencies however you should always make sure you get a good match for you and your family.