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Dogs who lunge, growl, snap, bite, or bare their teeth may be considered aggressive. It is important to have your dog evaluated by a professional to determine the cause. Start by visiting a veterinarian with a list all of the dogs behavior issues and when they happen. Keeping a record of any kind of aggressive behavior and what was going on around the dog at that time is very helpful.

Aggression has many causes, and therefore can be very difficult to understand.

Types of aggression include:

  • Dominance aggression toward people: this dog may feel he is in competition for top position within the entire household. He may feel the need to keep everyone in his or her place!
  • Dominance aggression toward dogs: this dog may feel he is in competition for the top position within the canine group of the household. He may be constantly striving to be the pack boss.
  • Fearful or defensive aggression: this dog may be very afraid, and therefore feel the need to defend himself from other dogs, humans, or other animals.
  • Territorial or protection aggression: this dog may feel he continuously needs to protect his personal space, personal possessions (which may include people or toys), and his personal territory (which may include his backyard or his entire neighborhood). His space or possessions may change frequently.
  • Redirected aggression: when faced with the inability to attack somebody, because of a fence or a window, he may turn his pent up aggression on the closest person or animal available. This can also happen to a person who tries to separate fighting dogs.
  • Predatory aggression: this dog may have a tendency toward hunting because of genetics, and may stalk, chase and attack smaller animals, bikes, or cars.
  • Pain-induced aggression: this dog may be suffering from severe pain from injuries or illnesses (such as arthritis, ear infection, tooth ache, etc).
  • Play related aggression: this dog may be a dog who gets too aroused during rough play.

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