Illustrated Articles

Dogs + Behavior

  • Aggression toward household members can have one or more causes. Underlying medical conditions can cause or exacerbate aggressive behavior and must be identified and treated. The sooner you address the behavior, the better, as aggression can escalate in intensity over time. Aggression is rarely fully eliminated from a dog’s repertoire. The goal is to use behavior modification and management to assure safety and predictability.

  • If your dog has threatened or displayed any signs of aggression, then the problem is likely to continue until appropriate steps can be taken to identify the cause and modify the pet's behavior. Therefore, a necessary first step is prevention and avoidance of further incidents. Not only is this essential to ensure safety, but each aggressive display may actually serve to increase the chances that the aggressive behavior will continue.

  • When household dogs fight, it can be physically dangerous and emotionally disturbing. An accurate behavioral assessment is critical to learn the motivation for aggressive behavior. Both dogs should be screened for medical and behavioral illnesses that may be causing or contributing to aggressive behavior.

  • When household dogs fight, it can be physically dangerous and emotionally disturbing. An accurate assessment is critical to learn the motivation for the aggressive behavior. Often, a treatment strategy that includes behavior modification, management, and medication can create a positive outcome by improving predictability and safety. In some serious cases, permanent separation or rehoming should be considered.

  • Aggression is the most serious and dangerous behavior problem that dog owners may need to face. Since there are many different types of aggression, making a diagnosis, determining the prognosis (the chances of safe and effective correction) and developing an appropriate treatment plan are usually best handled with the help of a veterinary or applied animal behaviorist.

  • There are multiple reasons that a dog may exhibit aggression toward family members. The most common causes include conflict aggression, fear-based or defensive aggression, possessive aggression, food guarding aggression, and redirected aggression.

  • Even though dogs are a social species, some dogs exhibit aggression toward dogs outside their immediate social circle. There are many possible reasons for the behavior, and an accurate assessment is essential. A medical exam is important to check for underlying pain or illness. Treatment can be effective once the causes for the behavior have been determined.

  • Treatment for aggression toward unfamiliar dogs is available, and the outcome can be positive. An accurate medical and behavioral assessment is needed as treatment plans are designed based on the context and underlying motivation for the behavior. To start, management is used to prevent aggressive encounters. Behavior modification is always needed and may include desensitization, counterconditioning, and response substitution. Medication is sometimes used to lower anxiety and frustration.

  • For many dogs, jumping up on people is part of their greeting routine. Often, owners have tried to discourage this behavior using methods such as squeezing the front feet, stepping on the dog's toes, or kneeing the dog in the chest.

  • Door charging and uncontrollable excitement when visitors arrive is extremely disconcerting and potentially dangerous. Without proper control of your dog he could charge out the door and into the street where he might get injured.