Differentiating Dog Play From Dog Aggression
How can a pet owner know when the dogs are having fun and when they need to step in?
02:33 26 August 2022
Dogs need time to interact with each other. They use this time to burn off energy and play. However, at times, this play can become aggressive. How can a pet owner know when the dogs are having fun and when they need to step in?
To answer this question, the owner must know the signs of aggression. In addition, they need to know the most dangerous dog breeds to own. This doesn't mean these dogs will be aggressive, but it is something for the owner to watch for.
Any dog can be aggressive. How is aggression learned, and what signs should an owner look for that show a dog has gone beyond playing and is becoming aggressive? What can an owner do in this situation?
How is Aggression Learned?
Dogs learn through reinforcement. When a dog is aggressive and the thing that scared them backs away, they are more likely to become aggressive in the future when they encounter something they don't like. They've learned that aggression gets the response they desire.
Isolation when a puppy is young leads to aggression when the dog gets older. In addition, stress and fear can bring about aggressive behavior, as the dog doesn't know how else to respond in these situations. Finally, male dogs with elevated testosterone levels may act aggressively, and the same is true of females in heat and those with young puppies.
Signs of Aggression
When dogs play, they often have exaggerated movements. For example, they may appear to hop as they run. They will take turns and may even "laugh", which appears similar to panting but has a wider frequency range. The dogs typically use only a portion of their strength when playing with others.
An aggressive dog, in contrast, will bare their teeth. They never do this when playing. They will growl, snarl, and snap, and their body tends to go rigid. Their legs will be stiff and their body appears to freeze. When one dog begins staring at another dog and will not break eye contact, this is a sign of aggression. They will follow through on this behavior by stalking the other dog or following it around.
Dog owners need to watch their pets. If they no longer appear to be having fun, it's best to remove the dog from this situation. This helps to ensure what was a playful situation does not become aggressive.
Socialization is necessary for young dogs. They need to learn how to behave in new environments and interact with people and animals they don't know. Fortunately, socializing a dog is not difficult.
Puppies should be enrolled in training programs. These programs allow them to build confidence. In addition, they teach the dogs how to listen and respond to commands.
Provide the dog with opportunities to socialize with others. Keep them on a leash when doing so. Over time, as the dog develops manners and learns how to act in different situations, the owner can allow them off leash to see how they behave. Nevertheless, the owner must watch the dog. At the first sign of sensory overload, the owner should step in and remove the dog from the situation. This reduces the risk of the dog becoming aggressive. Dogs who are socializing know how to relax and respond to stress without becoming aggressive.
Use positive reinforcement to teach the dog proper behavior in different situations. Correct bad behavior immediately, as well. Finally, have the dog spayed or neutered to prevent aggression fueled by hormones.
It falls on the dog owner to know their animal. Any dog can become aggressive in the wrong environment. When the owner knows the pet's normal demeanor and behavior, any change indicates the dog needs extra attention. A failure to provide this attention could lead to a situation where the dog becomes aggressive. By acting when the dog's demeanor or behavior changes, an owner can reduce the risk of this happening.