Dog aggression is any behavior meant to intimidate or harm a person or another animal. Growling, baring teeth, snarling, snapping and biting are all aggressive behaviors. Although aggressive behaviors are normal for dogs, they’re generally unacceptable to humans. From a dog’s perspective, there’s always a reason for aggressive behavior. Because humans and dogs have different communication systems, misunderstandings can occur between the two species. A person may intend to be friendly, but a dog may perceive that person’s behavior as threatening or intimidating. Dogs aren’t schizophrenic, psychotic, crazy, or necessarily “vicious,” when displaying aggressive behavior.
Because aggression is so complex, and because the potential consequences are so serious, we recommend that you get professional in-home help from an animal behavior specialist if your dog is displaying aggressive behavior. Our Behavior Helpline can’t assist you with aggressive behavior problems (see our handout: “When The Behavior Helpline Can’t Help”).