Help! Why Is My Dog Becoming More Aggressive Than Before?

Like humans, dogs tend to develop their personalities early on.  In other words, if your puppy is likely to become aggressive in the future, she is probably already displaying some of the early warning signs.

But not always.

Sometimes, an otherwise loving and peaceful dog can suddenly become aggressive much later in life.  The behavior seemingly comes out of nowhere, and pet parents are left scratching their heads.

If you find yourself in this situation, read on.

Okay, So Why Is My Puppy Getting More Aggressive?

It’s worth noting that some “canine behavioral problems” will naturally come and go as your dog grows older.

For example, biting is a common aggressive problem.  And yet, the overwhelming majority of puppies bite and mouth and nip as part of the development process.  And this problem usually goes away on its own (or with bite inhibition training).

But other types of aggression only appear in mature dogs.

For example:

  • Sexual aggression.  If you haven’t fixed your dog (and you absolutely should), your puppy may become more aggressive as it comes of age.  This problem is similar to the raging hormones and uncontrolled emotions that many human adolescents go through during puberty.
  • Paint and illness aggression.  This is particularly popular amongst older dogs.  Failing health can often cause fear and confusion in aging canines.

Your dog might also be responding to changing environmental cues – a new home, new baby, a new spouse.  She might have a difficult time adjusting to certain circumstances, and this difficulty may manifest as aggression that wasn’t there before.

Understanding What Canine Aggression Truly Is

Keep in mind that canine aggression isn’t normally tied to menace or malice.  Your dog is not being a jerk.  Rather, aggression is a type of communication.

Your dog is trying to tell you that:

  • I am uncomfortable – please stop whatever you’re doing
  • I am scared – please stop whatever you’re doing
  • I feel threatened – please stop whatever you’re doing

Remember that dogs cannot express themselves using everyday language.  Growling, lunging, barking, and biting are ways of letting you know how they feel about a particular situation.

Your job as a pet parent is to interpret the signals and take appropriate action.

This begins with isolating those triggers that set your dog off.  In other words, you need to document those locations, sounds, people, times, and situations that provoke your dog’s aggression.  By isolating these aggression triggers, you’ll be much better positioned to train this behavior out of your dog.

Fortunately, because this aggression is relatively recent, it should be much easier to spot these triggers.

Now That I Know Why My Dog Is Becoming More Aggressive, What Next?

Once you understand the causes and triggers, you can tackle canine aggression head on.  We recommend reading over the resources listed down below to get started.

An important reminder – don’t make the mistake of believing that the problem will go away.  Aggression is a learned response that only becomes stronger with time and reinforcement.  If you don’t take appropriate action now, you’ll only make the problem worse.

Here are some useful resources to get you started:

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