Dog Aggression: Description, Treatment and Training Methods

According to Steven Lindsay, author of “Handbook of Applied Dog Behavior and Training: Volume Two”, dog aggression can be expressed in three general ways: threat, defense or attack. In his book he defines and describes 19 categories of dog aggression. The most common forms of aggression that we at The Dog Squad come into contact with are: Dominance, Fear Related, Possessive, Territorial and Dog on Dog Aggression. It is important to understand the different causes and triggers that cause dogs to become aggressive because each type of aggression takes a slightly different training approach. Future articles on “How to handle Aggressive Dogs” will be coming soon. For now we define and describe the most common types of dog aggression that we deal with in our day to day operations.


Dominance Related Aggression

(article: “How to Handle a Dominant Aggressive Dog”, Coming Soon)

Dominance, control-related aggression is one of the most common forms of dog aggression. It is related to social/pack status and often happens when a dog does not have appropriate boundaries and lacks social inhibitions. It is most often found in male dogs and the aggression is often directed at and limited to family members and involves control of situations, space and places such as bed, doorways, furniture or items. The aggressive behavior most often occurs in situations of competition and control. Typical triggers can be:

  • Disturbing the dog while it is sleeping
  • Staring at the dog
  • Hugging the dog
  • Grooming the dog
  • Correcting the dog verbally or with a leash
  • Moving the dog out of your way
  • Restraining the dog

Dog Aggression

Fear Related Aggression

(article: “How to Handle a Fear Aggressive Dog”, Coming Soon)

This type of dog aggression usually happens when a dog cannot escape from an intensely fearful situation. The dog attacks in this situation as a way to escape and not to control or dominate. With most dogs fear inhibits aggression. A dog that feels threatened in most situations will try to flee. Aggressive behavior in this situation is a defensive strategy and one of last resort.


Possessive Related Aggression

(article: “How to Handle a Possessive Aggressive Dog”, Coming Soon)

Possessive aggression is triggered by a dog’s need to compete for a food item or a toy. Often this behavior is associated with dominance aggression but can occur separately.


Territorial Related Aggression

(article: “How to Handle a Territorial Aggressive Dog”, Coming Soon)

Aggressive behavior triggered when a dog’s territory is invaded by a stranger such as his house, yard, or car. Most dogs have some form of territorial aggression such as barking when someone knocks or rings the door bell. But some dogs can take their task of protecting to a dangerous level and need training and desensitization work.


Dog on Dog (Intermale/interfemale) Aggression

(article: “How to Handle Dog on Dog Aggression”, Coming Soon)

The scientific literature reports that fighting occurs most often between female dogs sharing the same household. Occasionally, dogs of the opposite sex will also fight. The aggression is most likely to show itself when the dog reaches sexual and social maturity.