Why Some Good Dogs Go (Awfully) Bad

by Cheryl Roy

Every so often, there is a story in the news about a family dog that turned on a child or another family member. While the reporting may make it seem like a random event, when a dog bites or jumps at a human, there is always a reason. If you’re concerned about having a dog in the home, for this reason, taking the time to understand why dogs attack can help you create a safer environment for your family and your dog.

Dog Bites

Do Not Mistake Fear for Aggression

Some states only allow owning one dog that is deemed a dangerous breed. However, these states face a lot of challenges from dog owners and experts in canine psychology because determining which breeds are aggressive poses a problem. Everyone has their own ideas on what type of dogs have a greater tendency to attack, and those beliefs are usually based on personal experiences.

In truth, it is quite common for people to mistake aggression with fear because they don’t know how to read a dog’s body language. Many experts argue that aggression has nothing to do with breed and everything to do with upbringing. They claim that it is a learned behavior that is typically transferred from a dog owner.

Determine if Your Dog is Ill or Injured

It’s also common behavior for a dog to turn on its family if it isn’t feeling well. Your dog may have a common cold, arthritis, a headache, or any number of medical conditions that also affect people. However, while a person can tell someone what is bothering them, a dog’s communication abilities are limited.

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When they are injured or ill, your dog may cower in a corner, hide behind furniture, or find other ways to avoid the family. If someone in the family seeks the dog out, it will likely become irritable as the result of not feeling well. If a dog bites or snaps at family members in this type of situation, a visit to the vet can uncover hidden illnesses or injuries.

Are Chronic Behavioral Problems to Blame?

If you didn’t take the time to properly train and socialize your dog as a puppy, he may develop antisocial behaviors as an adult. This will result in a seemingly mean dog. In truth, the dog never learned to be social. It may have developed psychological problems, including anxiety, that causes him to frequently growl or bite.

You can cure your dog of this undesirable behavior, but it will take time. You should start by taking frequent walks with it in populated areas, such as parks. Let it get used to being around people. Eventually, you should take it to dog parks where it can freely socialize with people and other dogs. As your dog spends more time with others, it will adopt a healthier demeanor.

Punishment Was Used Improperly

For dogs, growling isn’t bad behavior, but a warning system to let others know that they sense danger. If you punish your puppy every time it growls, it will grow up thinking that this “warning system” is bad behavior. The result is an adult dog that will attack or bite without giving any warning.

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That may seem aggressive, but this is only because it was taught not to give that warning. This situation can be prevented by attending a training course with your puppy. Obedience training helps pet owners and puppies learn how to better communicate. That way, you will understand each other better as the puppy grows to become a well-behaved adult dog.

If you’re concerned about the behavior of your dog, a visit to your veterinarian is the best place to start. When a physical condition isn’t the cause of your dog’s behavioral issues, dog obedience lessons will probably help. Taking the time to understand why your dog behaves the way it does and teaching it to communicate better will help you enjoy a more rewarding relationship together.

About the Author: Cheryl Roy
While she has a solid education in law, Cheryl Roy wanted more than a job as a lawyer. She knew that people needed information and a better understanding of everyday legal matters. She began writing articles and guidelines to educate individuals and businesses. Now, she is collaborating with blogs, magazines, and outlets, being proud that her knowledge and her writing talent are helping everyone every day.

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