8 Common Aggression Triggers In Dogs

Aggression triggers are circumstances that prompt your dog to behave aggressively. Despite what most people believe, dogs are rarely aggressive without an underlying reason. The reasons may be anything from past abuse, medical conditions or even improper socialization. Sometimes, the trigger is very obvious – for example, loud noises or unfamiliar objects. But other times, the trigger may not be as obvious and some research needs to be done to figure out what’s causing the aggressive reaction in your dog. The following are several common aggression triggers and how to avoid them. 


Resource Guarding

One of the most common triggers for dog aggression is resource guarding. Dogs will view the approach of other dogs or humans as a threat to whatever they perceive of value – it can be their food, toys, home property, their favorite human or even their sleeping area. Dogs who are resource guarding may lunge or snap at other dogs or humans for getting too close to their favorite/valuable items. You should consult your veterinarian or professional dog trainer to help identify the cause of resource guarding, since this behavior may escalate to more severe behavior.


Other Dogs

Being triggered by other dogs is natural in many breeds. Sometimes, intersex aggression may be present when dogs are sexually intact and resource guarding takes place for reproductive advantages. Other times, an aggression trigger may be present when a lack of socialization has occurred. One dog may be easily triggered by a different dog of a particular size, color or even body type, in particular if they’ve had a negative experience with this type of dog in the past. Furthermore, a dog may be triggered just by the annoying behavior of another dog.  Like humans, we can’t expect all dogs to get along at all times!  



Unfortunately, children can sometimes be a triggering point for a dog’s aggression. The child’s fast and erratic movements can be too much for some dogs to handle, and many dogs lack the patience required to tolerate the curiosity of a small child. 

Like small children, specific groups of people may also present a trigger for your dog. For example, men with beards, people of color, very tall people, or anyone using walkers and wheelchairs. If your dog finds something unusual about the person, this may very well trigger them to become fearful or even aggressive. It may be difficult to determine what exactly the trigger is, until you and your dog are faced with similar situations. It’s always important to provide a positive, happy response to your dog in the presence of that particular trigger, especially during their puppy development – thus, the importance of positive socialization.  


Quick Moving Objects

Many dogs get triggered around fast moving objects like bikes, skateboards, scooters, vehicles and even small, fast-moving animals. A dog’s natural instinct may kick in, and encourage the dog to chase after and potentially attack such items. Since dogs are natural predators, you should not punish your dog for chasing after these items, rather, distract them with treats and praise them for not chasing these items. There are many positive training techniques you can use instead of punishing them because of their natural instinct.


Getting Too Close Too Fast

A combination of the last two triggers, when someone moves too quickly toward a dog, and the dog ends up being alarmed, this may be a trigger for them. A nervous or anxious dog might think you represent a threat when you move suddenly in their direction.  Always approach a dog slowly and cautiously so they won’t be startled or  caught off guard. 



Sometimes dog’s may be triggered by their own frustration. This happens when a dog might be confined by a fence or a leash and unable to reach an object he wants. The dog then takes out his frustration in other ways, usually towards another pet or even a human. 


Being Handled

Another dog aggression trigger is handling the dog in a way they do not want to be handled. There are many examples of this, but common examples include brushing their hair, trimming nails, bathing, etc. Also, some dogs are sensitive to being pet in certain spots or even being picked up. 


Medical Issues

Pain or a medical issue may be the trigger causing your dog to lash out. If your dog suddenly starts becoming aggressive, it’s critical to make sure he isn’t dealing with a medical issue, since sometimes these medical issues will be the cause of your well-adjusted dog acting aggressively. A veterinarian should be consulted to rule out any hearing, vision or chronic pain issues your dog may be having. 


Identify Triggers Quickly

One of the best things you can do when dealing with dog aggression is to quickly identify the cause of aggression. Knowing the source of aggression will help you find the best options for correcting their behavior. We may never fully understand what our dogs are thinking or why they are acting a certain way, but we can do our best to read their signals and seek our professional dog training when necessary. 


We’re Here To Help

Let 2 Paws Up Inc assist with giving you the skills and the knowledge to better manage your dog. We specialize in Private In-Home Training from Puppies to Adult Dogs as well as Hybrid Board and Train. Our programs are about teaching you, not just training your dog, and each program is customized. Every dog is unique just like your customized plan. Contact us today for your Initial Consultation!



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