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Is My Dog Aggressive?

Is My Dog Aggressive?

What are the signs of an aggressive dog? And how can I avoid problems that come along with canine aggression?

Find out:

Several breeds of dogs may be more likely than others to become aggressive because they are derived from fighting dogs or have been bred to guard. These include Chow Chows, German Shepherds, Rottweilers, pit bulls, and Doberman Pinschers. But virtually any dog can become aggressive.

Dogs that are dominant aggressive generally bare their teeth and hold up their ears and tails. Dogs that act aggressive as a result of fear (fear aggressive) may show their teeth but generally keep their ears flat to their head and their tails down. Each type of aggression needs to be handled differently.

Dominant aggressive dogs often need lots of obedience training with positive reinforcement. Dogs with fear aggression may respond best to gradual conditioning to the things that make them afraid.

If your dog demonstrates any kind of aggression, consult an expert. This is not a problem that average dog owners should try to handle on their own.

To avoid aggression problems, even in “aggressive“ breeds:
All dogs should be routinely exposed to people. They should live in the home, with their family. They should be frequently taken on walks, starting from the time they are puppies, and exposed to people in all types of situations. That means taking them for walks in your own neighborhood on leash, repeatedly introducing them to neighbors, and taking them anywhere else you can think of. They must learn obedience training, which makes them less likely to get out of hand.

Read more: Pets, Everyday Pet Care, Safety

Adapted from The Puppy Owner’s Manual, by Diana Delmar (Storey Books, 2001). Copyright (c) 2001 by Diana Delmar. Reprinted by permission of Storey Books.
Adapted from The Puppy Owner’s Manual, by Diana Delmar (Storey Books, 2001).

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Annie B. Bond

Annie is a renowned expert in non-toxic and green living. She was named one of the top 20 environmental leaders by Body and Soul Magazine and "the foremost expert on green living." - Body & Soul Magazine, 2009. Learn Annie's latest eco-friendly news on, a website dedicated to healthy and green living.

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The Puppy Owner's Manual

Solutions to all your puppy problems in an easy-to-follow question and answer now


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2:08PM PDT on Oct 16, 2012

My dogs are the farthest thing from aggressive-- the worst they'd do is lick you to death!!!!

1:31AM PDT on Oct 16, 2012

i believe that dogs react differently and some are wired differently for different purposes - e.g. guard dogs, shepherd dogs, dogs who are trained as sleigh dogs etc.
and their upbringing plays a big role in determining their instinct and behaviour- if they grow up in a caring, patient environment and they are trained well, they don't become "aggressive".

1:18AM PDT on Oct 16, 2012

Thank you for the interesting article.

11:36AM PDT on Oct 15, 2012

The term 'Aggressive Breed' is such a terrible label. We prefer the word Reactive Dog.
As a dog trainer and working with Reactive Dogs, most of the time it is fear based or a
lack of socialization. The best thing to do is hire a positive reinforcement trainer to set
up an obedience plan for you and your dog. Once the handler has some information on
what signals to watch from their dog and what to do about it, the dog will overcome his
reactivity to the stimulus.
Also, forcing correction on a fearful dog who is reactive, will only make matters worse,
and you may end up with a dog who bites.

5:58PM PDT on Oct 14, 2012


1:00PM PDT on Sep 1, 2012

This report was a waste of time and space. There is no dog that is born to be aggressive, some are just better to train in that direction, or have experienced something that triggers it in them, and even then it is usually only that trigger.
Stupidity like this is what feeds the eternal prejudice of these kind of dogs.
Shame on you!

5:03PM PDT on Aug 7, 2012


4:10PM PDT on Aug 7, 2012

A 2001 article? No wonder it is written so badly. Aggressive breeds, lol.

3:58PM PDT on Aug 7, 2012

Thank you.

6:44AM PDT on Apr 3, 2012

Plain and simple, people can be aggressive, so can animals. Patience is all it takes to train.

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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