As a pet parent, it can be hard to imagine your cuddly buddy harming as much as a fly. However, there are some situations that can drive your otherwise docile doggy towards aggressive behavior. Here are 5 such situations.
1. Babies and Kids
Babies and kids don’t know their own strength, and people aren’t born knowing appropriate behavior around a pet. Kids and babies are also prone to holding direct eye contact, which to a dog, seems like dominant behavior. Kids can also be rowdy and noisy. Put it all together and young children can end up being a perfect storm for frightening or aggravating your dog.
For example, many babies and toddlers screech suddenly, and loudly, without any provocation. As a baby explores a pet, they may pull on a pet’s fur or stick a tail or paw in their mouth to have a taste.
Also, cats and dogs are both born with the instinct to chase and kill prey. Of course some have a higher drive than others, and some situations may unexpectedly provoke this instinct, such as seeing a newborn infant swinging back and forth in a baby swing.
And while some pets love having kids and babies around, others would rather avoid the experience. It helps, however, to teach any pet how to respond to a young child from a young age so they aren’t taken by surprise by the unusual and unpredictable ways kids and babies might behave. And since many of these baby behaviors can be perceived as aggressive to your dog, show them early on that it is not aggression; otherwise they may respond in kind.
2. Dog Park
Dog fights and attacks are, sadly, a common aspect of life at dog parks. When you take your pet to a dog park, you never know what other dogs will be there, and many dogs may not be calm or friendly when faced with an unruly pack of dogs.
Also, some regulars at the park may feel territorial over certain areas, not taking kindly to any new doggie companions. Other dogs may want to assert their dominance -- using aggressive behavior is their vehicle. Your dog may also become fearful, and a scared dog is exponentially more likely to exhibit an aggressive-type response. So next time you are at the dog park, be aware of how your dog is behaving, and be prepared to cut your trip short if your dog seems to be getting too riled up or nervous.
While your vet is probably an animal lover, their line of work frequently involves firm handling and painful procedures. Many pets develop an early fear of the vet after getting their shots or enduring treatment to cure a painful condition. Fear in pets can lead to aggression, and a trip to the vet is one of those situations that can cause Buddy to bring out the fangs.
4. Messing with a Pet’s Food
When I was a kid, I remember my mom taking our puppy’s food away and pretending that she was eating it. And while it may sound like she was teasing the dog, since our puppy was going to need to learn how to live peacefully in a household with kids, my mom decided to make sure the dog understood that sometimes people might mess with their food. These lessons also taught the dog they were always going to get their food back when it was all over.
Training a pet in this fashion when they are young will help desensitize them to that kind of behavior. So next time a baby or a kid should ever unwittingly get into a pet’s food bowl, the pet won’t react aggressively, as per their instincts.
5. Loud Noises or Chaotic Situations
Any situation that your pet perceives as frightening or dangerous can cause them to act aggressive. Sudden noises -- such as a balloon popping, a loud crack of thunder, or fireworks -- or any situation in which there are sudden movements or too much going on, like a big party, can quickly devolve into a frightening circumstance to a dog, driving them to respond with aggression.
As pet parents, we all hope that our pets will never harm anyone. Lots of socialization starting in puppyhood can teach your pet they are safe and loved no matter how loud or crazy a situation may seem.
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