What Makes a Dog Aggressive? How to Recognize Anxiety Triggers | Scott Goodwin Law

What Makes a Dog Aggressive? How to Recognize Anxiety Triggers

by / Friday, 29 May 2020 / Published in Dog Bites
Small white and brown dog aggressively barking

All dogs can bite. It doesn’t matter if it’s a small dog, a big dog, or what breed a dog is. Even if a dog is typically very friendly, there are situations when even the most easy-going dog might lash out, attack someone, and cause serious injuries.


Dogs can bite for many different reasons, but dog owners have the most power to prevent dog bites before they happen. But to be able to effectively control a dog, it’s important to understand which types of situations can bring out the aggressive side of a dog and what you can do if those situations occur.

Caring for Puppies

If a dog is busy taking care of its puppies or feels like their puppies are being threatened, the dog may get aggressive as a way to protect them. Since dogs often get aggressive when puppies are involved, it’s strongly recommended that young children never be left unattended with an adult dog who is caring for their puppies. Even though kids are naturally very curious about dogs and puppies, remember that children represent a disproportionately large percentage of dog bite victims.

Territorial Behavior

Dogs can be very territorial when it comes to their food, toys, or other property that belongs to them. Socialization and training is something that can go a long way in minimizing these types of behaviors. Giving a dog rewards for calm behavior, for example, can help the dog understand that this type of behavior is a good thing. Obedience training to help the dog learn simple commands like “sit,” “stay,” and “leave it” are very important for helping keep your dog under control. When dogs have opportunities to socialize, it also helps them get used to encountering unfamiliar people and dogs so that they won’t immediately associate them with threats to their space.

Excessive Handling

While many dogs enjoy being petted a lot, there may be times when they just don’t want to be touched. They may not enjoy being handled in certain ways, especially if they don’t know the person who is handling them. Veterinarians and groomers are most likely to encounter this kind of aggression, but it can also occur if someone tries to pet a dog excessively or picks them up when the dog doesn’t want to be held. Since vets and groomers are trained professionals, they know how to safely work with dogs so that they can avoid injury. But in other cases, it’s important for dog owners to know the signs that a dog is stressed so they can remove the dog from that situation right away.

Pain & Illness

Just as people often want to be left alone when they don’t feel well, dogs can feel the same way. If you know a dog is injured or sick, or if you have reason to suspect they are, the best thing you can do is keep other people away from the dog. Even if it’s someone your dog is familiar with, keep in mind that dog bites very commonly involve dogs that the victim has met before.

Noise & Motion

Loud noises and fast motions can get dogs worked up for a couple of different reasons. Dogs often interpret fast-moving objects and people as prey, which makes dogs want to chase them while loud noises can make dogs fearful and nervous. Because of this, it’s best to leave dogs at home rather than taking them to a noisy environment. If there are loud noises near home, try to give the dog a quiet place where they can relax.

Dog owners have a responsibility to do everything reasonably possible to prevent others from being injured by their pet. If you’ve been bitten or attacked by the dog, one of the best things you can do is contact a dog bite lawyer as soon as possible. At Goodwin & Scieszka, we’ve worked with many Michigan dog bite victims and can help you too. Contact us today for help with your case.

Image: iStock / primeimages