Although dog aggression can be pathological, it is rare. The vast majority of dogs that behave aggressively do so because they have been compelled to believe they are in danger.
Defensive aggression is an enormous problem in domestic dogs and one that defies quick resolution. Not because aggression cannot be mitigated, but because there are so many tiny nuances that influence it. Having the skill to recognize triggers takes effort and time, and many owners fail to perceive their dogs intentions before it’s too late.
The misnomer that dogs act ‘without provocation’ is inherently false. There are very few dogs that act without purpose. Instinct drives mechanics, and a dog that is menacing another dog or even a human is doing so for a very good reason.
The dog may be the only one that knows what provoked him, but I assure you, he or she has created justification in their mind for the act.
TRAINING does not cause dog aggression, however poor timing and inappropriate reinforcement of incompatible behaviors certainly does.
The owner that relies on compulsion to ‘train’ aggression out of a dog is going to end up with more orifices than he started with, and the trainer that thinks the use of food is going to reform Hannibal Lechter is… inadequately prepared.
Dog aggression is a manifestation of a physical or perceived physical threat to the animal itself, some thing, place or some one it values.
It doesn’t take much to trigger defensive aggression, and I believe it’s time we start thinking in terms of what drives the behavior and address that first, before labeling dogs as inherently defective for engaging in behaviors they are instinctively predisposed to.
Dogs are not *food* aggressive, *dog* aggressive or *human* aggressive. They are either defensively aggressive (protecting self or property) or offensively aggressive (instigating and advancing).
It is the rare domestic dog that will offensively run towards another dog or human and arbitrarily initiate an attack. It is far more often that the dog is responding to something or someone in its immediate environment that it perceives as a threat.
Know the difference. The vast majority of aggressive acts can be eliminated simply by knowing what causes them and by creating confidence in the dog.
Training can do that.